The xK% Strikeout Rate Surgers List

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.

Name xK% K% Diff
R.A. Dickey 22.6% 19.4% 3.2%
Drew Smyly 23.3% 20.3% 3.0%
Chris Young 17.5% 15.2% 2.3%
Edinson Volquez 18.1% 16.0% 2.1%

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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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. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Jackie T.
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Jackie T.

The continual argument for Dickey’s volume ignores the fact that the vast majority of rotisserie leagues have an innings cap, one which most competitive owners will reach. So in the majority of leagues, his high innings total has no value outside of perhaps economy of roster space used per inning, though that is quickly canceled out by the damage he’s done in every other category this year. I guess you must play in a lot of leagues without innings caps, but I don’t think it’s useful to your audience to continue analysis based on such leagues.

Luke
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Luke

“the vast majority of rotisserie leagues have an innings cap, one which most competitive owners will reach.”

I have no clue whether this is true, and I don’t think you do either. There are a lot of roto leagues out there with a lot of settings, and I don’t think you can make the claim that in the “vast majority” of these leagues “most competitive owners” reach the cap without providing some facts to back it up.

Personally, I play in an 8-team, 8-pitcher, weekly lineup change AL only league with a 1250 IP cap. Usually only 1 team reaches the cap, and it’s always been within the last few days of the season.

Jackie T.
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Jackie T.

It’s the default setting for all three major providers, and the setting used in all of their standard public leagues.