I Like the Way You WERC It: An Intermediate Step into the DIPS Theory

As first reported here by Beyond the Boxscore, the Defensive Independent Pitching Statistics (DiPS) theory is likely to take off in the sabermetric circles (Oh, I'm ten years too late? I see. Well, then). It's safe to say, though, that with the advent of Tom Tango's Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) and the improved cousin expected-FIP (xFIP), we look at pitchers in a different light than even, say, five or six years ago.

Still, for some that are just getting into the "saber-revolution," one of the things that can be a sticking point is the fact that we basically jump from traditional ERA to the defense-independent metrics with little go-between. Namely, we're removing hits from the entire equation, something that I know I struggled with grasping for a bit in my first plunge into sabermetrics.

Thankfully, we still have people like the wonderful Detroit Tigers blogger Lee Panas. Lee built on the work done by J.T. Jordan at The Hardball Times. Jordan calculated Weighted On-Base Averages Against for pitchers (wOBAA). Lee took it even further and turned them into essentially a linear weights-based runs allowed per nine innings. This is not an original idea at all; Bill James developed Component ERA some time ago using Runs Created. Still, to my knowledge, there isn’t a nice intermediary between ERA and the FIP stats of the world that bridges the gap.

Thus, using Lee’s numbers (unbeknownst to him), I present, to a larger platform, Lee’s work in developing Weighted Component ERA or, WERC. (Lee’s term, not mine, though I approve!)

Because everyone loves lists or rankings, I bring you a list or ranking. The top 25 hard WERC’ers (har!) with a minimum of 150 innings pitched:

 

Rk NAME TEAM PA IP ERA FIP wOBAA RAA WERC
1 Felix Hernandez SEA 1001 249.2 2.27 3.04 0.263 45 2.60
2 Adam Wainwright STL 910 230.1 2.42 2.86 0.264 41 2.64
3 Cliff Lee TEX-SEA 842 212.4 3.18 2.58 0.266 36 2.70
4 Josh Johnson FLA 743 183.2 2.30 2.41 0.268 31 2.71
5 Mat Latos SDP 748 184.2 2.92 3.00 0.268 31 2.72
6 Clayton Kershaw LAD 848 204.1 2.91 3.12 0.270 34 2.73
7 Ubaldo Jimenez COL 894 221.2 2.88 3.10 0.270 36 2.77
8 Roy Oswalt HOU-PHI 837 211.2 2.76 3.27 0.269 34 2.78
9 Hiroki Kuroda LAD 810 196.1 3.39 3.26 0.275 29 2.89
10 Clay Buchholz BOS 711 173.2 2.33 3.61 0.276 25 2.92
11 Trevor Cahill OAK 783 196.2 2.97 4.19 0.278 26 3.02
12 Tim Hudson ATL 920 228.2 2.83 4.09 0.279 30 3.03
13 Jered Weaver LAA 905 224.1 3.01 3.06 0.279 29 3.03
14 Roy Halladay PHI 993 250.2 2.44 3.01 0.279 32 3.05
15 Matt Cain SFG 896 223.1 3.14 3.65 0.280 28 3.07
16 Justin Verlander DET 925 224.1 3.37 2.97 0.282 28 3.09
17 David Price TBR 861 208.2 2.72 3.42 0.284 25 3.14
18 Johan Santana NYM 817 199.0 2.98 3.54 0.285 23 3.17
19 Jaime Garcia STL 695 163.1 2.70 3.41 0.286 19 3.17
20 Jon Lester BOS 861 208.0 3.25 3.13 0.286 23 3.19
21 C.J. Wilson TEX 850 204.0 3.35 3.56 0.287 23 3.21
22 R.A. Dickey NYM 713 174.1 2.84 3.65 0.289 17 3.29
23 John Danks CHW 878 213.0 3.72 3.70 0.290 21 3.30
24 Jonathan Sanchez SFG 812 193.1 3.07 4.00 0.291 19 3.30
25 CC Sabathia NYY 970 237.2 3.18 3.54 0.291 23 3.33

 

 

  • King Felix is aptly named. Dude in 2010 was unreal regardless of the metrics. I hear those Philadelphia Phillies have a pretty good rotation. Top 25 last year in WERC include 60% of the Phillies 2011 starters? Imagine if Ruben Amaro hadn't been giving away money to overrated positional commodities...
  • Would you have guessed Roy Oswalt was ahead of Roy Halladay in this metric? I wouldn't.
  • Hey, an R.A. Dickey sighting. I think this is a great time to give this link some more face time (har!). And because I never found out the results, here's the winner. Belated congrats!

The rest of the list can be viewed in a google document on Lee's post. Click through for the entire leader board.

What I enjoy about WERC is something that Lee points out:

 

For example, Braves right-hander Tim Hudson had a big discrepancy between ERA (2.83) and FIP (4.09)
His WERC was 3.03 which is a lot closer to his ERA.  This tells us that a large amount of the difference between FIP and ERA was due to batted balls in play rather than sequencing.  We could have figured this out by examining other numbers such as BABIP and LOB%, but it's more convenient to compare three stats on the ERA scale. 

Another example is National League Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay.  Halladay's ERA (2.44) was lower than his FIP (3.01).  However, his WERC was 3.05 which tells us that the discrepancy was not due to hits allowed but rather sequencing.

 

I think this is an important distinction. There have been some mainstream writers that have criticized the way sabermetrics is presented to the general populous. While I'm not always that concerned with growing it - I'm just here because I enjoy sabermetrics. If others don't come along for the ride, that is okay, too - but if we are going to spend time focusing on that aspect, it needs to be in incremental steps. One way to walk someone into how much defense impacts pitching is to use something like WERC as a stepping stone into the DIPS theory.

All credit goes to Lee Panas who's written an awesome book called Beyond Batting Average for Saber-beginners. It's gotten wonderful reviews all around. Also, here's a shoutout to J.T. Jordan who, without his post, might not have unknowingly inspired Lee to post about WERC

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