Not your father’s pitching statistics

The Hardball Times have posted their first cut of pitching statistics now as well. Their pitching stats include runs saved above average (RSAA), fielding independent pitching (FIP), defensive efficiency ratio (DER), and line drive percentage. The stats are through the 4/26 games.

Like I did with the offensive stats, here’s what I found interesting in these stats:
1. A couple days ago I wrote that I thought Nate Cornejo wasn’t pitching as badly as his ERA would indicate, and that he was the victim of some bad luck. Well, Nate’s DER (which is the percentage of balls in play that the defense converts to outs) is .587, which is significantly lower than the rest of the team. Given that the rest of the pitchers have the same defense behind them, you’d expect that the numbers woudl be similar.

What could cause this? Maybe the balls in play that Cornejo allows are tougher to field than his counterparts, maybe he’s giving up more line drives. If you look at line drive percentage, he actually has the lowest LD rate of all the starters at .125. The next lowest is Mike Maroth at .149. Even stud in the making Nate Robertson’s LD% is 40% higher than Cornejo’s. It would seem that line drives would have a greater chance of success (for the batter) than ground balls or fly balls. So it doesn’t appear that Cornejo is giving up more “un-fieldable” balls than his pitching teammates.

Finally, Nate’s FIP (as defined by THT “Essentially the proportion of ERA that can be directly attributed to the pitcher. The formula is (13xHR + 3xBB – 2xK)/IP. It works like DIPS ERA, so if you add 3.20 to FIP, you’ll get an approximation of what the pitcher’s ERA would be with an “average” defense behind him.”) is 2.08. Adding that to 3.20 gives an estimated ERA of 5.28. While that’s not a good ERA by any stretch of the imagination, it is a far cry from the run an inning ERA he had going into last night’s game What the 2.08 does suggest is that his increased home run and walk rate have negated (and exceeded) the effect of his increased strike out rate.

In the end, Nate hasn’t been pitching as good as last year, but not as bad as his primary stats would indicate either.

2. The bullpen has command issues. Gary Knotts is allowing 12.2 BB/9, Steve Colyer is allowing 6.8 BB/9, Uribina is allowing 9 BB/9, and Esteban yan is allowing 6.4 BB/9. Those numbers for Knotts and Colyer combine with high home run rates (2.7 for Knotts, and 2.3 for Colyer) to paint a pretty unflattering picture.

3. Bonderman has struggled, but it could be worse. His 9.6 K/9 is great. However, the 2.1 HR/9 is pretty poor. Also, he has the second higher LD % allowed on the team at .220 (Colyer is .280). Despite a high LD %, his DER is actually quite good at .724. So despite allowing a lot of line drives, overall his defense is turning balls in play into outs at a good clip.