FanGraphs Audio: Ballots on the Brain

Episode 950

We bring you an early episode before the holiday with discussions on how the Cy Young ballots were filled out and how the Hall of Fame ballots were constructed.

  • To begin the show, David Laurila is joined by Alex Speier of The Boston Globe and C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic to discuss their Cy Young ballots. It was a tight race in both leagues this year, and Alex recently wrote on how the voting process helped him reimagine how he evaluates pitching analytics. The trio have an in-depth conversation on things like ERA, FIP, quality versus quantity of innings, and how our views on these things have evolved over time. [2:31]
  • After that, Jay Jaffe welcomes Adam Darowski, head of user experience at Sports Reference, to talk about the arrival of the Hall of Fame ballots. Jay joined Adam on his own podcast back in August to discuss the formation of the Early Baseball and Golden Days ballots, and now that those have been revealed as well, they take a closer look at the many players through history who deserve more recognition. The pair go over a number of worthwhile figures on the ballots as well as some of the complex contexts involved in their candidacies, including the fact that some are still with us today. [38:15]

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Audio after the jump. (Approximate 1 hour 14 minutes play time.)

Dylan assists in producingFanGraphs Audio, Effectively Wild, and the FanGraphs Live Twitch channel. He also enjoys the Waxahachie Swap (RIP), the Air Bud principle, and the Oxford comma. You can Tweet him about any of those things @dhhiggins.

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Bobby Muellermember
7 months ago

Interesting discussion about FIP. I would be curious to know how Alex Speier, hater of FIP, reconciles Pedro Martinez’ 1999 and 2000 seasons when it comes to ERA and FIP.

1999: 213.3 IP, 313 K, 37 BB, 9 HR, 2.07 ERA, 1.39 FIP, .323 BABIP, 77.6% LOB%
2000: 217.0 IP, 284 K, 32 BB, 17 HR, 1.74 ERA, 2.17 FIP, .236 BABIP, 86.6% LOB%

In 1999, Pedro struck out 37.5% of the hitters he faced, walked 4.4%, and allowed just 9 homers, but his .323 BABIP contributed to an ERA that was 0.68 higher than his FIP.

In 2000, Pedro struck out 34.8% of the hitters he faced, walked 3.9%, and allowed 17 homers, but his .236 BABIP and 86.6% LOB% contributed to an ERA that was 0.43 lower than his FIP.

In which season was Pedro better? Based on the podcast, Alex would say his 2000 season was better even though Pedro struck out more batters and allowed nearly half as many home runs in 1999.

In the seven seasons leading up to 1999, Pedro always had a BABIP .290 or lower. Then he had a .323 BABIP in 1999. In 2000, it was back down to .236. Did Pedro somehow lose the ability to stifle BABIP in that one season or was it some combination of random variation and poor fielding?

In the seven seasons leading up to 2000, Pedro always had an LOB% below 80%. Then he had an 86.6% LOB% in 2000. The next season, it was back down to 75.9%. Did Pedro somehow gain an ability to leave batters on base in 2000, then lose it the next season?

To disregard FIP, you have to think the Pedro somehow lost the ability to stifle BABIP in 1999 even though he struck out more batters and allowed almost half as many home runs as in 2000. This contributed to his ERA being higher than his FIP. You also have to believe that in 2000 he gained an ability to stifle BABIP (the lowest of his career) and leave batters on base at a rate he never had before (or would after), which contributed to his ERA being lower than his FIP.