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Teach me about K/BB ratio

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Teach me about K/BB ratio

Postby Grouperman941 » Sat Feb 03, 2007 11:26 pm

I stuck this on my pitching spreadsheet this year to try something different, and it's giving me more questions than answers.

What is considered a 'good' K/BB ratio?

What exactly does it indicate? (Sure, control and Ks, but in what context, and is it in and of itself a predictor of success?)


Points of info:

Some good fantasy pitchers have low ratios -- Wang, Zito, D Davis, for example at 1.5 last year.

Schilling's 6.54 was 31st all-time, but his fantasy stats were very good but not stellar.

Sheets' 10.5 would have been second all time if he had pitched 56 more innings. (this info based on baseball-reference.com).

Looking at career leaders, the 100th all-time is Denny Neagle at 2.382 and best all-time is 4.439 (Tommy Bond in the late 1800s) and second is Schilling at 4.382.
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Postby RugbyD » Sat Feb 03, 2007 11:44 pm

for a pitcher with a k/9 below 6, K/BB isn't useful IMO. Anything above 2.5 is fairly good, but its impact has to be looked at in the context of who the pitcher is. A high-K pitcher like CZam has a K/BB that is significantly below other high-end SPs with good k/9, but since he is great at creating GB after GB after GB, the resulting DPs often nullify any effect his higher BB/9 would have on his other stats compared to an average GB:FB pitcher.

In a 10-team 6x6 i do, the K/BB winner is always 3.10+ with at least 6 teams huddled around 2.4-2.7
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Postby RugbyD » Sat Feb 03, 2007 11:45 pm

there are always outliers though, like David Wells has had some low-K, high K/BB years.
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Postby Galt » Sat Feb 03, 2007 11:52 pm

It's a sign of dominance.

The thought is that the more dominant a pitcher is, the less people will be on base, the better his WHIP, which is normally correlated with his ERA.

If, you assume a league norm for the average of balls batted in play that fall in for a hit (BAIP) then the more players who who don't put the ball in play (Ks vs. BB), the more outs a pitcher will create on his own.

The logic is that luck will average out and guys like Wang who were incredibly fortunate with most of the balls hit in play being right at someone and counting for outs, are set up for a fall this year as a more normal % fall for hits, which will result in more runs (though ground ball pitchers will logically have a lower BAIP than flyball hitters)

5x as many batters are walking back to the dugout rather than walking to 1B, they should put up better numbers.

If you combine K/BB and K/9 to create a "Dominance" ratio, here are the top 30 starters (based off projections for this year from a few sources):

Sheets,Ben
Santana,Johan
Schilling,Curt
Peavy,Jake
Carpenter,Chris
Hamels,Cole
Harang,Aaron
Bush,Dave
Weaver,Jered
Johnson,Randy
Papelbon,Jonathan
Oswalt,Roy
Prior,Mark
Mussina,Mike
Smoltz,John
Vazquez,Javier
Bonderman,Jeremy
Sabathia,C.C.
Myers,Brett
Kazmir,Scott
Patterson,John
Hernandez,Felix
Hill,Rich
Wainwright,Adam
Haren,Danny
Matsuzaka,Daisuke
Halladay,Roy
Lackey,John
Burnett,A.J.
Young,Chris

It's a pretty good list of the best pitchers in baseball. But, there's also the chic "sleepers" in Bush, Patterson, Wainwright, Vazquez, Hill)
Last edited by Galt on Sat Feb 03, 2007 11:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Dawgpound 1613 » Sat Feb 03, 2007 11:54 pm

K/BB alone cannot dictate whether a pitcher will be good or not. But in conjunction with K/9 and BB/9, it can give you a better idea of players to target.

Following Forecaster, the goal is to target players with a K/BB greater than 2 and BB/9 less than 3 and K/9 greater than 6.

Obviously, the better the K/BB, the better but some players have such low BB/9 that their K/BB can be below 2 despite low K/9. As such, I generally want a K/9 at least 6 and a K/BB of 2.5. It can't predict BABIP, Hr/9 or general luck, but in general, it is a good indicator and one I use with pretty good success.
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Postby Grouperman941 » Sun Feb 04, 2007 12:25 am

Awesome -- 3 very helpful answers.

One of the things that made me pause when looking at this was that John Leiber shows up among the league leaders. Obviously, he gets few Ks and doesn't walk anybody, but that's because they're all hitting the third pitch in the gap.

I also notice that Halladay gets buried in the lists when you look at this aspect.

Galt: did you add the ratios? Adding k9 back in does seem to weed out the low K pitchers, but again, good in the case of Leiber, bad in the case of Halladay.

This is the kind of thing I am looking for, though. What I do is come up with a sort of 'sliding scale' score for a set of qualities (I started by using just categories, and I change it up a little each year and see what happens) I rate each player on the scales and add them up to get an index# that I use to compare players across positions. If nothing else, I memorize a lot of stuff about a lot of players. :-)

I could use RugbyD's #s from his league on a scale and see what that does to my rankings. I'd need to figure out how predictable a pitcher's k/bb is, though.
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Postby Grouperman941 » Sun Feb 04, 2007 12:27 am

Dawgpound: what I have done in the past is bold face all SPs with a projected k/9 over 7, which is how I incorporated that stat into my rankings last year. Thanks for the other #s.
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Postby Galt » Sun Feb 04, 2007 12:50 am

I multiplied K/9 * k/BB. It's not an exact science, but it helps distance those with a great K/9 but crappy K/BB (D. Cabrerra) and those with a great K/BB but crappy K/9 (David Wells) from those who are truly dominant.

Thus the top 30 list I posted.
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Postby Element » Sun Feb 04, 2007 11:20 am

I don't really use these numbers as indicators for my rankings. Once a pitcher has broken out and has a track record (until pitchers hit decline years), projecting becomes fairly easy. I like to use these numbers to gauge a younger pitcher. I look at a 3-4 year trend and use both BB/K & K9 to help me predict breakout seasons. One player I targetted last season was CC Sabathia. Both ratios showed continued improvement in consecutive seasons. In 2006, his K:BB ratio nearly doubled. A couple guys that come right to mind this season are Dan Haren & David Bush. I wouldn't use these stats as my part of my rankings, but I definately want them there to look at and review.
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Postby Secret Avatar » Sun Feb 04, 2007 1:50 pm

K/BB is a very useful took for evaluating pitchers and esp young guns. It's very hard -- but not impossible -- to be successful with a ratio below 2 (2 K for every BB).

Guys who were succesful in 2006 deposite poor ratios -- like the two you mentioned, Zito and Wang -- are candidates for a crappy 2007. These guys allow so many balls put in play that they're at the mercy of defense and luck. The only difference b/t a tailor-made double-play ball and a "seeing eye" grounder that splits the infield is luck. I'm rather not draft guys that depend so much on luck. I always target SKILLS.

You also mentioned Doug Davis but he had a TERRIBLE year in 2006 in large part b/c his K/BB was worse (below 2) than it had been in previous years when he was successful.
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