Wednesday, January 2, 2008

RLYW: Wang Not A Fluke

Thanks to the Replacement Level Yankees Weblog, Chien Ming Wang's success despite a minuscule k/9 has been brought to the table as only sabermetrics can:
If you're a baseball fan with at least some proclivity towards stats, you're probably familiar with Voros McCracken's DIPS theory. McCracken basically stated that a pitcher's ability to control what happens on balls in play is variable and volatile. Some overly extreme devotees to this theory take it to mean that a pitcher has zero control over a ball hit into play, but that's not really true. If it was, you wouldn't have groundball pitchers and fly ball pitchers.

Also, selection bias would mean that anyone who reaches the majors may have a certain level of skill on balls in play that allowed them to get that far. I still think DIPS theory is useful in many ways, primarily because it taught me to look more closely at a pitcher's peripherals, but it's really just a fraction of any evaluating of pitching that I do.

One of the often-stated mantras about Chien-Ming Wang is that he generates easily fieldable ground balls, which means his success despite a low strikeout rate is not really that much of a fluke. It's possible this is true, at least in the regular season, but is there a way to quantify it?
Exhaust your baseball acumen and read the rest of the post.

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