Ranking FA Pitchers by TIPS
TIPS is a new ERA estimator that I have created. The post on the estimator can be found here.
In short, TIPS is an estimator that attempts to measure pitcher skill completely independent from all other factors other than batter-pitcher relationships (removing defense, catchers, umpires, batted ball luck, etc.). The formula is:
TIPS 6.5*O-Looking(PitchF/x) – 9.75*SwStr% – 4.8*Foul% + C (usually around 2.60)
where: O-Looking(PitchF/x) = 1 – O-Swing% (PitchF/x), SwStr% = percent of pitches swung at and missed, Foul% = percent of contacts fouled off
The estimator was found to be the most predictive of any estimator in samples less than 70 IP.
I have taken the free agent custom leaderboards provided by Dave Cameron and ranked the pitchers by TIPS.
TIPS may not have as much power with starting pitchers, since the samples will be larger than 70 IP, but since these pitchers will be changing defense, park, and catcher, I believe it can be useful (when used with FIP and xFIP).
Kazmir, Marcum, Haren, Hughes, and Johnson all look like really good value signings (when comparing their ERA and FIP/xFIP/TIPS). Haren and Johnson both received 1 year deals on the west coast and will likely line themselves up for some money in 2015. Scott Kazmir is someone who I believe could be a legit number 2 guy moving forward if he can keep his velocity, and should be a prime target for the Blue Jays. I know Jason Marquis had a 4.05 ERA, but he is someone you should be wishing your team does not sign.
Ricky Nolasco is consistently viewed as an above average pitcher by all metrics and would be a very good signing for most teams (especially Toronto).
Lincecum, Haren, Johnson, Hudson, and Vargas are already signed off this list.
But now on to where TIPS really shines, relievers!
There are a few notable FA relief pitchers. Mujica, Benoit, Nathan, Rodney, Balfour, Hawkins, and Gregg all closed this year. Crain is a pitcher who could potentially close as well. Looking at the closers, Mujica is alone in the top tier by TIPS. Then Benoit, Crain, and Nathan are second tier. Rodney and Balfour are in the next tier, while Hawkins and then Gregg are in the final tiers. Gregg in particular looks like a RP that no team should touch. Parra and Logan make for some good LOOGY signs if teams are looking for left-handed relievers. There a quite a few names in this list that would do a fine job in filling out a bullpen. It goes to show that trading for bullpen pieces might be akin to trading your brother or sister your blueberry for their strawberry when there is a pack of strawberries on the counter. A bit of a random analogy, but it makes sense. The SP crop is much thinner than the RP crop. There are no big name or potential number 1 pitchers in the FA crop, which means teams that are looking to add to the front of their rotation might have to do so through trade.
Would just like to point out that Joe Smith had a 4.26 TIPS and was just given over $15M by the Angels over 3 years. Think what you want of that one.
On a bit of a side note, I wanted to talk a little more about TIPS. Why does TIPS really like Mujica? It loves his amazing 44.2% O-Swing% and his 12.5% SwStr% isn’t too shabby either. O-Swing% (I use the PitchF/x value), SwStr%, and Foul% are peripherals that you should be accustomed to looking at and understanding. Foul% is not readily available, but is not too hard to calculate. What value is good? What is bad? I will explain here:
To finish this off, I’d like to say Koji Uehara is a monster. 39.2% O-Swing% (Above Excellent), 18.5 SwStr% (Above Excellent), and 60.8% Foul% (Almost Excellent).
More posts on TIPS will be coming! I will give you guys a full database of TIPS, O-Looking%, SwStr%, Foul% and TIPS- for the past 6 years. I will also test TIPS on pitchers that change teams from year to year only!