Last week, I published the results of my expected strikeout rate study. I used the looking, called, and foul strike rates data from Baseball-Reference.com. It is important to understand that the regression formula I concluded with is meant to estimate what the pitcher’s K% should be given his different strike rates. This is not meant to be predictive. Instead, in smaller sample sizes, it might be a more accurate picture of the pitcher’s true strikeout ability so far, which would then help shape your projection of him going forward.
With that said, here are the top 10 pitchers whose xK% is higher than his K%.
|Unweighted Population Avg||28%||15%||27%||19.1%||18.9%|
This is not a very exciting list as it includes lots of low strikeout guys. However, there are some interesting names that are worth discussing. Oh, and stats are as of Saturday, so they don’t include any of yesterday’s starts like Hellickson’s.
Last season, Lucas Harrell enjoyed a rather surprisingly solid rookie campaign. His extreme ground ball ways offset mediocre control and a below average, though still respectable, strikeout rate. But his skills have taken a dive this year, as he’s actually walked more batters than he has struck out. The extremely low Zone%, which is down from last year, supports the worse control. If there’s any glimmer of hope, it’s that he’s getting a ton of looking strikes and by this formula at least, should have a significantly higher strikeout percentage. Still, it won’t really matter if he continues to walk over five batters per nine.
Scott Diamond came out of nowhere last year for the Twins, inducing lots of ground balls and exhibiting sterling control. The lack of strikeouts limited his fantasy value though. That strikeout rate has been even worse this year, but it could perhaps get better. And although his strikeout rates in the minors were never great, they certainly suggested better than what he has posted so far. A strikeout rate above 5.0 would give him value in AL-Only leagues.
There’s Jeremy Hellickson again on another bad luck list. Who woulda thunk it after he has been one of the luckiest pitchers in baseball the past couple of years based on his SIERA-ERA differential? His strikeout percentage is already up a bit from last year, and xK% is suggesting it should be even higher. After yesterday’s start, his ERA now stands at 5.59 versus a 4.14 xFIP, so he clearly hasn’t been as fortunate as in years past. Of course, a 4.14 xFIP isn’t exactly good to begin with and really would only provide value in AL-Only leagues. When I last discussed Hellickson, I said I wouldn’t bother with him in shallow mixed leagues, because even when his luck neutralizes, he’d still need the continued good luck of recent seasons to have value. My opinion hasn’t changed, though the high xK% is at least encouraging. It’s enough to recommend a buy low attempt in AL-Only leagues.
Bud Norris has seemingly experienced more bad luck than good during his career, as his defensive support has been sub-par. The move to the American League for the Astros figured to kill any rebound potential he had, but of course now the luck pendulum has swung the other way, as he sports a 3.39 ERA versus an ugly 4.80 SIERA. Though we would have expected the strikeout rate to decline, it’s a surprise it has come down this far. Luckily for Norris owners worried about his ERA regressing in the face of poor skills, his xK% suggests he should be posting a much better strikeout rate. With below average control and a league average fly ball rate, he’ll have to improve that strikeout rate quickly, otherwise that ERA is headed north of 4.00.
Here are the rest of the pitchers whose xK% is higher than his K%.
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