In my continuing series of league standings adjusted for a single statistic, we will look at team FIP. FIP is a predictive statistic based on the idea that pitchers have little to no control over a ball once it is in play. Check out the glossary link on the right side (web version only). It assesses pitching based on the things pitchers can control rather than what they can’t; strikeouts, walks, home runs, wild pitches, and hit by pitch.
With that in mind, let’s see if there is any change to current standings if said standings were based solely on FIP.
American League East:
New York: 3.74
Tampa Bay: 3.98
American League Central:
Kansas City: 4.35
American League West:
Los Angeles: 3.79
National League East:
New York: 4.06
National League Central:
St. Louis: 3.86
National League West:
San Francisco: 3.34
Los Angeles: 3.67
San Diego: 3.71
The A.L. East looks identical to its true standings, so we’ll leave them alone. But how about the A.L. Central? The Tigers in third? Behind Cleveland and Chicago? How about the N.L. West and absurdity of those standings? The Dodgers couldn’t possibly cling to second in the West, nor could the Padres be in third. So what does this mean in terms of reality?
There are countless ways to interpret statistics. No matter the stat, application depends on the applier. I will attempt the most logical approach I can think of, the predictive value of the FIP statistic.
FIP is not necessarily designed to predict the future in one season, but the season ends in September right? A new one begins in October. With that mind set, I will use the adjusted standings, based on FIP, to make some (not so) bold predictions.
Both the Tigers and the Diamondbacks have built leads large enough to overcome any FIP shortcomings. But the Dbacks also have offense on their side. They can hit with the best of them and will go to a three-man rotation for the postseason. They’ll be fine. The Tigers, on the other hand, play in an A.L. Central where a minimal amount of offense can get them by. The play-offs are different, and Justin Verlander can only start two games in a five game series. They’re in trouble.
One might see the Rangers FIP and assume they will be overtaken by the Angels. Those people will likely be wrong. The Rangers should be able to win the division and carry themselves through the postseason with their monumental run differential. This isn’t the Giants we’re talking about. But their offense can only carry them so far. Depending on their three-man rotation in the play-offs and how that rotation’s FIP shakes out, the Rangers could run into trouble against Red Sox or Yankees in the ALCS.
By no means is this an exact science, so get off Travelocity.com, cancel your trips to Vegas. As with the other pieces I wrote on adjusted standings, this is just an interesting way to look at the pieces that go into building a win-loss record.
But for those who don’t heed my disclaimer and win money in Vegas on these predictions, I claim 10%.