It’s something that most diehard Pittsburgh Pirates fans know all too well. The Pirates have received some tremendous help from their pitching staff on the mound.
But off the mound, well…. not so much. Gerrit Cole is an exception.
Nick Ashbourne put together a very interesting post for Beyond the Box Score. The post looks at an interesting new set of stats that Asbourne developed.
What the numbers tell us is just what value pitchers can add or subtract to their value with what they don’t do on the mound. What pitchers do with the bat, on the bases and in the field just like any other player.
The statistic is called, “Self Help Index” which brings together all the value a pitcher adds outside of actual pitching. Self Help Index, or SHI, has three components:
Weighted Runs Created (wRC): The newer version of Bill James’s “Runs Created” based off wOBA , this number tells us how many runs pitchers add with the bat.
Base Running Runs (BsR): Pretty self-explanatory. In the case of pitchers stolen bases aren’t really a factor so this number essentially reflects their Ultimate Base Running (UBR) rating.
Defensive Runs Saved (DRS): Again, the name pretty much says it all. This number reflects how many runs a pitcher saves or costs his team in the field.
When these three numbers are added together SHI, or the Self Help Index is created. Ashbourne has a fewcharts in his article which can be found here, http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2013/12/23/5228968/tim-lincecum-and-learning-to-help-yourself
The fist chart is gathered from analyzing each National League starter who pitched 150 or more innings in 2013, which wound up including 46 pitchers.
No Pirates can be found in the top ten of SHI, but A.J. Burnett is the 45th worst out of the 46 in SHI. Edinson Volquez is hot on Burnett’s trail
In the second chart the author looks at National League pitchers who had pitched 750+ innings over the last five seasons. 18 pitchers met this qualification. Wandy Rodriguez is one of the worst on the chart.
Ashbourne summarizes the article quite well.
I don’t think that the “Self Help Index” will be an essential component of pitcher evaluation any time soon, but I do think it shows us something intriguing. Tim Lincecum is likely to cost any National League team he plays for a handful of runs every year because he produces so astoundingly little outside of his pitching. It seems unlikely that Zack Greinke will repeat his Herculean SHI exploits in 2014, but if he does he is adding heaps of relatively unpublicized value. The assessment of pitching talent always has, will, and should focus on a player’s ability to get batters out with his pitching. However, the National League asks pitchers to do more than pitch, and it makes a difference how good they are at these other aspects of baseball. We tend to think of pitchers whiffing helplessly and running the bases tentatively in their silly windbreakers as some good light fun.
All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs
Nick Ashbourne is a contributor for Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @Nick_Ashbourne.