Category Archives: rant

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





A comedy of errors? Or some well placed hits? You pick.

The season just started, and my last post was immediately after Game 7 of the World Series so it’s time for more updates.

The Boston Red Sox played their home opener yesterday against the Washington Nationals.  The boxscore will show that the Sox won 9-4 while getting 13 hits, and Washington made one fielding error.  Nats starter Jordan Zimmerman got charged with eight runs, seven of those earned in just 2 1/3 innings. But he didn’t pitch as poorly as the numbers show. I saw at least three additional uncounted errors, which should have made many of those runs unearned.

Take a look for yourselves:

Here’s a routine fly ball which falls untouched:

Shouldn’t the centerfielder have caught that with ordinary effort? Why is it not an error? Are some official scorers still holding on the antiquainted belief that there’s no error if nobody touches a ball?

Ok, here’s another one from the same inning:

This one looks even more routine. But some miscommunication led to both fielders looking at each other while it falls in untouched. Now here’s a scorer’s dilemna? Who do you give an error to if either could have caught the ball? Maybe that’s why they are reluctant to give an error on these types of plays? Anyhow, easy answer. The centerfielder gets the E. There is a hierarchy in baseball whenever two or more players both go for a ball. CF has priority over the corners, therefore it is his ball, and therefore it should have been his E.

Still in the same inning, a ground ball gets hit towards the shortstop:

This one may have been a little tougher because his teammate screened him a bit by going for the ball, but in my opinion, an MLB infielder should make this play.

Washington’s starter was removed after that play. And his record showed he had an awful outing. But with some decent defense behind him he should have only given up three runs in total.

Madison Bumgarner and the Game 7 win

Bumgarner MVP

Madison Bumgarner is a World Series Champion – check
Madison Bumgarner is the deserving MVP of the World Series – check
Madison Bumgarner’s tears can cure cancer – maybe
Madison Bumgarner won Game 7 of the World Series – NOT SO FAST!

There was some confusion during the game when the broadcasters mentioned that if he finished the game, he’d get a five inning save. Some time later, they amended that saying they had been told that he would, in fact, be credited with the win. And when the Giants held off the Royals, he was given the win, and several times it was mentioned that he won three games in this World Series.  This didn’t sound right, as Jeremy Affeldt was the pitcher of record when they took the lead in the 4th inning.  So, I asked around on twitter, and well-intentioned people pointed me to rule 10.17(b), and specifically the comment which says

If the first relief pitcher pitches effectively, the official scorer should not presumptively credit that pitcher with the win, because the rule requires that the win be credited to the pitcher who was the most effective, and a subsequent relief pitcher may have been most effective

Ok, nobody will argue that Bumgarner’s 5 shutout innings were more effective than the 2+ that Jeremy Affeldt threw.  But that rule does not apply.  (Look at the scoring rules here for the full text of rule 10.17 dealing with winning and losing pitchers, I’m only putting highlights here)

The rule says: “.. the winning pitcher is that pitcher whose team assumes a lead while such pitcher is in the game…and does not relinquish such lead”.  Note that in the bottom of the 4th inning, Affedlt was pitching with his team winning 3-2, which was the final score, so this condition was met. It then adds: ” unless (1) such pitcher is a starting pitcher and Rule 10.17(b) applies; or (2) Rule 10.17(c) applies.”

Rule 10.17(b) is the one I quoted above and talks about the most effective reliever. BUT, that rule does not apply. It clearly only applies if “such pitcher is a starting pitcher”.

So we are left with rule 10.17(c).  I’ll quote it in it’s entirety

The official scorer shall not credit as the winning pitcher a relief pitcher who is ineffective in a brief appearance, when at least one succeeding relief pitcher pitches effectively in helping his team maintain its lead. In such a case, the official scorer shall credit as the winning pitcher the succeeding relief pitcher who was most effective, in the judgment of the official scorer.
Rule 10.17(c) Comment: The official scorer generally should, but is not required to, consider the appearance of a relief pitcher to be ineffective and brief if such relief pitcher pitches less than one inning and allows two or more earned runs to score (even if such runs are charged to a previous pitcher). Rule 10.17(b) Comment provides guidance on choosing the winning pitcher from among several succeeding relief pitchers.

Hhmmm…. so, the official scorer CAN at any time decide to take a way a win from a relief pitcher if he deems him to be “ineffective in a brief appearance”.  Affeldt came in with runner on the corners in the 2nd inning, worked out of that jam, and didn’t allow a run in the 3rd or 4th. He may have not been as impressive as Bumgarner but it’s a stretch to say he was “ineffective”.

The only thing I can think is that it makes for a nice narrative for Fox and MLB to show Bumgarner as some kind of superhuman hero.  The thing is, whether his record in the WS is 3-0 or 2-0 with a 5 inning save, they are equally impressive. But one of these is legitimate, the other one is a farce.  Come on MLB, please have this corrected before tomorrow morning’s papers are printed.  Thank you.


UPDATE: So, minutes after I posted this I see on twitter that MLB has fixed the scoring for this game, and did in fact give Affeldt the win, and credited Bumgarner with a save. Of course, nobody will know because the TV broadcast had finished by then. I half suspect this was intentional so they could sell this “Bumgarner as hero” storyline.

Almost a 4-2-8

In last night’s Dodgers/Padres, with the score tied in the bottom of the 12th, and the bases loaded with just one out, Don Mattingly brought one of his outfielders into the infield to help cut a run down at the plate and/or get an inning ending double play. This happens occasionally and is not that unusual in and by itself. What looked a little unusual was that with a dead pull hitter (Seth Smith) up, they had 4 infielders between 1st and 2nd base, including “centerfielder” Andre Ethier right on first base. This unusual defensive alignment almost paid off. Smith hit a ground ball right to Dee Gordon, who fired home to get the force out, but the throw bounced and by the time AJ Ellis fired back to Ethier at first, the batter was (barely) safe.

What was interesting about this play, is that if Ellis’ throw had beat Smith to first base, this would be scored as your not quite run of the mill 4-2-8 double play. But why is that? The baseball rulebook (other than the scoring section) does not define specific positions, other than pitcher and catcher. There is also a reference to a first baseman, as they are allowed to use a different sized glove than the other fielders. What if a team, decided to play the whole game with 7 infielders? Or 7 outfielders? Does it make sense to arbitrarily assign them a defensive position? What if a right fielder wanted to use a first baseman’s mitt? The rules don’t allow it, but I suppose all he needs to do is be declared the first baseman, and just claim that he’s playing really, really deep and that would be ok. When the Ortiz/Texeira/any left handed slugger shift is on, and the third baseman is playing in shallow right field, why is the putout recorded as 5-3? I understand that Brett Lawrie, or whoever is out there, deserves the assist, but the batter’s record should show that he hit a ball into short right field… not 3rd base. Imagine a scout who is only looking at paper stats, and sees a guy who hits into a bunch of 5-3 ground outs. He might shift the infield towards third base, rather than away from it. I think scoring records should be based on where a player is playing, not what he was arbitrarily assigned to at the start of the game. If Ethier gets the putout at the backend of that double play, it should be scored a 4-2-3. His defensive record should also show that he played first base for 1/3 of an inning. But it doesn’t. According to any non-video evidence, Andre Ethier played 12 full innings in centerfield.

By the way, this shift only delayed the inevitable for a few moments. The next batter, Yasmani Grandal, hit a clean single into right field (which bounced between 1st and 2nd… wonder if 4 infielders there could have prevented THAT hit???) to send the Petco crowd home happy.

What’s my point? I don’t know. I just felt like ranting. What are your thoughts? Leave them in the comments or tweet to me @baseballruben.

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