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August 22, 2014 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Adjusting for Era

3

Craig Goldstein

We all have our own idea of what constitutes a good ERA, FIP, or xFIP, but it's important to make sure that our benchmarks keep up with the times.

While some of us have come to use plus-or-minus stats that adjust to league average to make our determinations on where a player lands within his ranks, it’s clear that many people still use the standard ERA to evaluate a pitcher or batting average to evaluate a hitter. There’s no issue with that, especially when those are the relevant categories in a fantasy league—but there’s something of a collective benchmark that we have for what determines a good, great, or elite ERA or batting average. Even more advanced stats like FIP or xFIP fall prey to this collective benchmark and to our failure to adjust for context.

Focusing on the pitching side of the equation, based on the era I grew up in a 3.00 ERA was/is my benchmark for whether someone is a good pitcher. There are shades of gray of course—a mediocre pitcher can have a fluky season—but everything revolves around that 3.00. A 3.30 was pretty good and a 3.50 was solid. A 4.00 was fit for a fifth starter/long-man type. Reality, of course, is a different story. We all know that we’re in a down offensive period in baseball, but I do wonder if enough of us have adjusted to what that means on the pitching side of the equation. This is an effort to show just how dramatically things have changed over the last few years, so that we can recalibrate what an elite or good pitcher is, and then use that as a new frame of reference.

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When pitching staffs did everything right but still allowed lots of runs.

On Monday, against the Royals, the Angels got blown out. Wasn’t even close. A walloping, beat at every facet of the game, no drama whatsoever. Just check out the pitching line:

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December 26, 2012 5:00 am

Transaction Analysis: Leery of Liriano

6

Ben Lindbergh

Does FIP tell the truth about Liriano, or is his ERA a better indication of his talent?

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