Sabermetrics: Should We Evaluate Starting Pitchers Differently?

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Reynaldo Lopez
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 27: Reynaldo Lopez /

Should there be a revision to how a starting pitchers outing is judged by sabermetrics or other data?

As most of you have seen, there are countless statistics that quantify a player based on his performance over a nine-inning span. However, my question regarding that calculation of data is simple, does it cover the necessary aspects when a player doesn’t pitch a full game on most occasions?

Here is a potential solution for pitchers, and it is incredibly flawed. Take the average start distance of a pitcher and then calculate the strikeouts/walks/home runs allowed/etc. he is responsible for in that time frame. Now, I will explain where the problem comes into play.

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Let’s say a pitcher throws two starts of five innings and two starts of six innings. That means he would be averaging 5.5 innings per start. Any baseball fan knows that a hurler cannot throw half an inning, however is it still valuable to know how many innings he is averaging per trip to the mound?

Here is another problem, the mathematical element of it. While figuring out the pitchers’ average start distance may not be too difficult, discovering how many home runs he allowed per start distance would be adding parts to any already moving formula.

In the situation we currently have where players are valued by their performance over a nine-inning span, it is calculated by simply multiplying a number and dividing it by another. As I mentioned in the above paragraph, is it realistic to evaluate a player on a formula that needs different rules (different than MSV) for the same situation?

On top of that, in the case that you are evaluating a pitcher by his strikeouts per start, keep in mind that many hurlers go deeper into games than others. For example, a pitcher who averages between seven and eight innings per outing might have similar numbers to another that is only around five but is going significantly deeper into games.

Another portion of pitching statistics that could be looked at in the case that this works is average appearance (length in game) for relievers. What a pitchers’ average save outing looks like from a statistical standpoint (distance, K, BB), not to mention you could also see the difference between his conversions and blown saves.

Before we wrap up, keep in mind this is just an idea. There are too many moving parts to study actual players, as well as the fact that there is no formula. Another concern is that it could help to know how long a pitcher averages to stay in the game, even though it is problematic considering there are not half and quarter innings. But would it help analyze the sport better nonetheless?

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All in all, this is an idea that might or might not be built upon. Whether it can or not is yet to be seen, however keep in mind that regardless of the concepts future, there are countless aspects that need work before a study is analyzed. Whether it is possible for this to be an actual stat is only a part of it, however, the question has to be asked altogether. Should we evaluate pitchers by the average length of their outing? If so, this might have legs. If not, it was worth the try.