Starting Pitcher Rankings

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Starting Pitcher Rankings
2016 Diamond Dollars Case Competition at Columbia University

As discussed on MLB Network's Clubhouse Confidential...

CC-VG-12-29-11.v3.jpg
Vince discussed his Starting Pitcher Ranking System with Brian Kenny on MLB Network


My Starting Pitcher Ranking system (SPR) was developed to better measure a starting pitcher's ability to efficiently prevent runs. It includes metrics in 7 different categories:
  • Command
  • Stuff
  • Batted Ball Tendency
  • Durability
  • Versatility
  • Consistency
  • Quality of the Opposition 
It begins with "outcome" measures--the end result of the batter-pitcher matchup--that the pitcher controls: K-rate, BB-rate and HR-rate...the components of Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP). It also includes "process" measures--things over which the pitcher has some control that happen during the plate appearance: his swing & miss rate, the frequency with which he throws strikes, and his fastball velocity. The groundball/flyball rate is another important component, since flyballs yield runs at 2.5x the rate of groundballs. A pitcher also gets credit for durability--pitching deep into games and not missing starts. 
 
The essence of a starting pitcher vs. a reliever is his ability to pitch effectively to both right-handed and left-handed batters. A starting pitcher's platoon splits are factored into the SPR, as is his consistency, as measured by the game-to-game variation in his performance. Finally, the quality of the oppposition a pitcher faces is accounted for in the SPR. The combination of the unbalanced schedule, coupled with the reality of pitching every 5th day, leads to significant swings in the quality of a pitcher's opponent. The primary differences between the SPR and other measures are:
  • It explicitly values groundballs over flyballs
  • It values pitching deep into games, based on its affect on a team's bullpen usage
  • It gives starting pitchers credit for narrow platoon splits
  • It rewards game-to-game consistency
  • It adjusts for the quality of the opposition
Valuing Groundballs vs. Flyballs
While batting average on groundballs is slightly higher (.234) than average on flyballs (.219), slugging percentage on flyballs is significantly higher (.580 vs. .253 for groundballs). As a result, flyballs generate runs at a rate 2.5 times greater than groundballs. If Tim Hudson (an extreme groundball pitcher) and Kevin Slowey (extreme flyball pitcher), pitched equally effectively with the only difference being their batted ball tendencies, Slowey would yield 12% more runs and have a .030 higher OPS against, over the course of a season.
 
Pitching Deep into Games
In a recent study, I quantified the value of pitching deep into games, by analyzing the quality of relievers that typically pitch each relief inning--from innings 5 thru 9. The difference between starters who are "horses" and go deep into games vs. those who don't is the frequency of relievers covering portions of the 5th, 6th and 7th innings. Based on the quality of middle inning relievers, the difference between Roy Halladay, who averaged 7.3 IP per game (2011) and an equally effective pitcher who pitches a MLB average 6.0 IP per game is 12 runs over 33 starts. In other words, in Halladay's starts, he saves his team 12 runs vs. an equally effective pitcher who pitches 43 less innings over the course of a full season.
 
Quality of Opposition Adjustment 
The array of teams a starting pitcher faces often gets overlooked when judging his performance. In 2011, CJ Wilson started 34 games. Fourteen of his starts were against teams in MLB's lowest quartile offenses (as measured by OPS). Conversely, Toronto's Ricky Romero had one of the toughest schedules of any starting pitcher, facing 1st and 2nd quartile opponents in nearly 70% of his starts. The SPR includes an adjustment to each starting pitcher's stats to reflect the quality of the opponents they faced.
 
 
Follow me on twitter...@vincegennaro 

Starting Pitcher Rankings--2011
The 2011 final rankings are listed below. The rating score is scaled so that 100+ is an "elite" season by a pitcher. Roy Halladay is the only pitcher to have a score of over 100 for each of the last 4 seasons.

 

 

  SCORE

 

 

 

RANK

PITCHER

107

 

1

HALLADAY, R

106

 

2

VERLANDER, J

104

 

3

SHIELDS, J

102

 

4

LEE, C

100

 

5

KERSHAW, C

98

 

6

SABATHIA, CC

95

 

7

HAMELS, C

93

 

8

HERNANDEZ, F

93

 

9

HAREN, D

92

 

10

WEAVER, J

89

 

11

CARPENTER, C

88

 

12

FISTER, D

85

 

13

BUMGARNER, M

84

 

14

SANTANA, E

84

 

15

CAIN, M

83

 

16

KENNEDY, I

83

 

17

HUDSON, D

83

 

18

BECKETT, J

82

 

19

PRICE, D

82

 

20

ROMERO, R

81

 

21

MCCARTHY, B

81

 

22

WILSON, C.J.

81

 

23

LATOS, M

80

 

24

LINCECUM, T

80

 

25

HUDSON, T

80

 

26

MASTERSON, J

80

 

27

GARZA, M

80

 

28

PINEDA, M

77

 

29

GREINKE, Z

75

 

30

DICKEY, R.A.

74

 

31

KURODA, H

74

 

32

SANCHEZ, A

73

 

33

GALLARDO, Y

73

 

34

ZIMMERMANN, J

72

 

35

CUETO, J

71

 

36

PAVANO, C

71

 

37

JACKSON, E

71

 

38

GARCIA, J

70

 

39

HELLICKSON, J

70

 

40

FLOYD, G

70

 

41

HUMBER, P

70

 

42

BEACHY, B

70

 

43

HOCHEVAR, L

70

 

44

MYERS, B

70

 

45

DANKS, J

69

 

46

GONZALEZ, G

69

 

47

BAKER, S

69

 

48

VAZQUEZ, J

69

 

49

MORROW, B

69

 

50

LEAKE, M

68

 

51

TOMLIN, J

68

 

52

BUEHRLE, M

68

 

53

LESTER, J

68

 

54

SCHERZER, M

67

 

55

NOLASCO, R

67

 

56

NIEMANN, J

67

 

57

LUEBKE, C

67

 

58

LOHSE, K

66

 

59

MARCUM, S

66

 

60

NIESE, J

66

 

61

HARRISON, M

66

 

62

PAULINO, F

66

 

63

GUTHRIE, J

66

 

64

CAPUANO, C

66

 

65

OGANDO, A

65

 

66

RODRIGUEZ, W

65

 

67

NORRIS, B

65

 

68

NOVA, I

65

 

69

VARGAS, J

65

 

70

BAILEY, H

65

 

71

HOLLAND, D

64

 

72

VOGELSONG, R

64

 

73

OSWALT, R

64

 

74

PEAVY, J

64

 

75

WOLF, R

64

 

76

STAUFFER, T

64

 

77

DEMPSTER, R

64

 

78

CAHILL, T

64

 

79

BEDARD, E

63

 

80

HANSON, T

63

 

81

JIMENEZ, U

63

 

82

KARSTENS, J

63

 

83

COLON, B

62

 

84

JURRJENS, J

62

 

85

LEWIS, C

62

 

86

LILLY, T

61

 

87

MAHOLM, P

61

 

88

DAVIS, W

61

 

89

BURNETT, A.J.

61

 

90

BEAVAN, B

61

 

91

CARRASCO, C

61

 

92

CECIL, B

60

 

93

CHACIN, J

60

 

94

DUENSING, B

60

 

95

GARCIA, F

60

 

96

SAUNDERS, J

60

 

97

HARANG, A

60

 

98

MOSCOSO, G

60

 

99

CARMONA, F

59

 

100

FRANCIS, J

59

 

101

VOLSTAD, C

59

 

102

COLLMENTER, J

58

 

103

WORLEY, V

58

 

104

PORCELLO, R

58

 

105

NARVESON, C

58

 

106

LOWE, D

58

 

107

BRITTON, Z

58

 

108

MOSELEY, D

57

 

109

LIRIANO, F

57

 

110

MCCLELLAN, K

56

 

111

ZAMBRANO, C

56

 

112

GEE, D

56

 

113

LANNAN, J

56

 

114

PINEIRO, J

56

 

115

BILLINGSLEY, C

56

 

116

WAKEFIELD, T

56

 

117

PELFREY, M

56

 

118

CHEN, B

55

 

119

ARROYO, B

55

 

120

VOLQUEZ, E

55

 

121

HERNANDEZ, L

55

 

122

MORTON, C

54

 

123

WELLS, R

54

 

124

SANCHEZ, J

53

 

125

CORREIA, K

53

 

126

ARRIETA, J

53

 

127

MARQUIS, J

53

 

128

RICHARD, C

53

 

129

MCDONALD, J

53

 

130

WOOD, T

53

 

131

DUFFY, D

52

 

132

REYES, J

51

 

133

LACKEY, J

51

 

134

WESTBROOK, J

50

 

135

BLACKBURN, N

49

 

136

HAMMEL, J

49

 

137

PENNY, B

49

 

138

HAPP, J.A.

45

 

139

CHATWOOD, T

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