Everyone knows about Earned Run Average (ERA). But, there are other ways to look at what a pitcher has done in terms of preventing runs. In fact, there are two stats that do a better job than ERA – because they look at what the pitcher should be charged with (as opposed to what happened in the game). These stats are:
Component ERA (or ERC). This is a baseball statistic invented by Bill James. It attempts to forecast a pitcher’s earned run average (ERA) from the number of hits and walks allowed rather than the standard formula of average number of earned runs per nine innings. ERC allows one to take a fresh look at a pitcher’s performance and gauge if his results are more or less than the sum of its parts. [Source]
Fielding Independent Pitching (or FIP). This is a measure of all those things for which a pitcher is specifically responsible. The formula is (HR*13+(BB+HBP-IBB)*3-K*2)/IP, plus a league-specific factor (usually around 3.2) to round out the number to an equivalent ERA number. FIP helps you understand how well a pitcher pitched, regardless of how well his fielders fielded. FIP was invented by Tangotiger. [Source]
In 2008, the Yankees Andy Pettitte had an ERA of 4.54. However, his ERC was 4.45 and his FIP was 3.74 (and both these marks were below his ERA). This tells us that Pettitte’s ERA last season was inflated due to poor defensive support (and perhaps some bad luck – if you believe in that).
Give Andy Pettitte a physical. If he passes, and you have a sound defensive ballclub in the field, you should consider signing him. With some defensive support, you’ll get 30+ starts and 200+ IP from Pettitte (because he almost always pitches in 30 games and throws at least 200 innings every season) and he’ll probably allow just about 4 earned runs per 9 innings pitched. If your team has some offense, he’ll probably win about 15 games for you in the process. Heck, over the last 13 seasons Andy Pettitte was won 14+ games 11 times. The only other pitcher to do that during that time was Greg Maddux.
Sure, he’ll be 37-years old next season. And, he’s coming off an injury. That’s why you give him a physical. But, again, if he passes, some team would be very smart to give Pettitte a contract. The man can still pitch – and win – assuming he has a decent team behind him.