MLB Betting: Putting it All Together for a Pitching Index

Joe Gavazzi

Thursday, July 2, 2015 11:43 PM GMT

Thursday, Jul. 2, 2015 11:43 PM GMT

It’s been more than a decade since the Oakland A’s used the analytics of Billy Beane to create diverse metric analyses used to put together and manage an MLB team.

The rift between old school LA Angels manager, Mike Scioscia, and the new-wave Angels’ front office is the latest in the ongoing argument of the effectiveness of these analytics. Like it or not, this technical approach is here to stay!  

In recent weeks of the 2015 MLB season, I authored several articles about metric tools that may be considered the precursor of today’s analytic model. Though reasonably simple, they have been proven to be remarkably effective. As a way to measure a team’s W/L record, I proved that the combination of pitching and batting OPS (on base percentage plus slugging percentage) was a remarkably effective tool. It proved its’ accuracy not only in its correlation with a team’s W/L percentage, but also in a predictive way when on June 1st, it isolated a “BUY” sign on the Oakland A’s (current run 22-14) and a “SELL” sign on the overpriced Minnesota Twins (current run 9-15). Regarding the pitchers, the study of WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) pointed out the value in focusing on starting pitchers, who had a WHIP of 1.10 or less either home or road. In the weeks following the articles on WHIP, I also did a study on K/BB, a popular metric used to isolate the effectiveness of a pitcher. In today’s article, we put it all together to give you a “Pitching Index” which you can use in any of a number of ways. This Index may be used to determine the overall effectiveness of a team’s pitching, to breakdown pitchers by home and road performance, to determine a pitcher’s effectiveness over any recent period of time or to isolate an individual pitcher or a select group of pitchers, such as the starting staff. That is the method that I will use today, simply as an example of the way in which the index may be used. The more you use this index, the more comfortable you will become with it and the more you will value its use.  

The charts below will examine 3 National League teams who are ranked at the top of the pitching OPS chart, the middle of the OPS chart and the bottom of the OPS chart. You will see the direct correlation between the results and the Index numbers, thus proving its’ reliability and value.  

The three teams we examined are the top rated pitching staff of the Pittsburgh Pirates, the middle of the pack (No. 15 rated) Cincinnati Reds and the bottom of the barrel pitching staff of the Colorado Rockies. Before we begin the charts, here is the formula for the Pitching Index:

 

ER + H + BB – K

IP X 9

 

Pittsburgh Pirates

STARTER

IP

ER

H

BB

K

INDEX

WHIP

ERA

TRGS

Cole

102 .3

25

92

25

108

2.99

1.14

2.20

12-4

Burnett

98.3

22

95

27

86

5.31

1.24

2.01

8-7

Liriano

95.3

34

65

31

108

2.07

1.01

3.21

7-10

Morton

40

19

3

9

22

11.02

1.30

4.28

6-1

Locke

83

42

93

33

64

10.19

1.52

4.55

8-7

   

There is little doubt that the No. 1 rated Pittsburgh pitching with a .650 OPS is deserving of its rating. The team has the No. 2 ERA at 2.90 and is backed by an outstanding bullpen (a subject to be discussed in a near future article). Based on the strength of their pitching, the Pirates are in all likelihood, headed to the post-season once again. Most interesting takeaway from the numbers above is the data for Cole vs. Liriano. The Pirates have won 12 of 16 Cole starts with corresponding outstanding index, WHIP and ERA numbers. But, the real sleeper of the group must be Liriano. The 7-10 TRGS is far belied  by an index and WHIP which are both superior to Cole. No surprise, assuming that Liriano pitches to current form, if he has a big 2nd half.

 

Cincinnati Reds

STARTER

IP

ER

H

BB

K

INDEX

WHIP

ERA

TRGS

Cueto

96.7

32

72

19

92

2.88

0.94

2.98

8-6

Leake

100.7

49

100

27

65

9.90

1.26

4.38

7-9

DeSclafani

95.3

39

92

37

68

9.44

1.35

3.68

8-8

Lorenzen

61.3

23

56

33

39

10.71

1.45

3.38

5-5

Marquis

47.3

34

64

14

37

12.36

1.65

6.46

4-5

   

The Reds with a No. 15 ranked .712 OPS (the average is .710) are a great example of the diversity of a team’s starting pitching staff.  It is not unusual to find 3 levels of effectiveness among the staff. Cueto is clearly the ace. With the strength of these numbers, he should clearly have a better than 8-6 TRGS. DeSclafani represents a typically average MLB starting pitcher. His index, WHIP and ERA, along with his 8-8 TRGS, represent about as close to average as one starting pitcher can get.  At the end of the rotation is Marquis (no longer active). This aging veteran has below average numbers across the board. The only shock is that the Reds have won 4 of his 9 starts. Should he ever return to MLB, he is a PURE PLAY AGAINST.

 

Colorado Rockies

STARTER

IP

ER

H

BB

K

INDEX

WHIP

ERA

TRGS

Kendrick

96.3

65

110

29

48

14.57

1.44

6.07

4-12

J. De La Rosa

64.7

63

61

35

60

9.59

1.49

4.59

7-5

Bettis

55.7

22

52

17

46

7.27

1.24

3.56

7-2

Hale

42.3

28

52

7

32

11.70

1.39

5.95

2-5

Rusin

40.3

21

52

12

26

13.17

1.59

4.69

2-4

   

With a .797 pitching OPS and the above individual pitching numbers, it is easy to see why this is the worst pitching staff in MLB. Only Bettis has an index which is better than the league average of approximately 9.00. You know you are in trouble when your starter with the most IP (Kendrick) has a 14.57 index, a 6.07 ERA and a 4-12 TRGS. Regardless of how hot the Colorado bats may get, they will NEVER offset these pitching numbers!

The Pitching Index is yet another valuable tool for you to incorporate in your arsenal. I like it because of its’ completeness. It takes into account earned runs allowed (speaking to defense, as well as ERA), walks and hits (relating to the WHIP) and BBs and Ks, the direct components of K/BB. When first using the Index, it can be a bit challenging and daunting. But the more you use it, the more comfortable and confident you will get. You can use it as a short-hand measurement to determine a pitcher’s effectiveness in any given game, as a way of breaking down and analyzing a pitcher’s current form for any recent number of games, as a way to identify a pitcher’s home/road dichotomy, or for the season effectiveness of a starting pitcher. This may actually be the most complete and accurate way to judge a pitcher’s effectiveness.

comment here