Potential K/9 Surgers

First, another fist pump for David Appelman’s addition of K% to the site. No longer do I have to surf on over to an enemy site to get this information. As was noted in some of the comments on the announcement post, K/9 will be lower than it should be if the pitcher has benefited from some good fortune that allowed him to face fewer batters than expected. So, assuming the pitcher’s luck does in fact regress, he should see his strikeout rate rise. Here are the five pitchers with the largest difference between their ranking in K% and K9.

Josh Beckett easily leads all starting pitchers with a .214 BABIP. His previous career low was .262, which interestingly came in 2006 when he posted a 5.01 ERA. That BABIP will absolutely increase the rest of the way and given that his SwStk% is at its highest mark since 2005, there is little doubt that his strikeout rate will jump. One concern though is that his fly ball rate is above 40% for the first time in his career, and it is well above that level at 45.2%. If you could somehow manage to sell him as a top five starter, I would not hesitate to do so.

Jered Weaver saw his strikeout rate surge nearly two batters per nine last year, and predictably that mark has come right back down to where it had always sat previously. However, a .249 BABIP and 2.5% HR/FB ratio are keeping his K/9 down, so it is possible he ends up striking out at least 8.0 per nine the rest of the way. As an extreme fly ball pitcher who also induces a lot of popups, he should continue to maintain a below league average BABIP. Weaver right now is third in LOB% and first in HR/FB ratio, so he has really enjoyed some excellent luck so far. If he finishes the season with an ERA in the low 2.00s, he could be quite overvalued next year, similar to what happened with Zach Greinke heading into 2010.

Dan Haren is mainly benefiting from a 6.1% HR/FB ratio, while his .274 BABIP is the second best mark of his career. His SwStk5 is generally the same as it has been over the last couple of years. However, this is the first season he will have pitched the entire year in the American League since 2007, so it would be foolish to expect his strikeout rate to jump back up to his Diamondback days. Still, when his luck takes a hit, he should see his K/9 rise a bit, but overall shouldn’t have too much of an effect on his ERA as the changes should offset each other. He is the first on this list who I would not consider a sell high candidate.

Just when I thought the clock had struck midnight after Alexi Ogando posted a 4.26 ERA in June, he goes out and puts up a 2.08 mark in July. In fact, his July xFIP was the best of any month so far. On the whole though, he has enjoyed a .237 BABIP, which should rise, along with his 7.2% HR/FB ratio. His SwStk% is only league average, so even though the K% suggests a K/9 due to increase, it should not get much above 7.0 the rest of the way. His luck may very well last all year, but at some point his ERA will catch up to his only slightly above average skill set. He will either break owner’s hearts in August and September, or next season in 2012.

Really, Jeff Karstens? After posting a 4.92 ERA last year and 5.42 mark in 2009, it is safe to say that Karstens’ 2.28 ERA right now is quite the surprise. With a neutral batted ball profile and a terrible strikeout rate, one wonders why he even keeps getting a chance to stick in a rotation to begin with. His K% is actually about identical to last year when he posted a 5.3 K/9, while his SwStk% has jumped. This suggests that he should post a K/9 above 5.0 the rest of the way. That still won’t be enough though as he cannot possibly continue to strand 86.6% of runners. As crazy as this may sound, I would not even be comfortable starting him in an NL-Only league, as the downside is just too large. Trade him for anything, seriously.




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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.


18 Responses to “Potential K/9 Surgers”

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  1. Jeffrey Gross says:

    K% doesnt always mean K/9 will bolster, particularly if the pitcher is an efficient one

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    • Jeffrey Gross says:

      You need to look at things like xBABIP, etc. If he’s expected to give up more hits, then probably won’t be rising in the K9 dept.

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      • Mark says:

        Why not? If balls in play that had been turning into fortunate outs start dropping, won’t that mean that a greater percentage of outs within individual innings will start coming via strikeout?

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      • Jeffrey Gross says:

        If a guy is getting BABIP luck, his K% is higher than his expected K%. It’s a two-way streak

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      • BoodLight says:

        what does your BABIP have to do with K%, or K/9? What happens to balls in play seems to have little to do with your propensity to strike out batters. If anything, as Mark says, reversal in BABIP luck should mean more outs via K, thus a good chance at higher k%, and even more likely that a higher k/9.

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      • theonemephisto says:

        More balls falling in means innings are extended which means you get more opportunities to strike someone out per inning.

        More balls falling in means that you face more batter which lowers your K%.

        Basically, it changes the denominators, either by changing how many outs per inning or changing how many total batters faced.

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      • Mark says:

        Jeff, I’m not understanding your argument. What is the relationship between K% and BABIP luck? I understand the relationship between K/9 and BABIP luck, but K% should be more independent, no (the SIERA argument that high K pitchers should be expected to post lower BABIPs aside)? If balls in play are finding gloves, that’s more non-strikeout outs per inning. If balls are not finding gloves, more outs per inning will come via strikeout.

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  2. Corey says:

    What league has any of these people available? A shallow, mixed league?

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    • Drew says:

      Nowhere in the article does it say anything like “Pick up these guys now, they’re underrated due to a low K/9″

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  3. Cody says:

    The only thing anyone can do with Jeff Karstens is ride this streak until it ends. No one is going to give you anything for him.

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  4. Jeffrey Gross says:

    I’m in 2 deep experts league and at least one of them has Karstens available

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  5. Marcus says:

    my confused logic seems to think that K% might be somewhat constant for each pitcher at this point in the season. i guess i should plot BABIP vs K% and see what comes out…

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  6. kdog says:

    check out jeff neimann

    Niemann struck out 10 red sox, i think 8 or 9 on swinging strikes. when he mixes his pitches he get strike out a lot. hes not owned in 40+% of leagues.

    he usually strings together a bunch of games. and once was a first round or 2nd round top notch prospect.

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  7. Mike says:

    Im happy with Karstens .82 era and .76 whip through 43.1 innings (6 qualities)…..even if he bombs starting the next game (1 out of 6) aint bad.

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    • mn77393 says:

      for weeks and weeks, we keep hearing how karstens is so doomed to fail because he has bad peripheral numbers, but he’s still putting up some good numbers that actually count in fantasy anyone who has been starting him this whole time can probably handle his low strikeout numbers given how much he has helped their ERA, WHIP, and wins. it’s great to be aware of what the numbers SUGGEST should happen, but it is not a guarantee that it WILL happen or that it will happen suddenly this week. there are such things as statistical outliers, and who’s to say karstens won’t have a pretty decent ROS and end up as the valuable asset that all the stat-heads were too caught up in their numbers to take advantage of?? there’s no law that says he HAS to pitch poorly enough to balance things out. if you still have him, you might as well at least hold onto him and ride his numbers until he stops putting them up…

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