Once I completed my study on predictive stats for hitters, I executed the same research for Starting Pitchers.
The stats we want to predict: future Strikeouts, Wins, Losses, ERA and WHIP. The goal of this exercise is to complete this table.
Again, the goal of this study is to determine what stat, or set of stats, is/are the best suited to fill in the blank above. R-Squared tells you how related each stat is, where 1.00 is perfectly related, and 0.00 is totally unrelated. Also, I used five years of performance data, not just 2011-12.
Here are the most predictive stats, with some commentary.
WAR, or Wins Above Replacement. Before this study, I always thought that the pitcher’s main duty was to prevent runs. This tells me that it is not. A pitcher’s main duty is to get outs. What I mean is that a pitcher will give up a run to get an out (or two outs) in certain situations, without a thought.
xFIP. Similar to Runs v Average for hitters, this is a counting stat v rate stat issue. If a pitcher is called up from Triple-A to pitch the final two months of the season, he would not be able to accumulate much WAR, but his xFIP could still be very low.
BB. Walks are positively correlated to future performance; the more walks a pitcher issues, the better his future performance will be. This should cause you to stop and think. It takes a lot of Innings to accumulate a high Walk total, which means that pitcher has his manager’s confidence, despite struggling in at least one statistic. This is probably more predictive of playing time than anything else. Remember, too, that this is a tie-breaker of sorts after WAR and xFIP. If a pitcher’s WAR and xFIP are poor, then you would not be considering them anyway.
Do what you will with that, but here are the Top Ten SPs in Predictive Stats to this point in 2013.
|9||Clay Buchholz||Red Sox||2.4||24||3.10|
Since none of these SPs are remotely available, let me give you one more name – the highest rated SP by this study that is possibly available in your league.
It is scary to ‘recommend’ a pitcher with a 6.28 ERA. But if these metrics can be trusted, he could look better going forward. Your league probably is not going to be in a hurry to acquire Porcello, so maybe just keep an eye on him over his next few starts instead of adding him to your roster.