In baseball everything is recorded and statistics are of the upmost importance. But which numbers are the most important? In pitching, everyone seems to believe individual statistics like Earned Run Average (ERA), Strikeouts (K), and Walks+Hits/Inning Pitched (WHIP) are the best measurements of success on the mound. Although these statistics are very important and do determine who dominant pitchers are, we think Pitches Per Inning (P/IP) paints a bigger picture of which pitchers are most valuable to their team and should be used alongside the current mainstay pitching stats.
Lets first take a look at the team benefits of a low Pitches Per Inning statistic. Below we've listed team benefits that a low P/IP measures that other individual pitching statistics do not.
- Measures average pitches it takes to get outs, the most important statistic for all pitchers.
- Defensive fielding percentage gets better with balls put in play early and often.
- It gives momentum to the pitcher's offense, gets them back in the dugout.
- It saves energy which generally improves pitch Lokation and velocity.
- Keeps the bullpen fresh generally improving team winning percentage.
- Gives opposing pitcher less time to rest.
- Umpire generally opens strike zone when pitchers prove command.
- Improves durability and decreases injuries, making deeper pitching staffs.
- Hitters see less pitches which makes timing and pitch recognition more difficult.
- Hitters have less chance at seeing a mistake pitch.
The lower a pitcher's P/IP is, the better all around individual statistics they will have in addition to the team benefits mentioned above. The individual statistics we are referring to do not necessarily include strikeouts because K's generally increase P/IP. There are so many people in and around the game that are fascinated with velocity and strikeouts that they loose track of the fact that a strikeout counts the same as a ground ball to the shortstop and velocity has no value in pitching statistics.
As of May 21st, 2013 Pitches Per Inning is already displaying its importance in MLB. Of all qualifiers, the two pitchers with the highest P/IP are Vance Worley of the Minnesota Twins and Ryan Volgelsong of the San Francisco Giants, with P/IP at 18.4 and 18.1 respectively. These numbers directly effect their other numbers- both have ERA's above 6.2.
Jordan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals has had an outstanding year thus far. He has gone 7-2 with an ERA of 1.62. Over his 66.2 innings pitched, which ranks 4th out of the qualifiers, he has struck out 45 batters. Although not a high strikeout percentage at 6 per 9 innings pitched, it directly correlates to his P/IP in which he ranks 1st in the league at an outstanding rate of 12.9, almost a full pitch better than his closest competitor Bronson Arroyo(13.6 P/IP). Zimmerman has thrived off of throwing strikes early in the count, and inducing early contact. This helps the team in numerous ways. The Nationals have won 78% of the time when Zimmerman pitches.
Pitches per inning measures more than just individual statistics and looks beyond the "aw factor" of high velocity and strikeouts that everyone seems to be so fascinated with. P/ IP measures pitches that get outs better than any other statistic. In the Lokator System pitches that get outs will always be the most important!