Edwards: The mystery of Justin Verlander’s home runs

From Craig Edwards at FanGraphs on September 5, 2019:

In the second half of the season, Justin Verlander has been the best pitcher in baseball. On the heels of a no-hitter over the weekend, Verlander lowered his second-half FIP to a major league-leading 1.91 and his ERA to an AL-leading 1.76, and raised his WAR to 3.2, more than half a win better than second-place Jack Flaherty. On the season, it’s less clear whether Verlander has been the game’s best pitcher. His 2.56 ERA does lead the AL, but his 3.41 FIP is seventh in the league, and even with his 193 innings tops in the game, he’s still nearly a full win behind Lance Lynn in WAR, with Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton ahead of Verlander’s 5.2 figure as well.

The reason Verlander has performed relatively poorly — even if he’s only the fourth-best pitcher in the AL, he’s having a great season — is due to all of the home runs he has given up. Only Mike Leake and Matthew Boyd have allowed more than the 33 homers offered up by the 36-year-old righty. In some ways, Verlander’s home run troubles are just an extension of the 2018 season. Home runs have gone up from 1.16 per nine innings last year to 1.45 this year; Verlander gave up 1.18 homers per nine innings last year and has given up 1.54 this season. Even if Verlander’s increase was exactly in line with the rest of baseball’s, we’d only be talking about a difference of two home runs, and a 3.28 FIP instead of the 3.41 he currently holds. But that’s still a pretty big difference from his 2.69 ERA, and requires some explanation.

Read the full article here: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-mystery-of-justin-verlanders-home-runs/

Originally published: September 6, 2019. Last Updated: September 6, 2019.