SWIP Part II: Starting Pitchers
In the PART I of this series of articles on SWIP, I spent time explaining just what this metric is and how it works. Rather than restating everything that was listed in the previous discussion, I would just suggest that you take a moment to review the piece so that we can all move forward on the same page. A few notes before I break down the starters.
Here is the simple equation that we will use to calculate SWIP.
SWIP = (K – BB) / IP
The 2010 ML average for SWIP was 0.43.
With that, let’s get to what you really want to see, and that is how the starting pitchers performed in 2010.
As you can see from the leader board, there is some difference between how pitchers finished in WHIP and ERA.
Major league WHIP leader Cliff (1.00) posted a terrific SWIP mark of 0.79, good for 2nd in SWIP. The leader in SWIP last season wasn’t AL CY Young winner Felix Hernandez (0.65) or NL Cy Young winner Roy Halladay (0.75). The SWIP leader turned out to be Jered Weaver (0.80), hardly a shock considering that he led baseball with 233 strikeouts (you can see the whole list by clicking on the above link).
Here are some of the highlights, and lowlights, of how those who qualified for the ERA title last season fared according to SWIP. Remember...
.90 and Up: An excellent season. Hall of Fame level. .70 to .89: An all-star performance. Worthy of Cy Young consideration. .50 to .69: Borderline all-star. A guy you’d like to have on your staff. .35 to .50: Nothing more than the 3rd or 4th starter with his club. .20 to .34: His major league days could be numbered. Below .20: Minor leaguer in training.
0.75 – Mat Latos, Josh Johnson, Francisco Liriano A trio of big time arms who rack up the strikeouts while not walking many.
0.73 – Tim Lincecum Each of his three full seasons he has had at least 231 Ks and the result has been SWIP mark of 0.80.
0.72 – Cole Hamels Hamels returned to the elite after a slight down turn in 2009 (0.65).
0.69 – Dan Haren How good is this ace? Over the past four seasons his SWIP is 0.72.
0.68 – Adam Wainwright, Yovani Gallardo One injured ace is down. If the other can curtail the walks (3.65 per nine), pity batters.
0.67 – James Shields I keep telling everyone, despite his 5+ ERA, Shields pitched pretty well last season.
0.64 – Clayton Kershaw Just like Gallardo, the key will be cutting down the walks (3.57 per nine). If he does, he will join the elite.
0.62 – Scott Baker A pitcher who has excellent skills, even if the results aren't always where you'd expect them to be (and he's nice enough to pose for pictures with pretty brunettes too).
0.55 – Ubaldo Jimenez All those strikeouts (214) mitigated by his 94 free passes (second worst in the NL).
0.52 – David Price Solid for sure, but still has a ways to go to truly be someone you can consider a Cy Young contender every year.
0.50 – Jonathon Niese Admit it, you're shocked that he was just 0.02 behind Price aren't you. Now you're starting to see why I like Niese as a strong end game grab in mixed leagues.
0.42 – Jaime Garcia Better keep up that ground ball rate because even with all his success last year his SWIP mark was below league average.
0.38 – Gio Gonzalez I don't doubt that Gio will have some success, but he will be hard pressed to repeat his breakout 2011 effort.
0.31 – Clay Buchholz His major league days aren't numbered, not with his strong ground ball rate, but Clay's SWIP mark says that those ground balls better find his fielders gloves or things could get ugly.
0.28 – Tim Hudson, Trevor Cahill Remember back in PART I when I said certain pitchers aren't going to score well in SWIP even though they are fine starting pitchers?
And drum roll please ---
The worst man in baseball, who tossed at least 160 innings last season was Brad Bergesen of the Orioles. When you throw 170 innings and only strike out 81 batters you aren't helping yourself out too much. Given that he walked 51 batters, Bergesen finished the year with a sickly 0.18 SWIP, one hundredth better than the worst qualifier in the NL – Kyle Kendrick (0.19).
Curious as to who those pitchers did who didn't toss at least 162 innings last season? Here is another leader board for pitchers who threw at least 90-innings last season.
0.77 – Brandon Morrow Though he walked a ton, he also had the best K/9 rate per nine innings amongst any pitcher who threw 100-innings last season.
0.72 – Ricky Nolasco I don't know how many of you are willing to take the risk, but if Nolasco tosses 180-innings he could be a top-25 starter in the fantasy game.
0.60 – Daniel Hudson He had a great run to end the year with the D'backs. What will he do for an encore?
0.58 – Travis Wood This rookie was pretty darn impressive last year when called upon in the second half.
0.56 – Kevin Slowey, Josh Beckett, Jhoulys Chacin Two veterans that most are down on, and one rookie who everyone seemingly likes. Which guy would you pay the most for on draft day?
0.55 – Jake Peavy From 2004-09 his SWIP mark was 0.74.
0.55 – Homer Bailey Will Bailey finally makes 30 starts and break through for the Reds?
0.54 – Madison Bumgarner It's certainly a small sample size but over his last nine appearances, including the playoffs, his SWIP mark was 0.78.
0.53 – Bud Norris It's all about the heat with this guy who needs to learn how to control the strike zone to avoid being sent to the bullpen.
0.47 – Brett Anderson A great pitcher when healthy, he'll likely never score that highly in SWIP because he doesn't have a big strike out arm.
0.38 – Daisuke Matsuzaka Was it really just two years ago that some thought this guy would be a perennial all-star?
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Fri 7-10 PM EDT), Ray also hosts his own show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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