One of the core principles of baseball analytics is fielding independent pitching.
This principle evolved from the research of Voros McCracken, who showed that pitchers do not control the hits they allow. Pitchers control strike outs, walks and to a lesser extent home runs. However, all major league pitchers allow a batting average on balls in play of .300 in the long run.
This idea evolved into FIP, a formula that turns a pitcher’s strike outs and walks into an ERA type statistic. The formula is a breakthrough in evaluating pitchers.
However, the formula isn’t the take home message about pitching analytics.
In the April 28th, 2014 issue of Sports Illustrated, Max Scherzer gave us the take home message.
…the advanced stats are great to look at for my long-term goals and what I’m trying to accomplish. It shows me there is an inherent failure in pitching. The luck involved, the factors you can’t control. You just have to let go of those and focus on the next batter, the next game. You can’t do anything about bloop hits. I didn’t understand that before, and now I do.
I nearly fell off my chair when I read that. He gets it. (So does Zack Greinke.)
Bill James could not have summarized FIP better himself.