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Staturday: WAR - Pitchers

Last week we talked about WAR (Wins Above Replacement) for position players and today we will focus on pitching WAR. Below is the equation used to calculate a pitcher's WAR and a little breakdown into each element.

League FIP is the league average FIP (this stat was like ERA but only takes into consideration a pitcher can control: home runs, strikeouts, and walks) and is used as a baseline. If a pitcher has a higher FIP than league average, that part of the equation becomes negative and hurts a player's WAR.

Pitcher Specific Runs Per Win which is a semi-complicated calculation. If you want to know more click here, but simply put the longer a pitcher pitches the greater the chance they have to impact the game. For example, a starter who pitches six innings affects the game six times more than a reliever who throws for one inning.

The next element is Replacement Level which is like the position player element. It is just figuring out how much better or worse a player is compared to a minor league type of player.

Leverage Multiplier for Relievers takes into account what kind of environment the reliever is in. In other words, a pitcher coming into a game with a runner at second and third with one out is in a more stressful and critical situation than a reliever who comes in at the start of the inning facing the 7-8-9 hitters. The pitcher in the higher leverage situation should see higher rewards if they succeed in their inning of work.

Finally we have the League Correction element which just applies a small factor to the stats depending on if the pitcher is in the AL or NL.

Hopefully that wasn't too much to take in. Just remember that the higher a pitcher's WAR, the better season they had. Enough text, let's look at some stats. Below is the Cubs pitcher breakdown by WAR on the team for both starters and relievers.

So Kyle Hendricks led the team with 4.1 WAR and Craig Kimbrel was last on the team at -1.1 WAR. Kimbrel truly had a bad year but I think we should be encouraged that his HR/FB rate almost FOUR times higher than his career average. If Kimbrel can get back to his normal home run rate then we are no longer going to see a below-replacement level player.

As a whole, the Cubs finished the year ranked 11th in pitching WAR; 8th based on starters and 20th based on relievers. Seeing that breakdown, it does reflect on the season we saw where the bullpen did let a lot of late leads slip away.

Individually, Hendricks was 20th in baseball in pitching WAR amongst all pitchers. Filtering just by relievers, the Cubs highest ranked reliever (Brandon Kintzler) came in at 59. Not great. The bullpen is definitely a weakness for the Cubs in regards to last year and that should be one of the main focal points to start the year. One thing to be encouraged by: Rowan Wick coming in second in WAR amongst relievers for the Cubs even though he threw about half of the innings Kintzler did.

This is the last Staturday where I will be covering a specific stat or set of stats that I believe are important. If there are any that you want me to talk about either post a comment on our Facebook or Instagram pages, send us a tweet, or sign up for Disqus and comment on here. Otherwise the next two weeks I will do some recap article for the start of the season! Thanks for reading!


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