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Teach me about K/BB ratio

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Postby BritSox » Thu Feb 08, 2007 7:50 am

reynolds80 wrote:
For example Westbrook is the most severe groundballer in MLB, and the last 3 years he has pitched 210+ innings each year, and given up just 19, 19, and 15 HR each year, respectively. I don't credit him twice, I just see a guy who limits flyballs and thus limits homers. In this case HR/9 and GB% work together and paint a clear picture.

In short, I almost never want a flyballer - his HR/9 will be high and this will bloat his ERA. If his HR/9 is NOT high, he has been either lucky or he pitchers at a big park like Petco. In that case, like I said earlier, I can give him a pass.


As I said in the initial post, it's nigh-on impossible, with a decent sample size, for a flyballer and a groundballer to have both the same K/BB and HR/9. In order to limit his homers, the flyballer must be putting far fewer balls in play. So, if the two have the same HR/9, the flyballer being better is a more likely explanation, along with park factor, as you rightly indentified (but then, if the flyballer is playing in the same park as last year, that shouldn't matter).

For what you say about flyballers and ERA, substitute 'groundballer' and WHIP. My point is that a) there is enough of a track record there that HR/9 gives us a perfectly good account of his ability to limit homers without needing GB/FB and b) even with that, he gives up so many balls in play that he still isn't that good a pitcher. His career WHIP is 1.39, and he's put up a sub-4 ERA over a full season only once. And that's in a pitcher's park.

These stats are virtually identical (slightly inferior) to Brett Myers' career numbers, and Myers is a flyball pitcher in a very small park.
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Postby reynolds80 » Thu Feb 08, 2007 11:07 am

BritSox wrote:
reynolds80 wrote:
For example Westbrook is the most severe groundballer in MLB, and the last 3 years he has pitched 210+ innings each year, and given up just 19, 19, and 15 HR each year, respectively. I don't credit him twice, I just see a guy who limits flyballs and thus limits homers. In this case HR/9 and GB% work together and paint a clear picture.

In short, I almost never want a flyballer - his HR/9 will be high and this will bloat his ERA. If his HR/9 is NOT high, he has been either lucky or he pitchers at a big park like Petco. In that case, like I said earlier, I can give him a pass.


As I said in the initial post, it's nigh-on impossible, with a decent sample size, for a flyballer and a groundballer to have both the same K/BB and HR/9. In order to limit his homers, the flyballer must be putting far fewer balls in play. So, if the two have the same HR/9, the flyballer being better is a more likely explanation, along with park factor, as you rightly indentified (but then, if the flyballer is playing in the same park as last year, that shouldn't matter).

For what you say about flyballers and ERA, substitute 'groundballer' and WHIP. My point is that a) there is enough of a track record there that HR/9 gives us a perfectly good account of his ability to limit homers without needing GB/FB and b) even with that, he gives up so many balls in play that he still isn't that good a pitcher. His career WHIP is 1.39, and he's put up a sub-4 ERA over a full season only once. And that's in a pitcher's park.

These stats are virtually identical (slightly inferior) to Brett Myers' career numbers, and Myers is a flyball pitcher in a very small park.


I certainly agree with you there and in no way am I saying Westbrook is the poster boy for what I want in a pitcher - he simply doesn't strike out enough guys. But take a guy like Webb who strikes out guys and gets groundballs and I think you're getting closer to optimal. Zambrano and Felix also come to mind.

Myers is better than Westbrook because his K rate is significantly higher. I was just trying to leave K rate out of the equation in my earlier post to focus on GB%, but you do bring up a good point in that a high-K pitcher allows fewer balls in play and so his HR/9 will benefit slightly.

Even so, you'll notice that even with Myers' great 2-year peripherals of 8.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9, his park-adjusted ERA has averaged 3.91 over that span - the high flyball % is bloating his ERA. And Westbrook, whose weak 3-year peripherals of a dangerously low 4.5 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9, has seen his park-adjusted ERA average 4.40 over that span.

Bear in mind those ERAs are park-adjusted. No way that Westbrook has any business being in the same class as Myers - he strikes out barely half the guys Myers does, walks about the same amount, and yet is only half a run behind in park-adjusted ERA. This is because he gets groundballs which in turn gets double plays and keeps the ball in the yard.

For me, I want high-K, low-walk, high-groundball pitchers. If you can find a guy with all 3 you are obviously looking at an ace.
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Postby BritSox » Thu Feb 08, 2007 11:30 am

reynolds80 wrote:For me, I want high-K, low-walk, high-groundball pitchers. If you can find a guy with all 3 you are obviously looking at an ace.


You mean Johan Santana?

In all seriousness, those are exactly the kind of guys I like as well. Hell, they're the kind of guys everyone likes, aren't they? Pitchers with that kind of skillset will have great K/bb and Hr/9, right?

As for Brandon Webb, well, you may well notice that he's currently the subject of an either/or with Jake Peavy, who is a pretty big flyballer, yet I wouldn't suggest that he's not an ace.

Give me two guys with the same K/bb, I'll take the groundballer, because his HR/9 will be better.

Given two guys with the same HR/9, I'll take the flyballer, because he'll have the better K/bb (and, therefore, WHIP).
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Postby reynolds80 » Thu Feb 08, 2007 1:31 pm

BritSox wrote:Given two guys with the same HR/9, I'll take the flyballer, because he'll have the better K/bb (and, therefore, WHIP).


But if you take the flyballer, he is probably due for a severe correction in luck the next year, unless he is a monster strikeout guy or pitches at a place like Petco and can get away with it.

Note also that Peavy's flyball ways really hurt him away from Petco, as his career road ERA is a pedestrian 4.00. And this is from a high-K guy. Don't get me wrong, I would still take Peavy because he does pitch in Petco and can get away with it.

We'll probably just have to agree to disagree. But I respect and understand where you're coming from and I don't think we disagree all that much.
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