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The Closer Report » WHIPERA, WPE » The True Guru introduce’s WHIPERA (WPE) for closers

The True Guru introduce’s WHIPERA (WPE) for closers

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For the last year or so, one of the stats that I have used to guide my projections and numbers for how effective closers have been or can be has been one I’ve coined as WHIPERA, which combines WHIP and ERA for one number.  It’s a stat that I have used privately to assist my data, but recently I’ve been talking about it on my podcasts and now I’m ready to introduce to the fantasy baseball world.

Similar to OPS, which combines on-base percentage and slugging percentage, WHIPERA or WPE combines a pitchers WHIP and ERA.  I’m sure the question in many of the minds reading this article, what is your reason for the stat in the first place?  This stat isn’t going to be much help for starting pitchers and regular relievers.  It’s a stat that I’ve used on closers primarily.  Closers are a special breed of pitchers with a specific task and situation when they enter the game.  Therefore, they deserve a specific statistic to determine how effective they are.

Let’s face it, a closer isn’t judged by the number of saves he has because it’s not up to him or her in Brad Lidge’s case on how many chances he will get.  In fact, it’s up to the team to provide save chances (ask Carlos Marmol).  Strikeouts are another critical stat as well, but don’t have much to do in spelling out just how effective a closer truly is pitching since getting a ground ball counts the same as a strikeout.

I’ve stated and I’ll state it again that WHIP is one of the most important statistics in trying to gauge how effective a closer is pitching.  ERA is very important as well, but not as accurate because of the number of innings closers pitch doesn’t allow it to balance.

For example, you can have a closer with a ERA of 3.45.  He blew a couple of saves and it knocked his ERA out of whack, but his WHIP stands at 1.09.  His WHIP tells you a different story from his ERA.  Let’s look at a real example, Neftali Feliz.  His ERA stands at 3.78, which is quite high for a closer, but his WHIP is very impressive at 0.96.  So how do you gauge Feliz?  Do you go by his ERA or WHIP?  This is where I use WHIPERA and Feliz has a WPE of 4.74.  Now I can use that number to really understand where he stands.  Plus, with each appearance the WHIP and ERA will move up and down and this number will move faster and that is beneficial to get quick and accurate updates on how a pitcher is pitching at the moment.  If you look at just one of the stats the up/down movement is less and therefore slower in developing and in fantasy baseball slow is bad.
Here is an example from a save that Jonathan Papelbon recorded tonight.  Going into the game, Papelbon’s WHIPERA was exactly 3.00.  After the perfect save his WHIPERA was 2.71.  It was a significant drop that gives a quick snapshot of effectiveness.  I know that the 19 point swing we saw today won’t be there in August, but it will still be more effect then looking at just one stat.

So what is a great, good, and bad WHIPERA (WPE)?  This can be debated and each expert in the industry can devise their own system, but here is a quick snapshot as I see it.

  • Below 2.00 – Elite closer having an incredible season.  2010 examples: Mariano Rivera, Jose Valverde, Kevin Gregg.  
  • 2.01-3.00 – Excellent WPE.  Closer is elite and having a great season.  You cannot complain about anything.  2010 Examples: Jonathan Papelbon, Matt Capps, Matt Lindstrom.
  • 3.01-4.00 – Very good closer, but having some consistency issues.  probably has at least 2 blown saves or some bad appearances.  2010 examples: Francisco Cordero, Jon Rauch, Rafael Soriano.
  • 4.01-5.00 – Closer with consistency issues.  Having a solid season, but clearly has issues to work out and in some cases cannot be relied on until his WPE goes down.  2010 examples: Neftali Feliz, Joakim Soria, Chris Perez.

You can go higher with 6.00, 7.00, and above, but I think you get the point.  For me, it’s a great stat to gauge how well a closer is doing.  If the closer has a terrible ERA and WHIP it will show and you will stay away.  If the closer has a high ERA, but a low WHIP you might notice that he’s not as bad as you think because of the high ERA.

Now for the negative bashers out there who are lawyers for AIG, the examples above are based on less than two months of a season, so just note that I think that Feliz and Soria will be elite closers by season end and their WHIPERA will show that.

Please email me any comments or questions on this stat to  I’d love to here your comments or additional ideas and concepts to apply to it.

Listen to Todd “The True Guru” Farino breakdown all the closer activity three times a week on Blog Talk Radio. Every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday at 11pm PST. or download the podcast on ITunes!

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