The Mockingbird

WHIP up some support

with 5 comments

Do better pitchers get more run support due to the confident aura they exude? Will Josh Towers ever get any? I ran 2006’s data for starters’ (120 innings minimum) run support against their WHIP (walks + hits/innings pitched) to see if there was any correlation between the quality of a pitcher and how many runs his team scores for him. My first thought was there would be absolutely none, because that’s what modern mathematical analysis tends to do to vague psychological intangibles (clutch hitting, streaky hitters, protection, baserunner distractions, etc.) in baseball. The first results did not disappoint:

WHIP Vs. Run Support – 2006


That’s about as randomly distributed a cloud as you can get; in fact the trendline has a slight slope that indicated worse pitchers getting more run support- though it’s not really enough to be statistically relevant. But there is an interesting gap: the pretty bad pitchers (WHIP > 1.45) in 2006 never got more than 4.5 runs. So I did another year:

WHIP Vs. Run Support – 2005


Ok, the gap is gone- but there’s the same trend, and this year the slope is about twice what it was in 2006. Which might actually be relevant. So one more:

WHIP Vs. Run Support – 2004


That’s three straight years in the same direction, and with even more of an noticeable effect in favour of worse pitchers. Stop the presses! Call SABR! Batters are slackers with the ace on the mound! Unfortunately, *slice* goes Occam’s razor – this can also be explained by other teams intentionally matching up their aces against yours (and the other way around), which is easily enough to explain a 1/2 run slope in your offence’s effectiveness without resorting to questionable psychological babble. This myth is busted.


Written by halejon

June 18, 2007 at 7:02 am

5 Responses

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  1. I think this could be affected by 2 things:

    1. When the Ace goes, its the one time managers can afford to give your big-boppers the day off.

    2. In the NL, Ace = More Innings Pitched = More ABs from the pitcher = Less Run Support.

    What do you think?


    June 18, 2007 at 3:12 pm

  2. Did I mention that those stats are freaking awesome!?!


    June 18, 2007 at 3:13 pm

  3. 1) Yep, for sure. Except we like to screw Towers by doing the exact opposite sometimes. 😉

    2) That’s really neat and subtle, but the effect would probably be verrry minor. Except sometimes they do wacky things like take out a 6 inning max pitcher in the 4th when the bases are loaded. Hm! Never thought of that. Good point.

    I’m not sure why I have never applied my mad Excel skills to baseball before- I use it as a cheap analysis tool at work all the time. I may have no life until I finish running every possible correlated stat through the grinder now. 🙂


    June 18, 2007 at 3:56 pm

  4. Haha, you knew that computer science degree was going to come in handy one day.

    It’s quite impressive how it appears that a team’s offence underperforms with a stud on the mound. I feel for guys like Matt Cain:

    Who is 1-4 in the last 7 starts with a 2.97 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. His WPA over that span is a sparkling 0.514.

    In fact the Giants have scored 24 runs over that span (a measly 3.8 per game), but if you look closely in that first game they scored him 15 runs, so that over the last 6 games they’ve scored only 9 runs for him, only 1.5 per game!

    So on the season he’s 2-7 with a 3.15 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP and the Giants are only 2-12 when he’s pitching. Its enough to give a young pitcher an eating disorder.

    Yes, I know the Giants are aging very poorly and have far too much $$ locked up in Bonds, but it makes you want to go back and look at those 2 seasons Roger Clemens pitched for the Astros and wonder why he was still willing to come back again and again and again. Perhaps start pitchers are just gluttons for punishment and this just proves it.

    BTW, on a side note, if the Yanks keep making a comeback this season – I’m going to pelt ARod with a sack of rocks on their next trip to town.


    June 18, 2007 at 5:37 pm

  5. […] example of Matt Cain from a previous post is a good one. His record is now a ridiculous 3-10, but the fault does not lie with the […]

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