Chris Carpenter and Concern Over Hits Allowed

From SABR member Matthew Philip at on May 21:

Chris Carpenter has some pundits and fans scratching their heads this year: How can the Cardinal ace be allowing so many hits? Why does he have such a bad ERA? What’s wrong with him?

Perhaps nothing is wrong with him (other than some minor effects of aging). True, he is yielding hits at a 10.9 per nine innings clip, easily his highest as a Cardinal in a qualifying season. But for those unfamiliar with the concept of defense-independent pitching (now celebrating its 10th anniversary!), “There is little if any difference among major-league pitchers in their ability to prevent hits on balls hit in the field of play.” Therefore, we need to be careful in ascribing too much of that hit rate to Carpenter.

Consider the level of Carp’s BABIP this year. It’s at .338, whereas his career rate (more in line with most pitchers) is .297. Two factors appear to be responsible for this.

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Originally published: May 23, 2011. Last Updated: May 23, 2011.