Michael Simione | June 3rd, 2019
Luck is a big part of baseball. Whether it be the ball bouncing a certain way or even a fielder losing a fly ball in the sun. For fantasy baseball, this can be important as it can impact a player’s numbers. There are two main metrics we use to see who is getting lucky or who is getting unlucky. The first one is BABIP. BABIP stands for – Batting Average on Balls in Play. Three factors that mainly influence BABIP are defense, luck, and talent level. The second one is LOB% which stands for Left on Base Percentage. This measures the percentage of base runners that a pitcher leaves stranded on base. Using both of these can give you a good idea if a pitcher is under or overachieving. While there are league averages, you really should measure these compared to the pitcher’s career average. For example, Kershaw always has a low BABIP because he is a fly ball pitcher and strikes batters out a lot. In the below chart I have the luckiest and unluckiest pitchers so far this season. Look below and I will go through some of these pitchers.
I highlighted the biggest differentials between current BABIP/LOB% and the player’s career average. As you can see in the key, I used two different colors one for lucky and one for unlucky. Now sometimes a pitcher can sustain these numbers all season, but they would have to have an exceptional season to do so. For example, Blake Snell has an average LOB% of 77.8 but last year he finished the season with an 88.0 LOB%. He also won the CY Young award. While it is possible it isn’t very likely.
Justin Verlander – Verlander has two major differentials this year and looks to be getting very lucky. His BABIP of .168 is going to rise and his LOB% of 93.80 is going to come down. Currently sporting a 2.38 ERA his FIP, xFIP, and SIERA show some regression should be coming. Verlander is such a good pitcher though where he could sustain a high LOB% and low BABIP. His K-BB%, O-Swing%, and SwStr% are all elite and he is missing more bats than ever. He is above league average in velocity, xwOBA, xBA, Hard Hit%, and K%. While some regression is due, I can still see him posting a sub 3.00 ERA this year and maybe winning himself a Cy Young award.
Wade Miley – Miley has a current ERA of 3.25 and this is likely to come up as he has been one of the luckiest pitchers so far this season. His LOB% is 10.9% higher than career average while his BABIP is down from .306 to .260. Everything seems to back him regressing with a FIP of 4.39, xFIP of 4.26, and SIERA of 4.38. His main pitch (cutter) is only creating a 20.2 Whiff%. His average 30.4 O-Swing% and SwStr% of 9.8 is nothing too exciting either. Expect his ERA to come back up because I doubt, he sets a new career high in LOB% and a career low in BABIP.
Noah Syndergaard – Noah has been a very frustrating pitcher to own this year. He has so much talent and yet has been so erratic the first two months of baseball. The Mets defense certainly doesn’t help here as he has been getting very unlucky. His BABIP of .345 is one of the highest in the league. While his LOB% isn’t too crazy of a difference it should certainly come up closer to 70%. Noah is a stud though, his walks are down, his K-BB% is up from last year and his F-Strike% is the highest it has ever been. He primarily used his four seam and sinker last year and it has been the same tale this year. All while his Whiff% has gone up on both pitches. That plus his velocity being slightly up this year I can expect his numbers to be closer to a 3.50-3.90 ERA.
These are some examples of how you can look at a pitcher’s luck and then dive a little deeper to see what should happen going forward. Although the future is impossible to predict we can do our best to give an educated guess as to what will happen. Please let me know if you have any questions or are curious about any of the other pitchers!
Questions and comments?
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