Pitching Matchups

Been debating (with myself) the best way to denote stats within pitching match-ups once we get into players making their second starts of the season.

The real issue here is that I can argue with myself all day on how these should be presented.

I’d consider myself fairly well-versed on sabermetric stats.  I know what they mean.  I get why they are valuable.

One problem with presenting them on the site is that people who know them are in the minority.  And it doesn’t make our baseball knowledge somehow superior to those who do not understand them.  But try explaining xFIP and regression to a 65-year old baseball fan.  I can’t just use those statistics and expect them to make sense to most generations of fans.  I’d venture that the demographic of fans who know what that means falls to about 5% of those in their 30s.

Also, many of those statistics that sabermetricians scoff at (Won-Loss record, Saves, Runs Batted In, Batting Average) have one and a half centuries of history behind them.  It’s not something that’s easily dismissed.

Again, going back to generation upon generation of baseball fans, people just inherently know that a modern pitcher with 20 wins had a good season.  A pitcher with an ERA under 3.00 had a good season.  40 saves.  100 RBI.  A .300 batting average.  These are all well known, well established benchmarks of performance over the course of a 162 game season.  They are completely ingrained in every baseball fan’s brains.

But what percentage of baseball fans know what a good benchmark is for VORP, WAR, or xFIP?

I’ll have more thoughts on this as the season goes on, but all of this is just leading to say that, for the time being, I plan on using the following stats for pitching match-ups once we get around to second starts for the season.

  • W-L Record
  • ERA
  • WAR

That is to say, I plan to mix up a bit of the old and new.  I’ll be honest, there isn’t a single statistic out there that I think is somehow all-encompassing as a “perfect” statistic.  I have a problem with every one of them.  To build an accurate picture of a player, I can think of at least 4 of 5 statistics that I’d want to consider.  (Minimum.)

Anyhow, by example, you may see the following line later this week.

CHC – Ryan Dempster (0-0, 1.17) (0.4 WAR, 2.57 SIERA)

You’ll have a quick view at the “traditional” measures of a pitcher – both Won/Loss Record (a cumulative stat) and ERA (a rate stat).  You’ll also have more “advanced” measures – WAR (again, a cumulative stat) and SIERA (a rate stat).  We can quickly see here that Dempster is off to a good start with a 0.4 WAR right out of the gate, but that 2.57 SIERA versus 1.17 ERA indicates to us that he may have gotten a few things to go his way so far.  And, for those who watched or listened to his first start, you’ll know that’s true.  Granted, he struck out 10 men, but he allowed a few fly balls that would’ve left the park on most days when the win wasn’t blown in at nearly 20 mph.

See you around.



    • mlbnlcentral

      I think they’re both good estimators. Most of the recent literature seems to show SIERA doing a better job (albeit only slightly better) at predicting future ERA.

  1. Nick

    You’ve convinced… I admittedly only had a rudimentary understanding of SIERA but just did some reading on Fan Graphs and BP… xFIP is nice… SIERA seems better

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