Rating The Cardinals Pitchers Abilities

This post is an attempt to get an idea, beyond fWAR and FIP, how great Cardinals pitchers were in 2013. It is by no means a better method than fWAR, but I just wanted to check some things out. I have been reading in the comments that SIERA is actually more predictive than WAR... and also, some seem to think xFIP is better than FIP, which fWAR includes. I probably am not 100% on that, and the way WAR is calculated is still not 100% clear to me, but maybe this will enlighten some to some points.

A site that often gets overlooked is, which I also want to look at. Their stats for pitching are xRA and RAA, or expected run average & runs above average. My addition to all this will look weird to most, but it's the only way my relatively mathematically simple brain is able to rate the pitchers in any kind of meaningful way using SIERA as well as the amount of innings they pitched, without doing an extremely simple ranking system.

Anyway, first I'd like to list the best pitchers by FIP and fWAR:

  1. Adam Wainwright: 6.2 WAR/2.55 FIP over 242 IP (rounding for the purposes of simplicity)
  2. Lance Lynn: 3.3 WAR/3.28 FIP over 202 IP
  3. Trevor Rosenthal: 2.2 WAR/1.91 FIP over 75 IP
  4. Shelby Miller: 2.1 WAR/3.67 FIP over 173 IP
  5. Michael Wacha: 1.1 WAR/2.92 FIP over 65 IP
  6. Kevin Siegrist: .7 WAR/2.29 FIP over 40 IP
  7. Randy Choate: .5 WAR/2.57 FIP over 35 IP
  8. Jaime Garcia: .5 WAR/3.72 FIP over 55 IP
  9. Joe Kelly: .4 WAR/4.01 FIP over 124 IP
  10. Tyler Lyons: .4 WAR/3.73 FIP over 53 IP
  11. Carlos Martinez: .3 WAR/3.08 FIP over 28 IP
  12. John Axford: .2 WAR/2.08 FIP over 10 IP
  13. Seth Maness: .1 WAR/3.43 FIP over 62 IP

Looking at that list, you can get a general sense of the interplay between the numbers and just how very important the bullpen and the reinforcements like Michael Wacha were to the 2013 squad (as well as, of course, Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn). On the other end of the spectrum, my gut would have rated Maness higher than that... here he was not even as good as Axford who only pitched less than a sixth of the innings that Seth did.

Going by FIP alone, the ranking goes Rosenthal, Axford, Siegrist, Wainwright, Choate, Wacha, Sam Freeman, Martinez, Keith Butler, Lynn, Maness, and Fernando Salas. But rate is not the only thing, the amount of innings is just as important if not moreso. So for figuring out my Pitching Value Rating, I am simply going to divide the number of innings by the pitcher's SIERA.

Listed in the same order as above, let's just get a different angle on things:

  • Adam Wainwright: 3.01 SIERA/80.4 PVR
  • Lance Lynn: 3.76/53.7
  • Trevor Rosenthal: 1.93/38.9
  • Shelby Miller: 3.68/47
  • Michael Wacha: 3.32/19.6
  • Kevin Siegrist: 2.77/14.4
  • Randy Choate: 2.88/12.2
  • Jaime Garcia: 3.34/16.5
  • Joe Kelly: 4.31/28.8
  • Tyler Lyons: 3.86/13.7
  • Carlos Martinez: 3.47/8.1
  • John Axford: 3.42/2.9
  • Seth Maness: 2.65/23.4

This more simple method favors the starters and innings eaters a lot more, resulting in this new ranking:

  1. Waino
  2. Lynn
  3. Miller
  4. Rosenthal
  5. Kelly
  6. Maness
  7. Wacha
  8. Garcia
  9. Siegrist
  10. Lyons
  11. Choate
  12. Martinez
  13. Axford

So, the lesser the innings the less productive, and also the lesser sample size. This ranking also goes along with my gut feeling toward last year's production. The player that really benefited from this was Maness: his SIERA is much better than his FIP, 2.65 to 3.43, and he did log a lot of innings with 62 IP. The SIERA rankings go Rosenthal (still #1 rate of the team either way), then Maness, Siegrist, Choate, Wainwright, Wacha, Garcia, Martinez, Axford, Miller, Lynn, Lyons, then Kelly with the worst SIERA of the bunch (instead of being able to sort by best SIERA, I had to just use the same 13, since Fangraphs is weird about that... why isn't SIERA and tERA listed on the same page with the other stats?).

So, if somehow I was handed the keys to the org, I would make the rotation Wainwright, Rosenthal, Wacha, Garcia, and either Miller or Martinez (or if Garcia is actually injured, take him out of the rotation obviously, or perhaps just leave Rosenthal at closer, whatevs). I still think Lynn would be better out of the bullpen, given his SIERA... but then again, the guy posted a lot of innings and seems capable of doing so going forward, something we are not sure of in Rosenthal, Martinez, or Garcia (and possibly even Miller). The only downside to this glut is how many of them are young and unproven.

I see it as those 7 guys in the starting mix at the very least... Kelly should by no means be in the rotation. There is just not room for him and any affect that dictates that he should be in there because of the past should be overlooked. He just does not have good rate stats or peripherals even. Hell, I'd rather see Maness then Kelly in the rotation if it came down to it. But I'm not here to give advice, just to do some light number crunching.

While I'm at it, I always wanted to average together FIP and xFIP, as they seem to go hand in hand. I'll also throw in my rating using this average instead of SIERA.

  • Waino: 2.68/90.3
  • Lynn: 3.47/58.2
  • Miller: 3.7/46.8
  • Rosenthal: 2.13/35.2
  • Kelly: 4.1/30.2
  • Maness: 3.28/18.9
  • Wacha: 3.14/20.7
  • Garcia: 3.5/15.7
  • Siegrist: 2.65/15.1
  • Lyons: 3.79/14
  • Choate: 2.94/11.9
  • Martinez: 3.46/8.1
  • Axford: 2.55/3.9

So we see pretty much the same rankings here, but with Wacha ahead of Maness when looking at FIP/xFIP PVR. But how do they stack up rate-wise with this hybrid stat? Rosenthal is still #1 of course, Axford is #2, then Siegrist, Wainwright, Choate, Wacha, Maness, Martinez, Lynn, Garcia, Miller, Lyons, Kelly is the ranking of the FIP/xFIP mix.

So I brought up Statcorner pretty much right away, and am going to address that now. Here is a link to their ratings: Here is where Garcia shines, and looks just about like an ace pitcher (albeit small sample size caveat). First, the starters:

  1. Jaime Garcia: 3.01 xRA/77.7 (here I am using batters faced instead of innings for PVR so it's even more exponentially warped)
  2. Adam Wainwright: 3.12/306.4
  3. Lance Lynn: 3.53/242.5
  4. Shelby Miller: 3.68/196.2
  5. Michael Wacha: 3.68/59.2

If anything, this goes along with the conventional wisdom of what the rotation will be this spring. All those dudes have successful rate stats and I would not mind seeing this rotation. I wonder if xRA is more predictive than SIERA?

Now the bullpen by xRA:

  1. Trevor Rosenthal: 1.67/186.2
  2. Kevin Siegrist: 2.74/55.5
  3. Randy Choate: 2.88/49
  4. John Axford: 3.13/14.1
  5. Edward Mujica: 3.26/78.2
  6. Carlos Martinez: 3.26/30.7
  7. Seth Maness: 3.4/73.2

So xRA was the only system that liked Mujica. He was definitely a factor in last season's success, even though not at the end of it. I guess what I've learned by all this is that I don't really trust FIP by itself, and would like someone to calculate WAR with a different stat. Fangraphs would be much more interesting in my opinion, if they had an option of seeing different types of WAR with different rate stats. That is my #1 recommendation for that site. My #2 which is a close second is to put SIERA and tERA on the same page as FIP and xFIP, so that they are easily sortable. Unless I missed the option to do this, it seems like a no brainer... and if I missed it it needs to be more easily accessible. I feel my ratings are not properly weighted since the amount of innings or batters faced seem to be setting things off on a weird curve. But it was fun and interesting to check out anyway.