# Astros WHIP+ Shows an Above Average Rotation

## The Astros’ WHIP+ shows an above average rotation, lacking well-known names in regard to Major League Baseball.

There’s been some debate around the value of the WHIP metric in baseball, with one argument being that pitchers have less control of the number of hits they give up and therefore the value of the statistic is dubious.

I get the point – line drives are caught all the time and soft contact bloopers fall in for hits. My counter argument would be that nine of the top 12 pitchers all time in WHIP are in the Hall of Fame and the other three are still active – Clayton Kershaw (fourth all-time), Jacob deGrom (fifth) and Chris Sale (sixth). Seems like a list a pitcher would like to be on.

WHIP is a number I pay attention to for the exact reason it was invented: It’s a gauge of how many baserunners a pitcher allows. There are pitchers that give up relatively few hits, but always seem to be in trouble because of walks.

There are pitchers that walk more than average, but give up less hits. The best pitchers are generally those that give up relatively few of both, which manifest in a low WHIP.

There’s a rarely cited statistic that goes by the name of WHIP+ and as you might imagine, like all the other + statistics, gauges a pitcher’s WHIP vs the rest of MLB.

I decided to look into the WHIP+ of the Houston Astros pitchers and found some interesting numbers (at least to me). As a reminder, lower is better in this number, one hundred is average and if a pitcher has a WHIP+ of 90, that means his WHIP is 10% lower than average.

In this article, we’ll focus on starters and part two will discuss relievers.

## Jose Urquidy – 76

Injuries limited Jose Urquidy to 20 starts in 2021, but he only allowed 7.6 hits and 1.6 hits per nine innings over 107 innings. As we’ll see, that 1.6 number is outstanding among Astros pitchers. Urquidy had the second lowest strikeout rate for the Astros starters, the lowest base on balls rate and second lowest BABIP.

## Christian Javier – 79

This is probably a surprise to most as it is to me. He was sent to the bullpen after nine starts (spoiler, his WHIP+ from the bullpen was 102), never to start again.

As a starter Javier gave up only 5.36 hits per nine innings and while his 3.88 walks per nine innings was an issue, consider that it was the same as Framber Valdez and better than Lance McCullers, Jr. File this under things that make you wonder.

## Luis Garcia – 92

It seemed like Garcia was in trouble more than he actually was. He gave up 2.41 more hits per nine innings (7.77) than Javier and walked 2.95 per nine. That’s a number that needs to improve, but all we have to compare it to is the 3.6 of the pandemic shortened 2020 season, so the sample size is small, but improvement noted.

## Lance McCullers, Jr. – 94

Am I the only one surprised by LMJ being this low on this list? The culprit is walks, which McCullers, Jr. averages 4.21 of every nine innings, the worst among Astros starters (excluding Bielak’s two opener appearances).

For his career, McCullers walks 3.5 per nine innings so 2021 could be viewed as an outlier. McCullers only allowed 6.76 hits per nine innings in 2021, so theoretically, with a reduced walk rate he could be that much better in 2022.

## Framber Valdez – 96

Framber Valdez had a good season, going 11-6 with a 3.14 ERA over 22 starts covering 134.2 innings. The bugaboo, is, and has been throughout his career, walks. There is some good news, though.

Valdez’ 3.88 base on balls in 2021 was far less than the 5.8 he registered in 2018 and 5.6 in 2019. That’s a huge improvement and it’s trending in the right direction, meaning Valdez could make a leap in 2022.

## Jake Odorizzi – 98

The WHIP+ is just one metric, one way to measure a pitcher’s effectiveness, but color me surprised Odorizzi is very slightly above average in it. It sure didn’t feel that way when he pitched, maybe because Odorizzi gave up the second most hits per nine innings of any Astros starter (8.49, compared to Greinke’s 8.64) and registered 3.04 walks per nine innings.

So, if the theory is pitchers control hits less than they control walks, is Odorizzi primed for improvement in 2022? I doubt it. His career averages are 8.1 hits and 3.1 walks per nine. He is who he is and that’s not likely to change at 31-years-old.