Batted Ball Outliers: Starting Pitchers

Pitchers tend to induce different types of batted balls. Some are fly ball pitchers. Others induce ground balls. While there are always pitchers at the extremes, a few pitchers go beyond the norms on a yearly basis. Today, I am looking at pitchers whose 2011 batted ball data was outside the normal range of values.

To get the extreme baselines, I took the the top and bottom values for a pitcher with over 400 IP total over the past 3 years. Here is a look at some pitchers that may be in store for some batted ball corrections in 2012

GB% and FB%

Initally I planned on separating these two, but after looking at the data, they were easily combined. First, Tim Hudson had the highest GB% with 60.7% and Ted Lilly was lowest with 31.7% over the 3 years. No pitcher exceeded these numbers in 2012.

With FB%, the two pitchers were just changed around with Ted Lilly having the highest FB% (49.9%) and Tim Hudson with the lowest (23.3%) Two pitchers did go below Hudson’s mark in 2011:

Name FB%
Tim Hudson 23.2%
Jake Westbrook 22.8%
Derek Lowe 22.5%

Both Westbrook and Lowe are extreme GB pitchers, so not a huge surprise with these values.

BABIP

A few more names make the list above and below the 3-year BABIP extreme values:

Name BABIP
Ricky Nolasco 0.331
Edwin Jackson 0.330
Derek Lowe 0.327
Ryan Dempster 0.324
Ricky Nolasco 0.322


Ted Lilly 0.256
Cole Hamels 0.255
Jered Weaver 0.250
Josh Beckett 0.245
Ricky Romero 0.242
Justin Verlander 0.236
Jeremy Hellickson 0.233

Justin Verlander: After several years of being one of the most under rated aces in the league, I have a feeling his value will not be any higher than in 2012. I would be looking to sell high.

Derek Lowe: Horrible 2011. Rumors have been circulated that Atlanta is looking to move him. Great chance to buy low.

Edwin Jackson: Sadly, he may by one of the top 3-4 FA pitchers available this off season. He is probably going to get over paid with too many years. I would be extremely cautious about chasing Wins with him if he ends up going to an offensive juggernaut.

LD%

Some similar names here as on the BABIP list:

Name LD%
Edwin Jackson 24.9%
Chris Carpenter 24.0%
Ricky Nolasco 23.8%
CC Sabathia 23.1%
Randy Wolf 22.7%
Hiroki Kuroda 22.0%
Kyle Lohse 21.9%
Ian Kennedy 21.9%
Ricky Nolasco 21.8%


Matt Latos 15.9%
Jhoulys Chacin 15.4%
Cole Hamels 15.0%
Ricky Romero 14.2%

CC Sabathia – He was hit hard and still had the season he did. Nice bit of information for later.

Ian Kennedy – A good season and could have been better.

With all of the high LD% pitchers, they seem to be decent pitchers. It looks like a nice group of pitchers to target for improvement next season. I will actually do a quick study on pitchers that exceeded a LD% and the results the next season.

HR/FB%

Name HR/FB%
A.J. Burnett 17.0%
Bronson Arroyo 15.9%
Chris Volstad 13.6%


Clayton Kershaw 5.6%
Doug Fister 5.1%
Roy Halladay 5.1%
Matt Cain 3.7%

A list with Matt Cain at what seems his normal position

A couple of names stick out here:

A.J. Burnett – Classic buy low candidate. Some readers may get hives just thinking about him. He will be worth taking a chance on in 2012.

Doug Fister – He may get a little too much love from the post season. Be careful not to buy into the post season hype and over pay/draft.




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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.


6 Responses to “Batted Ball Outliers: Starting Pitchers”

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  1. Ryan says:

    Is there some source where there could be a bell curve distribution of GB% amongst pitchers?

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  2. drewcorb says:

    Does the fact that CC was hit hard and still did well mean that he outperformed his true skill level? Or do we have enough information on CC to just assume he’ll put up exactly the same numbers every year? Normally I would be wary of pitchers with high LD% and low ERAs, but maybe CC is an exception to that rule.

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  3. hunter says:

    Does the number of perceived high quality pitchers having a large LD% have to do with how often hitters ‘guess’ against them?

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  4. bgrasso12 says:

    “Ian Kennedy – A good season and could have been better.” – This doesn’t make sense to me. He had a very high LD%, yet a low babip (.270). In my mind, that makes him a regression candidate. But this statement seems to say the opposite. Am I missing something?

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