Hardball Retro

dedicated to the enrichment of casual and serious enthusiasts in all aspects of professional baseball

In a day where measuring a pitcher’s ability to induce misses is vital to assembling a rotation, identifying a gauge for the alternative outcome (what happens when they don’t swing and miss) has become just as necessary in order to accurately predict and depict the success of any rotation.  It seems quite logical, on the surface that if we can calculate a single number to represent respective outcomes on opposite ends of the spectrum, we have a chance to encapsulate the value of a pitcher in a nice easy package.

One interesting statistic is BABIP- Batting Average on Balls In Play.  It describes the percentage of balls hit into the field that become hits.  Through evaluation, however, BABIP appears very random from one season to the next.  This is a clear indication that too many variables, including luck, are involved when a pitcher has a stellar or a lesser than desirable one. An alternative evaluation method has become more popular and reliable due to this perceived luck… defense-independent statistics.  Walks, strikeouts, and home runs  allowed can be seen as the best predictor of success of a pitcher.

All of the maneuvering that has stemmed from a quest to replace a cornerstone since 1912.  ERA has influenced contract negotiations, CY Young awards and Hall of Fame ballots.  Since 1912, along with batting average (BA or AVG) for a hitter, ERA has been the measuring stick by which we determine who’s ace and who is not.

Now we get to our catchy title, usually reserved for a Barista to customer interaction surrounding a frappe chino or got chocolate order- WHIP or No WHIP. In my opinion, WHIP, which stands for Walks plus Hits Per Innings Pitched, is the single most important statistic to determine a pitcher’s effectiveness. This holds true in fantasy and reality.  WHIP incorporates the first of the three defense-independent pitching statistics (the walk) and it considers each pitcher-hitter outcome, even those coming after an error erased the third out  (when ERA stops tracking runs).  Pedro J. Martinez remains the standard bearer for a single season (.737 in 2000) WHIP, while the career record goes to Cleveland flamethrower Addie Joss with a WHIP (.968).  In the end, WHIP is an accurate predictor of future success, a determinant of past success, and is much easier to calculate than ERA. As a historical fanatic of baseball, it’s as close as we can get to comparing across generations.  I’ll take WHIP every time, in both fantasy baseball and reality..: but in terms of my hot beverage conundrum, it’s even easier. No whip for me- I drink coffee and I take it black.

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Associate Scout- Sabrmetric Society (Science in Baseball Committee)- Former Head College Baseball Coach- Former Professional Player

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Associate Scout- Sabrmetric Society (Science in Baseball Committee)- Former Head College Baseball Coach- Former Professional Player

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