Baseball can be analyzed in many, many quantitative ways. Almost any situation can be broken down, and managers and general managers often use such resources when making big decisions.
Pitching statistics are particularly interesting. With so few bona fide aces nowadays, one often has to dig deep in order to decide what makes one pitcher better — or worse — than another. But what is the most effective statistic to look at when coming to these conclusions?
Wins represent the ultimate goal for any pitcher or team, but it doesn't take into account run support. Just ask Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners, who won the Cy Young Award last season despite only 13 wins.
It's tough to discredit a pitcher who pitches well enough to give his team a win, regardless of what his final stat line looks like on any given night. But by giving the award to Hernandez, it shows there is just as much of an emphasis on other statistics across baseball.
ERA — or earned run average – has long been considered one of the primary pitching statistics, representing how many runs a pitcher gives up on average over the course of a nine-inning game. It is perhaps the most recognizable and popular stat behind wins.
Then, of course, there are strikeouts. Seeing a pitcher mow down batters with relative ease can be downright impressive, and some pitchers are able to do it better than others.
But aside from those three major categories, quality starts, adjusted ERA+ and WHIP are becoming an increasingly popular topic of discussion among fans, especially in an age in which fantasy baseball is thriving.
A quality start is defined as a start in which a pitcher completes at least six innings with no more than three earned runs allowed. Quality starts are often viewed as performances in which pitchers should have pitched well enough to win a game, although they sometimes don't coincide with wins.
Adjusted ERA+ is a figure that is based on a pitcher's ERA adjusted to the ballpark in which he pitches. Some ballparks favor pitchers, while other favor hitters, and this statistic is an attempt to analyze a pitcher's true ERA. The average ERA+ is set at 100, with figures more than that representing above-average pitchers.
WHIP represents the number of walks plus hits a pitcher allows per inning pitched.
Some pitchers may boast impressive statistics in some categories, while appearing weak in others. So how should pitchers be truly analyzed?
What's the most valuable pitching statistic in baseball? Share your thoughts below.
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