Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Some Infrequently Used Data

Just for fun, let’s play with one of my favorite stats, Pitcher’s Quality of Batters Faced. It’s quite simple: you take the averages of every better a pitcher has faced, just like the name indicates. The question remains how we should interpret this data, but for now I’m going with the most basic use: comparing this to the hitters said pitcher will be facing.

Note: I’m going to use some more advanced pitching stats. For definitions, see The Hardball Times Stats Glossary.

ERA: 3.84
FIP: 4.81
xFIP: 4.63
DER: .723
LOB%: 76.1

What we can glean from this information is that Robertson pitched considerably above his head this year. The defensive efficiency behind him is quality, which aids his cause. But it seems to me that he puts guys on base at a decent clip and works out of jams. His left on base percentage somewhat justifies that claim. Both of these qualities work against him when facing the Yankees.

Quality of Batters Faced:
Avg: .272
OBP: .340
Slg: .432
OPS: .772

As we move forward, we’re keeping in mind that he put up the first set of numbers against a hitter that averages .272/.340/.432. Let’s look at the Yankees lineup:

Johnny Damon: .285/.359/.482
Derek Jeter: .343/.417/.483
Bobby Abreu: .330/.419/.507
Gary Sheffield: .298/.355/.450
Jason Giambi: .253/.413/.558
Alex Rodriguez: .290/.392/.523
Hideki Matsui: .302/.393/.494
Jorge Posada: .277/.374/.492
Robinson Cano: .342/.365/.525

(Aside: they say you can’t hit your way to a title, but have “they” ever seen a lineup quite like this? I have to go with the negative, since I don’t believe such a lineup ever existed.)

And there you have it. Only one Yankee came in below any of Robertson’s QBF categories, and that’s Jason Giambi’s average. However, I think that his .073 advantage in OBP and .126 advantage in Slugging negate Robertson’s .019 advantage in batting average.

So what are we to conclude from this? Well, since I haven’t really seen studies performed as to a pitcher’s performance against a lineup that is far better than the average he’s faced this year, I would say the results are inconclusive at best, misleading at worst. I’m just trying to put this match up in the best possible perspective, and these “Quality of” stats are rarely used.

Originally, I intended to post each Yankee’s Quality of Pitchers faced, until I realized that the numbers are more or less the same. The idea here is just the same as batters: the higher the numbers, the worse the pitcher. For the Yankees, this bodes well:


Over the course of the year, the average pitcher they faced had a .260 BAA, .340 OBPA, and a .415 SLGA. Those are pretty decent numbers for a pitcher. Robertson’s line against:


Once again, we run into an issue of interpretation. Against guys hitting .272/.340/.432, Robertson posted a line of .259/.320/.424, meaning he outpitched his opponents. On the other hand, the every Yankee (except Giambi in the batting average department) outhit the pitchers they faced.

What does all this mean? To be honest, I’m not quite sure. I’m trying to process the data, but since it’s relatively new and not frequently analyzed, I’m a bit stuck. Anecdotally, I fully expect the Yanks to light up Robertson tonight. He’s an average pitcher who ostensibly pitched above his head this year, and is facing hands down the best lineup in baseball. Statistically, though, it appears that Robertson may have just enough to keep the Yanks in check. Lucky for the Yanks, the undisciplined Tigers are facing ground ball machine Chien-Ming Wang. They might not even need more than two runs.

But I think I’m getting ahead of myself…