If you spend a lot of time around baseball, you’re going to hear that you want pitchers with low ERAs. Seems simple enough. Maybe not, because various pitchers throw in front of multiple caliber defenses and ballparks with different pitching settings, resulting in another metric to assess pitchers: FIP.
What is FIP in Baseball?
FIP, or Fielding Independent Pitching, is a sophisticated statistic that evaluates a pitcher’s ability only on strikeouts, unintentional walks, hit-by-pitches, and home runs allowed. The statistic attempts to depicts a pitcher’s good or bad run of play by excluding all other types of events.
Does that make sense? That’s understandable, so don’t worry; we’ll get right into it and explain FIP in great depth.
Why Is FIP Used?
FIP only takes into account the number of unintentional walks and home runs a pitcher allows, and the number of hitters he hits and strikes out. But why do they limit themselves to these figures?
FIP only employs a limited set of data since home runs, walks, and strikeouts are the so-called “three real outcomes,” so named since the pitcher and hitter are the only elements involved. This eliminates any results that are the consequence of good or bad luck or defense.
FIP includes hit-by-pitches in addition to the three actual outcomes since, like walks, the batter ends up on first base as a result of the pitcher’s wildness. Similarly, intentional walks are removed (subtracted from the total walk total) since they are nearly usually ordered by the manager rather than at the discretion of the pitcher. According to Fangraphs, researchers revealed that a pitcher’s luck, dependent on whether or not a hit ball is fielded (which is out of his control), changes significantly from year to year.
As a result, FIP was introduced as a tool for evaluating a pitcher’s endurance and ability based on the characteristics he can manage, that can be constant over more extended periods.
In other words, the study discovered that a pitcher’s opponent batting average on balls in play, or BABIP, fluctuated drastically.
This statistic, which accounts purely for all balls put in play by the hitter (excluding all at-bats that finish in a home run or strikeout), may frequently demonstrate if a pitcher is having a good game or not based on whether the balls finds the a glove or outfield grass.
How to Calculate FIP
FIP solely considers factors that are in a pitcher’s control. Strikeouts, random walks, hit-by-pitches, and home runs are examples of these. The outcomes of balls hit into play are entirely excluded from the equation when calculating FIP. As a result, the term Fielding Independent Pitching was coined.
Pitchers that allow more balls in play while on the mound will typically have a FIP higher than their earned run average (ERA). The omission of balls in play from the FIP calculation reflects the assumption that a pitcher has little control over subsequent plays. Unless, of course, he happens to field the ball personally.
The calculation for a FIP mathematical formula is as follows:
((HR x 13) + (3 x (BB + HBP)) – (2 x K)) / IP + FIP constant
The FIP constant is generated in this equation using the league’s overall earned-run average (ERA) and FIP. For each pitcher, the FIP constant will always be the same.
Conclusion – What Is Considered a Good FIP?
Like a traditional ERA, a pitcher wants to have a low FIP since it predicts future performance. Furthermore, FIP may be evaluated on a scale similar to ERA in terms of good and bad. A FIP less than 4.00, like an ERA, is typically considered good, whereas a FIP more than 5.00 is deemed terrible, and a FIP of 3.00 or below is considered superb. Furthermore, FIP is designed so that the league wide FIP corresponds to the league ERA, so the ever-changing constant is required in year-to-year computations.
As a result, the average FIP in 2019 was 4.49 because FIP is designed better to fit leaguewide pitching circumstances in a particular year. Since ERA and FIP tend to be closely related, yearly league leaders in FIP generally have a FIP that approximates a league-best ERA, varying year to year.
Similarly, because FIP is intended to be more stable on an individual level from year to year, although ERA may fluctuate widely owing to several situations, it is normal for pitchers to lead in either ERA or FIP but not both. As a result, only 14 of the 40 pitchers who led their league in ERA from 2000 through 19 also led the league in FIP in the same season.
Since ERA is so significantly impacted by luck, it is more likely to fluctuate year to year. Still, a pitcher’s FIP can fluctuate by striking out or walking more hitters than usual or if his home run rate varies.
Since strikeouts and home runs have been on the rise in recent years, those are the two rates to keep an eye on. However, the home run rate is the rate that varies the most from year to year for particular pitchers, necessitating the development of a new set of statistics to reflect this correctly.
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