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Done In By Home Runs

Ricky Nolasco, James Shields, Josh Beckett, Jake Peavy, and Scott Baker all posted strong strikeout and walk rates this year, yet all had ERAs of 4.49 or higher.  The problem: home runs allowed.  Shields and Beckett were especially bad, but all five had HR/9 rates of 1.09 or higher.  Can we expect improvement in 2011?

If xFIP had its way, all of their ERAs would be at 4.08 or lower based on their peripherals.  XFIP attempts to iron out abnormal home run per flyball rates, going as far to peg Nolasco at 3.55 instead of his actual 4.51 mark.  Shields gets 3.72 instead of 5.18.

We prefer Baseball Prospectus' SIERA, though.  SIERA likes these five even more, assigning nothing above the 3.84 Beckett received.  Nolasco gets 3.33, Shields 3.57.  I read up on SIERA but couldn't quite wrap my mind around it, so I asked BP's Matt Swartz to explain why it was lower than xFIP for these five pitchers.  I also asked him whether that means SIERA expects better results for the pitchers in 2011 than xFIP does.  His response was helpful:

SIERA is lower than xFIP for those guys because of what we joked should be called "The Johan Effect"-- basically, those guys are likely to give up solo homers when they do give up homers, because they all have good K/BB causing them to have not that many baserunners on when the inevitable home runs are hit.  I think that probably covers all of those guys actually.  I think xFIP and SIERA would agree on the number of expected home runs and disagree about how much to "charge" them for it.

Interesting.  I think Swartz would agree that the home run rates should come down next year for at least Nolasco, Shields, and Beckett.  Both stats clearly suggest ERAs will come down for all five.  They look like good value buys for 2011.


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