Zack Greinke Is Awesome

Dave · November 17, 2009 at 7:31 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

The next time that you try to sell someone on FIP and that they tell you that its a load of crap reserved for nerds who have never played the game, tell them Zack Greinke disagrees.

Bannister, a right-handed starter, is known for his appreciation of modern pitching metrics, which emphasize the factors for which pitchers are essentially responsible: walks, strikeouts, home runs and hit batters. In Greinke, he found a like mind.

“He’s extremely bright, and he’s really picked up on using all the information out there to make his game better,” Bannister said by telephone. “He’s always had the talent. His confidence level, which is extremely high, combined with his knowledge of the numbers behind the game now, definitely makes him one of the best pitchers in the world.”

Bannister said Greinke has learned to adjust his pitching based on the advanced defensive statistics. Because of the size of the outfield at Kauffman Stadium and the strength of the Royals’ outfielders, relative to their infielders, it sometimes made more sense to induce fly balls.

“David DeJesus had our best zone rating,” Bannister said, referring to the Royals’ left fielder. “So a lot of times, Zack would pitch for a fly ball at our park instead of a ground ball, just because the zone rating was better in our outfield and it was a big park.”

To that end, Bannister introduced Greinke to FIP, or Fielding Independent Pitching, the statistic Greinke named Tuesday as his favorite. It is a formula that measures how well a pitcher performed, regardless of his fielders. According to fangraphs.com, Greinke had the best FIP in the majors.

“That’s pretty much how I pitch, to try to keep my FIP as low as possible,” Greinke said.

The reigning AL Cy Young winner, quoting FIP in the interview after he won the award. Welcome to the 21st century of baseball. This isn’t some kind of weird math for the lunatic fringe anymore.

Comments

24 Responses to “Zack Greinke Is Awesome”

  1. killer_ewok18 on November 17th, 2009 7:51 pm

    He should be careful, the BBWAA might take the award away from him on account of being a nerd who lives in his mom’s basement.

  2. Slurve on November 17th, 2009 7:52 pm

    He needs to stop looking at the spreadsheets and actually play a game of baseball.

  3. Rboyle0628 on November 17th, 2009 7:57 pm

    Yeah, seriously. Anyone that uses those kinds of statistics has never been good at or played any serious baseball in their life!

  4. Liam on November 17th, 2009 8:02 pm

    The next time that you try to sell someone on FIP and that they tell you that its a load of crap reserved for nerds who have never played the game, tell them Zack Greinke disagrees.

    While awesome, that alone is worthless. It’s just an appeal to celebrity.

  5. Slurve on November 17th, 2009 8:06 pm

    While awesome, that alone is worthless. It’s just an appeal to celebrity.

    Establishing ethos!

    It’s more about mainstream coverage of the sabermetrics and the fact that more and more people are accepting it.

  6. JerBear on November 17th, 2009 8:24 pm

    While awesome, that alone is worthless. It’s just an appeal to celebrity.

    Not really. The most common refrain of the anti-stat crowd typically comes in some form of either “you need to get your nose out of a spreadsheet and actually watch a game!” or “have ever even played baseball???” Which isn’t even a valid argument, but an assertion that people who understand and/or play the game have absolutely no use for stats. Pointing out that the reigning Cy Young winner uses/tracks/enjoys etc. such advanced metrics as FIP is a valid rebuttal.

    And I love it.

  7. TerryMc on November 17th, 2009 8:28 pm

    I thought his good pitching was due to postive team chemistry.

    Does anyone else find the humor in the fact the Royals players are looking at advanced metrics to improve their game while their front office is looking at…um…I guess I’m not sure what the Royals front office is looking at.

  8. DKulich on November 17th, 2009 8:41 pm

    The Royals players are smarter than their front office.

  9. Chris_From_Bothell on November 17th, 2009 8:42 pm

    Small sample size.

    Establish a trend of a few years of multiple Cy Young award winners using FIP and other metrics as the foundation of their pitching strategy, then you have something.

  10. gsquared on November 17th, 2009 8:44 pm

    He is the anti-Joe Morgan.

  11. Liam on November 17th, 2009 8:45 pm

    Pointing out that the reigning Cy Young winner uses/tracks/enjoys etc. such advanced metrics as FIP is a valid rebuttal.

    ESPN has had a whole host of former players with more hardware than Zack Greinke ready to extol the virtues of wins, ERA and a bunch of other non sense. If you bring up Greinke, they can counter that with five players that don’t agree.

  12. ThundaPC on November 17th, 2009 9:11 pm

    The Royals in a nutshell:

    Brian Bannister: “FIP is cool! I introduced the concept to Greinke and he picked right up on it.

    Zack Greinke: “FIP is nice. I try to keep it as low as possible.”

    Dayton Moore: “…….what the hell did he just say?”

    Yuniesky Betancourt: “….(*shrugs*)”

  13. Dirk on November 17th, 2009 10:10 pm

    Hey, cool that Greinke looks at advanced numbers and everything, but I’m a bit confused. I thought that the whole point of FIP is to remove defense from the equation. It’s like they are really having two separate conversations at once (FIP/situational pitching for defense). Also, I thought the fly ball to HR correlation was considered Luck by most SABR folks (please correct me if I’m wrong). So a flyball pitcher is going to give up more HRs yet may in fact be a better pitcher than a ground ball guy.

    For example, in ’09 Joel Pineiro gave up 11 HRs and had FIP of 3.27. CC Sabathia gave up 18 HRs and had a FIP of 3.39. I’m not sure anyone would argue that Pineiro is a better pitcher overall. And I would be surprised if anyone would argue that Pineiro was better this year either despite a lower FIP. Obviously league differences apply and this was a career year for Pineiro and a (somewhat) down year for Sabathia.

    So doesn’t that mean if you pitch to a flyball you aren’t really considering FIP?

    My rambling point is that while FIP is okay, saying”[I] to try to keep my FIP as low as possible” is basically saying “I want to SO more batters and give up fewer walks and HRs”. I’m pretty sure no one, stat-head or Jock will argue with that (or shouldn’t).

  14. TranquilPsychosis on November 17th, 2009 10:11 pm

    ESPN has had a whole host of former players with more hardware than Zack Greinke ready to extol the virtues of wins, ERA and a bunch of other non sense. If you bring up Greinke, they can counter that with five players that don’t agree.

    So Grienke can’t be the start of something good?

    Who’s to say that his understanding of, and apparent aggreement with, FIP won’t,

    I love the fact that he’s thinking this way.

  15. TranquilPsychosis on November 17th, 2009 10:14 pm

    Who’s to say that his understanding of, and apparent aggreement with, FIP won’t,

    Should have read: Who’s to say that his understanding of, and apparent aggreement with, FIP won’t eventually be embraced by other pitchers?

    Damned keyboard was mistaken. :)

  16. TranquilPsychosis on November 17th, 2009 10:29 pm

    Also, I thought the fly ball to HR correlation was considered Luck by most SABR folks (please correct me if I’m wrong). So a flyball pitcher is going to give up more HRs yet may in fact be a better pitcher than a ground ball guy.

    Generally, this is more true than not. But you do have to look at which park they are pitching in. Also splits make a difference. And, in some cases, (Safeco being a prime example) handedness of the pitcher can be a big factor. (see Jarrod Washburn 2009)

  17. Jeff Sullivan on November 17th, 2009 11:27 pm

    Greinke had a 42% groundball rate at home and a 38% groundball rate on the road.

  18. Wells on November 18th, 2009 8:11 am

    Dave- maybe you can answer. I like FIP but I can’t quite settle this question: how does the idea of FIP stripping away luck by claiming a pitcher has very little control over a batted ball square with the idea of a flyball/groundball pitcher, this idea hinging upon the thought that pitchers _do_ have significant control over a batted ball?

  19. Dave on November 18th, 2009 9:07 am

    FIP is not perfect. The batted ball issue is why Graham invented tRA, which adjusts for the fact that a pitcher can control the types of batted balls he gives up. tRA is better than FIP.

    However (and this will probably annoy Graham a bit), it’s only marginally better – the difference between them when you add in the batted ball data isn’t that huge.

    If you look at FIP and understand to look for anomalous HR/FB to make sure that its not artificially inflated or deflated, you’re getting 99% of tRA with a lot less work.

  20. BobbyAyalaFan4Life on November 18th, 2009 9:14 am

    Yeah, but Dave, I played college baseball. These statheads just sit in their parents basement all day. Grienke doesn’t know what he’s talking about cause I played. Oh….wait.

  21. Taylor H on November 18th, 2009 9:27 am

    I find it simultaneously ironic and pathetic that Zack Greinke knows more about sabermetrics than Dayton Moore does.

  22. lewis on November 18th, 2009 10:29 am

    Everyone here seem versed in this language. I was wondering why in FIP is HR times 13, why is BB, HBP, IBB added together and added to HRx13 and then that times 3?; why are strikeouts only 2 times as valuable in negative sense as BB? It is easy to find formulas and I was hoping that since everyone here seems to understand the rational behind all this someone could help me out. At least point me in a direction to find the thought process out.- Thanks

  23. Graham on November 18th, 2009 2:57 pm

    If you look at FIP and understand to look for anomalous HR/FB to make sure that its not artificially inflated or deflated, you’re getting 99% of tRA with a lot less work.

    Well you could just look at tRA and get 100% of tRA with no work but yes, tRA is only a slight improvement on FIP.

  24. Graham on November 18th, 2009 3:50 pm

    Everyone here seem versed in this language. I was wondering why in FIP is HR times 13, why is BB, HBP, IBB added together and added to HRx13 and then that times 3?

    FIP is based around the run values of HR, ‘BB’, and Ks. (‘BB’ because a hit by pitch is included – there’s no major difference between a HBP and a walk for our purposes). It just so happens that a walk is 1.5x as detrimental in terms of run values as a strikeout is beneficial, and a home run is 3-1/3rd times worse than a walk.

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