This is why people hate Sabermetricians

I read Neyer’s post this weekend about Adam Wainwright.

Wainwright has simply given up three or four more home runs than his history would have suggested. Which might be a terrible augur, or might just be three or four unlucky (for him) swings of the bat and depressing trajectories.

Chance does, after all, have the last featuring blow at events.

Especially when the events consist of 13 2/3 innings.

And I get what he’s saying there about small sample sizes and HR/FB ratios being likely to regress towards his career averages, but…

Have you watched him pitch, Rob?  Don’t just look at the stats and see “he’s been unlucky”.  While I agree he probably won’t finish the season with an ERA above 8.00, you only need to watch him pitch to see that his curve isn’t as consistently sharp as it has been in the past.

Also, when you say this…

His strikeout rate is the best of his career.

That’s not really accurate.  Or, at least, it’s misusing the K/9 statistic which, at 9.2, is indeed currently better than any prior season in his career.  However, for one, keep in mind your very own caution about going based on small sample sizes, and two, if I’m a pitcher and every ball in play goes over the wall for a HR, I can pitch infinitely long until I finally record a strikeout, at which point my K/9 is now a perfect 27.0, but does that mean anything?  Of course not.  The better statistic to use for a strikeout rate would be K/BF – what % of all batters faced are resulting in a strikeout?  At this point, Wainwright is whiffing 22.2% of all batters faced.  (By the way, that’s pretty damned good.)  But it’s not his best ever.  In 2010 he did 23.4%.  In 2009, 21.9%.  So I’d say his mark there is pretty consistent with where he left off pre-injury, but it’s not the best of his career.  Using K/9 as your definition of “strikeout rate” is bad form.


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