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Greinke wins Cy Young Award


waroriole

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Typical, ESPN puts a big picture of Greinke on the front page..I'm getting so sick and tired of the Royals getting so much love on ESPN. ;) When is baseball going to stop the MFR's** from getting all of the attention!

Seriously, very cool for Greinke and any Royals fans. Congrats!!!

**=Stolen from Baltimore Chop in a rep point post, I thought it was funny.

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Here is an interesting NY Times that talks about how Zach Greinke is a fan sabermetric stats like FIP. The title of the article is "Use of Statistics Helps Greinke to A.L. Cy Young".

Hernandez had two first-place votes, and Detroit’s Justin Verlander the other. The Yankees’ C. C. Sabathia finished fourth, and Toronto’s Roy Halladay was fifth. All of those pitchers had more wins than Greinke, who was 16-8 for a team that tied for last in the A.L. Central. Hernandez was 19-5 with a 2.49 E.R.A.

“I thought that could push him over the top, because his won-loss record was way better than mine,” Greinke said. “But I’m also a follower, since Brian Bannister’s on our team, of sabermetric stuff and going into details of stats about what you can control.”

Bannister, a right-handed starter, is known for his appreciation of modern pitching metrics, which emphasize the factors for which pitchers are essentially responsible: walks, strikeouts, home runs and hit batters. In Greinke, he found a like mind.

“He’s extremely bright, and he’s really picked up on using all the information out there to make his game better,” Bannister said by telephone. “He’s always had the talent. His confidence level, which is extremely high, combined with his knowledge of the numbers behind the game now, definitely makes him one of the best pitchers in the world.”

Bannister said Greinke has learned to adjust his pitching based on the advanced defensive statistics. Because of the size of the outfield at Kauffman Stadium and the strength of the Royals’ outfielders, relative to their infielders, it sometimes made more sense to induce fly balls.

“David DeJesus had our best zone rating,” Bannister said, referring to the Royals’ left fielder. “So a lot of times, Zack would pitch for a fly ball at our park instead of a ground ball, just because the zone rating was better in our outfield and it was a big park.”

To that end, Bannister introduced Greinke to FIP, or Fielding Independent Pitching, the statistic Greinke named Tuesday as his favorite. It is a formula that measures how well a pitcher performed, regardless of his fielders. According to fangraphs.com, Greinke had the best FIP in the majors.

“That’s pretty much how I pitch, to try to keep my FIP as low as possible,” Greinke said.

Not many pitchers think that way. But then, Greinke, 26, is not like other pitchers.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/18/sports/baseball/18pitcher.html

Here's Rob Neyer's take on Greinke in his ESPN column.

He's probably the first supremely talented pitcher to believe that nerds like me -- or rather, truly brilliant nerds like Bill James and Voros McCracken and Tom Tango -- might actually have something to teach a supremely talented pitcher.

It's actually happening, right now, and we're here to enjoy it.

http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/1447/greinke-learns-from-the-nerds

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It's cool that Greinke and Bannister follow these stats, but I don't know how pitching to keep your FIP as low as possible is any different from pitching to keep your ERA as low as possible. Trying to allow fly balls to a LF who has a good zone rating would not be pitching to keep your FIP as low as possible, since FIP by definition is "fielding independent."

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It's cool that Greinke and Bannister follow these stats, but I don't know how pitching to keep your FIP as low as possible is any different from pitching to keep your ERA as low as possible. Trying to allow fly balls to a LF who has a good zone rating would not be pitching to keep your FIP as low as possible, since FIP by definition is "fielding independent."
Looking at the stats, Greinke had the lowest WHIP in the AL at 1.073, had the lowest HR/9 in the AL at 0.4/9, was third in the AL with a K rate of 8.5/9 and was fifth in the AL with a BB rate of 2.0/9. All in all, a very good pitcher both ERA and FIP wise, as you point out. I do think Greinke is talking about two different parts of his pitching philosophy with the stats.

In general Greinke tries to keep his FIP low by not allowing a lot of baserunners, keeping the ball in the ballpark, and striking out a lot of hitters. Greinke is not the type of pitcher who gives up a lot of baserunners and does not depend upon the double play ball to get out of jams, nor does he pitch around many hitters in the lineup. Grienke did not intentionally walk any hitters in 2009. Greinke's pitches per plate appearance (3.8) was not among the league leaders 2009, so it looks like his pitch efficiency is not his primary concern.

There is another pitching philosophy which is to pitch to contact, keep the ball low in the zone, induce ground outs and double plays, and pitch around the opponents' best hitters. This type philosophy works for a pitcher like Mark Buerhle or Rick Porcello. But it's safe to say this is not Greinke's pitching philosphy. Greinke's philosophy is more FIP friendly than the Buerhle philosophy.

The second part of the Greinke's pitching philosophy, distinct from pitching to a low FIP, is to use his fielder's strengths and the size of his home ball park to his advantage. Greinke keeps the ball up and in to right-handed hitters and up and away to left-handers to get them to hit the ball in the air towards left field, in DeJesus' direction. He's also using the deep power alleys at Kauffman Stadium to his advantage. The home stadium of the Royals was the second-most difficult ballpark in the AL to hit home runs in 2009.

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Looking at the stats, Greinke had the lowest WHIP in the AL at 1.073, had the lowest HR/9 in the AL at 0.4/9, was third in the AL with a K rate of 8.5/9 and was fifth in the AL with a BB rate of 2.0/9. All in all, a very good pitcher both ERA and FIP wise, as you point out. I do think Greinke is talking about two different parts of his pitching philosophy with the stats.

In general Greinke tries to keep his FIP low by not allowing a lot of baserunners, keeping the ball in the ballpark, and striking out a lot of hitters. Greinke is not the type of pitcher who gives up a lot of baserunners and does not depend upon the double play ball to get out of jams, nor does he pitch around many hitters in the lineup. Grienke did not intentionally walk any hitters in 2009. Greinke's pitches per plate appearance (3.8) was not among the league leaders 2009, so it looks like his pitch efficiency is not his primary concern.

There is another pitching philosophy which is to pitch to contact, keep the ball low in the zone, induce ground outs and double plays, and pitch around the opponents' best hitters. This type philosophy works for a pitcher like Mark Buerhle or Rick Porcello. But it's safe to say this is not Greinke's pitching philosphy. Greinke's philosophy is more FIP friendly than the Buerhle philosophy.

The second part of the Greinke's pitching philosophy, distinct from pitching to a low FIP, is to use his fielder's strengths and the size of his home ball park to his advantage. Greinke keeps the ball up and in to right-handed hitters and up and away to left-handers to get them to hit the ball in the air towards left field, in DeJesus' direction. He's also using the deep power alleys at Kauffman Stadium to his advantage. The home stadium of the Royals was the second-most difficult ballpark in the AL to hit home runs in 2009.

I guess my question is, if Greinke had never heard of FIP, would he pitch any differently than he does now? I tend to doubt it. Pitchers generally pitch to their strengths. If you are the kind of pitcher who can strike out a lot of guys, that's what you'll try to do. If you aren't, but you are good at pitching down in the zone and inducing grounders, then that is what you'll try to do.

And as to pitching to induce hits to the parts of the stadium that are deepest, that's been going on for 100+ years. Jim Palmer made a living doing that, letting Paul Blair and Al Bumbry chase balls down.

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