Earlier today we took a look at the hitters and luck. Now let’s take a gander at the pitchers.

For pitchers we will use Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) and expected FIP (xFIP). In very basic terms, think ERA but better. FIP looks at the statistics for which pitchers are most responsible such as home runs, walks and strikeouts. If a pitcher’s expected FIP is significantly less than ERA that is an indication that the pitcher has been unlucky. In other words, he is pitching better than his stats might indicate (check this link for an explanation of FIP).

Notes on the table are below…

Notes on the table

  • We should expect to see some strong deviations from expected due to the small sample size of innings pitched. This especially true of the relief pitchers.
  • Since FIP is on an ERA scale, we can compare the two values. This can tell us if a pitcher is pitching better or worse than their ERA would indicate. Mike Ekstrom and Randy Choate have been the two unluckiest pitchers. However, even Ekstrom’s FIP is not good, so luck is a relative thing. At the other end of the spectrum, Rafael Soriano, Joaquin Benoit and David Price all have ERAs that are well-below their FIPs.
  • Four of the five starting pitchers (David Price, Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, Matt Garza) have been lucky so far. James Shields has actually been a bit unlucky. While his ERA is only 4th among the starters, he has the best FIP of the group so far. And his xFIP is even better. So while Price, Niemann and Garza have been reaping all the praise, Shields has been the Rays best starting pitcher so far.

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