Comparing pitchers to hitters

Pat Venditte promoted to Tampa
Pena doing the job

For all the number wonks out there, SG at RLYW has quite the post, in which he compares hitters to pitchers using wOBA. There’s a conversion process which attempts to keep everyone on the same scale, and to some extent it’s a success. Atop the list are names you’d expect: Zack Greinke, Joe Mauer, Edwin Jackson, Roy Halladay, Victor Martinez. However, when you get further down the list things get a bit dicey. Phil Coke is ranked ahead of Jon Papelbon (as is fellow Sick Justin Masterson). There are a few other things which make the list seem skewed, but it’s an interesting take on comparisons. The best part, by far, is that David Ortiz is ranked below Jose Veras. Also, the bottom two slots belong to, surprise surprise, Chien-Ming Wang and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Wang takes that contest by .003.

Pat Venditte promoted to Tampa
Pena doing the job
  • Salty Buggah

    So Dice-K has been worse than Wangy huh?

  • The Evil Empire

    What do the letters in the acronyms WOBA stand for?

    • Jake K.

      I believe it’s Weighted On Base Average.

  • Jake K.

    As much as I’d like to believe that Coke has been more valuable than Papelbon, I have a hard time buying it.

    • Billy

      yeah i wonder how they came up with that. some stats are kinda stupid. some things you cant quantify with stats

    • Jamal G.

      wOBA is all about people getting on base, so, you’d figure the pitcher with the higher WHIP (Jonathan Papelbon at 1.38) would be less valuable than the pitcher with the lower one (Phil Coke at 1.02) if you sort them using this metric.

      • Jake K.

        Makes sense. Can’t think that’s a great measure of a pitcher’s performance though, if doesn’t consider the defense behind them, how many XBH hits they give up, K/BB, etc. WHIP is useful, but limited.

        • Whozat

          Pretty sure the “weghted” bit means it’s weighted by xbh and such. It may ignore leverage, though.

          • SG

            Right, it weighs each of the following components:

            1B (.9 runs)
            2B (1.24 runs0
            3B (1.56 runs)
            HR (1.93 runs)
            BB (.72 runs)
            HBP (.75 runs)

            Add those up and divide by PAs to get wOBA.

            If you’re familiar with linear weights, it’s just a rate version of that scaled to OBP.

            It does not look at leverage, it does not adjust for position. It ignores defense for both position players and for pitchers. A pitcher whose defense has helped him out will look better than the same pitcher with a worse defense would.

            It essentially assumes all performance is in a neutral context, which we know is not true. So realistically, we know that Papelbon has been better than Coke, but in this method, Coke has been more effective on a batter by batter basis.

            • Jake K.

              Got it (sort of), thanks for dropping some knowledge!

  • Billy

    but big papi is so clutch!

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