1. Can you explain why...

I thought it would be a good idea to pool our collective knowledge (or ignorance) on all things baseball related. As the thread title suggests, this is a place to post the things that make you scratch your head in the hopes that fellow 'zoners can help you find true enlightenment.

In the interests of healthy conversation, please don't dump a series of unexplainable phenomena such as "(Can you explain why) Dusty bats his CF first and his SS second;" or, "(Can you explain why) Votto likes fancy coffee." Even our powerhouse R&D dept. at Redszone can't answer those questions.

I'll start off with one: Can you explain why there's such a huge disparity between Tony Cingrani's ERA & xFIP on one hand, and his FIP on the other?

Code:
Season	Team	ERA     FIP	xFIP
2012	Reds	1.80	3.29	1.87

2013	Reds	3.02	4.04	3.05

3. Re: Can you explain why...

I can. Sample size.

4. Likes:

dougdirt (06-20-2013)

5. Re: Can you explain why...

Originally Posted by Raisor
I can. Sample size.
I get that, but on a more nuts and bolts level, what's driving it in the calculation?

From FanGraphs:

xFIP

Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) is a regressed version of FIP, developed by Dave Studeman from The Hardball Times. It’s calculated in the same way as FIP, except it replaces a pitcher’s home run total with an estimate of how many home runs they should have allowed. This estimate is calculated by taking the league-average home run to fly ball rate (~9-10% depending on the year) and multiplying it by a pitcher’s fly ball rate.
Here is the full formula for xFIP. Notice how it is almost exactly the same as the formula for FIP, with the lone difference being how each accounts for home runs:

xFIP = ((13*(Flyballs * League-average HR/FB rate))+(3*(BB+HBP))-(2*K))/IP + constant
So is it his unusually high HR/FB rate in that short sample size that skews the numbers so far apart?

6. Re: Can you explain why...

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%).
Code:
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.

7. Likes:

wolfboy (06-21-2013)

8. Re: Can you explain why...

Originally Posted by Raisor
I can. Sample size.
I thought for sure you were going to answer "Rocco".

9. Re: Can you explain why...

Here is one on a tee for many of you, but I never really bought the explanation. Maybe something new and different can help me out. Can anyone explain why Strike-outs are the most important thing for a pitcher but are "just another out" for a hitter?

10. Re: Can you explain why...

Originally Posted by mth123
Here is one on a tee for many of you, but I never really bought the explanation. Maybe something new and different can help me out. Can anyone explain why Strike-outs are the most important thing for a pitcher but are "just another out" for a hitter?
In layman's terms:

Because they are.

I'm finding this thread too easy

11. Re: Can you explain why...

Originally Posted by Raisor
In layman's terms:

Because they are.

I'm finding this thread too easy
So it's not logical to you either.

12. Re: Can you explain why...

It's because pitchers that have high k rates tend to have better all around numbers.

As long as hitters other numbers are good it doesn't matter what kind of out they are, it's how many.

If a hitter has a OBP SLG line of 400/600 it doesn't really matter how he's making outs.

If a pitcher has a vs obp SLG line of 200/250 then he's probably k-ing a bunch of guys

13. Re: Can you explain why...

Originally Posted by mth123
Here is one on a tee for many of you, but I never really bought the explanation. Maybe something new and different can help me out. Can anyone explain why Strike-outs are the most important thing for a pitcher but are "just another out" for a hitter?
Strike outs aren't better for a pitcher than other outs. It's just that advanced stats like FIP value them more in terms of evaluating a pitchers skill, since they are more controllable for a pitcher than other outs.

14. Re: Can you explain why...

Originally Posted by Raisor
It's because pitchers that have high k rates tend to have better all around numbers.

As long as hitters other numbers are good it doesn't matter what kind of out they are, it's how many.

If a hitter has a OBP SLG line of 400/600 it doesn't really matter how he's making outs.

If a pitcher has a vs obp SLG line of 200/250 then he's probably k-ing a bunch of guys
Yep. I've known that part forever. I'm trying to understand why it works that way. If its good for a pitcher, seems like it has to be bad for a hitter. My guess is that we don't know nearly as much about how it works as we like to tell ourselves we do and there is a lot more going on that we haven't figured out yet. Instead we write-off what we can't explain to "luck" and like to tell ourselves that we have all the rest figured out.

15. Re: Can you explain why...

Originally Posted by mth123
Yep. I've known that part forever. I'm trying to understand why it works that way. If its good for a pitcher, seems like it has to be bad for a hitter. My guess is that we don't know nearly as much about how it works as we like to tell ourselves we do and there is a lot more going on that we haven't figured out yet. Instead we write-off what we can't explain to "luck" and like to tell ourselves that we have all the rest figured out.
Strikeouts and walks are the most predictable of anything the pitcher is doing. Once a ball is in play, pitchers are roughly the same when it comes to there GB/FB/LD being turned into outs. If they are bad at K/BB, there is very little room for them to make up that ground anywhere else. There are a few minor exceptions, but mainly it's out of their hands once it's in play.

Some hitters can actually be good BABIP hitters. Whether they are really fast or they only make contact when they make good contact, it's possible and it sometimes happens. There is a thought that if a guy like Adam Dunn strikes out less, his other stats could go down. Right or wrong, nobody believes if only Homer Bailey struck out less guys he would be more effective.

You will see more hitters turn in productive seasons both statistically and logically with high K rates than you will see pitchers turn in good seasons in spite of a bad K/BB.

16. Re: Can you explain why...

Originally Posted by mth123
Here is one on a tee for many of you, but I never really bought the explanation. Maybe something new and different can help me out. Can anyone explain why Strike-outs are the most important thing for a pitcher but are "just another out" for a hitter?
For starters, you have a faulty proposition.

17. Re: Can you explain why...

Originally Posted by mth123
Here is one on a tee for many of you, but I never really bought the explanation. Maybe something new and different can help me out. Can anyone explain why Strike-outs are the most important thing for a pitcher but are "just another out" for a hitter?
This is an interesting asymmetry, and I'm finding the series of posts here fun and intriguing to think about. If we put aside thinking about major league statistics for a moment and think just about the game itself, we can see it's not true that "strike outs are the most important thing for a pitcher but just another out for a hitter."

The quoted statement assumes certain levels of competence. Avoiding strike outs is absolutely the most important thing for the hitter; all good outcomes depend on his establishing his ability to avoid the strikeout (obviously no pitcher competent to throw the ball over the plate walks or hits a batter who is perceived to have no chance to hit the ball.) Hitting the ball is thus absolutely important for the hitter. Inducing the strikeout is not absolutely important to the pitcher, for there are many other ways to get the hitter out.

Perhaps a beginning.

18. Likes:

mth123 (06-21-2013)

19. Re: Can you explain why...

Originally Posted by mth123
Here is one on a tee for many of you, but I never really bought the explanation. Maybe something new and different can help me out. Can anyone explain why Strike-outs are the most important thing for a pitcher but are "just another out" for a hitter?
First the premise is flawed. Strikeouts are bad PA outcomes. But once you control for the fact that they are an out, they aren't that much worse than other outs -- for either pitchers OR hitters.

But here's the rub. If the ball is put in play, the pitcher ceases to have much influence over what happens. By contrast, the hitter has a lot of influence over what happens. So a hitter who strikes out a lot can make up for it by hitting for power. But a pitcher who doesn't strike out a lot has a more difficult time making up the difference.

So, in summary, strikeouts for hitters are bad. But they've got the ability to offset it. Strikeouts for pitchers are good. But if they don't get them, there's not much they can do to offset it.

20. Likes:

mth123 (06-21-2013),RedlegJake (06-21-2013)

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