PART I – STARTING
WHIP, a “roto-geek” stat that has become all the rage in the past ten years (you measure WHIP by adding Walks and Hits and dividing by Innings Pitched). Of course this is a valuable stat and it can be one of many predictive tools one uses to forecast the success of a pitcher. But we believe that the vagaries of hits allowed (a ball lost in the sun, a wind gust, a misstep by a fielder, coaches positioning of players) can possible offer a “false” positive in terms or a pitchers overall effectiveness.
How do we remedy this situation? We propose a new stat, one we call SWIP.
What does SWIP stand for?
Why SWIP? If you don’t let a guy hit the ball, or give him a free-pass, he can’t score (there are 7 ways to reach first base; hit, walk, HBP, fielders choice, catchers interference, dropped third strike and errors, but since WHIP only counts 2 categories [hits and walks], we limited SWIP to two categories as well). Therefore you are probably a “better” pitcher if you don’t let batters put the ball in play because you are less susceptible to be negatively influenced by the performance of others (for a full overview of SWIP, see: WHIP or SWIP). Make sense?
As to how to actually figure out SWIP, here’s a brief example.
Matt Clement in 2003 had 171 K, 79 BB, and 201.2 IP.
To figure his SWIP for 2003 we do the following calculations:
171K - 79BB= 92
The HIGHER the SWIP, the more effectively the pitcher presumably performed. We say presumably because SWIP, like any other tool, is but one measure of the effectiveness of a ballplayer. This system is also more biased toward power pitchers as it places a greater emphasis on K’s (Tim Hudson scores a rather poor .42 SWIP last year, but by almost all other statistical measurements had a very successful year, so the system is not full proof). But it stands to reason, does it not, that the fewer times a batter puts the ball in play the fewer hits he can accumulate? Therefore the pitcher who successfully limits the amount of balls in play stands a greater chance of given up fewer baserunners, and by inference, fewer runs.
Let’s take a look at some of the best pitchers over the last three years in the following chart by listing each pitcher by his composite WHIP for 2001-2003.
*** The average WHIP of the past three years is 1.38.
This is a fairly standard list of some of the best pitchers of our generation. But how does this same list of pitchers look if we list them by their SWIP for 2001-2003?
***The average SWIP of the past three years is 0.36.
The same three pitchers man the top 3 spots in both lists, but after that there is a bit of movement in the list.
If SWIP can be viewed as a useful tool it should be seen as having some predictive value. According to this list of top 20 pitchers, one would think that the pitchers in the left column (column A) would be performing at a higher level than those on the right (as evidenced by their higher SWIP). Is that true for 2004 (stats as of June 9, 2004)?
Column A: 58 Wins, 27 Loses, 3.03 ERA.
PART II – RELIEF PITCHERS
Yet again Mr. Gagne tops the list, but there are a few surprise names here. Looks like the Yankees might have made a great move in signing Tom Gordon, and the A’s and Astros were wise to move Rhodes and Dotel into the closers role.
Other surprising names:
Riske- maybe he can overcome his early season woes if given the chance.
Witasick- what the heck is he doing on this
So in the final analysis, well at least for
this article, we feel that SWIP is a useful tool that should be part of
your toolbox of fantasy baseball resources. Is it going to allow you to
win your fantasy league with no other work on your behalf? Of course not.
But if you employ SWIP as one of your tools that you use to build the
foundation of your team, one day you just might get that home built and be
sitting there in front of your fireplace with a trophy on your mantle.
Ray Flowers can be reached with comments/questions or suggestions at: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also visit Rays’ blog at http://wildpitch.blogspot.com/ for a full review of all of his recent articles.