Following the simple methodology of WHIP (walks + hits divided by innings pitched), I invented a new measure of a pitchers dominance called SWIP (it must be the mad scientist in me), in order to better understand which pitchers may possess the skills necessary to have success on a big league hill. Never heard of SWIP you say? Well I’m about to change that.
PART I – WHAT IS SWIP?
S- Strikeouts (abbreviated as K)
W- Walks (abbreviated as BB)
IP- Innings Pitched
Numerically speaking, the formula for SWIP works along the same lines as WHIP. SWIP is determined by the following equation:
Strikeouts minus Walks divided by Innings Pitched equals SWIP.
SWIP = (K – BB) / IP
Another way to look at this is to say that for each positive result, the recording of an out in the form of a strikeout, the pitcher receives a (+1). For each negative encounter, in the form of a walk, he receives a (-1). Simple enough right? Here is an example of how you can figure out SWIP so you can see what I’m talking about (and yes, it really is as simple as it sounds).
Mike Leake had 118 Ks and 38 BBs in 167.2 IP in 2011.
(118-38) / 167.2
80 / 167.2
Leake’s SWIP for the 2011 season was therefore 0.48.
Though SWIP is recorded in the same manner as WHIP, the way to read the results is slightly different. Whereas the lower the WHIP the better one has performed, SWIP works in the opposite direction: the higher the SWIP the better (it should also be pointed out that there are some limitations to SWIP).
Here is a rough estimate of what the results mean to help you to put things in perspective, a key if you will.
.90 and Up: Excellent season. Hall of Fame level.
.70 to .89: An all-star performance. Worthy of Cy Young consideration.
.50 to .69: Borderline all-star to decent starting pitcher. A guy you’d like to have on your staff.
.35 to .50: A guy who should be nothing more than the 3rd or 4th starter with his club.
.20 to .34: His major league days are likely numbered.
Below .20: Minor leaguer in training.
Let’s take a look at how all major league hurlers performed in 2011.
So in order to find out the major league average for SWIP during the 2011 season we simply plug the numbers into our simple equation.
SWIP = (K – BB) / IP
(34448-15018) / 43527.1
19470 / 43527.1
SWIP = 0.45
Last year’s 0.45 mark is a major league best in the 21st century as the rate keeps inching upward.
2011: 0.45 SWIP
2010: 0.43 SWIP
2009: 0.39 SWIP
2008: 0.38 SWIP
2007: 0.37 SWIP
2006: 0.37 SWIP
2005: 0.36 SWIP
2004: 0.36 SWIP
2003: 0.34 SWIP
2002: 0.35 SWIP
2001: 0.38 SWIP
2000: 0.30 SWIP
Here are some notes on the pitchers who tossed at least 160-innings last year.
Here are the leaders for the 2011 season (minimum 162 innings)
0.91 – Zack Greinke
An elite K-arm last season, Greinke led all starting pitchers with a 10.54 K/9 mark, and he walked about a batter fewer, per nine innings, than the average big league arm (2.36 BB/9).
0.84 – Cliff Lee
When you strikeout more than a batter per inning (9.12 per nine), and walk only 1.62 per nine, you are an elite performer.
0.83 – Clayton Kershaw
Massive Ks are his calling card, and last season he walked a mere 2.08 batters per nine.
0.79 – Roy Halladay
Concerns about his velocity in spring notwithstanding, the guy just doesn’t beat himself (1.35 walks per nine).
0.75 – Justin Verlander
Huge arm, huge K totals and a better than expected walk rate (2.04 per nine).
0.71 – Yovani Gallardo, CC Sabathia, Madison Bumgarner
A young K artist, the most consistent lefty in the game, and a young lefty from the NL West.
Some names that stood out, for good or bad.
0.62 – Tim Lincecum
A four year low in K/9 coupled with a four year high in BB/9 has his SWIP headed in the wrong direction.
0.56 – Ted Lilly
Always overlooked on draft day. Lilly simply goes out, doesn’t beat himself, and always seems to strike out more batter than people realize.
0.52 – Gio Gonzalez, Matt Cain
Two young arms who ply their trade in the Bay Area. Gio G is the higher upside K artist, but Cain’s ability to walk fewer batters has them tied in this measure.
0.43 – Edwin Jackson
What a shock. Edwin Jackson being average at something (recall that the big league average was 0.45 in 2011).
0.25 – Ivan Nova
I wrote about Nova in this Player Profile. SWIP speaks to the concern I expressed there.
0.24 – Jeremy Hellickson
I wrote about Hellickson in this Player Profile. SWIP speaks to the concern I expressed there.
Tomorrow I’ll discuss those pitchers who didn’t throw than 160 innings in 2011, and I’ll also have the entire list of hurlers who threw at least 40 innings ranked by their SWIP marks.
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By Ray Flowers