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:
- 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