FB505: SWIP Theory Part II

05/20/2007 8:41 PM - 

SWIP: Strikeouts / Walks / Innings Pitched
Part 1: Starting Pitchers
Contributed By: Ray Flowers

Here is PART II of our series dealing with SWIP (For PART I: CLICK HERE).  To briefly review, SWIP is a new way of determining a pitchers overall effectiveness.  SWIP does this by taking into account that which the pitcher can directly control prior to the ball being put into play; strikeouts and walks.

What does SWIP stand for?
S- Strikeouts (also abbreviated as K)
W- Walks (also abbreviated as BB)
IP- Innings Pitched

Numerically speaking, the formula for SWIP works along the same lines as WHIP.  Therefore SWIP is determined by the following equation:

Strikeouts minus Walks divided by Innings Pitched equals SWIP.
K – BB / IP = SWIP

Another way to look at this is to say that for each positive result, the recording of an OUT by K the pitcher receives a +1, and for each negative encounter (BB) he receives a –1.

Though SWIP is recorded in the same manner as WHIP, the way to read the results is a bit different.  Whereas the lower the WHIP the better one has performed, SWIP works in the opposite direction…the higher the SWIP the better.


Let us start our discussion by listing what the 2004 MLB season produced in the categories we need to describe SWIP (K, BB and IP).  The league numbers are: 31828 K, 16222 BB, 43394 IP.
So to find SWIP we shall use the following equation: 31828K – 16222BB  / 43394 IP

Therefore the 2004 MLB SWIP = 0.3596 OR 0.36.

Consequently with 0.36 established as our baseline, it will be fairly simple for the reader to determine whether or not the following pitchers performed up to par or not.  With that here are all MLB pitchers who pitched at least 162 innings (enough to qualify for the ERA title) and finished at or above the league average SWIP of 0.36. 

MLB 2004 – BEST

R. Johnson, Ari 1.00 R. Harden, Oak 0.45
B. Sheets, Mil 0.98 J. Vazquez, NYY 0.45
J. Santana, Min 0.93 N. Robertson, Det 0.45
O. Perez, Pit 0.81 C. Lee, Cle 0.45
J. Schmidt, SF 0.77 O. Perez, LA 0.43
P. Martinez, Bos 0.76 E. Milton, Phi 0.43
C. Schilling, Bos 0.74 J. Lackey, Ana 0.42
J. Peavy, SD 0.72 D. Davis, Mil 0.42
R. Clemens, Hou 0.65 B. Colon, Ana 0.42
C. Carpenter, StL 0.63 D. Wells, SD 0.41
M. Clement, ChC 0.62 J. Thomson, Atl 0.41
R. Oswalt, Hou 0.61 C. Pavano, Fla 0.41
F. Garcia, CWS/Sea 0.57 L. Hernandez, Mon 0.40
G. Maddux, ChC 0.56 T. Lilly, Tor 0.40
K. Escobar, Ana 0.55 D. Willis, Fla 0.40
B. Radke, Min 0.53 J. Weaver, LA 0.39
B. Arroyo, Bos 0.53 J. Contreras, CWS/NYY 0.39
J. Bonderman, Det 0.52 W. Williams, StL 0.39
C. Zambrano, ChC 0.51 B. Zito, Oak 0.38
A. Eaton, SD 0.51 M. Morris, StL 0.37
J. Wright, Atl 0.48 K. Benson, NYM/Pit 0.36
J. Lieber, NYY 0.48 C. Sabathia, Cle 0.36
M. Buehrle, CWS 0.47    

The 1.00 that JOHNSON produced in 2004 again led baseball.  I say “again” because RJ has dominated the National League rankings in years past.  He has been so dominant the last few years that his 1.00 SWIP in 2004 actually is less than his 2001-03 average of 1.06!

A pitcher who made a huge jump into the elite this year was SHEETS (264K, 32 BB in 237 IP).  The reason we say this is that his SWIP prior to 2004 was 0.44 , meaning he more than doubled his previous career mark in 2004.  Other who should be mentioned include:

OLIVER PEREZ…who finished 4th in baseball with a 0.81 SWIP.  That man has quite a future ahead. 

CARPENTER…made a great comeback from injuries to post his best season (his career SWIP prior to 2003 was 0.33).

PAVANO…maybe the Yankees should have saved some of that $ (his career SWIP is 0.37, just above the MLB average in 2004).

Let’s leave those pitchers who were judged to be above average by SWIP and move on to those pitchers who ‘stunk up the joint’ in 04’.  Here are the worst SWIP totals amongst pitchers who hurled over 162 innings.  Maybe some of them will “hurl” when they see these figures (if you catch my drift).

MLB 2004 – WORST

K. Rueter, SF -0.05 T. Glavine, NYM 0.18
K. Ishii, LA 0.01 D. Lowe, Bos 0.19
M. Batista, Tor 0.04 R. Drese, Tex 0.19
S. Estes, Col 0.06 C. Silva, Min 0.20
J. Fogg, Pit 0.09 S. Ponson, Bal 0.21
B. Anderson, KC 0.10 R. Franklin, Sea 0.21
I. Valdez, SD/Fla 0.11 B. Webb, Ari 0.22
A. Leiter, NYM 0.12 M. Hendrickson, TB 0.22
M. Hampton, Atl 0.13 M. Maroth, Det 0.23
Ru. Ortiz, Atl 0.15 B. Tomko, SF 0.23
J. Jennings, Col 0.16 J. Suppan, StL 0.24
S. Trachsel, NYM 0.17 M. Mulder, Oak 0.25
J. Garland, CWS 0.17 J. Westbrook, Cle 0.26
M. Redman, Oak 0.18 T. Wakefield, Bos 0.28
K. Lohse, Min 0.18 K. Rogers, Tex 0.28

OK, I’m a Giants fan, but RUETER baby your killing all of us (he beats last years “winner” of the worst figure Damian Moss, who had a 2003 SWIP of -0.04).  Many of the pitchers on this list will not surprise most of you who spend anytime watching baseball (guys like Ishii, Estes and Valdez).  However the inclusion of some of the pitchers on the “worst” list just might cause you to go….huh.

BATISTA…3rd worst overall in 2004.  Blue Jays sure they want to make him their closer?

LEITER…he’ll still get his 12 wins, but his ratios are starting to get downright scary.

HAMPTON…never been a fan of this guy.  Even when he finished 2nd in the Cy Young in 1999 his SWIP was 0.32

ORTIZ…the guy is a winner but how?  Career SWIP is 0.26, that’s below the MLB average in 2004! 

MULDER…he fell to .25 in 2004, which surprisingly isn’t much below his career mark of 0.37. 

This is a good spot for us to remind you that SWIP isn’t all knowing.  Simply put SWIP, like another other piece of information, is just that… a piece of information.  Some players defy explanation under certain types of analysis and that’s all right.  All we are saying is that SWIP is an effective way to categorize most pitchers.  As an example of what we mean, we thought it would be good to run a little comparison.  In the following table we have broken down our pitchers into two categories: “Winners” records the top 30 finishers in SWIP in 2004, while “Losers” records the 30 “worst” SWIP finishers of 2004. 

“Winners” 422 276 3.71 1.18 0.61
“Losers” 355 330 4.58 1.46 0.17

Or if you prefer, the “average” pitcher in each group:

Winners: 14-9, 3.71 ERA, 1.18 WHIP with a 0.61 SWIP

Losers:  12-11, 4.58 ERA, 1.46 WHIP with a 0.17 SWIP

Any questions about the usefulness of SWIP?


In PART II we have further elucidated the usefulness of SWIP and how it can be a valuable tool to show a pitchers past success and to help predict which pitchers may also be successful in the future. 

Click Here to check out the entire FantasyBaseball.com University Series!

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