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# Guest Article: First Half Pitching Leaders

The following is a guest article by Paul McCord of Tomahawk, an Atlanta Braves blog. I found it interesting and trust you will, too. Without further ado:

Here are the first half pitching leaders for some really useful but relatively unknown statistics. They are separated by relievers and starters. That is, numbers for starters including only appearances as a starter, and numbers for relievers include only appearances as a reliever. So some pitchers could appear on both lists.

50 innings for starters (142 of 219) or 24 innings for relievers (167 of 361) are required to qualify for rate stats, except the Saves/Holds number requires 14 or more Save/Hold opportunities. Formulas I've derived on my own are marked by asterisks and explained briefly below.

* Contact Percentage = (AB+SF+SH-K)/(AB+SF+SH)

** aWHIP = (H+BB+HBP)/IP

*** EFF = 3*TBF/IP

**** Wildness = 10*(BB+HBP+WP+BK)/(TBF+BR)

Contact percentage measures how often hitters make contact in plate appearances that do not result in walks, HBP, or catcher's interference -- that is, only when they hit or miss, not when they don't have to due to a walk. A lower percentage therefore is better for the pitcher.

Adjusted WHIP is exactly like regular WHIP, except I include HBP to make the number slightly more meaningful. Multiply by nine, and this number equals baserunners allowed per nine innings.

Raw Effectiveness measures how quickly a pitcher gets through each inning. The closer to 1.000, the closer to perfection. If a pitcher achieves perfection, then he faces exactly three batters per inning. This is possible with double plays to erase hits and walks, so in this case the tendency to get baserunners as well as batters out helps the pitcher. This also means adjustments need to be made to normalize the numbers for different defensive arrangements and ballpark dimensions (as with most stats).

The Wildness formula adds baserunners and total batters faced together, and walks, HBP, wild pitches, and balks together. This is not sabermetrically correct by any means, but the result is a very accurate list of the pitchers with the best control.

The reasoning behind the Save+Hold Percentage is also simple: Holds and Saves are defined exactly the same, with one distinction: a pitcher leaves a game in progress with the lead intact to earn the Hold, or a pitcher ends the game with the lead intact to earn the Save. Therefore, if you add Holds to Save Opportunities, you get a larger of sum of both Hold and Save Opportunities. Then consider either a Hold or a Save as success, and calculate the percentage. The resulting leaderboard includes the games best closers and middle relievers!

Some of these stats make better sense than others. I'll let you be the judge. Enjoy or ignore them as you will!