Last Friday, I pointed out how Yovani Gallardo leads the Brewers in OPS, and how he has been a consistently solid hitting pitcher. Of course, that wouldn’t matter if he weren’t a good pitcher – Micah Owings and his .293/.323/.538 line isn’t getting starts for the Reds because he’s a replacement level pitcher.
Gallardo’s wOBA of .389 is well over double the pitcher average of roughly .150. Because of the way wOBA is designed, we can translate wOBA directly to runs using the following formula:
Runs Above Average = PAs*((wOBA for player – wOBA for league) /1.15)
In this case, we want to see how Gallardo compares to the average pitcher, so “wOBA for league” will be .150, the average pitcher wOBA. That means that Gallardo has been 12.5 runs above the average pitcher on the season. For reference, Casey McGehee’s season has been about 10.5 runs above the average hitter, and that’s over 557 plate appearances.
However, not every run is created equal. A run against an ace pitcher, for instance, is more important than hitting a three run home run off of a guy like Kyle Kendrick. Similarly, a run in the offense-heavy Pacific Coast League isn’t worth as much as a run in the MLB. For that reason, a given amount of runs is effectively worth a different amount of wins given the run environment. Gallardo creates a much lower run environment than the average pitcher. Typically, the runs/win conversion is roughly 9.6 runs. Using the calculation outlined here, in the run environment created with Gallardo on the mound, every 9.1 runs is worth a win. It’s not a massive difference, but with the average run environment, Gallardo’s hitting is worth 1.3 wins above average. In his run evironment, it’s worth 1.4 wins. Not much of a difference, but it does improve his contributions by about 7%.
This is mostly in response to a question in the comments as to how his hitting would change how we view his FIP/xFIP. This is, instead, how I would go about it – take a look at the two aspects of Gallardo’s game separately. Tack on the 1.4 WAR for his hitting onto the 3.9 WAR for his pitching, and you get 5.3 WAR overall. That’s the highest mark on the Brewers and equal to the marks posted by Ubaldo Jimenez and Adam Wainwright. So, Yovani Gallardo is really good. But you already knew that.