Did groundball pitchers have the same impact in the past that they do today?
I am a Bill James fan. You might not be. That’s okay. For my money, if there’s no Bill James, I’m probably not writing this.
So it caused some dissonance on my part when I wrote that I thought James’ antipathy for groundball pitchers is misplaced. One of my general rules in life is that if you come to a conclusion that’s seriously at odds with conventional thinking, you could well be right, but to be safe, be sure you can answer in the negative the question Am I doing something stupid?
I really don’t think I am. I found that groundball pitchers may—may—allow a few more walks, and they get a handful fewer strikeouts, but by allowing a lot fewer homers, they allow fewer runs. That’s true in terms of both outcomes (ERA) and process (FIP). Here’s the relationship:
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