Friday, November 30, 2007

AL Rotations by FIP for 2007

EDIT: Upon further review, I don't like the way I originally came about these numbers. For some reason, I had simply averaged each team's FIP in each spot for the league numbers. A smarter way to do it would be to treat the entire league as one giant rotation and determine the top 20% of starts (generally around 518 for the NL and 454 for the AL) for spot #1, etc. It makes no sense to penalize the league average rotation because the top 15 pitchers are clustered on, say, 8 teams. This tends to lower the value for #1 starters and raise the value for #5 starters while leaving the middle guys generally unchanged. I've changed the numbers in the tables to reflect the new method. The "average" rotations at the end are the same as before. Sorry for the mistake.

Back in October I wrote a post breaking down the average rotation and rotation spot in the National League by FIP, or Fielding Independent Pitching (link goes to the definition at The Hardball Times). Since I never did a corresponding post for the American League, I figured I'd take care of that today.

By focusing only on outcomes for which a pitcher is solely responsible and taking defense out of the equation, FIP isn't influenced by the quality of a team's defense in the same way other pitching statistics, notably ERA, may be. As I said in the NL post, "FIP is not affected in the same way ERA would be for a pitcher if he had eight David Ortiz's on the field with him."

The FIP equation I use and methodology for determining the FIP for each rotation spot on a team is detailed in the other post but the quick explanation is it's a weighted average of each team's starts where the #1 spot is calculated by averaging the 33 best starts by FIP, #2 is the next 33, #3 is the next 32, and so on to total 162 games. For the Orioles, taking Erik Bedard's 28 starts with a 3.15 FIP and 5 Jeremy Guthrie starts with a 4.39 FIP gives you 3.34 as the FIP for the #1 spot in the Baltimore rotation.

In the table below, SFIP stands for the FIP put up by each team's starters based on the sum of the raw data. The #1-#5 columns are obviously the FIP for the corresponding spot in a team's rotation and the league values are the average of all teams. The final column, STDEV, is the standard deviation of each team's rotation which gives you a sense of how "even" it is. A high standard deviation coupled with a mediocre ace spells bad news.

2007 AL Rotations and Rotation Spots by FIP

Los Angeles Angels4.013.333.483.944.425.160.74
Cleveland Indians4.153.103.784.164.605.450.88
Boston Red Sox4.
Oakland Athletics4.243.463.654.354.755.530.84
Tampa Bay Devil Rays4.343.413.824.404.855.650.88
Minnesota Twins4.343.783.934.204.645.370.64
New York Yankees4.403.753.824.014.366.931.34
Toronto Blue Jays4.473.523.844.524.956.411.13
Chicago White Sox4.473.694.224.354.875.500.69
Seattle Mariners4.613.674.284.674.955.890.82
Baltimore Orioles4.713.344.544.925.216.221.05
Detroit Tigers4.783.894.174.645.226.411.00
Kansas City Royals4.803.924.294.615.056.881.16
Texas Rangers5.214.514.634.955.556.600.86

The AL as a league did better than the NL in terms of starter FIP, winning 4.47 to 4.61, despite an extra hitter in the lineup to draw walks and hit home runs. The Rangers join the Marlins and Nationals as the only teams with a SFIP over 5.00, though Washington did have a higher number than Texas. The only rotation spot in which the NL bettered the AL was #5, by a 0.10 margin. I guess the senior league can take solace in the fact they have "better" bad pitching.

I want to put these numbers into context like I did for the National League by finding pitchers that performed close to each rotation spot's average.

AL #1 Starters (3.60 FIP or below) , 20+ Starts
  • Josh Beckett, 30 starts, 3.04 FIP
  • C.C. Sabathia, 34, 3.10
  • Erik Bedard, 28, 3.15
  • Kelvim Escobar, 30, 3.35
  • Scott Kazmir, 34, 3.41
  • Joe Blanton, 34, 3.46
  • John Lackey, 33, 3.50
  • Roy Halladay, 31, 3.51
  • Dan Haren is the closest to the average with a 3.66 FIP in 34 starts.
AL #2 Starters (~4.04 FIP), 20+ Starts
  • Justin Verlander, 32 starts, 3.95 FIP
  • Gil Meche, 34, 3.98
  • Mike Mussina, 27, 4.00
  • Jered Weaver, 28, 4.02
  • Jeremy Bonderman, 4.15
AL #3 Starters, (~4.43 FIP), 20+ Starts
  • Brian Bannister, 27 starts, 4.36 FIP
  • Jeremy Guthrie, 26, 4.39
  • Miguel Batista, 32, 4.50
  • Kevin Millwood, 31, 4.51
  • Nate Robertson, 30, 4.58
AL #4 Starters (~4.86 FIP), 20+ Starts
  • Brandon McCarthy, 22 starts, 4.75 FIP
  • Boof Bonser, 30, 4.75
  • Odalis Perez, 26, 4.77
  • Jose Contreras, 30, 4.78
  • Edwin Jackson, 31, 4.84
  • Shaun Marcum, 25, 4.90
  • Daniel Cabrera, 34, 4.97
  • Jeff Weaver, 27, 5.03
AL #5 Starters (~5.93 FIP), 10+ Starts
  • Chad Durbin, 19 starts, 5.76 FIP
  • Kyle Davies, 11, 5.94
  • Tomokazu Ohka, 10, 5.95
  • Jae Seo, 10, 5.96
  • Casey Fossum, 10, 6.10
  • Robinson Tejeda, 19, 6.15
  • Mike Maroth, 13, 6.35
  • Kei Igawa, 12, 6.66
Mike Mussina is kind of like the AL's version of Chris Capuano, a starter who appeared to drastically underperform his FIP. Other than that, I can't say there's many surprises on these lists, though it is kind of sad that the Rangers' best starter was only an average #3 pitcher.

Jae Seo and Casey Fossum appearing at the bottom of the list reminds me of a curious trivia item: The Tampa Bay Devil Rays were the only major league team to have every pitcher that started a game for them end with at least ten starts for them. Scott Kazmir (34), James Shields (31), Edwin Jackson (31), Andy Sonnenstine (22), Jason Hammel (14), J.P. Howell (10), Jae Seo (10), and Casey Fossum (10) combined for the team's 162 starts.

I'll end the post by recapping the league average rotation by FIP:
  1. Dan Haren (3.66 FIP)
  2. Jered Weaver (4.02 FIP)
  3. Jeremy Guthrie (4.39 FIP)
  4. Edwin Jackson (4.84 FIP)
  5. Kyle Davis (5.94 FIP)
Tomorrow look for the same sort of post using ERA in place of FIP just for fun.

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