My writings about baseball, with a strong statistical & machine learning slant.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Team Pitching Projections (V: Chicago White Sox)

Last year, the White Sox quietly had the fourth-best pitching staff in baseball at 242.6 VORP. This year, that staff will be bolstered by a full season of Jake Peavy. The White Sox pitchers should be pretty good again this year (individual projections here), even if their team's 1.04 run factor makes their raw ERAs look less impressive than the Giants and the Dodgers.

The CHONE system projects the White Sox for 216 VORP (worse than the Yankees and Red Sox, but still 40 runs above average). My system projects then for 195 VORP (worse than the Yankees, but on second best among the 12 teams I looked at). The difference in the two projections is the difference in projecting Mark Buehrle:

My ERA estimates are computed from FIP and the team "run factor" only, so I could never project Buehrle to perform better than his FIP, given that The Cell is a hitter's park. However CHONE seems to pick up on the fact that Buehrle has exceeded his FIP consistently throughout his career, with career ERA of 3.80 and career FIP of 4.17. He has pitched his entire career in Chicago.

Buehrle is not a strikeout pitcher. His career 5.19 K/9 is below average, and is very low for a top pitcher. However he doesn't walk anyone, and he is an extreme ground ball pitcher. Also, he apparently has an Andy Pettitte-like pickoff move. This all adds up to a high runner strand rate, and an ERA that is consistently below his FIP in one of the toughest run environments in baseball. My projection system actually has his FIP close to what CHONE projects, but I have no way of accounting for his FIP to ERA magic. At least not yet!

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