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Turnbow's ERA: Victim of "Clutch"?

In my last post we looked at Bases Per Inning Pitched (BPIP) and found the correlation between BPIP and ERA to be closer than WHIP and ERA. Today I'd like to dive into the predicted ERAS popped out from BPIP and specifically examine the case of Derrick Turnbow.

Going back to 2004 and setting an innings floor of 50 I collected nearly 1,300 individual seasons and ran their predicted ERAs as well as setting up a "Net" reading to see who was lucky and unlucky. To my surprise Milwaukee Brewers' reliever Derrick Turnbow's 2007 and 206 seasons ranked as two of the three unluckiest seasons in terms of ERA earned against predicted ERA.

Last year Turnbow had a BPIP of 0.94 - giving up less than a base per inning - and had a predicted ERA of 2.07, his real ERA wound up at 4.63, a difference of 2.56. With such a relatively low BPIP I looked into his WHIP numbers, regularly 1.32, with men on, and sure enough found an answer. It seems that Turnbow was a shutdown reliever, until someone get on base, then his WHIP rose to 1.80.

One of the most common sabermetric principles thrown around is that clutch hitting is simply a myth. As far as I'm aware nobody has ever studied the idea of "clutch pitching", but in theory they can amp up their efforts more than a hitter could in certain situations. Without swearing in that direction too much, Turnbow's 2006 numbers showed a 1.69 WHIP overall and a 2.19 WHIP once a runner got on. It's important to note that the runner counts either of his doing or an inherited runner.

So I took it another step further and looked at 2005 - his 2004 season doesn't qualify since he only pitched in six and a third innings. With a WHIP of 1.08 I guessed that his WHIP with runners on was certainly higher, and it was, at 1.48. In each of the previous three seasons Turnbow has seen his WHIP shoot up with runners on by at least a half a runner. Without having another example to provide, it goes back to the Juan Salas/Jay Witasick topic.

Obviously more research is needed to be done, but as I go through the information I'll pass along tidbits like this.