How good is that pitcher? Look at his RIP.

Perhaps a bit too much physical ability is represented in this Venn diagram.

New progress in the ever-evolving conundrum of making baseball statistics useful and meaningful.

Much progress has been made over the past couple of decades in separating the pitchers from the belly-itchers.  Good old ERA will let you know one key thing: How many runs a pitcher has given up (and, hence, how many he is likely to give up, all other things being equal.)   ERA by itself is unsatisfactory, though, as it doesn’t account adequately for pitchers leaving the mound and giving their relief the dubious gift of runners in scoring position or for the blood-pressure-increasing stress given to everyone involved when runner after runner makes it on base.

WHIP (Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched) was a vast improvement in the struggle to make the numbers explain the game and making the numbers useful to prediciting a pitcher’s impact on a game.  We applaud the sabermetricians who developed and promulgated WHIP.

There’s still one small thing missing, though.  Runners get on base in three major ways that can be attributed to the pitcher: getting a hit, getting walked, or getting hit by a pitch.  WHIP didn’t include that last one.  It matters.  A beaned batter (or his pinch runner) is no less a man on base than a walked batter or a batter who has singled.

Therefore, we here at the Tsubamegun propose RIP. Not to be confused with Resquiescat In Pace or its vulgate twin, Rest In Peace, the new RIP is Runners per Inning Pitched, with the implication, of course, of “Runners” being limited to those whose presence on base can be attributed to the pitcher.

RIP is not only a better indicator of how many men a pitcher is likely to allow on base, as it includes runners hit by pitches, who are not included in WHIP, it is also just as easy to calculate as WHIP – just add HBP before dividing.

Thus:  H + BB + HBP / IP = RIP

So, for example, Tokyo starter Shohei Tateyama’s stat line, as of his last appearance prior to May 20th, looks like this:

# Player GP Win Loss Save HP IP H BB HBP K ERA RIP
25 Tateyama 6 4 0 0 0 44.2 35 10 2 33 1.61 1.05

So:  35+10+2 = 47
And:  47/44.666667 = 1.05
(after rounding.  Cutting off the infinite 2/3 decimal at six places was an arbitrary decision – it’s long enough so as not to change the final number.)

Thus, Tateyama has a RIP of 1.05.

Simple, better, it even has a name as catchy as WHIP.

Runners who reach base on Errors are not included as they, obviously, cannot be pinned on the pitcher.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, a pitcher who has hit no batters would have a RIP identical to his WHIP.

While zombies and the undead cannot R.I.P., they can have a RIP if they pitch.

R.I.P. WHIP.  (Cheesy, but I couldn’t resist.)

  • I’ve searched with no luck for any sabermetric-type stats pages in Japan. The new stats are very useful, but it’s a big pain to load them into a spreadsheet and crunch them myself.

    The problem with sabermetrics is it’s a never-ending quest for even better quantification of a player’s contribution. Statistically representing how efficient a pitcher is at keeping players off bases doesn’t say how efficient the pitcher is at keeping the baserunners from scoring – though I’m sure there’s one for that I don’t know about. For example, how well does a pitcher hold a runner to the base (but that’s dependent on the catcher’s CS efficiency as well) – a way to quantify how quickly he comes to the plate, how good is he at picking off runners, etc. Wild pitches and passed balls have to factor into the baseholding efficiency as well.

    I like the RIP – it’s great for a pitcher to be really well RIPped! There’s one gap I see, though a rare one – a swinging third strike that’s also a passed ball/wild pitch allowing the runner to reach first. Is that accounted for somewhere?

  • That’s really odd – I’ve ALWAYS calculated WHIP using HBP + BB + H / IP, and I could have sworn other places do that too. It’s *supposed* to be runners per inning pitched.

    What I always find fun to mess with for stats is things like BB/BF, K/BF, those kinds of percentages. They don’t usually show up and usually are more like K/9, BB/9.

  • Steve, I’ve been mulling the passed third strike thing as well – and might add it in the future – but kept it out, for now, for two reasons: First, the goal being to focus on the pitcher’s performance, I couldn’t decide whether to blame (for lack of a better word) catchers for dropping the ball or pitchers for throwing wild. Second, it’s harder to track passed third strikes. This point needs further consideration, though.

    Deanna, you have always been doing things well. As far as we’ve been able to find, WHIP is usually calculated without including HBP, but I have yet to see a reason for that other than something along the lines of “HBP is normally a rare enough occurrence that it doesn’t change much.”

    That argument seems kind of silly and arbitrary to me, though. Why not not count triples because they’re relatively rare?

    As Steve mentioned above, though, the whole point of sabermetrics is to refine and, I’d say, try to make sure stats reflect the game and help in predicting outcomes instead of leading outcome or even influencing players’ actions (which has long been the problem with batting average.)

    The ratios you mention at the end there, Deanna, are indeed interesting. Now give them catchy names.

    I’ll hint that we’re fooling around with something I’m tentatively calling “EA,” but I’m not sure if it passes the utility test – it’s more of a trivia stat than a predictor, perhaps.

  • Dude, you don’t want me giving those stats catchy names, or the K/BF will end up being called “The Darvish”, the BB/BF ratio will be called “The Shaggy Shugo Fujii Fraction”, and things like that. 🙂

    You know, I might be getting WHIP confused with FIP in terms of what takes HBP into consideration? Because FIP is something like (13*HR + 3*(BB + HBP) – 2*K)/IP plus a constant?

    It is true though, that unless your name is Nagisa Arakaki, the HBP count usually IS a negligible number…

  • I agree with Deanna that I’ve always considered HBP to be part of WHIP – the name was just more catchy not being WHHBPIP.

    Leaving out runners reached on errors violates the very name of RIP – they are still runners who reached base. Likewise, runners who reach on catcher’s interference, sacrifices or dropped third strikes should be in here if the stat is truly runners per innings pitched.

    I think a more valuable stat would be accountable runners (WHIP including HBP) plus the negative of total runners (WHIP+reached on errors+sacs+interference+steals allowed+dropped third strikes reached) times 100. Comparing WHIP to this stat would show how effective a pitcher is independent of his team.

  • Deanna, think catchy + easy to decipher. “The Darvish” could be a pitching stat or it could be a measure of how quickly a young man knocks up his girlfriend, in which case someone at the Univ. of Chicago is probably doing a dissertation on it right now.

    Ken, you raise good points, but the point of WHIP, and now RIP, is to measure accountable runners – it’s a pitching stat. If we include errors or anything for which the pitcher can’t be held responsible, it becomes merely a measure of what has happened in past games and, thus, fails the prediction and utility tests. Besides, between RIP and DICE, I think there’s enough there to make reasonable comparisons and to staisfy most fans, not that they are set in stone, but they combine to paint a pretty good picture of a pitcher. As I said above, the only point on which I’m torn right now is whether to count dropped third strikes as Wild Pitches (attributed to the pitcher) or Passed Balls (attributed to the catcher.) That conundrum could be solved by going into the scorecards and just looking at individual cases, but it would make the stat much more difficult to track.

    Look at RIP not so much as a new stat (it’s not really) as supplanting the incomplete WHIP. We gave it a new name mostly to avoid confusion, as WHIP (other than people’s individual calculations, it seems) does not include HBP. Before and after writing this article, I scoured the Internet and found not a single instance of HBP being included in WHIP and surprisingly little discussion of the issue. There are, to be sure, people such as yourself and Deanna have been doing it, which makes sense as it’s intuitive and there’s no reason not to include HBP, but when you see WHIP listed as a stat, the overwhelming odds are that it does not include HBP.

    All RIP does is correct WHIP, although, to be fair, the numbers don’t change much except for pitchers facing Aoki.

  • I did some searching through some MLB stat pages and it seems to be they don’t already include HBP in the WHIP statistic. I was looking at a box score from yesterday and saw a pitcher who gave up a HBP but whose calculated WHIP was as if that baserunner was not included. So, it seems to me that on the MLB stats RIP is definitely a distinct stat from WHIP.

    Just for grins, I crunched the Marines’ stats as of the end of yesterday just now and put them on my blog.

    And yes, that is a very cheap pimp of my blog 🙂

    • Nice pimp sir!

      Garrett will be delighted someone else is now using RIP!

      • Steve, I’m glad you took my Tsubamegun pimping on your blog so well and am happy to return the favor. I’m even more glad to see that you’re using RIP. (Who’d use WHIP when RIP exists?)

        To be fair, though, RIP was not my invention, but merely the name I gave to the practice embodied and evangelized by our own inestimable Mr. Pellegrini. Like many great ideas, RIP had never occurred to me until Chris advocated it and David agreed that it was logical. I was the late-comer in our bunch.

        Also like many good ideas in their respective realms, I now could not imagine paying attention to pitching without it.

        And watching baseball whilst not paying attention the pitching is like watching any other sport.

        (That’s all, there’s no end to that analogy. It’s just like watching any other sport – somehow incomplete.)

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