Here's my attempt to do so succinctly:
Here's a list of factors that influence ERA, FIP and xFIP and the degree to which Cingrani has good results in that area on an arbitrary scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is Amazing, 5 is Average and 10 is Horrible. The factors are sorted in order of what a pitcher has the most influence over (strikeouts & walks) to what he has the least influence over (hit rate (think BABIP) and the timing or sequence of events (think LOB%).
ERA FIP xFIP
Strikeouts 1 1 1
Walks 2 2 2
Homers 10 10 6*
Non-HR Hit Rate 1 -- --
Timing/Sequence 1 -- --
3.0 4.3 3.0
*xFIP assumes league average HR/FB rate, but Cingrani is a flyball pitcher, meaning he should allow slightly more HR than average
This isn't meant to scale to ERA exactly, just to give you a decent idea of the influences. And you can see, the relative scores maps to the differences in his ERA, FIP and xFIP.
- He has a pretty good ERA because he's doing awesome everywhere but homers. Some of that goodness is within his control, some of it isn't. But the stuff that's most in his control is stuff he's doing quite well. Of course, in the whole scheme of things, HRs add up to runs pretty quickly. Luckily, he's mitigated that somewhat by keeping guys off base so it's just solo shots.
- He has a worse FIP than ERA because FIP removes positive influence of his non-HR hit rate (low BABIP) and timing (high LOB%). Neither of these are likely to continue at their current rate, and that's what his higher FIP is telling us.
- However, he has an xFIP nearly identical to his ERA because it takes FIP but then also adjusts his HR rate back down towards what can be expected longer term given the amount of fly balls he allows. This has the effect of offsetting his "good luck" on BABIP and timing/sequencing with his "bad luck" in HRs, leaving us back where we started with ERA.
In short, in the stuff he does that is most predictable, he's been a darn good pitcher. On the stuff that's less predictable, he's been "unlucky" in terms of Homers, but "lucky" in terms of non-HR hits and timing. On net, it suggests that his ERA is actually probably a pretty good reflection of how well he's pitched and likely to continue to pitch.