The Pleasures of Strand Rate

Name the pitchers:
Pitcher A: 172.2 IP, 17.31% K, 5.85 BB%, 10.1% HR/FB, 67.7% LOB, 5.16 ERA, 4.55 FIP
Player B: 112.2 IP, 14.64% K, 7.88 BB%, 10.8% HR/FB, 85.9% LOB, 2.64 ERA, 4.53 FIP

Pitcher B is Kevin Millwood, benefactor of an unsustainable amount of stranded runners, thus keeping his ERA at a comfortable, and easily overrated, 2.64. Pitcher A is also Kevin Millwood, two seasons ago. The differences between the two seasons are minimal. This Millwood walks a few more, strikes out a few less, and has a vastly superior defense behind him, otherwise, they’re the same pitcher – literally and figuratively.

Millwood’s spiffy ERA has some placing him on their All-Star ballots, which is fair, as long as shortstop Elvis Andrus, right fielder Nelson Cruz, and the rest of the Rangers defense gets to play tag along to St. Louis. Don’t be surprised to see Millwood sneak onto some Cy Young ballots either, even if he cannot avoid the regression but as the season progresses. What would regression hold for the Texas righty?
Millwood’s strikeout and walk ratios share company with Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Bannister, Paul Maholm, and Dallas Braden. Guthrie’s homerun rate is too high, while Bannister’s, Maholm, and Braden’s are too low to be perfect matches with Millwood, but check out their ERA:

Guthrie 5.11
Bannister 3.93
Maholm 4.35
Braden 3.26

The closest, Braden, has a lofty 75% strand rate of his own and his ERA is still about a half run higher than Millwood. Even if you discount the high/low totals, you see Millwood’s company has an ERA in the 4-4.5 spread, about equal to his FIP. If you have Millwood on your fantasy team, sell him now. There are some examples of seasons like this actually lasting through October, but don’t bet on another Steve Trachsel 1996, just pull the trigger before it’s too late.

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6 Responses to “The Pleasures of Strand Rate”

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  1. Steve says:

    The proper word here is “beneficiary” (the one who receives a benefit) instead of “benefactor” (the one who gives the benefit). Although in this case Millwood is both – since he puts the runners on base that he ends up stranding – but the real benefactor here, as your article points out, is the Tecas defense.

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  2. rwperu34 says:

    There’s a typo in pitcher A. His walks should be 8.55%. If that line was correct, he would have been a much better pitcher in 2007.

    I once traded A-Rod for that 1996 Trachsel card in my Dice League. Of course there were a few other players involved:)

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  3. lester bangs says:

    It’s *very* difficult to sell Millwood high – the fantasy community is extremely skeptical of him. Probably not impossible, but it aint’ easy.

    Waiting for the Johan Santana blog from you guys.

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    • joe says:

      Johan Santana has basically been the same pitcher he was in 2008, only with a normalized BABIP and strand rate…and a fastball that continues to deteriorate.

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  4. Matt says:

    When you talk about the strand rate regressing, what is it regressing to? The league average? Some pitchers seem to have significantly different career strand rates than others. Does this have something to do with K’s and GB rates?

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  5. Dean says:

    If the point of this article was to highlight Millwood’s ERA in relation to his LOB% to another year with comparitive statistics, I believe 2006 would have been better. His WHIP that year compared to this year is virtually identicle, 1.29 to 1.30, respectively, whereas 2007 and 2008 were much higher. It makes more sense to compare his luck with runners on base this year to a year where he had a comparative number of baserunners.
    He gave gave up more hits in 2006 (weaker defense) but walked fewer as well. Maybe, you intended to use 2007 because you wanted to leave hits, and thereby defense, out of the equation. But that’s not fair because his defense may help prevent baserunners, as well as help him get out of those situations, elevating his LOB%.
    His ERA in 2006 was 4.52, though I don’t know what his LOB% was. Whatever it was I’m sure that Millwood’s ERA will continue to rise this season and possibly settle around 4.00. But here’s hoping his luck returns and lasts for another year and a half.

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