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Following the methodology of WHIP (walks + hits divided by innings pitched), a method that is as established in the fantasy games as any other (and therefore easily understood), I invented a new measure of a pitchers dominance called SWIP a few years back in order to better understand which pitchers may possess the skills necessary to have success on a big league hill (I know, I’m so amazing... just like my mama told me I would). Never heard of SWIP you say? Well I’m about to change that, and hopefully you will be able use SWIP to help you analyze pitchers heading into 2014.
WHAT IS SWIP?
S- Strikeouts (abbreviated as K)
W- Walks (abbreviated as BB)
IP- Innings Pitched
Numerically speaking, the formula for SWIP works along the same lines as WHIP. SWIP is determined by the following equation:
Strikeouts minus Walks divided by Innings Pitched equals SWIP.
SWIP = (K – BB) / IP
Another way to look at this is to say that for each positive result, the recording of an out in the form of a strikeout, the pitcher receives a (+1). For each negative encounter, in the form of a walk, he receives a (-1). Simple enough right? Here is an example of how you can figure out SWIP so you can see what I’m talking about (and yes, it really is as simple as it sounds).
Homer Bailey had 199 Ks and 54 BBs in 209 innings in 2013. (199-54) / 209
145 / 2009 0.69 SWIP
Bailey’s SWIP for the 2013 season was therefore 0.68. Though SWIP is recorded in the same manner as WHIP, theway to read the results is slightly different. Whereas the lower the WHIP the better one has performed, SWIP worksin the opposite direction: the higher the SWIP the better (it should also be pointed out that there are some limitation to SWIP which I have written about previously.
Here is a rough estimate of what the results mean to help you to put things in perspective, a key if you will. The key speaks more toward starting pitchers (relievers should all be at least at 0.50 or move on).
.90 and Up: Excellent season. Hall of Fame level.
.70 to .89: An all-star performance. Worthy of Cy Young consideration.
.50 to .69: Borderline all-star to decent starting pitcher. Aguy you’d like to have on your staff.
.35 to .50: A guy who should be nothing more than the 3rdor 4th starter with his club.
.20 to .34: His major league days are likely numbered.
Below .20: Minor leaguer in training.
SWIP: What Pitchers Can Control
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Let’s take a look at how all major league hurlers performed in 2013. 36,710 Strikeouts
14,640 Walks 43,653.1 IP So in order to find out the major league average for SWIP
during the 2013 season let’s plug the numbers into our simple equation.
SWIP = (K – BB) / IP (36,710-14,640) / 43,653.1
22,070 / 43,653.1
SWIP = 0.51
The 0.51 mark last season is a major league best in the 21st century as the rate keeps inching upward in an almost linear path.
2013: 0.51 SWIP
2012: 0.50 SWIP
2011: 0.45 SWIP
2010: 0.43 SWIP
2009: 0.39 SWIP
2008: 0.38 SWIP
2007: 0.37 SWIP
2006: 0.37 SWIP
2005: 0.36 SWIP
2004: 0.36 SWIP
2003: 0.34 SWIP
2002: 0.35 SWIP
2001: 0.38 SWIP
2000: 0.30 SWIP
I will present three lists at the end of this review, broken down by the following innings pitched levels: (1) 160+ IP, (2) 80-159 IP, (3) 40-79 IP. Before we just get to the lists, here are some of my thoughts on a few key players at each of the levels.
160 Innings Pitched
0.94 – Yu Darvish
It’s not surprising that Darvish led the way in SWIP. After all, he led baseball with 277 strikeouts, 37 more than any other arm in the game while throwing 209.2 innings.
0.90 – Matt Harvey
If only he didn’t undergo Tommy John surgery.
0.86 – Max Scherzer
Scherzer was second in baseball with 240 Ks. What helped him to finish so highly in SWIP was the fact that he cut his walk rate by half a batter from his career mark (down to 2.35 BB/9).
0.76 – Clayton Kershaw
The best lefty in baseball. Period. Probably the best pitcher in baseball. He’s up to 4-straight years with at least 200 innings and 210 Ks.
0.75 – Jose Fernandez
The second best ERA in baseball belonged to Fernandez (2.19). Part of the reason for that was his strong 3.22 K/9 mark... as a rookie.
0.71 – Dan Haren
Shocked to see him this high on the list aren’t you? Even in the down times Haren rarely beats himself. For his career he owns a 0.64 SWIP.
0.69 – Cole Hamels
You thought he wasn’t very good last season? Fact is, after a terrible start, he was what he always is – a borderline elite hurler. His career SWIP mark is 0.70.
0.67 – Julio Teheran
Finally arrived after years of teasing. Julio upped his K/9 rate to an impressive 8.24 mark while barely walking two batters per nine. If he can sustain that success will continue to follow.
0.65 – Justin Verlander
Verlander had a three year low in his K/9 mark (8.95) an a five year high in his walk rate (3.09). He was still good, just not Verlander good.
0.65 – Shelby Miller
Let’s hope his arm was just tired at the end of last season and nothing more. He struck out four less batters (169) than innings pitched (173.1) while walking just under three batters per nine (2.96). An impressive rookie season.
0.61 – Lance Lynn
Over the last two seasons Lynn has literally struck out a batter per inning. His walk rate sits at about 3.3, just slightly over the league average, and that downs his outlook a bit. Better than given credit for.
0.59 – Tim Lincecum
You all know I’m a fan, so I won’t explain why I listed The Freak. I will note though that he had a better mark than Zack Greinke (0.58), Jordan Zimmermann (0.57), James Shields (0.56), Kris Medlen (0.56) and Hyun-Jin Ryu (0.55).
0.46 – Bartolo Colon
His K/9 mark was 1.3 batters below his career rate (6.79) in 2013. He just doesn’t miss bats. Still, his walk rate the past two season is 1.37 which is truly amazing. How can he continue to operate at a level that is literally less than half his career rate (2.79) past the age of 40? I don’t think he can.
0.39 – Travis Wood
Better in real life than fantasy. Wood doesn’t strike out seven per nine and walks about three per nine. Just not an impressive skill set despite how it looked at times in ‘13.
0.39 – Mike Leake
He won 14 games with a 3.37 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. It was a nice season, one that was far beyond expectations. He’s also limited with a K/9 mark of just 5.71.
0.36 – Jarrod Parker
Rather shocking to see him this low on the list isn’t it? A very successful pitcher who just doesn’t impress with pure stuff.