Looking at Brendan Morrow’s 2011 line ( 8-6, 4.51 ERA, 119.2 IP, 139 K, 44 BB, 108 H, 9 HR), it appears as though the hard throwing right hander has had a disappointing season. The strike out rate (10.45/9) is excellent, but the earned run average is just that, average. Morrow’s traditional stats don’t jump off the page, and they certainly don’t scream staff ace.
Anyone who has watched Brandon Morrow pitch can see that he is not an average pitcher. Morrow has fantastic stuff, including a plus fast ball and slider. In fact, no pitcher in baseball has struck out more batters per 9 innings this season.
So why does such a talented pitcher have such a mediocre stat line? It is because ERA is an outdated statistic which does a relatively poor job in depicting a pitchers performance.
ERA is an ineffective measure of a pitchers performance because it includes the defense around a pitcher. ERA accounts for errors, but it does not make any attempt to account for differences in defensive skill. The ability of the players around a pitcher therefore, has a significant impact on his personal statistics. ERA involves too many factors which are outside of a pitchers control.
Sabermetricians have made several attempts to eliminate the problems with ERA. These stats are in the DIPS (defense independent pitching stats) family, and include fielding independent pitching (FIP), expected fielding independent pitching (xFIP), and skill-interactive earned run average (SIERA). The idea behind these stats is to focus upon the aspects of the game which the pitcher has complete control over, in order to come up with a measurement that is more stable (and predictive) than ERA.
All three stats use the same three pitching results: strike outs, walks and home runs. These of course, are the outcomes which do not involve the defense in any way. What is interesting about all of the DIPS systems, is that they tend to be much more consistent year to year than ERA. This according to the sabermetric community, lends credence to the idea that they are a better predictor of a pitchers future performance.
The difference between the defense independent stats and ERA is significant. Brandon Morrow currently ranks 83rd with an ERA of 4.51. Morrow ranks 7th in SIERA 3.02, 14th in FIP 2.92, and 18th in xFIP 3.23!
This suggests that Morrow has performed considerably better than his traditional stats would suggest. More importantly, it also suggests that Morrow will have much better results in the future.
*To read more about DIPS and SIERA, check out these links from fangraphs:
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