#Staturday: FIP/FIP-

In last week’s #Staturday, we took a look at a couple of offensive statistics, OPS and OPS+. Both showed their advantages over the traditional batting average stat. Now we’ll cover a pitching statistic you might’ve seen floating around. It’s called fielding independent pitching.

FIP

ERA has been the go-to statistic to measure a pitcher’s value for ages, and for the majority of baseball fans, it still is. But there has been a multitude of new statistics that have proven useful to evaluate pitchers, FIP being one of them. FIP measures pitching independent of any balls put in play on the field. More specifically, it accounts for unintentional walks, strikeouts, home runs, and hit by pitch.

This statistic intends to isolate what the pitcher has the most control over. Yes, balls put in play for hits can be the effect of a bad pitch. It also, in many cases, can be due to defenses being ineffective. So, what the pitcher is most liable for is strikeouts, walks, and home runs. And by the same degree, racking up strikeouts while allowing few walks and home runs is the favorable measure of a pitcher.

FIP is read just like ERA. A 2.65 FIP interprets the same way as if it were ERA in that it’s outstanding. But since every year the league average for all non-adjusted stats fluctuates, that 2.65 could put one in a small group of elite pitchers or moderately sized one of very good hurlers. That’s where league and park-adjusted statistics come into play. For FIP, it’s FIP-.

FIP-

A rule of thumb moving forward, anytime you notice a plus or minus following a statistic, it means it’s league and park-adjusted. The league average always sets at 100. For plus, any number above 100 is so many points better than league average and any number below, worse. The same goes for minus but vice-versa. Any number below 100 is so many points better than league average, and any number above is worse.

FIP- is an essential tool since the league average changes year to year. A 3.40 FIP may have been 20 points better than average one year but then drop down to only 10 points the very next. It’s vital to understand this because people tend to treat the results of every year equally the same. For example, the Dodgers pitching staff had the lowest FIP- in 2019 for the decade, even though their FIP was the 2nd highest in the same span. The bullpen alone had a 4.06 FIP in ’19, the highest since 2010, but according to FIP- it was tied for 4th lowest.

Can not forget that FIP- is also park-adjusted. I’ll use the two worst rotations in FIP- last year as an example. The Rockies starters put up a 4.87 FIP in ’19 but had a 117 FIP- (17 points worse than league average) compared to the Phillies 4.77 FIP but 119 FIP-. Boom, the park adjustment proves its worth.

So, since you now have a basic understanding of fielding independent pitching and its park and league adjusted sibling, here are the Dodger starters top 10 leaders in FIP- for the decade (minimum 175 innings pitched in a season) not named Clayton Kershaw:

2019 Walker Buehler: 69

2019 Hyun-Jin Ryu: 71

2015 Zack Greinke: 73

2010 Chad Billingsley: 79

2014 Zack Greinke: 82

2010 Hiroki Kuroda: 83

2013 Zack Greinke: 86

2013 Hyun-Jin Ryu: 87

2016 Kenta Maeda: 88

2011 Hiroki Kuroda: 99

Here are the Dodger relievers top 10 leaders in FIP- for the decade (minimum 49 IP) not named Kenley Jansen:

2010 Hong-Chih Kuo: 47

2015 Pedro Baez: 66

2015 Juan Nicasio: 75

2010 Jonathan Broxton and 2013 J.P. Howell: 77

2018 Pedro Baez and 2012 Ronald Belisario: 79

2015 Yimi Garcia: 80

2019 Pedro Baez: 81

2016 Joe Blanton and 2013 Paco Rodriguez: 82

2019 Julio Urias: 84

2016 J.P. Howell: 86

Oskar is a writer/editor for Dodgers-Lowdown. Follow him on Twitter @2rawsko94. Graphic credit: Alberto