Potential BB% Decliners Through the Lens of F-Strike%

Yesterday, I identified which starting pitchers may be due for an increase in walk percentage given their pedestrian F-Strike% marks. Although not as good a proxy as SwStk% is for K%, F-Strike% is probably the best singular metric for a quick look at how good a pitcher’s control is. Using the same data set as yesterday, these are the pitchers who have posted walk percentages well above what their F-Strike% suggest.

Name BB% F-Strike%
Hector Santiago 12.10% 60.20%
Erik Bedard 11.20% 64.10%
Tyler Cloyd 10.10% 60.40%
C.J. Wilson 9.80% 64.10%
Justin Masterson 9.70% 61.10%
Scott Kazmir 9.20% 62.00%
Jarrod Parker 9.10% 60.30%
Jacob Turner 9.00% 62.80%
Jose Fernandez 9.00% 65.60%
Lance Lynn 9.00% 65.30%
Trevor Cahill 9.00% 62.00%

Hector Santiago will continue to hold down a rotation spot while Jake Peavy remains on the DL and offers intriguing fantasy upside given his strikeout rate. But his walk rate has been awful, and its holding him back from being better than just a streaming option in mixed leagues. You may notice that his BB% and F-Strike% in the above table is different than on his player page. That is because when I filtered for starting pitchers, it only included the stats from his starts. That said, his F-Strike% has been much better as a member of the rotation and it provides optimism that his walk percentage declines.

C.J. Wilson‘s walk percentage is essentially where it has always been, but suddenly his F-Strike% has spiked to a career best and the first time it has jumped above 59%. With his above average ground ball rate, walks don’t hurt him as much as other given the probability of a double play, but a reduction in walks does make him quite interesting. He always possessed a nice combination of strikeout and worm burning ability, but control has been the bugaboo.

Justin Masterson‘s F-Strike% is also way up from previous seasons, but his walk percentage hasn’t budged. He’s like a rich man’s version of Wilson in that if he managed to improve his walk rate, he wouldn’t be too far away from potentially entering the top tier of fantasy starters. Yes, top tier. With a huge increase in strikeout rate and an elite ground ball rate, he’s really not that far off.

Oy vey, Scott Kazmir. Why oh why do I continue to hold onto you in my 12-team mixed league? He has always struggled with his control, even during his vintage years in Tampa Bay, but only once has he posted a F-Strike% of 60% before this season. Now his F-Strike% is above the league average, but his walk percentage still makes it appear like he hasn’t changed much from his early years. He still possesses a 3.99 SIERA and a strong strikeout rate and since rotation mate Corey Kluber saw his luck finally changed, maybe it’s now time for Kazmir’s.

I am amazed at how well Jose Fernandez has performed. The kid had never pitched above High-A ball and is just 20 years old! Yet, he owns a 3.11 ERA/3.47 SIERA and has struck out over a batter per inning. Unbelievable. The F-Strike% suggests his walk rate should actually be quite strong and certainly sub-3.00. Unfortunately, even if that does happen, his SwStk% and Contact% suggest that his strikeout percentage is a bit too high to sustain. At least the returns of Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison should help on the run support front.

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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: 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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Jose Fernandez is 4th in Zone% at 51.8% and 13th in Z-swing% at 60.7% which means batters are taking a lot of strikes, I’m surprised he’s walking as many as he has so far. That does help explain the high K% with a low SwStr%, though. Hopefully as he gains more experience, he starts getting batters to chase pitches out of the zone, once that happens, he will be elite.