Finally got around to reading moneyball while on vacation last week … the most interesting concept for me was the idea that pitchers should only be judged on walks, strikeouts and extra base hits allowed.
This guy, Voros McCraken, came up with some kind of formula to calculates those three factors … I don’t want to get into the math of it here because it’s kind of boring… though I do think it’s foolish to dismiss the computer/science/stats aspect of studying baseball …
In anycase, the core of this idea of rating pitchers is based on the notion that singles, just as ground ball outs and pop up outs, and ground ball errors and missed pop ups are essentially the same thing.
Generally, once a batter puts the ball in play, what happens next is out of the pitchers control.
Case in point … runner on first with one out… a ball gets through the infield to put two guys on. The next guy hits a homer. 3 runs against the pitcher. Bad inning by him, right?
Conversely, runners on first and second with one out… that ball that got through the infield is snagged by the third baseman. Double play. 0 runs. What a great job by the pitcher to get that ground ball double play, right?
Well … whose ever to say that the ground ball in the second situation was any less of a ball put into play than the ground ball in the first scenario that happened to find a hole.
this is obvious, I know, but…
In the current ERA-drive rating system, to give a pitcher credit for a grounder hit to the thirdbaseman for an out, and to then penalize the pitcher when the same ground ball is hit two feet to the side for a hit between third and short is NOT AN ACCURATE way to RATE a pitchers EFFECTIVENESS. This is not the most accurate way to judge a pitchers value.
OF COURE, a guy can hit a shot up the middle for a base hit that, to the viewer, is clearly an inditement on the pitcher’s effectiveness.
But the batter can also hit a screamer to the centerfielder that is caught… Yes, that’s obvious, we all know the dichotomy here …
THE POINT is, by the current way of evaluating pitchers statistically, the pitcher’s rating actually improves by giving up that line drive out.
So why not do away with rating base hits and outs all together.
This seemingly is a totally baskwards way of looking at it, and while I find it to be imperfect, I also find it to carry a lot of truth.
Do pitchers deserve credit for keeping guys off balance by changing speeds, pitching to their weakness, getting them to hit weak grounders?? ABSOLUTELY!!! And I pat myself on the bat everytime I make it happen.
But I also keep it in perspective when those same grounders find a hole, or the hitter rips it to the outfield for an out.