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A Look In on FIP and the Cardinals

July 5, 2010

In my “What do ya’ll want to see post”, Bob asked about FIP and the Cardinals. Before I throw the summary table out there let me say a few things about FIP. First, here’s some good reading on it from Fangraphs. There was also some good discussion at BtB on xFIP/FIP/other metrics and how to judge past performance.

Some things to remember about FIP

  • The formula only takes into account HRs, Ks, and BBs, but that doesn’t mean it ignores all other balls in play.  It assumes all other balls in play are equal, and equal for all pitchers.
  • Guys that pitch to contact can still have good FIPs as they will likely keep the BBs and HRs down.  Don’t believe me?  Last year Joel Piniero’s FIP was better than his ERA (3.27 to 3.49)
  • FIP is also timing independent.  The order of events doesn’t matter.

Those are just a few points.  Google FIP and I’m sure you’ll find plenty of primers that do a much better explanatory job than I would.  On to actual numbers

Here’s a quick table from Fangraphs summarizing 2010 so far

Adam Wainwright 2.24 3.07 3.18
Ryan Franklin 2.16 3.11 4.23
Jaime Garcia 2.1 3.36 3.73
Brad Penny 3.23 3.46 3.83
Jason Motte 2.25 3.54 3.54
Mitchell Boggs 2.55 3.62 4.16
Kyle McClellan 2.43 3.73 3.8
Kyle Lohse 5.89 3.77 5.15
Chris Carpenter 3.16 4.06 3.77
Dennys Reyes 2.74 4.18 4.39
Noel Salas 1.23 4.23 4.5
Trever Miller 3.15 4.64 4.91
Blake Hawksworth 5.02 4.97 4.29
Jeff Suppan 4.19 5.26 5.08
Adam Ottavino 8.46 6.18 4.98
P.J. Walters 7.94 6.43 5.54

You’ll note that the vast majority of the staff has an ERA lower than their FIP (and xFIP usually). Does that mean that the staff is due for some nasty regression in the 2nd half? Probably, but I went off in search of some anecdotal evidence to the contrary.

Both Carpenter and Wainwright have had better ERAs than FIPs in all of the years they have logged significant innings for the Cardinals. As a team the Cardinals have had a better ERA than FIP quite often since 2004 as shown in the below table

2010 3.28 3.87 5.1
2009 3.66 3.82 -22.1
2008 4.2 4.4 19.8
2007 4.67 4.66 2.5
2006 4.54 4.77 0
2005 3.49 4.09 4.7
2004 3.74 4.17 15.4

I put UZR in as a team defense point of reference. Looks like the team has been able to “outpitch” their FIP in the recent past, but the magnitude (0.60) that we see this year is on the high side. Something to keep an eye on for the rest of the year.


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