by Michael Wolverton
Please feel free to email Michael with questions or comments at
The Support-Neutral pitching stats are designed to measure the value
of a start in terms of how much it adds or subtracts from the team's
chance of winning. Using situational scoring tables and some basic laws
of probability, I calculate the probabilities that a pitcher's start
will lead to a W or an L for him, as well as a win or a loss for his
team. When totaled over all of a pitcher's starts, that gives us the
three SN measures:
Each of the three numbers is calculated separately for each
individual start, and then summed to get seasonal totals. Looking at
a starter's performance game-by-game like this removes distortions
that can be introduced by looking at cumulative run prevention (e.g.,
ERA or Thorn and Palmer's Adjusted Pitching Runs). In particular, the
SN stats recognize that a pitcher can only cost his team a single game
in a single start, so it puts a limit on how much a single bad outing
(e.g., 2 IP, 11 R) can hurt his season/career value.
- Support-Neutral Wins and Losses (SNW/SNL) -- a starter's expected
W/L record, given the way he pitched in each game and assuming
that he had league-average support from his offense and his
- Support-Neutral Value Added (SNVA) -- the number of games the
starter is worth to an average team in the standings, over (or
under) what a league average starter is worth.
This year there was a small but important change to the way the stats
are calculated. Previously, the SN stats have been calculated based
only on the number of innings pitched and the number of runs charged
to a starter for each game. Now, the input will include the state of
the bases when he leaves the game. So, for example, if a starter gets
yanked with 2 outs in the 7th after 3 runs have scored with runners on
first and third, and his reliever allows both runners to score, the SN
stats will be calculated based on:
6 full innings, 3 runs in, runners on 1st and 3rd with 2 outs.
rather than the old way:
6 full innings, 2 outs, 5 runs allowed.
This new method provides results which are more "support-neutral", in
that a starter's numbers will not be skewed by really good or really
bad bullpen support in the inning he leaves the game.
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