FIP, xFIP, and SIERA are all useful tools to keep in your toolbox. Ignore them at your own peril, but don’t overestimate their importance. Never assume your tools are smarter than you are. I prefer xFIP because it normalizes a pitcher’s home run rate. I think that makes the most sense when looking into the crystal ball to see what lies ahead. With that out of the way…
Possible xFIP Land Mines and Disappointments
Marco Estrada (ADP – 262) is not going to repeat his 3.13 ERA (4.93 xFIP). How does a pitcher that led the majors in home runs yielded take that resume to the Rogers Centre and shave more than a run off of his ERA? By leading the league with the lowest BABIP (.216). A 79% strand rate didn’t hurt either. To a limited extent, pitcher BABIP is a skill. Estrada has a rising fastball that induces weak contact, contributing to his career .261 BABIP. The regression won’t be as painful as some might expect, but it will hurt a little.
Shelby Miller (ADP – 163) pitched much closer to his 4.07 xFIP than his 3.02 ERA. He won’t be able to sustain his 6.4% HR rate at Chase Field, and there’s zero chance I’m investing an 11th round pick on this Diamondback.
Scott Kazmir (ADP – 190) would normally have a caution flag attached to him with a 4.14 xFIP outpacing his 3.10 ERA, but a move to the National League and the elimination of facing a designated hitter should even things out.
Jake Arrieta (ADP – 21) is an ace no matter how you slice it, but his 2.61 xFIP indicates that he was simply Cy Young worthy, not a super hero with special powers (1.77 ERA). He won’t strand 80% of hitters again, nor repeat his 7.8% HR rate, but he will still be one of the best WHIP anchors you could choose for your staff.
Zack Greinke (ADP – 35) is another Chase Field transplant who will see his 7.3% HR rate spike. Ignore last year’s 1.66 ERA and expect something along the lines of his 3.22 xFIP this year.
David Price (ADP – 35) has always pitched well in the AL East. I’m not worried about the move to Fenway either after his brilliance in the Rogers Centre a season ago. However, Price will not repeat his 2.45 ERA, and something closer to his 3.24 xFIP is what you should project for 2016. Solid, dependable, but not the value you might think he is if you focus on his surface stats.
John Lackey (ADP – 175) posted a 2.77 ERA, the lowest of his career, at age 36. An xFIP of 3.77 says it won’t happen again. Theo Epstein knows what he is doing, but are you sure you want to invest a 12th round pick on this new Cubbie?
Chris Sale’s (ADP – 24) xFIP of 2.60 might argue that Sale was just as good as Jake Arrieta in 2015. An avulsion fracture and a sprained ankle also led to a rocky April for the South Sider. His arrow is pointing up heading into 2016.
Carlos Carrasco (ADP – 48) gave up the long ball a little too often (13.2% HR/FB), which in part led to an inflated 3.63 ERA. If you have faith in his 2.66 xFIP, you’ll tab Carrasco as a worthy investment. Keep in mind that the Tribe’s offense projects to be weak again this year, so run support and lack of Wins will continue to be a problem.
Kyle Hendricks (ADP – 224) should see his 3.95 ERA fall after posting a 3.25 xFIP in his first full season on the North Side. The new video boards have reportedly affected wind patterns, but depending on whom you ask, reports on the impact differ. Hendricks saw his HR/FB% rise last year along with the rest of the staff.