Saturday, February 14, 2009

Fun with statistics: pitching and defense

With some time on my hands I though it would be fun to take a look at some of the stats for the yankees rotation and defense this upcoming season. Here are the FIP's (Fielding Independent Pitching, a measure of all those things for which a pitcher is specifically responsible) from last season.


CC Sabathia- 2.91
AJ Burnett- 3.45
Chien-Ming Wang- 3.74
Andy Pettite-3.71

I decided to not include any other pitchers due to numbers that may have been skewed by time in the bullpen/lack of sample size.

Now here are the 4 pitchers projected FIP's for next year by Bill James

CC Sabathia- 3.53
AJ Burnett- 3.73
Chien-Ming Wang- 3.89
Andy Pettite-3.66

And then here are the picthers ERA's this past year

CC Sabathia- 2.70
AJ Burnett- 4.07
Chien-Ming Wang- 4.07
Andy Pettite-4.54

And finally here are the prjoected ERA's for next year

CC Sabathia- 3.48
AJ Burnett- 3.62
Chien-Ming Wang- 3.70
Andy Pettite-3.90

A few things jump out at me from these stats. First off the FIP's and the ERA's from last year for both Chien-Ming Wang and Andy Pettite don't match up at all. Was the Yankees defense really that bad (I'll get to this later). The second thing, why does CC project to regress that badly? Is the move to the AL East going to hurt him that badly? I don't think it will as its not like he has no experience pitching in the AL. Perhaps his numbers really are that inflated by his mid year move to the NL central last year. Will just have to wait and tell on this one.

Anyway, back to the Yankees defense from last year. I'm sure we've all heard the phrases like Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi have as much range as my grandmother at their respective positions, But really just how bad can there defense be? To answer this question I visisted by Bill James and John Dewan. Really an amazing site and a good read, I definently suggest you check out.

None of the Yankees outfielders appeared in the top 10 best fielders or worst 10, aside from Bobby Abreu who made 24 less plays than the average right fielder. So I guess that puts them at a little blow average. The Yankees infield on the other hand was horrific. Arod didn't rank in the top 10 or bottom 10, but from there it goes down hill. Jason Giambi made 18 less plays than the average firstbaseman, Jeter made 12 less, and Cano 16 less. So yes it really was that bad, on the bright side though Giambi's -18 has been replaced by Teixera's +24. Also, I expect Cano to rebound completely, it looked as if he was playing out of position all last year in order to try and make up for Giambi's complete lack of range (I don't think that worked top well). Keep in mind Cano made 17 more plays than the average second baseman in 2007. Unlike Jeter who made 34 less than the average shortstop.

After doing this research a few things have really stood out

1. The Mark Teixeira signing really was that important, without it the Yankees defense would be comparable to last year.

2. Andy Pettite may be one of the best deals of the offseason with an FIP projected to rank as the Yankee's second best

3. With Jeter’s defense declining like it is, what is going to happen to him once his contract is up?

Next time I am going to take a look at the Red Sox rotation and defense and see just how well it matches up against the Yankees.

1 comment:

Rob Abruzzese said...

I think Sabathia's raising ERA just has to do with the fact that he was on one very hot streak at the end of last year. So he's going to regress a bit, plus he's coming back to the AL which certainly makes a difference. He's not going to be bad, but it's unreasonable to expect his second half numbers from last season to continue.

Also, you're right. Teixeira's defense is going to make a big difference and hopefully Cano will bounce back as well. We'll see how true the reports are that he's been working hard all winter.

Hopefully Arod can pick up a little slack for Jeter and Gardner can be a plus fielder in center as well.