Why First Pitch Strike Percentage Is a Meaningless Metric

I would have thought this was so obvious it didn’t need explaining, but apparently I didn’t do a good enough job of making my case today on the Sirius XM show because Paul Sporer came away still thinking FPS% is a thing. So let me try again here.

For a metric to be useful it must measure some predictive skill. Strikeout rate is useful because it measures a pitcher’s ability to get outs without contact. Contact entails risk, strikeouts do not. If past strikeouts are predictive of future strikeouts (they are), then looking at strikeouts is meaningful. Even if two pitchers had the same ERA in the same number of IP with the same WHIP and same number of walks in Year N, if Player A had 200 Ks and Player B had 150, we would expect Player A to be better in…

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