Stats Corner: Did Pirates win Grilli-Frieri trade?
The Pirates and Angels exchanged scuffling former closers recently, with the Bucs sending Jason Grilli to L.A. for Ernesto Frieri. At first blush, shipping 2013 All-Star Grilli away for Frieri — who had the highest ERA (7.29) among qualified relievers in 2014 — looks dubious. But the 28-year-old, fastball-centric right-hander still possesses the skills that allowed him to convert more saves (37) than Grilli (33) a year ago.
Frieri is striking out plenty of batters (10.5 strikeouts per nine innings) and limiting walks (a career-low 2.4 BB/9). Yet his ERA has spiked because of terrible luck on balls put in play and a few wall-scraping home runs. Frieri's BABIP this season is .367, 90 points above his career average (.277). About one of every five fly balls hit against Frieri is leaving the yard — double his career average.
BABIP and home-run-per-fly-ball numbers tend to regress toward a pitcher's career mark over time, so Frieri shouldn't surrender as many bloop hits and just-enough blasts in the second half. With better luck, Frieri should start preventing runs at the dominant clip his strikeout and walk totals suggest.
He actually is turning in his finest major league season, according to expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP), an ERA estimator based on strikeouts, walks and a normalized home run per fly ball ratio. Frieri has the largest gap between his ERA and xFIP among qualified relievers.
Pitcher xFIP ERA Diff.
Ernesto Frieri 3.28 7.29 -4.01
Josh Fields 2.83 5.65 -2.82
Nick Vincent 3.24 5.67 -2.43
Joe Nathan 3.94 6.16 -2.22
Edward Mujica 3.57 5.76 -2.19
Grilli, by contrast, is striking out fewer hitters and issuing more walks, leading to a 4.42 xFIP that's a near match for his actual 4.18 ERA. Considering Frieri's youth and contract status (he's under team control through 2016), this challenge trade looks like a winner for the Pirates.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates sign Corey Hart to 1-year deal
- Pirates notebook: Team ‘more relevant’ as Winter Meetings end
- Ex-Pirate Parker fights against Parkinson’s with optimistic attitude