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).

1Scott Kazmir4.043.513.363.55
2Shaun Marcum5.293.644.223.57
3Tim Lincecum4.373.743.563.58
4Dan Haren4.674.093.673.64
5A.J. Burnett3.32.82.923.65
6Tim Stauffer3.753.553.23.7
7Phil Hughes5.194.54.393.71
8Josh Johnson6.24.623.583.72
9Ricky Nolasco3.73.343.583.75
10Matt Garza3.823.883.733.75
11Tim Hudson3.973.463.563.76
12Hiroki Kuroda3.313.563.63.78
13Andy Pettitte3.743.73.883.83
14Ervin Santana3.243.933.693.89
15Aaron Harang5.44.794.383.93
16Roberto Hernandez4.894.633.63.95
17Roy Oswalt8.633.083.393.96
18Bruce Chen3.274.124.934.02
19Jeff Francis6.274.543.824.02
20Chris Capuano4.263.553.674.04
21Ubaldo Jimenez3.33.433.624.04
22Erik Bedard4.594.384.614.09
23Chad Gaudin3.063.3444.15
24Jason Hammel4.974.934.564.15
25Paul Maholm4.414.243.894.18
26Jason Vargas4.
27Edinson Volquez5.714.244.074.23
28Freddy Garcia4.375.4944.28
29Roy Halladay6.826.145.14.31
30Barry Zito5.744.924.814.34
31Bartolo Colon2.653.233.954.36
32Wandy Rodriguez3.594.4244.36
33Scott Feldman3.864.033.964.37
34Mike Pelfrey5.193.994.544.53
35Jon Garland5.824.934.544.57
36Joe Saunders5.264.724.234.63
37Ryan Vogelsong5.734.914.54.7
38Bronson Arroyo3.794.493.974.72
39Jake Westbrook4.634.624.954.78
40Jason Marquis4.055.654.814.83

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!

Here is the RHP leaderboard and LHP leaderboard. I am also providing the full combined leaderboard:

1Edward Mujica2.783.713.532.58
2Manny Parra3.333.072.792.95
3Joaquin Benoit2.012.873.163
4Boone Logan3.233.822.713.01
5Jesse Crain0.741.522.943.06
6Joe Nathan1.392.263.273.06
7Javier Lopez1.832.412.923.08
8Oliver Perez3.743.263.363.31
9Matt Belisle4.323.032.993.39
10Fernando Rodney3.382.843.113.41
11David Aardsma4.315.274.633.43
12Chad Durbin95.994.443.47
13Jose Valverde5.596.364.093.49
14Jon Rauch7.563.474.163.51
15Carlos Marmol4.415.194.533.54
16Rafael Betancourt4.
17Grant Balfour2.593.493.423.55
18Tim Stauffer3.753.553.23.7
19Matt Thornton3.744.044.133.7
20Chad Qualls2.613.323.253.72
21Michael Gonzalez4.684.873.883.75
22Luis Ayala3.273.683.773.82
23Kameron Loe7.098.414.693.82
24Jason Frasor2.573.373.623.86
25Scott Downs2.493.093.33.86
26LaTroy Hawkins2.933.063.123.91
27Rich Hill6.283.824.123.96
28Matt Guerrier4.013.824.443.97
29Jamey Wright3.093.133.483.97
30Eric O'Flaherty2.
31Matt Lindstrom3.123.153.874
32Brandon Lyon4.983.984.484.02
33Mark Lowe9.265.796.554.13
34J.P. Howell2.182.893.484.14
35Joba Chamberlain4.935.644.64.15
36Chad Gaudin3.063.3444.15
37Joe Smith2.
38Matt Albers3.143.493.824.35
39Shawn Camp7.047.054.934.42
40Kyle Farnsworth4.74.143.734.46
41Kevin Gregg3.484.14.384.54
42Scott Atchison4.373.754.024.57
43Darren Oliver3.864.053.744.72
44Hideki Okajima2.257.35.765.08
45Brett Myers8.028.724.85.28
46Peter Moylan6.466.185.865.37
47Tim Byrdak7.718.625.685.54

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!

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The R.A. Dickey Effect

Author: Chris Carruthers

Chris has been a baseball (and Jays) fan for 15 years. He has also played since the age of 6, working his way through Little League and Babe Ruth Baseball as a catcher and first baseman. He got interested in sabermetrics after viewing the movie Moneyball. His continuous self-learning in sabermetrics and advanced stats is driven by his engineering background and love for numbers. Chris's go-to website is FanGraphs, where he has had a few previous community submissions. Chris also enjoys music and plays guitar in his sparse spare time from his studies. He also follows hockey and his favourite team, the Calgary Flames. Follow Chris on Twitter @CCBreakingBlue.

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  1. Like the article and the initiative for coming up with TIPS. My comment is just that many of the guys listed here have been fairly volatile over the years with Kazmir, Valverde and Rodney being the most obvious names there. Wondering if you could do a 3 – 5 year look at TIPS to a) see how predictive it is and b) provide more context and weight to it. I would love to see if it saw any of the reliever break-outs that happened.

    Post a Reply
    • A 6 year database of TIPS is coming, just wait! :)

      Post a Reply
  2. It would appear there is some significant value in Tim Stauffer as well.

    Former high draft pick, low cost (comparatively speaking) and could fit nicely at the back end of the rotation and give the Jays some quality innings.

    And AA is a value whore.

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