Friday, December 21, 2012

KBO, WAR, and Velocity (Again)

MLB Park did a KBO WAR ranking (if you just want to see the image look here) by year, based on their own methods. This seems to be a ranking of the best foreign KBO players by WAR. Dan K. of MyKBO translated the names and teams here. I wanted to see how this ranking fit in with my theory about velocity and success between leagues.

We will use average/median velocity along with their MLB numbers. A lot, perhaps most, of the MLB numbers are small sample sizes, but that is the data we have to deal with. I decided to just use MLB FIP (I wanted to use ballpark adjusted FIP, but I couldn't do it for many of the older pitchers). I used Fangraphs velocity when I could. As far as order, I left the original order of the WAR ranking alone, and took out duplicates.

1.Danny Rios: ~90 MPH. 9.94 MLB FIP

2. Denny Harriger: ???. 5.72 MLB FIP

3.Aquilino Lopez: 90.4 MPH. 4.26 MLB FIP

4.Brandon Knight: 90.9 MPH. 6.06 MLB FIP

5.Gary Rath: ???  7.76 MLB FIP

6.Dustin Nippert: 93.3 MPH, 4.87 MLB FIP

7.Fernando Hernandez: ??? 7.75 MLB FIP

8. Seth Greisinger: 88.13 MPH, 5.13 MLB FIP

9.Shane Youman: 88 MPH, 4.75 MLB FIP

10.Ben Jukich: 87.73 MPH, No MLB FIP

11.Mickey Callaway: 89 MPH, 4.87 MLB FIP

12.Matt Randel: ???,No MLB FIP

13. Rick Guttormson: ???, No MLB FIP

14.Elvira Narciso: ???, 3.80 MLB FIP

15.Ken Kadokura: ~90 MPH, No MLB FIP

16.Mark Kiefer: ??? 5.17 MLB FIP

17.Kelvin Jimenez: 93.6 MPH, 5.20 MLB FIP

18.Mark Fyhrie: Under 90 MPH, 4.23 MLB FIP

19.Cedrick Bowers: 91.6 MPH, 6.53 MLB FIP

20.Ryan Sadowski: 89.5 MPH, 4.72 MLB FIP

21.Kenny Rayborn: ??, No MLB FIP

22.Jamie Brown: ?? 4.74 MLB FIP

23.Andy Van Hekken: 86.49 MPH, 4.10 MLB FIP

24. Radhames Liz: 93.8 MPH, 6.26 MLB FIP

25.Satoshi Iriki: ???, No MLB FIP

26.Francisco Cruceta: 93 MPH, 6.34 MLB FIP

27.Henry Sosa: 93.1 MPH, 4.77 MLB FIP

28.Victor Cole: ???, 4.13 MLB FIP

29.Chris Oxspring: ???. 4.85 MLB FIP

30.Travis Smith: ??, 5.58 MLB FIP

31.Emiliano Giron: ??, No MLB FIP

32.Mike Romano: ??, 7.26 MLB FIP

33.Kevin Hodges: ??,7.53 MLB FIP

34.Tim Harikkala: ??, 5.27 MLB FIP

35.Julio Manon: ??, 5.88 MLB FIP

36.Scott Baker: ??, 6.38 MLB FIP

37.Melqui Torres: ??, No MLB FIP

38.Efrain Valdez: ??,5.12 MLB FIP

39.Ravelo Manzanillo: ???, 5.42 MLB FIP

40.Kerry Taylor: ???,5.02 MLB FIP

41.Mike Farmer: ???, 7.14 MLB FIP

42.Jason Scobie: ???, No MLB FIP

43.Martin Vargas: ???,No MLB FIP

44.Adrian Burnsides: ???, No MLB FIP

I am making the assumption that pitchers that never pitched in the Majors are worse than pitched in the Majors, which seems to be close to what the data says. The average Rank of the No MLB numbers pitchers is 26.63, with no one ranked over 11th. Pitchers with a MLB FIP under 5 (the mean of the group was about 4.50) had an average rank of 17.5. The one pitcher with a FIP under 4 was ranked 14th.  The pitchers with a FIP between 5 and 6 had an average rank of 28.8. The rest of the pitchers, the ones that had a FIP over 6, had an average rank of 22.1. It is really hard to argue that there is a lot of correlation there, other than that the better MLB pitchers did tend to do better on average in the KBO. Let's see if the correlation for pitching velocity is any better.

Unfortunately, we only have pitch data for 17 of the 44 pitchers. The max velocity was 93.8, Liz, who is 24th overall (below average out of the 44) and 12th out of the 17th we have velocity for. In fact, there are just 5 pitchers out of the 17 with fastballs over 93 MPH on average, and 3 of those were the worst velocity pitchers (average rank of 10.6 out of 17, extremely poor). 10 of the 17 pitchers had fastballs that averaged at least 90 MPH. Their average rank was 8.8. The other 7 averaged 9.14, so the difference was negligible at best.

As mentioned above, since we don't really know the formulas for the WARs above (my guess is that they just plugged in the FanGraphs and Baseball Reference formulas. If they didn't adjust the league average/replacement levels, it would lead to screwy results, but perhaps the same order). So I decided to use my own and see what results we got from it. So I looked at the 17 pitchers with velocity data and sorted by their career KBO FIP WAAs divided by years played in the KBO (so basically FIP WAA per year). To introduce a new variable, one with a better sample size, I looked at their AAA statistics instead of their MLB statistics, to see if there was any correlation there. Because the two AAA levels are so different in offensive friendliness, I am using K%-BB%. I don't like not counting homers, but I think it helps us conflate the two leagues better.

I couldn't find Ken Kadokura's numbers (older KBO numbers are hard to find if you can't read Korean. Dan K of MyKBO was a big help as always), so I replaced him with Gary Glover. I sorted by velocity here.

Liz: 93.8 MPH, .21 FIP WAA, 13.6 AAA K%-BB%

Jimenez: 93.6 MPH, -.16 FIP WAA, 9.6 AAA K%-BB%

Dustin Nippert: 93.3 MPH, .43 FIP WAA,12.76 AAA K%-BB%

Henry Sosa: 93.1 MPH .66 FIP WAA, 93.1 MPH, 5.34 AAA K%-BB%

Gary Glover: 93 MPH, -.73 FIP WAA, 9.04 AAA K%-BB%

Francisco Cruceta: 93 MPH, -.99 FIP WAA, 13.46 AAA K%-BB %

Bowers: 91.6 MPH, -.45 FIP WAA, 9.2 AAA K%-BB %

Knight: 90.9 MPH, -.15 FIP WAA, 13 AAA K%-BB%

Aquilino Lopez: 90.4, .14 FIP WAA, 18.4 AAA K%-BB %

Danny Rios: 90 MPH, .39 FIP WAA, 4.14 AAA K%-BB %

Fyhrie: Under 90 MPH, -1.44 FIP WAA, 8.56 AAA K%-BB %

Sadowski: 89.5 MPH, -.73 FIP WAA, 8.7 AAA K%-BB%

Callaway: 89 MPH, .16 FIP WAA, 7.5 AAA K%-BB%

Seth Greisinger: 88.13 FIP WAA, 1.11 FIP WAA, 7.9 AAA K%-BB%

Youman: 88 MPH, 1.00 FIP WAA, 6.27 AAA K%-BB%

Ben Jukich: 87.73 MPH, 1.04 FIP WAA, 12.13 AAA K%-BB%

Van Hekken: 86.49 MPH, 1.01 FIP WAA, 7.55 AAA K%-BB%

When you split the 17 pitchers into three groups by AAA K%-BB%, the best group (top 5) has a -.36 FIP WAA in the KBO, the median group (7) had a -1.36 FIP WAA, while the bottom 5 had a 3.17 FIP WAA. So the worst AAA pitchers were actually the best in the KBO. Using AAA statistics do not seem helpful. How about velocity? Breaking down the pitchers into thirds again, we see that the top 5 velocity pitchers had a .41 FIP WAA, the median 7 had a -3.23 FIP WAA, while the 5 worst had a 4.32 FIP WAA. The slowest pitchers were the best, while the median pitchers were the worst. This puts a major ding in the theory that fastball velocity is a good predictor of success across leagues, but again, cross league statistics performed poorly. We saw in previous posts that the pitchers with the worst velocities performed not as good as the high velocity guys but better than pitchers with velocities closest to the mean. Perhaps this is good news for a guy like Adam Wilk, who has a well below average fastball, but some pitchability, and just signed with the Dinos (filling out an expansion roster is tough, but I have liked a lot of what they have done). Regardless, we will continue to look at evidence and data to see whether or not this theory has any support.

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