Sunday, August 23, 2015

Pic of the Week

A jubilant Mike Fiers after completing
his no-hitter Friday night against the Dodgers.
When Mike Fiers completed his no-hitter Friday night, I remarked to a colleague that it has been my observation that the vast majority of no-hitters are thrown by pitchers of genuine talent.

Some come from young pitchers who got hurt and never got to turn their talent into sustained accomplishment. Bud Smith, for example. Dallas Braden. Phil Humber, whose perfect game I referenced in a Pic of the Week post earlier this month about Safeco Field and no-hitters, got hurt before his no-hitter and never really regained the stuff he had in college. But he was the number two overall pick coming out of Rice.

Fiers, I said, was the exception. He's a 30-year-old back-of-the-rotation arm. He's not young, and he's not accomplished.

But then I actually looked at his stats. 22-28 lifetime record. OK, that's unimpressive. 3.57 career ERA. Lots of pitchers would take that. 2.8 walks per nine innings (career) and 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings (career). Wowzers. No wonder Houston wanted him.

I differentiate between what I think of as "descriptive" stats and "predictive" stats. Descriptive stats tell us what happened. Wins, losses, RBIs are like that. Predictive stats suggest at what is to come. Walk and strikeout rates are the numbers I most care about when evaluating a pitcher. They predict future ERAs better than ERA itself does.

Fiers' walk and strikeout rates are far better than his actual accomplishments. He might have some impressive seasons ahead of him.

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