Pitchers and Their Best Friends

July 16, 2020
                    Pitchers and Their Best Friends

            Formula 14:   DP Adv (Double Play Advantage)

            Double Play advantage is a team’s double plays, compared to their EXPECTED double plays:

            DP Adv = Tm DP – TXDP

 

YEAR

City

Team

Lg

DP

Expected Double Plays

DP Advantage

1960

Pittsburgh

Pirates

NL

163

141.02

21.98

1964

New York

Mets

NL

154

162.74

-8.74

1968

Detroit

Tigers

AL

133

121.30

11.70

1972

Texas

Rangers

AL

147

161.99

-14.99

1976

Cincinnati

Reds

NL

157

139.74

17.26

1980

Seattle

Mariners

AL

189

186.30

2.70

1984

Detroit

Tigers

AL

162

138.34

23.66

1988

Baltimore

Orioles

AL

172

168.79

3.21

1992

Toronto

Blue Jays

AL

109

135.90

-26.90

1996

Detroit

Tigers

AL

157

203.48

-46.48

2000

New York

Yankees

AL

132

140.82

-8.82

2004

Arizona

Diamondbacks

NL

144

163.26

-19.26

2008

Philadelphia

Phillies

NL

142

146.99

-4.99

2012

Houston

Astros

NL

132

151.70

-19.70

2016

Chicago

Cubs

NL

116

112.86

3.14

 

            We can see, then, that although the 1964 Mets turned 154 Double Plays and the 1968 Tigers only 133, the 1968 Tigers were actually much better at turning the Double Play (+12) than the 1964 Mets (-9).  Most of the World Championship teams on this chart were good at turning the double play; most of the bad teams were not good at it.   There are five exceptions.  The 1972 Rangers and the 1980 Mariners were above average at turning the double play, although they were not good teams overall, and the 1992 Blue Jays, 2000 Yankees and 2008 Phillies were not good at turning the Double Play, although they won the World Championship.   The 1992 Blue Jays were actually last in the majors in Double Plays, 48 double plays below the league average.  About half of that is explained by baserunners and ground balls; the other half is just that they weren’t good at turning the DP, or were not focused on it.   

 

 

            Formula 15:  NormDP      (Normalized Double Plays)

            Once we have the team’s Double Play Advantage, we need to place that back in a normalized context for the era.   So we figure the average number of DP/Game FOR THE DECADE IN WHICH THE TEAM PLAYED, apply that to the team’s games, and add the DP Advantage:

            NormDP = (Lg DP/Game for Decade) * Tm Games + DP Adv

YEAR

City

Team

Team G

Decade DP

Decade G

Decade Avg

DP Advantage

Normalized DP

1960

Pittsburgh

Pirates

155

29361

31922

.920

21.98

164.5

1964

New York

Mets

163

29361

31922

.920

-8.74

141.2

1968

Detroit

Tigers

164

29361

31922

.920

11.70

162.5

1972

Texas

Rangers

154

37671

39610

.951

-14.99

131.5

1976

Cincinnati

Reds

162

37671

39610

.951

17.26

171.3

1980

Seattle

Mariners

163

37934

40674

.933

2.70

154.7

1984

Detroit

Tigers

162

37934

40674

.933

23.66

174.7

1988

Baltimore

Orioles

161

37934

40674

.933

3.21

153.4

1992

Toronto

Blue Jays

162

40175

43188

.930

-26.90

123.8

1996

Detroit

Tigers

162

40175

43188

.930

-46.48

104.2

2000

New York

Yankees

161

45794

48581

.943

-8.82

142.9

2004

Arizona

D’backs

162

45794

48581

.943

-19.26

133.4

2008

Philade

Phillies

162

45794

48581

.943

-4.99

147.7

2012

Houston

Astros

162

42136

48592

.867

-19.70

120.8

2016

Chicago

Cubs

162

42136

48592

.867

3.14

143.6

 

 

 

 

            Formula 16:  DP-RS-TM  (Double Play Runs Saved, team)

            The value of each Double Play turned (Normalized) is .516 runs, the same as the value of a Baserunner Removed:

            DP-RS-TM = NormDP * .516

 

            MAKE A MENTAL NOTE OF THIS NUMBER, the team’s runs saved by double plays.  We will use this number repeatedly in figuring the Runs Saved by infielders and pitchers.   These are the Runs Saved by Double Play Performance for the 15 teams that we are following:

YEAR

City

Team

Normalized DP

Runs Saved by DP

1960

Pittsburgh

Pirates

164.5

84.91

1964

New York

Mets

141.2

72.85

1968

Detroit

Tigers

162.5

83.87

1972

Texas

Rangers

131.5

67.84

1976

Cincinnati

Reds

171.3

88.40

1980

Seattle

Mariners

154.7

79.84

1984

Detroit

Tigers

174.7

90.17

1988

Baltimore

Orioles

153.4

79.14

1992

Toronto

Blue Jays

123.8

63.88

1996

Detroit

Tigers

104.2

53.77

2000

New York

Yankees

142.9

73.76

2004

Arizona

Diamondbacks

133.4

68.86

2008

Philadelphia

Phillies

147.7

76.22

2012

Houston

Astros

120.8

62.32

2016

Chicago

Cubs

143.6

74.11

 

 

 

            Formula 17:  Pit-DP-RS1-P6  (Pitcher’s Double Play Runs Saved-1; 6th Pitcher’s Value)

            70% of the team’s Runs Saved by Double Plays are attributed to pitchers and infielders (except first basemen) based on their Double Plays participated in.   (First basemen will be dealt with in a different manner).  Anyway, you add together the double plays participated in by all of the team’s pitchers, second basemen, third basemen and shortstops, and allocate 70% of team’s DP RS (Double Play Runs Saved) based on each player’s share of those.  The term DP(indpit) means Double Plays by the individual pitcher:

            DPRS-Fldg-Pit-T6 = DP RS * .70 * DP(indpit)/(DP pit + DP 2B + DP 3B + DP SS)

            This exact same formula is also used to allocate credit for double plays to second basemen, third basemen, and shortstops.   Anyway, these are the double play participation numbers for the pitchers, second basemen, third basemen and shortstops on the 15 teams that we have focused on:

 

YEAR

City

Team

Lg

DP Pit

DP 2B

DP 3B

DP SS

Total

1960

Pittsburgh

Pirates

NL

15

129

36

108

288

1964

New York

Mets

NL

19

103

26

106

254

1968

Detroit

Tigers

AL

8

92

25

73

198

1972

Texas

Rangers

AL

18

94

30

86

228

1976

Cincinnati

Reds

NL

5

106

28

104

243

1980

Seattle

Mariners

AL

14

134

39

127

314

1984

Detroit

Tigers

AL

22

110

29

104

265

1988

Baltimore

Orioles

AL

14

121

31

120

286

1992

Toronto

Blue Jays

AL

10

71

13

82

176

1996

Detroit

Tigers

AL

18

107

35

102

262

2000

New York

Yankees

AL

18

85

30

84

217

2004

Arizona

Diamondbacks

NL

16

93

34

90

233

2008

Philadelphia

Phillies

NL

17

103

27

87

234

2012

Houston

Astros

NL

13

94

25

86

218

2016

Chicago

Cubs

NL

15

83

26

73

197

 

            And with these numbers, we can assign credit for fielding participation in double plays.    The Pittsburgh Pirates are credited with 84.91 Runs Saved by Double Plays, and there are 288 "shares" of that to be divided up.    

            The numbers of Runs Saved credited to pitchers here are very small; the most of any pitcher in our study is 1.4, by Brandon Webb of the 2004 Arizona Diamondbacks.   Webb was involved in 7 double plays, also the most of any pitcher on any of the 15 teams being studied.  While the numbers involved are very small, Dan Petry (1984 Tigers) moves up another spot on the list of the top pitchers being studied, up to 6th place, and Jack Fisher (1964 Mets) gets back on the list, pushing Floyd Bannister (1980 Mariners) back off:

Player

Year

P1

P2

P3

P4

P5

70% Team RS

DP

Shares

P6

Total

Denny McLain

1968

45

27

21

7

1

58.71

3

198

0.89

102.16

Randy Johnson

2004

47

20

18

4

2

48.20

0

233

0.00

90.75

Bob Friend

1960

29

27

23

7

0

59.43

1

288

0.21

86.23

Vern Law

1960

19

26

18

7

1

59.43

6

288

1.24

72.67

Cole Hamels

2008

32

18

12

5

1

53.36

3

234

0.68

67.79

Dan Petry

1984

23

16

17

5

4

63.12

4

265

0.95

66.36

Mickey Lolich

1968

32

13

14

5

3

58.71

0

198

0.00

66.24

Earl Wilson

1968

27

15

16

4

2

58.71

3

198

0.89

64.35

Jon Lester

2016

32

13

12

3

2

51.88

1

197

0.26

61.90

Gary Nolan

1976

18

25

13

4

1

61.88

0

243

0.00

61.83

Jack Morris

1984

24

13

19

4

1

63.12

4

265

0.95

61.40

Jack Morris

1992

21

13

20

4

2

44.72

1

176

0.25

60.15

Kyle Hendricks

2016

27

13

14

3

2

51.88

2

197

0.53

60.03

Jack Fisher

1964

19

18

16

5

1

50.99

5

254

1.00

59.64

Pat Zachry

1976

23

9

20

4

3

61.88

2

243

0.51

59.37

 

 

 

            Formula 18:  Sum Pit DP Sq  (Pitcher’s Double Plays Squared)

            Pitchers receive credit for Double Plays in two different ways.  They receive credit for participating in double plays as a fielder, just as other infielders do.  That’s formula 17.   But they also receive credit for the double plays that happen on balls that they put in play.  70% of Double Play credit is distributed based on participating in double plays as a fielder, and only 20% is distributed under this process (Formulas 20 and 21), but since all of THESE runs saved credits go to pitchers, they are much larger for pitchers than are the other credits. 

            For anyone who might not know, Retrosheet displays the number of Double Plays with each pitcher on the mound.   For years before this data is available, simply zero out this category, and assign 90% of the credit for double play runs saved to the fielders’ DP participation, rather than 70%. 

            Pit DP Sq =  The sum of the squares of the double plays started by all pitchers on the team.

            Not exactly a formula, but you know what I mean. 

 

            Formula 19:  Pit-DP-RS2-P7  (Pitcher’s Double Play Runs Saved-2, 7th Pitcher’s Value)

            20% of the Run-Saving value of double plays is allocated to pitchers based on throwing the pitch that gets the double play, and this is divided among pitchers based on the square of their Double Plays (as a pitcher). 

            Pit-DP-RS2-P7 = (.20 * DP-RS) * DP^2 /  (Sum Pit DP Squared)

            The pitcher who pick up the most Runs Saved from starting Double Plays is Vern Law, 1960 Cy Young Award winner, who had the support of 33 Double Plays, and is credited with 7.04 Runs Saved based on that fact.  Running through the numbers:

            The 1960 Pirates are credited with 84.91 Runs Saved by Double Plays,

            20% of that is set aside for pitchers, based on their Double Play Support.  That’s 16.98 runs for the team’s pitchers. 

            Law had the support of 33 Double Plays, easily the most of any pitcher on any of the 15 teams we are studying. 

            33 squared is 1089.

            The sum of the squares for ALL of the Pirates pitchers is 2,624.

            1089 of 2624 is 41.5%.

            Law gets 41.5% of the 16.98 runs which are credited to the Pirate pitchers.

            Which is 7.05 Runs.

            These are the top 10 pitchers in the study in this regard:

 

Year

Player

DP R Saved

20% Runs Saved

GDP

GDP ^ 2

Team Total

P7

1960

Vern Law

84.91

16.98

33

1089

2624

7.05

2000

Andy Pettitte

73.76

14.75

24

576

1283

6.62

2004

Brandon Webb

68.86

13.77

24

576

1258

6.31

1976

Jack Billingham

88.40

17.68

25

625

1779

6.21

1968

Denny McLain

83.87

16.77

19

361

1037

5.84

1984

Milt Wilcox

90.17

18.03

23

529

1848

5.16

1964

Jack Fisher

72.85

14.57

24

576

1998

4.20

1996

Omar Olivares

53.77

10.75

24

576

1511

4.10

1980

Jim Beattie

84.91

16.98

27

729

3043

4.07

1960

Bob Friend

84.91

16.98

25

625

2624

4.04

 

            Many of you will want to know why we base this on the SQUARE of double plays, rather than simply proportional to double plays.  In other words, if one pitcher is on the mound for 10 double plays and the other pitcher for 30, the credit they get for that is not in the ratio of 1-3, but in the ratio of 1-9.  

            But what if the one pitcher gets 10 double plays in 70 innings, and the other gets 30 double plays in 210 innings?  Their Double Play Support, per inning, is the same.  Is it fair to give so much more credit to the man who pitched more innings? 

            I think that it is, and here’s why.  Double Plays PER INNING is heavily subject to random variance in small data samples.  All stats are heavily subject to random variance, but a stat like this, which relies on other fielders, even more so.  

            A pitcher who gets the support of 10 double plays in 70 innings is very probably lucky, and very probably will not get similar double play support in his future innings.   But a pitcher who gets the support of 30 double plays in 210 innings almost certainly has NOT done so by luck, and very probably WILL continue to receive very high Double Play Support. 

            There are only a few Runs Saved being allocated in this way.   An average team has a DP score of 140, and the Run Prevention Value of each DP is .516, so an average team has about 70, 75 Runs Saved by Double Plays.  Only 20% of that is being allocated under this provision of the system, so that’s 14, 15 runs per team.  The average team has just 15 runs being allocated to pitchers based on their being on the mound when a double play is turned.  

            As much as possible, I would like to see those 15 runs being credited to the pitcher whose stock in trade is getting a ground ball to get out of trouble.   I want to minimize the extent to which those Runs Saved are diverted to guys who pitched 40, 50, 60 innings and sometimes got a double play, or to the starting pitchers who got double plays because, well, everybody gets a double play sometimes.   The Andy Pettitte-, Jack Billingham-, Milt Wilcox- type pitcher has a tough time getting credit for his skills in analytical systems based heavily on strikeouts.   I’m just trying to level the playing field a little bit. 

            This is an updated list of the 15 pitchers within the study who are credited with saving the most runs:

Year

Player

P1

P2

P3

P4

P5

P6

GDP

P7

Total

1968

Denny McLain

45

27

21

7

1

1

19

5.84

108.00

2004

Randy Johnson

47

20

18

4

2

0

4

0.18

90.93

1960

Bob Friend

29

27

23

7

0

0

25

4.04

90.27

1960

Vern Law

19

26

18

7

1

1

33

7.05

79.72

2008

Cole Hamels

32

18

12

5

1

1

15

2.11

69.90

1984

Dan Petry

23

16

17

5

4

1

15

2.20

68.55

1968

Earl Wilson

27

15

16

4

2

1

15

3.64

67.99

1968

Mickey Lolich

32

13

14

5

3

0

6

0.58

66.82

2016

Jon Lester

32

13

12

3

2

0

15

2.99

64.89

1992

Jack Morris

21

13

20

4

2

0

15

4.03

64.18

1976

Gary Nolan

18

25

13

4

1

0

15

2.24

64.06

1984

Jack Morris

24

13

19

4

1

1

16

2.50

63.90

1964

Jack Fisher

19

18

16

5

1

1

24

4.20

63.84

2000

Andy Pettitte

20

11

17

5

2

1

24

6.62

62.35

2016

Kyle Hendricks

27

13

14

3

2

1

12

1.91

61.94

 

            We have three more categories of performance for which pitchers will be credited with saving runs.   Unfortunately, it will take us 40-some pages and 24 formulas to work through those three categories, but it’s only three categories, anyway.

 

 
 

COMMENTS (8 Comments, most recent shown first)

MarisFan61
There's at least a 5th thing a pitcher can do to increase the chances of a GIDP, or not:
Hold the runner
(on which we know there's a range of ability)
3:34 AM Jul 20th
 
bjames
To clear up one misunderstanding: The Pitchers do NOT get credit for their role in creating double plays on a team level. Rather, that adjustment is there to TAKE AWAY the credit that the pitchers would otherwise get. A team might turn 140 double plays--an average number--but, because they have a ground ball pitching staff, they turn 160. If we just ran with the raw numbers, this would give the infielders credit for what is actually done by the pitchers. But by adjusting for the ground ball tendency of the pitching staff, we remove this credit. NEITHER the pitcher nor the infielder gets any credit for the ground ball in that situation.

One of Saeger's other points, that the pitcher "screws up and allows a runner" makes the familiar mistake of mixing up emotional value judgements with an analysis of what happens. One pitcher--we will call him Steve Barber, 1960 or 1961--Steve Barber walks the batter, but is a ground ball machine, thus partially negates the consequence of this by getting a large number of ground balls, thus double plays. The other pitcher--we will call him Nolan Ryan--walks a lot of batters, but gets very few ground balls, thus relatively few double plays. Are these pitchers the same, or are they different?

They are, of course, different--but Saeger is insisting that they MUST be treated the same, because of his emotional value judgment about the walk. But they are different.

On a third point, the notion that a pitcher cannot be given credit for contributions in one area because they overlap with the credit he has been given in another area is baseless. Rather, a pitcher MUST be given credit in multiple areas for the same events, because consequences overlap with one another. That's the way the world really is--that the same event has multiple consequences, each of which should be separately accounted for when it is possible. Refusing to do this in an effort to be structured and orderly in your accounting is not "correct" accounting; it is narrowness of thought.
10:18 PM Jul 19th
 
bjames
My concern becomes this: is sequencing of possible double play grounded worth 20%? For it to be, sequencing


What does sequencing have to do with this? Why are you focused on that?
3:18 PM Jul 18th
 
bjames
think that’s the issue: “seems.” I haven’t detected an ability of pitchers to induce double plays beyond the rates of groundouts and runners. Pitchers should get credit, but it should be tied to their ability to throw ground balls.


It IS tied to their ability to get ground balls. That is exactly why this value is in the system.
3:17 PM Jul 18th
 
CharlesSaeger
I’ll put this in another way. I don’t claim to know the exact percentage but, in the context of what you’ve already done, 20% seems high.

What does a pitcher do to get a double play? I can think of four things:

1) He screws up and allows a runner. You already accounted for this in the last step.
2) He doesn’t allow that runner to steal. Again, you accounted for this in the last step.
3) He throws a pitch that leads to a grounder. You accounted for this on a team level when you adjusted for the assist rate.
4) He throws that pitch that leads to a grounder with a runner on first and less than two outs—sequencing. That’s the one thing for which you haven’t yet accounted.

My concern becomes this: is sequencing of possible double play grounded worth 20%? For it to be, sequencing has to be an actual skill that we can measure. I haven’t seen that it is, but I haven’t studied the matter in depth.
2:28 PM Jul 18th
 
CharlesSaeger
I think that’s the issue: “seems.” I haven’t detected an ability of pitchers to induce double plays beyond the rates of groundouts and runners. Pitchers should get credit, but it should be tied to their ability to throw ground balls.
1:40 PM Jul 18th
 
bjames


There might be a some credit due to throwing the groundball at the right time, but it sure isn't 20%, once you've adjusted for assists


It isn't? How do you know that it isn't? It seems to me that it is.
11:48 AM Jul 18th
 
CharlesSaeger
Since you've already adjusted double plays for assist rate, you've adjusted the pitcher throwing the pitch pretty much out of the equation, so I don't see why they're getting 20% credit now. The pitcher's credit depends on his groundout rate. There might be a some credit due to throwing the groundball at the right time, but it sure isn't 20%, once you've adjusted for assists.
10:15 AM Jul 18th
 
 
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