In a game last week, a big argument started over Masset and whether or not he's been any good, and/or will be any good the season. It basically boiled down to an argument that many have been having here and other baseball forums for awhile.
Batting Average of Balls in Play, and Can a Pitcher Control It?
I won't go into great detail about the history of the this argument, since it's been done many times on this site, and is really very boring and math heavy.
But here is the basic summation.
It was discovered that there is a very small range between most pitchers in their BABIP. It's usually right around .300. There are exceptions, but they are rare. From this, many Sabermatricians have concluded that pitchers have little control over their own BABIP. Therefore, in determining the skill of a pitcher, you do not need to look at hits, since they are what's behind his BABIP.
This is why advanced stats like FIP and xFIP, use only homers, K's and walks to determine a pitcher's skill level, and ignore hits.
Many watch games and see guys get lit up, and refuse to believe that this was luck, or that the pitcher had no control over the hits he gives up.
So that's the gist of the argument.
I am not actually going to get into this argument in this thread, but instead offer an alternative view of this subject. I think this might spark a better discussion. Or maybe I am way off and be proven to be an idiot in the first page. We'll see.
What about Slugging Percentage of Balls in Play?
Wouldn't that be a much better stat to look at and try to understand? I think intuitively, it makes sense that a pitcher can control the slugging percentage of of the balls put into play. At least much more so that just whether or not the ball was a hit.
If you are just looking at hits, you have to admit there is a lot of luck involved. Bloopers, grounders that find holes, the quality of the defense, official scoring decisions, etc.
But there is much less luck involved in a double, triple and of course, almost no luck involved with a homer. Sure there are some doubles that should be singles and triples that should be doubles, but most doubles and triples are ripped. It's hard to get a bloop double, or ground a ball through the hole for a triple. Most extra base hits are earned, and likewise are earned by the pitcher as well.
Has anyone looked at SLGBIP to see how it varies from pitcher to pitcher? I would love to see any work on this.
And SLG combines homers with hits, but emphasizes homers more than singles, since a homer is counted as 4 times more valuable that a single, when it actually is worth a bit more than 3 times a single. The same for doubles and triples. They are overvalued in slugging percentage too.
So SLGBIP would include singles, but value them less than homers, doubles and triples, which makes sense, since there is more luck involved in singles than in extra base hits.
Anyway, I would love to see any research on this and I would really love to see a pitching stat like FIP that uses SLGBIP instead of homers.