Groundball + K Pitching Leaders
Almost everyone loves having a ground ball specialist on their favorite team. Some ground ball pitchers like Chien-Ming Wang induce a large percentage of ground balls, yet they aren’t known as strikeout threats.
And some big-time strikeout pitchers, such as Johan Santana, pitches to a larger percentage of flyballs. (Santana has a balls in play ratio of 38% GB, 18% Line Drives, 44% Flyballs). Certainly Santana falls into the nasty category. Although not necessarily as a nasty ground ball pitcher.
I’m not implying that the sinker thrown by Wang isn’t nasty in itself. I’m just trying to find out who the top combo strikeout & ground ball pitchers are. That’s double nasty…
In the beginning I was also going to include infield flyballs in the equation but at that point the equation was beginning to look very similar to a straight K/BB + FB/GB/LD stat.
Is this method somewhat flawed? Well sure it is. Groundballs do not automatically turn into outs (as strikeouts do). To remedy this, I lated subbed in a modifier that calculated K + GB Outs (using the MLB average of 74% of GB are outs). While in theory this was sound, this completely tipped the scale over to strikeout pitchers. This turns the stat into an out % instead of an plate appearance outcome predictor. So that was scarped and we ended up with:
GB% of PA + K% of PA
Top 25 List
Jumping into the results I ended up including 25. I did this to illistrate Chad Gaudin’s slipped PA rate. While in standard GB% he had a score of 51% his K modified rate dropped due to his high walk rate of 11.3%. Many of the players in front of Gaudin had lower BB rates & higher K rates, which when coupled with their original GB % they ended up with higher modified ranking.
The most noticeable jump on the list takes place at 9 with strikeout specialist Eric Bedard. His MLB leading K rate of 30% of plate appearances, along with his 47.9% GB percentage, pushed him just ahead of Wang. Other notible gainers included Jake Peavy, CC Sabathia, John Smoltz & Scott Kazmir. Ground ball pitchers with low K rates & average 7+% walk rates like Aaron Cook find themselves down on the list, although not as much as pitchers with higher walk percentages, such as the previously mentioned Gaudin.