The Saber's Edge: Predicting High-ERA Pitchers
The Saber's Edge: Predicting High-ERA Pitchers

This article is part of our The Saber's Edge series.

Michael Pineda frustrates owners. Last season, he posted the fifth highest strikeout rate (10.6 K/9) among qualified starters above Chris Archer, Justin Verlander and Madison Bumgarner. He allowed a respectable walk rate (2.7 BB/9). The combination placed his strikeout-minus-walk rate seventh highest (20.4 percent). So why is a possible top-10 starter 58th overall in NFBC average draft position? It comes down to his 4.80 ERA. This value was at least a run higher than his FIP (3.80), xFIP (3.30) and SIERA (3.40). His ERA was inflated because of a .339 BABIP. After posting similar numbers in 2015, owners want nothing to do with him.

Pineda isn't the only pitcher who struggled to keep his ERA near is ERA estimators. NFBC owners are picking Robbie Ray right after Pineda. Ray (11th highest K-BB%) posted a 4.90 ERA last year while his ERA estimators were all less than 3.80. Historically, some pitchers have a higher ERA than FIP.

This week, I will determine which traits indicate which pitchers will struggle with an ERA greater than their ERA estimators.

One issue that must be immediately addressed is a survivor bias. If a pitcher has a 4.00 FIP talent level but a 4.50 ERA talent level, he will work himself out of the league quickly. On the other hand, if a pitcher has the same 4.00 FIP talent level but a 3.50 ERA talent level, he will hang around longer. Or at least until he tears up his shoulder. Teams aren't

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff Zimmerman
Zimmerman writes analytics-focused baseball and football articles for RotoWire. He is a three-time FSWA award winner, including the Football Writer of the Year and Best Football Print Article awards in 2016. The 2017 Tout Wars Mixed Auction champion and 2016 Tout Wars Head-to-Head champ, Zimmerman also contributes to FanGraphs.com, BaseballHQ and Baseball America.
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