WHIP it! WHIP it real good!

WHIP is a stat meant to measure how many baserunners a pitcher allows per inning. The acronym stands for Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched, and as you may have guessed is calculated by adding the total number of walks and hits a pitcher allowed divided by the number of innings he pitched. Formulaically, it is nice and simple: (BB +H)/IP.

But just like the video above, there are some issues with this stat. First of all it is not necessarily a good measure of a pitcher’s effectiveness for a variety of reasons:

  • A low WHIP composed of many home runs or extra base hits is worse than a higher WHIP made up of only singles and walks.
  • The distribution of the baserunners is important. You can throw a shutout if you only allow one baserunner to reach each inning but if you allow nine runners on base one inning and nothing the rest of the game, you’re likely to be pitching in a losing cause.
  • A pitcher with a high WHIP who is good at inducing groundballs for potential double plays and gets a lot of strikeouts may have more success than a low strikeout, flyball pitcher with a lower WHIP.

But that’s ok. Nobody has ever suggested that should be the one and only number to use to judge a pitcher. Just like you wouldn’t base how good an offensive performer a hitter is based solely on his batting average (please!), WHIP is just one of many numbers you can look at to judge a pitcher – along with many others including his strikeout rate, FIP, KK:B ratio, and of course the all-important WIN stat (If you don’t know I’m being sarcastic with that last one, well… you’re probably not my intended audience anyways).  And I will concede, that all other things being equal, the lower the WHIP the better.

Unfortunately, it does NOT accurately measure what it purports to measure – how many runners on average reach base each inning due to the pitcher’s fault (i.e., ignoring runners who reached on error).  This is because it is missing a couple of other pitcher related ways that runners get on base. Namely hit batsmen, and reaching on an uncaught third strike wild pitch (U3K-WP) (as opposed to uncaught third strike passed balls which are not the pitcher’s fault).

Now, both of these are infrequent enough that they generally won’t make a huge difference to the WHIP.  But it does make a small difference and so I propose this stat be renamed to RIP or BRIP (BaseRunners allowed per Inning Pitched) and include these additions.

For example, the White Sox Chris Sale has 210.2 IP and has allowed 170 hits and 44 walks, for a WHIP of 1.02. Manashiro Tanaka of the Yankees has given up 172 hits and 34 walks in 193.2 innings for a WHIP of 1.06.  But Sale has hit 13 batters to Tanaka’s 3.  Including those numbers in would give both pitchers an identical BRIP of 1.08.  (I have not included the U3K/WP as I can’t find a source of those – and I’m not 100% sold on the necessity of these, because unlike hit batters which generally have the same pitchers on the leaderboards every year, these are much more of a fluke- except maybe for knuckleballers – and are much more infrequent than hit batters).

So, what do you think? Instead of WHIP, should Baseball Reference, Fangraphs et al, include this BRIP stat instead?  Again, it doesn’t necessarily measure how good a pitcher is, but if you want a gauge of base runners allowed, I believe this is an improvement over WHIP.

Leave your thoughts in the comments below, or hit me up on twitter @baseballruben

 

 

 

Consecutive Game Hitting Streaks

jbj2

Courtesy of Mark Bloom/Icon Sportwire

I wrote a post on Jackie Bradley Jr over at my Red Sox focused blog. Among other things, I noted a quirk in the consecutive game hitting streak scoring rule.  This was a temporary hot topic on twitter when he was walked in his first couple of plate appearances while trying to keep his hit streak alive. A few tweeps quickly pointed out that the streak does not end if all plate appearances are walks, hit by pitch, CI or sacrifice bunts.  But it does end, if a batter gets a sacrifice fly.   Here is the exact wording of the rule (9.23(b) previously 10.23(b)):

A consecutive-game hitting streak shall not be terminated if all of a batter’s plate appearances (one or more) in a game result in a base on balls, hit batsman, defensive interference or obstruction or a sacrifice bunt. The streak shall terminate if the player has a sacrifice fly and no hit.

Curious that a sacrifice fly ends it.  An at bat is not charged for a SF, so a hit streak could end with a player going 0-0.  Imagine after hitting in 55 consecutive games, a manager intentionally walks you in every plate appearance. Until you come up with the bases loaded with one out in a tie game in the bottom of the 9th. You hit a long sacrifice fly to get a walkoff win.  According to this rule, Joe DiMaggio can rest easy knowing that his record will not be broken.

If anybody has any idea why the rule is written this way, I’d love to hear it.

 

Why is THIS a home run?

In Thursday’s Spring Training game between Houston and the New York Mets, the Astros’ AJ Reed got credit for a home run on a ball that hit the warning track and rolled towards the fence. Yoenis Cespedes thought the ball was lodged under the fence and put up his hands indicating to the umpires that it should be a ground rule double.  And he just watched the ball as Reed circled the bases and got a home run. The umpire ran towards the ball, confirmed that it was in fact in play and the home run stood.  Click below to see this

Did AJ Reed deserve credit for a home run on that? Shouldn’t the scorer call it maybe a double and an error on Cespedes, you might be thinking?

Well, let’s look at the scoring rules for what an error (original Rule 10.12, new Rule 9.12) is and see what conditions could apply to this situation .(Full rule in red below… my comments in black)

An error is a statistic charged against a fielder whose action has assisted the team on offense [sure, Cespedes assisted the Astros here], as set forth in this Rule 10.12.[but it has to meet one of the specific conditions below]
(a) The official scorer shall charge an error against any fielder:
(1) whose misplay (fumble, muff or wild throw) [there was no fumble, muff or wild throw, so (1) does not apply] prolongs the time at bat of a batter, prolongs the presence on the bases of a runner or permits a runner to advance one or more bases, unless, in the judgment of the official scorer, such fielder deliberately permits a foul fly to fall safe with a runner on third base before two are out in order that the runner on third shall not score after the catch;
Rule 10.12(a)(1) Comment: Slow handling of the ball that does not involve mechanical misplay shall not be construed as an error [I suspect looking at a ball and not handling it at all is a subset of slow handling of the ball]. For example, the official scorer shall not charge a fielder with an error if such fielder fields a ground ball cleanly but does not throw to first base in time to retire the batter. It is not necessary that the fielder touch the ball to be charged with an error. If a ground ball goes through a fielder’s legs or a fly ball falls untouched and, in the scorer’s judgment, the fielder could have handled the ball with ordinary effort, the official scorer shall charge such fielder with an error. For example, the official scorer shall charge an infielder with an error when a ground ball passes to either side of such infielder if, in the official scorer’s judgment, a fielder at that position making ordinary effort would have fielded such ground ball and retired a runner. The official scorer shall charge an outfielder with an error if such outfielder allows a fly ball to drop to the ground if, in the official scorer’s judgment, an outfielder at that position making ordinary effort would have caught such fly ball. If a throw is low, wide or high, or strikes the ground, and a runner reaches base who otherwise would have been put out by such throw, the official scorer shall charge the player making the throw with an error.
The official scorer shall not score mental mistakes or misjudgments as errors
[I think mental mistake could apply to Cespedes here] unless a specific rule prescribes otherwise. A fielder’s mental mistake that leads to a physical misplay—such as throwing the ball into the stands or rolling the ball to the pitcher’s mound, mistakenly believing there to be three outs, and thereby allowing a runner or runners to advance—shall not be considered a mental mistake for purposes of this rule and the official scorer shall charge a fielder committing such a mistake with an error. The official scorer shall not charge an error if the pitcher fails to cover first base on a play, thereby allowing a batter-runner to reach first base safely. The official scorer shall not charge an error to a fielder who incorrectly throws to the wrong base on a play.
The official scorer shall charge an error to a fielder who causes another fielder to misplay a ball—for example, by knocking the ball out of the other fielder’s glove. On such a play, when the official scorer charges an error to the interfering fielder, the official scorer shall not charge an error to the fielder with whom the other fielder interfered.

(2) when such fielder muffs a foul fly [that didn’t happen] to prolong the time at bat of a batter, whether the batter subsequently reaches first base or is put out;
(3) when such fielder catches a thrown ball or a ground ball in time to put out the batter-runner and fails to tag first base or the batter-runner; [neither did this]
(4) when such fielder catches a thrown ball or a ground ball in time to put out any runner on a force play and fails to tag the base or the runner; [nope]
(5) whose wild throw permits a runner to reach a base safely, when in the scorer’s judgment a good throw would have put out the runner, unless such wild throw is made attempting to prevent a stolen base; [no throw was made]
(6) whose wild throw in attempting to prevent a runner’s advance permits that runner or any other runner to advance one or more bases beyond the base such runner would have reached had the throw not been wild;[another condition related to a throw]
(7) whose throw [again, no throw] takes an unnatural bounce, touches a base or the pitcher’s plate, or touches a runner, a fielder or an umpire, thereby permitting any runner to advance; or
Rule 10.12(a)(7) Comment: The official scorer shall apply this rule even when it appears to be an injustice to a fielder whose throw was accurate. For example, the official scorer shall charge an error to an outfielder whose accurate throw to second base hits the base and caroms back into the outfield, thereby permitting a runner or runners to advance, because every base advanced by a runner must be accounted for.
(8) whose failure to stop, or try to stop, an accurately thrown ball [so many error conditions apply to throws… none of them are relevant to the home run situation] permits a runner to advance, so long as there was occasion for the throw. If such throw was made to second base, the official scorer shall determine whether it was the duty of the second baseman or the shortstop to stop the ball and shall charge an error to the negligent fielder.
Rule 10.12(a)(8) Comment: If, in the official scorer’s judgment, there was no occasion for the throw, the official scorer shall charge an error to the fielder who threw the ball.

That’s the end of rule (a) “official scorer shall charge an error against any fielder” Nothing in it that can be used to give Cespedes an error.  Let’s look at the rest of the error rule:

(b) The official scorer shall charge only one error on any wild throw, regardless of the number of bases advanced by one or more runners.

(c) When an umpire awards the batter or any runner or runners one or more bases because of interference or obstruction, the official scorer shall charge the fielder who committed the interference or obstruction with one error, no matter how many bases the batter, or runner or runners, may advance.
Rule 10.12(c) Comment: The official scorer shall not charge an error if obstruction does not change the play, in the opinion of the scorer.

(d) The official scorer shall not charge an error against:
(1) the catcher when the catcher, after receiving the pitch, makes a wild throw attempting to prevent a stolen base, unless the wild throw permits the stealing runner to advance one or more extra bases or permits any other runner to advance one or more bases;
(2) any fielder who makes a wild throw if in the scorer’s judgment the runner would not have been put out with ordinary effort by a good throw, unless such wild throw permits any runner to advance beyond the base he would have reached had the throw not been wild;
(3) any fielder who makes a wild throw in attempting to complete a double play or triple play, unless such wild throw enables any runner to advance beyond the base such runner would have reached had the throw not been wild;
Rule 10.12(d) Comment: When a fielder muffs a thrown ball that, if held, would have completed a double play or triple play, the official scorer shall charge an error to the fielder who drops the ball and credit an assist to the fielder who made the throw.
(4) any fielder when, after fumbling a ground ball or dropping a batted ball that is in flight or a thrown ball, the fielder recovers the ball in time to force out a runner at any base; or
(5) any fielder when a wild pitch or passed ball is scored.
(e) The official scorer shall not charge an error when the batter is awarded first base on four called balls, when the batter is awarded first base when touched by a pitched ball, or when the batter reaches first base as the result of a wild pitch or passed ball.
Rule 10.12(e) Comment: See Rule 10.13 for additional scoring rules relating to wild pitches and passed balls.
(f) The official scorer shall not charge an error when a runner or runners advance as the result of a passed ball, a wild pitch or a balk.
(1) When the fourth called ball is a wild pitch or a passed ball and as a result
(i) the batter-runner advances to a base beyond first base;
(ii) any runner forced to advance by the base on balls advances more than one base; or
(iii) any runner, not forced to advance, advances one or more bases, the official scorer shall score the base on balls and also the wild pitch or passed ball, as the case may be.
(2) When the catcher recovers the ball after a wild pitch or passed ball on the third strike, and throws out the batter-runner at first base, or tags out the batter-runner, but another runner or runners advance, the official scorer shall score the strikeout, the putout and assists, if any, and credit the advance of the other runner or runners on the play as a fielder’s choice.
Rule 10.12(f) Comment: See Rule 10.13 for additional scoring rules relating to wild pitches and passed balls

So, as you can see, even though you  may think Yoenes Cespedes deserves an error, and the pitcher should not be charged with an earned run, there is nothing in the official scoring rules that allows that to be done.  Cespedes made a “mistake”, but that cannot be scored as a baseball “error”.

For fun, here is a video compilation of other odd home runs that were mostly aided by fielder mistakes. Includes the infamous ball off of Jose Canseco’s head into the bleachers.  I believe in all of them the boxscore shows nothing more than a HR for the batter. Enjoy!

How to score automatic putouts?

knoblauch

Unfortunately this article doesn’t cover this case!  Boxscore just shows a routine putout to Mr. Knoblauch!

There are many instances in which a player is called out, and no fielder actually made an out.  (For example, when a batter is called out on appeal for batting out of order.)

I will list all the possible situations and how to score them below.  There are many different scenarios, and most of them occur so rarely that it is difficult for a scorekeeper to know them all and be able to score them correctly in real time.  But, once you understand the rationale behind them it becomes easy. These three key points are all you need to remember in most cases:

  1. Credit the catcher with a putout for any outs recorded on what I will call “technicalities”. e.g., batting out of order, illegally batted ball, being touched by own batted ball.
  2. Credit the fielder closest to the runner for any outs that are called on the runner where neither him nor a base are tagged. e.g., running out of the base line, interfering with a fielder, passing another runner
  3. Credit the fielder closest to the ball for any automatic outs that are due to something that happened with the ball. e.g., uncaught infield fly, runner touched by a batted ball

Here is a list of all the possible scenarios – from Rules 10.09 (b) and (c) and 10.10 (a):

Putout to catcher in these situations:

  • batter called out for illegally batted ball
  • batter out for bunting an uncaught foul with 2 strikes
  • batter out for being touched by his own batted ball
  • batter out for interfering with catcher
  • batter out for failing to bat in proper order
  • batter out for refusing to go to 1st base after an automatic award (e.g., walk)
  • runner out for refusing to go from 3rd base to home (e.g., on a bases loaded walk)

Putout to fielder closest to runner:

  • runner called out for running out of baseline to avoid a tag
  • runner called out for passing another runner
  • runner called out for interfering with a fielder not in act of throwing a ball

Putout to fielder closest to ball:

  • infield fly ball not caught (actually putout to who you think should have caught the ball)
  • runner called out due to being touched by batted ball

Other scenarios:

  • runner is called out for running the bases in reverse order – credit  putout to fielder covering the base the runner left in starting his reverse run
  • batter called out due to interference by another baserunner – putout to first baseman, assist to fielder interfered
  • runner called out for interfering with a fielder throwing the ball – assist to fielder, putout to whomever the throw was intended for

 

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