Judge: Putting FIP in context

From Jonathan Judge at The Hardball Times on March 11, 2015:

For decades, pitchers have been measured by their earned run average (ERA): the number of “earned” runs charged to them per nine innings pitched. Pitcher ERAs are incredibly inconsistent from season to season, though, largely because so much of what causes runs to score is outside a pitcher’s control.

More recently, baseball researchers have focused on so-called defense-independent pitching statistics (DIPS) to try to better isolate the factors that a pitcher can help control. Voros McCracken is credited with starting the movement, but Tom Tango is responsible for the most widely-used DIPS-type equation: Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP). FIP, in turn, has spawned a legion of other estimators seeking to improve upon its simple formula, often seeking different ends. Well-known derivatives include xFIP and SIERA; other recent efforts include TIPS and BERA.

However, none of these metrics is able to consider the context of each underlying event. They don’t account for each batter the pitcher faced, the number of times the pitcher faced that batter over a season, the catcher to whom the pitcher threw, or the umpire behind the plate. They also don’t consider how each event was affected by the stadium in which it occurred, the handedness of the pitcher and the batter, or the effect of home-team advantage. Nor do they account for a pitcher throwing in a loaded division, as opposed to a pitcher running up his stats against lesser competition. This both limits their overall effectiveness and, in particular, their usefulness with smaller sample sizes.

Read the full article here: http://www.hardballtimes.com/fip-in-context/

Originally published: March 13, 2015. Last Updated: March 13, 2015.