It’s been a while, so it’s time to take another gander at starting pitcher xK% marks using my updated formula and compare those to actual strikeout rates. While strikeout rates do stabilize relatively quickly, there is still luck tied to sequencing that the formula attempts to strip away. These are the more interesting names that xK% suggests could enjoy a strikeout rate improvement the rest of the way.
A big chunk of R.A. Dickey‘s fantasy value comes from his high innings total. Lots of innings boosts both win potential and strikeout totals, while contributions from the two ratio categories are weighted just a bit more heavily toward your entire’s pitching staff’s totals. Of course, Dickey’s ratios haven’t been very valuable, but xK% suggests they could get better driven by an increased strikeout rate. Dickey has thrown a ton of strikes this season, and has induced above average rates of both looking and swinging strikes. Some better HR/FB rate luck would help as well.
You think the Rays calculated Drew Smyly‘s xK% using my formula when contemplating acquiring the southpaw? One could dream. Smyly’s healthy xK% is fueled by a heaping of foul strikes, which is of course the strike type you would least like to hang your hat on. Both his looking and swinging strike rates are hovering around the league average, but an excellent rate of strikes thrown overall is also boosting his xK%. He’s in a good situation now in Tampa Bay, but his increasing fly ball rate is a bit of a concern.
We seemingly talk about Chris Young on a daily basis nowadays, and have actually posted something every month since May on the giant-sized righty. Forget about his BABIP and LOB%, since that has been covered. Instead, be intrigued by the fact that his skills have room to improve. And heck, maybe that brings his SIERA below 5.00! Young doesn’t generate a whole lot of swings and misses and allows a high rate of his strikes to be put into play, but he does get lots of foul balls. That’s probably related to his extreme fly ball/pop-up tendency.
Remember the Edinson Volquez who used his nasty change-up to punch batters out, but rarely knew where his pitches were actually going? Yeah, that man has left the building. Volquez 2.0 is the complete opposite. His strike percentage has skyrocketed to nearly three percentage points higher than his previous career high, but his rate of swinging strikes has declined precipitously. In fact, it has dropped each season since it peaked in 2010. And it’s all the change-up’s fault. For whatever reason, the pitch has gone from inducing swinging strikes at a significantly above average clip to one that fails to make batters whiff at anywhere near the rate it once did. But xK% does still offer some glimmer of hope, believing his K% should be just about where he sat last year. With all those extra strikes and his ability to continue to get called strikes, there is a possibility of better.
And for the entire list of pitchers whose xK% marks are above their actual K%:
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