Brewers: Defining FIP, and is Corbin Burnes on the cusp of History?
By Tyler Rouse
Brewers ace Corbin Burnes has put up one of the best seasons in terms of FIP that baseball has seen. But what is FIP?
Defining FIP, and is Brewers ace Corbin Burnes on the cusp of History?
Explaining FIP (shortened for Fielding Independent Pitching) to a non-baseball fan can be a fun exercise in one’s ability to lose friends and to baseball fan friends a way to make enemies rather quickly.
If we are going to go down this route bear with me as I define it for you, and also explain how Corbin Burnes is a one-man band of FIP awesomeness.
A good starting point is this fantastic summary that breaks down FIP too. As we already broke down for you, Why Corbin Burnes Deserves The 2021 NL Cy Young we are well versed in the greatness of Corbin, but are we about to see history?
Let’s dive in.
FIP is at its core a fairly easier stat to digest once we establish a few things off the bat. We need to start by looking at the role a pitcher has on one’s true outcomes, and taking the defense off the table and along with it luck or sequencing.
The main pitching outcomes are strikeouts, unintentional walks, hit-by-pitches, and home runs. Those are plays a pitcher will control by himself with his control, movement, and energy levels dictating how they can get through an entire game. This is a stat where things such as how a ballpark plays for teams does not impact it either, which can make for interesting stories if a pitchers FIP is lower than their ERA, and it is known that pitcher plays in a Home ballpark that favors hitting.
Corbin Burnes playing in American Family Field while average on Park Factor at 99, won’t come into play in the frame of reference we have where after Burnes’ start against the Cubs on September 18th, he sits at a 1.58 FIP and if the season finished today would have the 2nd lowest FIP in the history of the Live Ball era which is 1920 onward.
The lowest FIP in the Live Ball era would belong to Pedro Martinez in 1999, with a 1.39. Pedro’s 1999 season is considered by many to be one of the very best pitching years ever.
If you have been a Brewers fan for any semblance of time you’ll no doubt remember that starting pitching has been the Achilles heel of deeper postseason runs for them in years past. The fact the Brewers have 3 homegrown aces, and the entire pitching staff currently has the lowest staff ERA in Franchise history at 3.36, gives me optimism this year could be the Brewers year.
Corbin himself has a shot at history in regards to FIP, and along with leading all qualified National League pitchers in both strikeouts (12.4) and walks (1.7) per nine innings; the only other AL/NL pitcher to lead his league in both is Walter Johnson, all the way back in 1913.
Buckle up Brewers fans, we’ve got history to make.