There are a lot of debates about how best to rank pitcher value. Most of it centers around whether pitchers should be valued for what they have most control over, i.e. their peripherals of Walks, Strikeouts, and Homers. Famously, (or infamously depending on your point of view) Fangraphs WAR, which is FIP based handles this end.
Over at baseball reference, their WAR is based on RA-9 (Run against per 9 innings), which is inclusive of all runs allowed, earned and unearned. Defense, opponent strength, and ballparks pitched in are all taken into account.
There is often a very good case for one or the other, depending on the pitcher involved., Sometimes it's obvious that a pitcher has pitched better or worse than his actual run prevention, and fWAR shows that pretty well. However actual run prevention is pretty darn important to a team's chances to win and lose, and you can't just hand wave away actual results.
Fortunately there is a simple way around this with just a little bit of work. Fangraphs also has RA-9 war on their pitcher Value Page (Link set to report for starting pitchers, minimum 20 IP). FG RA-9 WAR is not exactly the same as bWAR, but the ordinal rankings in RA-9 WAR and bWAR are quite similar.
What I decided to do was combine RA-9 WAR and fWAR and average the two. Fangraphs allows you to export the data into excel sheet just by clicking a link, which I did, since that is much much easier than having to combine bWAR and fWAR manually.
This gives you the best of both worlds. Guys that have great run prevention but a little worse peripherals get a bump higher than they get just by fWAR, (i.e. Greinke, Keuchel). Guys with great peripherals but so so run prevention, such as Kershaw and Kluber, get knocked down a few spots. That sort of "feels" right to me. So here are some tables for you guys to look at. I am going to e mail the original spread sheet to Jim, and anyone wants it they can ask him to send it to them.....but it's also easy to do this your self if so inclined.
Top 35 Pitchers in "Average WAR" YTD Thru July 10th
|5||Chris Sale||White Sox||3.2||3.7||3.5|
|17||Clay Buchholz||Red Sox||2.1||3.1||2.6|
|34||Jeff Samardzija||White Sox||1.6||2.4||2.0|
|35||Jose Quintana||White Sox||2.0||2.0||2.0|
Worst 20 Starters in MLB YTD. Note 6 Phillies in the worst 20 . Ouch. And we thought the D Backs had issues.
Speaking of our team, here are the D Backs starters.
|119||Rubby de la Rosa||Diamondbacks||0.1||0.7||0.4|
So, what do you guys think ? Worthwhile approach ? Personally I like it, or I wouldn't have wrote this. I like the balance it presents. I'll probably come back to this from time to time.
[shoe's spreadsheet is available, for the interested, here]