Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Newsletter Excerpt, June 26, 2024 -- "AL East Notes"

This is a preview of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, an e-mail newsletter about all things baseball, featuring analysis and opinion about the game on and off the field from the perspective of the informed outsider.

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New York Yankees

We’ve been using ERA to measure the value of pitchers for more than a century. FIP, a product of the Defense Independent Pitching Statistics developed by Voros McCracken about 25 years ago, uses the ERA scale to measure pitching performance based on the three true outcomes: walks, strikeouts, and home runs allowed. FIP is more predictive than ERA, stipping out what happens on batted balls in play, which can be heavily affected by the fielders behind the pitcher and plain old luck.

The gap between those two numbers, ERA and FIP, is a helpful tool. One measures outcomes, the other the skills that went into producing those outcomes. The Yankees, through half the 2024 season, are at an extreme.

Luck? (ERA - FIP, 2024)

            ERA    FIP     E-F
Yankees    3.31   4.01   -0.70
Dodgers    3.29   3.82   -0.53
Brewers    3.74   4.20   -0.45
Guardians  3.50   3.93   -0.43
Blue Jays  4.20   4.49   -0.29

The Yankees’ run prevention is outstripping its underlying pitching performance by more than any team in baseball. In fact, that -0.70 figure is one of the highest since the mound was lowered in 1969.

Luck! (ERA - FIP, 1969-2024, real seasons only)

                   ERA    FIP     E-F
Reds       1999   3.99   4.74   -0.75
Yankees    2024   3.31   4.01   -0.70
Braves     2022   3.13   3.83   -0.69
Athletics  1990   3.18   3.84   -0.66
Dodgers    2022   2.80   3.45   -0.65

The elements here are pretty simple. The Yankees have allowed just a .265 average on balls in play, third-lowest in baseball, so the run elements not covered by FIP have been good to them. They have stranded 76.6% of the runners who have reached against them, second only to the Guardians. They’ve pitched well, yes, but they’ve snagged batted balls (third in Defensive Efficiency), and they’ve done their best work with runners in scoring position. The Yankees lead MLB in OPS allowed with RISP, as well as relative OPS with RISP compared to their own performance (tOPS+) and the league performance (sOPS+).

That’s jargon-y.

Yankee pitching and defense has been at its best with runners in scoring position.

That’s why they’re in first place.