Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Is the Blue Jays Pitching One of the Best in the League?

The main stream media has been writing articles about how good the Blue Jays starters have been this season, even though they haven't actually been that good. They have actually been quite bad. In this article, I'm going to take a look at some advanced metrics that prove that the Blue Jays defense has been responsible for the pitching success, not the actual pitchers.

As most of you know from John Lott's article in the National Post today, the Blue Jays have the best defense in the MLB. The Jays have saved 29 runs from there defense according to DRS (Defensive Runs saved). This is due to the amount of shifts that have worked for the Jays, and their range that has greatly improved with the addition of Brett Lawrie and others.

The Blue Jays starters ERA's is 3.55, good for 3rd best in the AL. That number is way below where it would be if the Jays defense wasn't so good. So, to determine how good the Blue Jays starters really are, we will look at FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), and BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play). These are the ERA's, FIP's, and Opponents BABIP of the Blue Jays Starters this year. (No #5 starter)

Ricky Romero-3.64,4.03,.214
Brandon Morrow-2.38,4.32,.202
Henderson Alvarez-2.83,5.21,.200
Kyle Drabek-3.34,5.30,.263

As you can see, their ERA's are very low, but once you get rid of the contribution of the fielders (FIP), those numbers are very high. Morrow,Alvarez, and Drabek all have significantly below average FIP's, and Romero's is only a tad below average. If Ricky is going to be your #1 pitcher, then he needs to be your best pitcher, and his numbers so far are pretty disappointing. All of those pitchers have insanely low BABIP's, which means the batters are very unlucky, or the Blue Jays fielding has been phenomenal. Obviously, its the second option.

So, instead of giving credit to the Blue Jays Pitchers for their low numbers, give the credit to their defenders of the likes like Mr.Lawrie,Mr.Escobar, and Mr. Johnson. Hopefully, later this season, the two sides (Pitching and Defense) can both be leading the league, and the Jays will be in the post-season for the first time since 1993.

Feel free to leave your comments below.

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  1. Although I agree with your basic point, I think that the perspective on the pitcher's success is better described as success on the defensive side of the game.

    The Jays have beend above average at run prevention, and you could argue that without solid fielders behind them, the pitchers would have to alter their approach to try to get more strikeouts.

    When projecting into the future, I find FIP is the more logical way to try to guess what a pitcher might be able to do. When looking at what already happened, I don't think its that simple to uncouple the fielders from the pitcher, their actions have already become intertwined.

    Also, as a side note, proofread your piece over again, you'll look more professional without so many typos, and that odd misuse of the word 'ladder' at the end of the 5th paragraph.

  2. I think that you may be giving too much credit to the defense, and they do deserve a lot of credit. They've been nothing short of spectacular. However, the strategy of the pitchers has changed since last year, most noticeably with Brandon Morrow. He went from a flamethrower racking up Ks to a pitcher who is pitching to contact, which is reliant on defense, and I noticed this in a lot of the starts, for the whole rotation, which leads me to believe that the organization initiated the change, and may still be a work in progress.

    So in reality, the pitching and defense are both good because they've been reliant on each other, and have been working very efficiently. There are obviously some concerns, but it's still early, so hopefully things improve!

    Plus, it's not the advanced stats that really matter, it's the results, and if the results stay positive, that's all that matters.