Inverse Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw is great. Really really great. Maybe hurt — but definitely great. But I’m not interested in examining Clayton Kershaw; I’m interested in examining Inverse Clayton Kershaw. I want to find the pitchers that have been most unlike Kershaw during the last calendar year. Kershaw has been the best — I want to find the worst.

Clayton Kershaw vs. League Average – Past Calendar Year
ERA FIP xFIP K% BB% HR/9 SwStr%
Clayton Kershaw 1.50 1.56 2.08 33.8% 2.9% 0.36 16.1%
League Average 4.13  4.11 4.07 20.8% 8.5% 1.11 10.0%
Difference -2.63 -2.55 -1.99 13.0% -5.6% -0.75 6.1%
Inverse Kershaw 6.76 6.66 6.06 7.8% 14.1% 1.86 3.9%
Data pulled 6/29/16

So wow. Did I mention Kershaw is great? Anyway, time to find Inverse Kershaw. First, I want to point out that the players below are still incredible at baseball. They are some of the most elite in the world, way better than all of us. Caveat aside, I’ll now examine the pitchers over the past calendar year who are most unlike Kershaw in each of the stats above — i.e. if Kershaw’s ERA is 2.63 below league average, whose is 2.63 above league average. When in doubt, I’ll defer to the guy with the most IP. At the end, I will name the Inverse Kershaw!

ERA

So, whose ERA has been a whopping 2.63 runs above league average? Coming in with an ERA of 6.75 we have Carlos Contreras. Contreras pitched 18.2 innings within the last year for the Reds out of the bullpen. You probably expected some 2016 Reds relievers to qualify, but Contreras posted these numbers exclusively in 2015 and then did not make the 2016 Reds bullpen. Yikes.

FIP

Noe Ramirez has worked to a 6.65 FIP in 24 IP for the Red Sox over the last year. Prior to 2016, then lead prospect analyst Dan Farnsworth said of Ramirez, “his stuff likely isn’t good enough to be more than bullpen filler.” Maybe not even that good.

xFIP

Well I’ll be damned. With 18.2 IP with an xFIP of 6.05 out of the Reds bullpen we have…Carlos Contreras.

K%

With a K% of exactly 7.8%, we find the final 13 IP of Dodger right-hander Carlos Frias‘ 2015 season (he hasn’t pitched yet in 2016). As a Cistulli darling, I imagine this is just a speed bump in Frias’ journey to becoming a Cy Young winner.

BB%

In 39.2 IP, Elvis Araujo of the Phillies has walked 14.0% of batters faced. In related news, Araujo was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on June 26.

HR/9

Matching our criteria exactly with 1.86 HR/9 allowed in 67.2 IP is Toronto starter Drew Hutchison. This figure doesn’t factor in his excellent work in Triple-A (.77 HR/9 allowed), and according to the Toronto Sun, Hutchison figures to be called up soon. Hopefully he can get the gopheritis under control and contribute for the Jays down the stretch.

SwStr%

I made a judgement call here. The pitcher with the most IP within 0.2% of the required 3.9% SwStr% is Jon Moscot and his 4.1% SwStr%. Moscot has posted that rate across 21.1 IP in five starts for the…gulp…Reds this year. Poor Reds fans.

The Inverse Kershaw

It is all fine and good (bad) to post inverse Kershaw numbers in one category, but I wanted to know the single pitcher that was most unlike Clayton Kershaw. More accurately, I wanted to find the pitcher whose performance has been as far below average as Kershaw’s has been above average. To do this, I began with a sample of all pitchers appearing in MLB over the last calendar year. I then calculated the number of standard deviations each of their component statistics were from the Inverse Kershaw numbers in the table above. The pitcher with the lowest sum of standard deviations will be named the Inverse Kershaw. This is exactly the methodology used by Jeff Sullivan for his pitch comps.

And the winner (loser?) is….Matt Harrison, formerly of the Texas Rangers, currently of the Phillies Disabled List. You may remember Harrison as the salary dump portion of the Cole Hamels to the Rangers trade. You will hopefully now remember him as the past calendar year’s Inverse Kershaw. The final numbers are below.

Clayton Kershaw vs. Matt Harrison – Past Calendar Year
ERA FIP xFIP K% BB% HR/9 SwStr%
Clayton Kershaw 1.50 1.56 2.08 33.8% 2.9% 0.36 16.1%
League Average 4.13  4.11 4.07 20.8% 8.5% 1.11 10.0%
Inverse Kershaw 6.76 6.66 6.06 7.8% 14.1% 1.86 3.9%
Matt Harrison 6.75 6.07 5.66 7.3% 8.7% 1.69 3.3%
Data pulled 6/29/16

So there you have it, the pitcher coming closest to being as far below average as Clayton Kershaw has been above average over the last year is Matt Harrison — the Inverse Kershaw. Just for fun, here is the same table as above, subbing out the 2016 Reds Bullpen for Matt Harrison.

Clayton Kershaw vs. Matt Harrison – Past Calendar Year
ERA FIP xFIP K% BB% HR/9 SwStr%
Clayton Kershaw 1.50 1.56 2.08 33.8% 2.9% 0.36 16.1%
League Average 4.13  4.11 4.07 20.8% 8.5% 1.11 10.0%
Inverse Kershaw 6.76 6.66 6.06 7.8% 14.1% 1.86 3.9%
2016 Reds Bullpen 6.08 6.02 5.16 18.9% 11.9% 1.95 9.7%
Data pulled 6/29/16

Poor Reds fans.





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Craig Hall
Member

Good write up and interesting take on the Inverse Kershaw. I’m actually trying to submit an article on the Community Research side but can’t find out how to include data tables or graphics. Would you be wiling to share how you did it? Thank you in advance!