Sabermetrics, the advanced stats that best explain the quantifiable aspects of baseball, have never been a fan of Ivan Nova. Every advanced stat out there showed that in 2011, Nova’s 16-4 record and 3.70 ERA were not an accurate representation of his worth as a pitcher. From a relatively low BABIP (.283) to an xFIP of 4.16, Nova projected as a back-of-the-rotation guy, not a top-flight starter.
Nova picked up where he left off in the beginning of this season, putting up pitching results that again overinflated his relative value. But most fans don’t check BABIP, xFIP, and the rest of the alphabet-soup advanced stats with their morning coffee — they look at wins, losses and ERA. The casual baseball fan is much like my father, who will swear up and down that C.C. Sabathia got jobbed out of the 2010 AL Cy Young award by Felix Hernandez because C.C. was 21-7 and King Felix was 13-12.
Those same fans pointed to Nova’s 9-2 record in late June as evidence that his 2011 campaign was no fluke. But as Grantland’s Jonah Keri explained in an eerily prescient June 12 column, Nova’s success was still primarily a product of luck.