Posts Tagged ‘what is xFIP?’

Here is the introduction to the DMB (Diamond Mind Baseball) Trade Value series.

2010 DMB Trade Value: #50 -#41

2010 DMB Trade Value: #40 – #31

2010 DMB Trade Value: #30 – #21

2010 DMB Trade Value: #20 – #11

So here we are, to our Top Ten DMB Ball Players and I must say looking at the top 15-20 there isn’t much that seperates most of these players, almost personal preference or just slight improvement in key areas (and age).  It has been awesome to break this type of list down with a “DMB” twist and I look forward to doing it every season.  We’ll see who rises and falls the most season over season and see what hot new players burst onto the scene in 2011, hope you enjoyed.

10) SP Adam Wainwright (R) – Age: 29

Quick Take:  Definitely one of the best arms in baseball, sporting a solid 8.2 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 2.91 FIP and a solid gb rate Wainwright is quickly becoming a reliable workhorse and ace pitcher many had envisioned when he was a prospect.  His big weakness in 2009 was his propensity to get slightly roughed up by left handed hitters appears to be over given his .222 avg vs L this season and he should be counted upon to be one of the game’s best starters for the next 5-6 seasons.

DMB PRO: solid control, groundball rate

DMB CON: lefties have historically hit him relatively hard, not a major concern at this point. 

9) 2B Robinson Cano (L) – Age:  28

Quick Take:  Can you believe this is Cano’s 6th season with the Yankees?  It feels like just yesterday he was the young rookie from “Murderer’s row plus Cano” but now he is firmly entrenched in his prime and his offensive game has gone to unseen heights, his power (.238 ISO, .563 SLG%) as well as patience (8.5 BB%, almost double is career rate) has powered the second basemen to a career best .402 wOBA.  Cano plays a very valuable position and has improved his defense in 2010 (3.2 UZR) and is the best overall second basemen in the game on pace for 30 HRs.  He has finally put it all together in 2010 and should remain among the best middle infield options in DMB for 4-5 seasons if he continues to improve his patience and plate discipline.

DMB PRO: huge power for a 2B, big numbers versus lefties and righties.

DMB CON: plays in hitter’s park, still needs to improve BB rate to maximize DMB value.

8 ) SP Josh Johnson (R) – Age:  26

Quick Take:  One of the top overall arms in baseball, Johnson has taken another step forward in 2010 posting career best numbers in ERA (2.28), K/9 (8.8), BB/9 (2.28), FIP (2.50 and xFIP (3.23) in his second full season in the majors since coming back from TJ surgery.  He is equally effective against lefties and righties and possesses one of the biggest fastballs in the game (94.8 MPH) and has shown a solid gb rate in his career.  The only flaw he has DMB wise is pitching at Marlins Stadium, a notorious pitchers park.

DMB PRO: huge strikeout numbers coupled with low walk totals, good groundball rate, effective vs lefties and still improving

DMB CON: plays in is a pitchers park

7) 1B Albert Pujols (R) – Age:  30

Quick Take:  Having an “off-year” with only a .420 wOBA, Pujols is in contention for the NL Triple Crown and is again having a remarkable season, if you don’t compare to his past body of work of course.  One of the best hitter’s of our generation, Pujols is likely to be among the game’s best all around players until he retires.

DMB PRO: best overall hitter in the game?  Patience/power

DMB CON: only a 1B.

6) 1B Miguel Cabrera (R) – Age:  27

Quick Take:  Probably the game’s best right handed hitter, if he was still rated at 3B he would probably be near the top of this list but as it is he is still firmly in the top ten as his offensive ability carries him a long way.  Miggy possesses huge power (.305 ISO), patience (14.4 BB %, .437 OBP) and a huge .446 wOBA all while playing in a pitcher’s park with zero protection is a pretty lame Tigers lineup.  Equally amazing against lefties (1.034 OPS) and righties (1.096 OPS) Cabrera is entering his prime and there is no reason to believe he won’t remain among the game’s best hitters for the next 5-6 seasons.

DMB PRO: amazing hitter, power and patience.  Plays in a pitcher’s park

DMB CON: only plays 1B, lousy defender

 5) SP Roy Halladay (R) – Age:  33

Quick Take:  The best pitcher in baseball, period.  Halladay is a nightmare matchup for any hitter with his impeccable control over an arsenal vast enough to make an army general jealous.  Halladay throws a nasty two-seam fastball with good sink, a cutter he throws to both lefties and righties, a solid overhand curveball and an improving changeup he hasn’t thrown with much frequency until 2010 – scary.

The only thing keeping him from being ranked even higher is his age, though showing no signs of slowing down in 2010 (career best ERA at 2.27, FIP 2.80 and xFIP 2.91) Halladay has carved up the NL after serving as the game’s best pitcher in the game’s best division (AL East) since 2002.  Doc seems to have a skill set that will age well (a control, groundball pitcher) that a Greg Maddux like age 36-40 period doesn’t seem far-fetched.

DMB PRO: workhorse, solid against lefties and righties, awesome control and BB rate, groundball pitcher, pitches in a hitter’s park, is a DMB dream pitcher

DMB CON: aging – like fine wine however.

4) 3B Evan Longoria (R) – Age:  25

Quick Take:  One of the best all around players in the major leagues, his big time power (career .240 ISO, .523 SLG%), decent patience (10.2 BB %) and outstanding defensive abilities (15.3, 17.7 and 8.4 UZR marks the past three seasons).  Still young and theoretically improving Longoria will be a DMB mainstay on rosters for the next ten seasons with his huge level of talent.  Hits lefties and righties nearly equally as well and has added a bit of speed in 2010 (15 SBs) to go along with the power.

DMB PRO: huge power, great glove at 3B

DMB CON: could strike out less, never been a huge average hitter until 2010

3) C Joe Mauer (L) – Age:  27

Quick Take:  The player to which all prospective catchers will be compared to for the next 15-20 seasons, maybe longer.  Mauer has everything you want in a DMB player, he plays the most demanding (and leanest) position at catcher, has solid power for a backstop (.156 ISO), patience (11.7 BB %, 11.0 K %) and average (career .327).  The fluky power show from 2009 (in 2009, his HR/FB was 20.4 %, his career mark is 10.7 %) hasn’t returned but when you have a catcher that is as strong of an overall hitter and player as Mauer you have one of the top assets in DMB baseball.  Only 27 years old and entering his prime, keep an eye on the park factors for the new Minnesota ballpark.

DMB PRO: premium position and top flight stats, hits lefties and righties

DMB CON: power has come and gone over his career.

2) 3B Ryan Zimmerman (R) – Age:  26

Quick Take:  Simply, Zimmerman is a beast.  Playing in a pitcher’s park Zimmerman has put up huge power numbers (career .199 ISO), his 12.3 BB % is a career high which has also led to a career best OBP of .387, Zimmerman has it all.  One of the best defensive players in baseball at a relatively thin 3B position, there aren’t many better all around players in the game when factoring in age, talent and what DMB values in a player.  Zimmerman might still improve as he is only 26 years old and the future is bright for a guy who has already put up a 6.3 WAR in 2010.

DMB PRO: big offensive numbers in pitcher’s park, awesome defender, solid versus lefties and righties

DMB CON: nothing major

#1) SS Hanley Ramirez (R) – Age:  27

Quick Take:  Like we discussed with Pujols previously, Hanley is having a bit of a ‘down’ year but has still put up an impressive .370 wOBA with a triple slash line of 299/375/476 in 2010 while providing league average defense at shortstop, he is miles better than any other SS in DMB considering he also plays in a pitcher’s park.  He destroys righties (874 OPS in 2010, 1018 in 2009) and has been remarkably consistent with his offensive numbers (.364, .411, .405, .410, .370 wOBA ) since his rookie season. 

Hanley brings everything to the table, average, power, patience, speed and improved defense.  At only 27 years old, Hanley will be entering his prime hitting seasons and is poised to be considered one of the best hitting shortstops in the history of the game if he continues at his current torrid pace.

DMB PRO: best offensive middle infielder in baseball, plays in a pitcher’s park, great all around game, hits righties better than lefties

DMB CON: could stand to improve BB rate to maximize DMB value

Cue the cheesy theme song as it is time for everybody’s favorite game as today we will have a look at four different pitchers, three of whom have relatively similar stat sets and one who looks like he doesn’t quite measure up, without further ado let’s play ‘Can You Name That Player’?

Player A 318 335 162 48 73 272 4.58 4.03 308*
Player B 235 207 98 26 43 256 3.75 2.87 300*
Player C 229.1 192 80 27 38 223 3.14 3.23 280
Player D 229.1 195 55 11 51 242 2.16 2.33 309


At first glance my first thought is Player A could potentially be an old-timer from a different era when you look at the innings pitched, a whopping 318, not even the modern day ironman Roy Halladay could approach that lofty total without either his arm falling off or his pitching coach being arrested.  If I didn’t already know the answer my guess for Player A would have been someone like Phil Niekro based on all evidence.

Here are some more clues:

Player A 4.03 7.7 2.1 3.7 1.35 1.28
Player B 2.87 9.8 1.6 5.6 0.99 1.06
Player C 3.23 8.7 1.5 5.8 1.06 1.00
Player D 2.33 9.5 2.0 4.7 0.43 1.07


Player B appears to have strong peripherals across the board but for some reason his ERA has not reflected his true talent level.  Player C looks to be one of the better pitchers in the game and Player D is very obvious to me (I owned him in a few fantasy league’s and it’s hard to hide that ERA and amazing overall season from 2009).

Ok, now that you are on the edge of your seat I will reveal the pitchers identity in reverse order.  I would hope most of you ascertained Player D is of course Zack Greinke (circa 2009), just look at that season and marvel, it’s almost mind boggling and he tops this foursome in ERA, HR/9 and FIP.  Player C is none other than Anaheim Angel’s new toy Dan Haren (circa 2009) who had another fantastic season, leading this group in K/BB and WHIP.

Player B has some of the strongest overall peripherals in this all-star group of pitchers, a tidy 1.6 BB/9 and 5.6 K/BB, the highest strikeout rate (9.8 K/9), a phenomenal WHIP (1.06) and the second best mark in terms of suppressing the homerun (0.99 HR/9), however his ERA does not reflect what his peripherals suggest.  That sentence might be written in his pitching obituary when he decides to hang them up and of course Player B is none other than Ricky Nolasco.

What would ‘Can You Name That Player’ be without a twist thrown into the mix?  Player A and Player B are of course, the same pitcher, however Player B is actually Ricky Nolasco’s second half splits over the past three seasons while Player A encompasses the first half splits over the same time period.  When glancing at the above charts Player B appears to be one of the best pitchers in baseball and even stacks up stat-for-stat with the pitcher/robot known as “Zack Greinke 2009”, while Player A looks like he doesn’t even belong in this group. 

Nolasco (2nd half version) struck out more batter per nine innings, walked fewer and had a lower WHIP than “Super Greinke 2009” who had one of the finest seasons a pitcher has had in the past 10-15 years and produced an insane 9.4 WAR, let that sink in for a minute.  Perhaps the Florida Marlins should extend Nolasco’s spring training each year, by about three months. 

Nolasco has long been the poster boy for sabermetricians as he has consistently put up very impressive peripherals (K/9, BB/9, K/BB, FIP etc) but has seemingly underachieved in actual results (ERA, WHIP etc).  We have all waited for the breakout season to come where his ends would match up to the means or he would at the very least put together one full season of consistent pitching without the 1st-half swoon and 2nd-half tear syndrome.  Honestly, how does a pitchers best overall season when considering FIP, xFIP, K/9 and WAR also produce a 5.06 ERA?

Maybe there is something telling in his pitch profile, he is armed with a four pitch arsenal that he obviously commands extremely well, here is how often he throws each pitch:

2008 51.6% (91.2) 15.8% (83.9) 26.8% (75.0) 4.5% (83.0)
2009 51.5% (91.5) 24.8% (83.7) 14.5% (75.4) 9.2% (84.5)
2010 49.0% (91.1) 23.1% (84.6) 16.0% (75.5) 11.9%(85.0)


Here is the effectiveness of each pitch (Runs above average per 100 pitches thrown, a higher number means a more effective pitch:

2008 0.29 0.80 1.31 -1.27
2009 -1.01 1.94 0.11 1.95
2010 -0.74 0.96 1.11 -0.55


The fastball velocity has remained extremely consistent and like most pitchers who don’t throw overly hard (or induce a lot of ground balls, career 39% GB rate) has shown a negative run value when using it and it is clear he merely shows the fastball to set-up his off-speed and breaking pitches to put hitters away.  It is hard to say if there has been any coding errors (for pitch type) over the past three seasons when considering the slider and splitter as they both act similar and are thrown with nearly the same velocity. 

The curveball was utilized 26.8% of the time in 2008 but it appears over the past two seasons Nolasco has preferred the slider as he has increased his usage of the slider by 8-9% and in terms of run value this pitch has been one of his most effective offerings.  The curveball has been thrown 16.0% of the time in 2010 and has shown a very positive run value when he has used it over the past three seasons.

Nolasco’s usage of the split finger fastball has increased each season and in 2010 is being thrown 11.9% of the time and it has shown the biggest variance in terms of run value over the past three years.  Early in 2010 (small sample size) it was easily his worst offering but as his season has started to come around (closer to his peripherals) so has the splitter become more effective.  Perhaps there is a correlation between the success of his splitter and the overall success to his game.  Last season the splitter was worth 1.95 runs above average per 100 pitches thrown and that is a career mark for any of his pitches, so maybe there is something there?

Let’s take a peek at some pitch f/x data for his latest dominating performance on August 17th, 2010 vs. the Pirates 109 pitches over 6 shutout innings including 9 strikeouts:

As you can see, it is probaby hard to get comfortable against Nolasco when standing in the batter’s box.  His pitches have such differering movements that visually it must be a nightmare to pick up the baseball consistently.  Nolasco has managed to get hitters to chase his out of zone offerings a solid 33.1% (o-zone %) and his contact rate of 78% and 10.6% swining rate are both solid marks.

 Let’s take a look at the variance in speed combined with vertical and horizontal movement for his last start to further show the difficulties faced by opposing hitters, first velocity and vertical movement:

Now take a look at velocity combined with amount of horizontal movement:

Changing speeds has long been praised as an effective equalizer against opposing hitters and looking at the above graphs you can see the huge variance in not alone velocity and speed but also movement.  Nolasco definitely fits the ‘nasty’ description when describing a tough pitcher to face.  On this particular day Nolasco reached as high as 94 MPH with the four-seam fastball and was clocked as low as 72 MPH on his curveballs all while getting huge movement on most of his offerings.

For a multitude of reasons Ricky Nolasco has become one of the more over-analyzed and frustrating pitchers in the major leagues, he seemingly has all of the tools to be a superstar ace starter but has yet to put together that one breakout season we have been waiting for given the impressive peripherals he puts up year after year.  Will we be comparing him to Javy Vazquez for the rest of his career or will the sieve like first half performances we have seen be something he can eventually overcome? 

It would be intriguing to see because as we just learned ‘Second half’ Ricky Nolasco is one of the best pitchers in baseball, period.

After getting shelled by the Texas Rangers on June 2nd, 2010 (2.2 IP, 6 earned) Gavin Floyd’s ERA weighed in at a rotund 6.64, to the uninitiated it would appear that he was having a terrible season, but what is the truth?  During Floyd’s early season struggles it was pretty clear that luck was not on his side as his BABIP in April was 369 and in May slightly better but still high at 343, while his strand rates during those months were 55.8% and 66.8 un-respectively.  Floyd is throwing harder (FB velocity 2009-91.8, 2010-92.4), missing just as many bats (2009 contact%-77.8, 2010-77.0) and even getting hitters to chase his pitches more often (2009 o-swing%-27.6, 2010-28.3).

Someone in my fantasy league made a comment regarding Floyd’s terrible season and I commented “outside of a brutal BABIP and low strand rate, Gavin Floyd has essentially been the same pitcher” to which I was basically ridiculed.  But as we can see from this chart, Gavin Floyd was and is the same pitcher and therein lays the beauty of advanced pitching metrics like FIP or xFIP and the use of the peripherals that help gather these stats (BABIP, strand rate, HR/FB etc).

Apr 7.8 4.1 369 55.8 301 6.49 4.09
May 7.0 2.2 343 66.8 296 5.63 4.12
Jun 8.0 2.3 281 72.5 217 2.58 3.30
Jul 6.4 2.3 290 80.0 234 1.01 3.35
2010 7.4 2.7 320 67.9 261 3.87 3.69
2009 7.6 2.7 292 69.7 246 4.06 3.69


When we look at K/9, BB/9 and xFIP from April all the way through this year and even from last season’s totals we see what xFIP is attempting to do for us, take out all of the noise and some of the factors pitchers cannot control (such as what happens after the ball is put in play) and give us a real idea of how said pitcher is performing, relatively speaking.

Look at how steady the xFIP column is in particular, even when Floyd had a month in which his ERA was 6.49, his xFIP remained calm and cool at 4.09.  But just as important look at his unbelievable Bob Gibson-like 1.01 ERA from July, again his xFIP tempers this and brings us all back to planet earth as it checks in at 3.35.

This is simply breaking down who Gavin Floyd is as a pitcher and this is also a simple way to explain and show the value and usage of xFIP.  I think it also helps show how useless ERA really is when evaluating a pitchers overall value and performance. 

For those curious, since that June 2nd shellacking Floyd has gone on a hellacious run – 62.1 IPs, 45 hits, 14 BB – 52 K’s, good for a 1.74 ERA and 0.95 WHIP.  All things considered Floyd is having a career year, who would’ve guessed?

This piece was recently posted on Fangraphs Community.  Check it out!

FIP: Fielding Independent Pitching, a measure of all those things for which a pitcher is specifically responsible. The formula is (HR*13+ (BB+HBP)*3-K*2)/IP, plus a league-specific factor (usually around 3.2) to round out the number to an equivalent ERA number. FIP helps you understand how well a pitcher pitched, regardless of how well his fielders fielded. FIP was invented by Tangotiger.

xFIP: Expected Fielding Independent Pitching. This adjusts FIP and “normalizes” the home run component. Research has shown that home runs allowed are pretty much a function of fly balls allowed and Home Park, so xFIP is based on the average number of home runs allowed per outfield fly.