Lonnie Chisenhall has been very good at hitting baseballs. Whether he is good at hitting baseballs (i.e.: whether ‘being good at hitting baseballs’ defines his physis) is very slightly more debatable, but we have statistics that tell us that Lonnie has been, since the start of the season, good at hitting. His .451 wOBA, his .385 batting average, his wRC+ of 195 – all of these statistics are important, central in asserting the controversial claim that Lonnie is kinda good at this.
But there comes a time during the adolescent years of Microsoft Excel 2000 (it’s already 15!) when they tire of computing real and important stats like xFIP and instead take to computing frivolous and useless stats. Judging by the Avenged Sevenfold blaring from my Excel 2000 (?), it seems that, like any other teenager, it has created a tremendously stupid statistic.
Fielding-Independent Pitching, or FIP, is unambiguously a very useful stat. Given how many strikeouts, walks, and home runs a pitcher has allowed, it tells a complete narrative of what that pitcher’s ERA should look like given a reasonable defense behind that same pitcher. It’s not the most useful pitching predictor – that would go to either SIERA, kwERA, or xFIP – but it’s good at explaining what the pitcher, rather than the defense (or to a lesser degree, the batter) did right or wrong. FIP is better than Game Score, and sure as hell better than WHIP or any other new HyperCalvinist metrics that, with all the farcical self-importance of a Congressional session, believe that raw hits allowed are substantially influenced by the pitcher beyond strikeout rates.
(They’re not. If you were wondering.) Continue reading