BB/9 Regressers Through the Lens of F-Strike%

On Saturday, I looked at the five pitchers with the largest differential between their rank amongst all starters in BB/9 and their F-Strike% rank that would suggest an improved walk rate in the future. Today I check out the opposite, those pitchers whose F-Strike% would hint at a worse walk rate than what that pitcher has posted thus far.

Mark Buehrle continues to do what he does best: strike out no one, while showing good enough control to somehow manage a sub-4.00 ERA. However, in the past his F-Strike% has always been in the upper 50% to low 60% range. So his current mark is easily a career worst, which combines with a Zone% that has declined for a fourth straight season. Besides these metrics suggesting a walk rate due for a rise, his GB%, which has always above league average, has dipped below 40%, the first time it has not been above 43% in his career. With the current White Sox 6-man rotation reducing his innings, I have little interest in owning him in an AL-Only league and no interest in a mixed.

Brandon McCarthy‘s new sinker has led to a career best GB% and excellent results, but unfortunately the injury bug bit him once again. With more shoulder problems, who knows when he may return and if he will be the same. He was enjoying the highest fastball velocity of his career before the injury, so that could very well be hampered. All owners can do now is hope he returns soon and healthy, and that his walk rate does not jump too high given his lackluster strikeout rate.

Last season, Jeff Francis posted a similar F-Strike% and BB/9, though his Zone% was much higher. Currently his F-Strike% is right near his career average, yet his career BB/9 is more than a full point higher than his current mark. The highest GB% of his career needs to be sustained for him to continue providing any AL-Only league value given his weak strikeout rate.

Alexi Ogando is one of the surprise performers so far, following C.J. Wilson from last year in making the successful transition from reliever to starter for the Rangers. He remains a prime sell high candidate, however, for many reasons. One of which is the fact that you have to expect he runs out of gas in the second half after throwing only 72.1 innings last year. Second, he is an extreme fly ball pitcher in a hitter’s park and his xFIP is more than a run and a half higher than his actual ERA, which includes a BB/9 that should rise, eventually pushing that xFIP even further.

After walking five batters in six innings yesterday, Derek Lowe is going to fall off this list. Look at that, the analysis is already working! Lowe’s F-Strike% is actually at a career low, as is his Zone%, but the increased use of his slider has led to his highest strikeout rate as a starter. He has maintained a 7.0+ K/9 in each month so far, so this could very well be sustainable. Combine this with his always near league leading GB% and his xFIP has dipped below 3.00 for the first time ever. He could easily deliver his highest fantasy value total since 2002.




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Mike Podhorzer produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. He also sells beautiful photos through his online gallery, Pod's Pics. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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