FIP or Fielding Independent Pitching is a statistic which estimates a pitcher’s ERA (earned run average = 9 x (Earned runs allowed/innings pitched) over a specific period of time if he experienced average results in balls in play and league average timing. ERA has always been widely used to evaluate a pitcher’s performance, but ERA is of course also very linked to team defense. If a pitcher does the exact same thing in front of two different teams, the result will not be identical. Simply because team defense is a vital part of run prevention. FIP is an analysis which try to be more accurate of what the pitcher actually is responsible for. A pitcher can control strikeouts K, walks BB, hit by pitches HBP and home runs HR. In all of these cases team defenses do not play a part. Of course, we can make a case for a pitcher is not always in control of for example strikeouts, but FIP will in this case be far more relevant than ERA.
FIP = (13xHR + 3 x (BB+HBP) – 2 x K) /IP + FIP constant
You can see a FIP constant is included, and it is because we want FIP to an ERA scale. The way FIP is designed is league average ERA and league average FIP are the same, which makes the constant something which can change between different seasons. If you want to calculate the FIP constant yourself you can use this formula: FIP Constant = lgERA – (((13 x lgHR) + (3 x (lgBB+lgHBP))-(2 x lgK))/lgIP). As you might see from the FIP formula different weights are made for home runs, walk/hit by pitches and strikeouts, and the reason is to give them relative values in relation to run prevention.
It is important to understand FIP is not ballpark independent. If a player pitches on a great hitter’s park, he will likely also have a higher FIP.
How do I use it in Fantasy baseball
FIP can actually be a really good stat to understand and use. As a fantasy owner you want to find hidden value and information will help you do just that. If a pitcher will low FIP but a high ERA he has likely seen some bad luck, and solely on this you have to ask yourself if he is a buy-low candidate. It of course assumes the pitcher will get league-average results of balls in play later.