Even though school is out of session at Louisiana State University, baseball season is still underway and that means more sabermetrics for every man, woman and child.
Since I have gotten a lot of great feedback for Parts One and Two, I have decided to do a trilogy! In part three of the Baseball Nerdology series, I decided to compare LSU as a whole to the rest of the SEC in both batting and pitching sabermetrics.
For batting I’m still using weighted on-base percentage (wOBA), runs created, batting average on balls in play (BABIP), isolated power (ISO) and plate appearance per strikeout (PA/K).
For pitching, the metrics of earned run average (ERA), fielding independent pitching (FIP), strikeouts per ball thrown (K/BB), strikeouts per nine innings (K/9), balls thrown per nine innings (BB/9) and home runs per nine innings (HR/9) will still be used.
However, I decided to add another metric to our arsenal. I decide to use the metric of walks plus hits per innings pitched, better known as WHIP. While earned run average (ERA) determines how many runs a pitcher gives up, WHIP measures a pitcher’s effectiveness against batters. However, like ERA, WHIP accounts for pitcher performance regardless of errors and unearned runs.
The best way to describe WHIP is like trying to find the right college to go to. Yeah, Vanderbilt is a great school, but will you have a social life at Vandy? You do like what Vandy has to offer from an academic point of view, but you do not want to be miserable going to college. However, you can get the best of both worlds by going to a school like USC, which has both an excellent social scene and is a world-renowned university.
To find WHIP, you add up the total number of hits and walks a pitcher allows, then divide by the number of innings pitched.
Enough of this chit chat, let’s dig in!
LSU is the leader in wOBA and runs created and is tied for second in isolated power. This doesn’t shock me because the Tigers lead the conference in hits, home runs and runs, which all of those stat lines are major factors in determining wOBA, runs created and ISO.
The two next closest teams are equal to Tennessee and Florida. Tennessee is the only other school besides LSU that has created 400 runs. Florida barely edges LSU for the best-isolated power with an ISO of .259. The Gators also strike out less per plate appearance than the Tigers, averaging 4.33 plate appearances per strikeout.
Another thing that stood out was that South Carolina is a strict power-hitting team. The Gamecocks are second in wOBA and are fourth in runs created and isolated power. However, the Gamecocks also strike out the most as they average 3.27 strikeouts per plate appearance.
Although Kentucky isn’t a power-hitting team, analytics seem to love the Wildcats. Kentucky is fifth in wOBA and is tied for first in BABIP with Ole Miss. Kentucky’s play style reminds me of the 2015 Kansas City Royals, who won the World Series based on getting on base, stealing bases and bunting. They weren’t the greatest sluggers, but they put the ball into play and baseball statisticians loved them.
The team that shocked me the most was Mississippi State. I didn’t expect the Bulldogs’ numbers to be as high as they were. I know that they were one of the worst pitching teams in the country, but its batting numbers were good enough to win more games than they should have.
Although LSU struggled in some instances during SEC play, LSU was still in the top 7 in every single important metric that involves pitching. The Tigers were second in strikeouts per nine innings, third in FIP and strikeouts per walk, fourth in walks per nine innings and home runs per innings, fifth in WHIP and sixth in ERA. LSU’s numbers would be even higher if they didn’t have the injuries that inflicted the bullpen.
The best team in terms of pitching sabermetrics was Tennessee and that shouldn’t shock you at all. The Volunteers has one of the best pitching staffs in the country and may be the best in the conference. The pitching staff, led by future first-rounders Chase Dollander and Chase Burns along with a solid bullpen, lead the SEC in every single pitching analytic metric except for home runs allowed per nine innings, a metric that is led by South Carolina.
Speaking of South Carolina, they have one of the best pitching staffs in the conference and that doesn’t get talked about enough. The Gamecocks have allowed the least amount of home runs per nine innings and are second in FIP, WHIP, walks per nine innings and strikeouts per walk allowed. The Gamecocks are also third in earned run average strikeouts per nine innings.
In my opinion, Vanderbilt may be one of the most underrated pitching staff in the conference, if not the country. The Commodores are in the top half of the SEC in every single pitching metric. Vanderbilt’s best metric is WHIP where the Commodores third.
Although the two Mississippi schools, Mississippi State and Ole Miss, have produced some of the best pitchers in SEC history, they were putrid on the mound.
Both Mississippi State and Ole Miss are the bottom two teams in ERA, FIP and home runs allowed per nine innings and are among the worst in walks allowed per nine innings. The most surprising thing about Mississippi State and Ole Miss was that they were in the top six in terms of strikeouts per nine innings, with the Bulldogs being in fourth and the Rebels in sixth.
I wasn’t surprised to see how well LSU did both ways. Although I wasn’t too shocked about our batting numbers, the pitching numbers did surprise me a bit because of how LSU had struggled on the mound as of late. They could be better because of Paul Skenes. However, they would have looked much better if they were healthier in the bullpen.
After the season is over, let’s see how well they do and we can have a final conclusion, shall we?