Starting Pitcher Strategy: Target Ground Ball Pitchers

Pool

Ray takes a look at the performance of starting pitchers over the last three seasons kept the ball on the ground at a 45% rate.

Yesterday, while I was waiting to leave for our Thanksgiving dinner at my wife's cousin's house, I was looking at starting pitcher rankings. I wanted to take a deeper look into the starting pitcher rankings and decided to see how pitchers have performed over the last three seasons (2011 - 2013). I started by looking at pitchers who have thrown at least a total of 400 innings over the last three seasons, and kept the ball on the ground at a 45% rate.

Here is the list of starters who met the the following requirements over the last three seasons (2011 - 2013), courtesy of FanGraphs::

  • 400 innings pitched
  • 45% ground ball rate

Name

GB%

K/9

BB/9

IP

ERA

ER

Chris Sale

46.30%

9.37

2.34

477.1

3.02

160.0

Clayton Kershaw

45.40%

9.15

2.18

697.0

2.21

171.0

Jeff Samardzija

45.60%

9.09

3.48

476.1

3.89

206.0

Tim Lincecum

46.40%

9.03

3.78

600.2

4.03

269.0

Cliff Lee

45.20%

9.01

1.38

666.1

2.80

207.0

Gio Gonzalez

46.50%

8.98

3.66

597.0

3.12

207.0

Anibal Sanchez

45.40%

8.95

2.60

574.0

3.39

216.0

Felix Hernandez

50.10%

8.88

2.27

670.0

3.20

238.0

Francisco Liriano

47.60%

8.80

4.48

452.0

4.44

223.0

Zack Greinke

47.50%

8.80

2.32

561.2

3.32

207.0

A.J. Burnett

54.20%

8.67

3.27

583.2

3.98

258.0

Madison Bumgarner

46.90%

8.51

2.30

614.1

3.12

213.0

Cole Hamels

46.10%

8.46

2.02

651.1

3.15

228.0

Yovani Gallardo

47.80%

8.44

3.13

592.0

3.77

248.0

CC Sabathia

46.40%

8.36

2.36

648.1

3.69

266.0

David Price

47.40%

8.31

2.16

622.0

3.13

216.0

Adam Wainwright

49.90%

8.24

1.78

440.1

3.39

166.0

James Shields

46.70%

8.21

2.44

705.2

3.15

247.0

Edinson Volquez

49.80%

8.19

4.82

461.2

5.09

261.0

Roy Halladay

47.30%

8.02

2.13

452.0

3.70

186.0

C.J. Wilson

47.90%

8.00

3.53

638.0

3.37

239.0

Jon Lester

48.00%

7.74

3.10

610.1

4.03

273.0

Justin Masterson

56.10%

7.49

3.35

615.1

3.86

264.0

Jon Niese

50.30%

7.30

2.59

490.2

3.82

208.0

R.A. Dickey

45.70%

7.30

2.42

667.0

3.40

252.0

Edwin Jackson

47.40%

7.19

2.85

564.2

4.24

266.0

Luke Hochevar

45.30%

7.02

2.78

453.2

4.68

236.0

Ivan Nova

50.30%

6.95

2.97

475.0

4.00

211.0

Hiroki Kuroda

47.50%

6.91

2.07

623.0

3.24

224.0

Wandy Rodriguez

46.10%

6.88

2.68

459.1

3.62

185.0

Doug Fister

50.90%

6.78

1.81

586.2

3.30

215.0

Dillon Gee

46.00%

6.77

2.82

469.1

4.01

209.0

Johnny Cueto

50.90%

6.74

2.37

433.2

2.61

126.0

Ricky Romero

54.00%

6.68

4.20

413.1

4.31

198.0

Trevor Cahill

57.80%

6.58

3.59

554.1

3.98

245.0

Wade Miley

47.60%

6.50

2.49

437.1

3.54

172.0

Jhoulys Chacin

49.30%

6.28

3.52

460.1

3.68

188.0

Paul Maholm

50.80%

6.10

2.68

504.1

3.89

218.0

Tim Hudson

56.10%

6.08

2.40

525.1

3.55

207.0

Matt Harrison

48.20%

5.95

2.70

409.2

3.47

158.0

Mike Leake

48.50%

5.94

2.12

539.0

3.92

235.0

Rick Porcello

53.20%

5.93

2.22

535.1

4.56

271.0

Brandon McCarthy

45.60%

5.88

1.51

416.2

3.69

171.0

Kyle Kendrick

47.40%

5.63

2.49

456.0

4.05

205.0

Joe Saunders

46.30%

5.17

2.64

569.2

4.31

273.0

Jake Westbrook

58.10%

4.82

3.32

474.2

4.40

232.0

Kevin Correia

46.80%

4.71

2.29

510.1

4.37

248.0

This group consists of 47 starters who had kept the ball on the ground at a 45% rate, and yielded an average ERA of 3.65. Not bad. A 3.65 ERA is probably middle of the pack in most leagues. It would have ranked 8th in the ERA category in the Tout Wars experts league that I participated in last season.

From this list, I then looked at starting pitchers who struck out an average of seven batters per nine innings. Below is the list that resulted:

    Name

    GB%

    K/9

    BB/9

    IP

    ERA

    ER

    Chris Sale

    46.30%

    9.37

    2.34

    477.1

    3.02

    160.0

    Clayton Kershaw

    45.40%

    9.15

    2.18

    697.0

    2.21

    171.0

    Jeff Samardzija

    45.60%

    9.09

    3.48

    476.1

    3.89

    206.0

    Tim Lincecum

    46.40%

    9.03

    3.78

    600.2

    4.03

    269.0

    Cliff Lee

    45.20%

    9.01

    1.38

    666.1

    2.80

    207.0

    Gio Gonzalez

    46.50%

    8.98

    3.66

    597.0

    3.12

    207.0

    Anibal Sanchez

    45.40%

    8.95

    2.60

    574.0

    3.39

    216.0

    Felix Hernandez

    50.10%

    8.88

    2.27

    670.0

    3.20

    238.0

    Francisco Liriano

    47.60%

    8.80

    4.48

    452.0

    4.44

    223.0

    Zack Greinke

    47.50%

    8.80

    2.32

    561.2

    3.32

    207.0

    A.J. Burnett

    54.20%

    8.67

    3.27

    583.2

    3.98

    258.0

    Madison Bumgarner

    46.90%

    8.51

    2.30

    614.1

    3.12

    213.0

    Cole Hamels

    46.10%

    8.46

    2.02

    651.1

    3.15

    228.0

    Yovani Gallardo

    47.80%

    8.44

    3.13

    592.0

    3.77

    248.0

    CC Sabathia

    46.40%

    8.36

    2.36

    648.1

    3.69

    266.0

    David Price

    47.40%

    8.31

    2.16

    622.0

    3.13

    216.0

    Adam Wainwright

    49.90%

    8.24

    1.78

    440.1

    3.39

    166.0

    James Shields

    46.70%

    8.21

    2.44

    705.2

    3.15

    247.0

    Edinson Volquez

    49.80%

    8.19

    4.82

    461.2

    5.09

    261.0

    Roy Halladay

    47.30%

    8.02

    2.13

    452.0

    3.70

    186.0

    C.J. Wilson

    47.90%

    8.00

    3.53

    638.0

    3.37

    239.0

    Jon Lester

    48.00%

    7.74

    3.10

    610.1

    4.03

    273.0

    Justin Masterson

    56.10%

    7.49

    3.35

    615.1

    3.86

    264.0

    Jon Niese

    50.30%

    7.30

    2.59

    490.2

    3.82

    208.0

    R.A. Dickey

    45.70%

    7.30

    2.42

    667.0

    3.40

    252.0

    Edwin Jackson

    47.40%

    7.19

    2.85

    564.2

    4.24

    266.0

    Luke Hochevar

    45.30%

    7.02

    2.78

    453.2

    4.68

    236.0

Filtering for only those starters that had a ground ball rate of 45% and struck out an average of seven batters per nine innings over the last three season, yielded 27 starters with an average ERA of 3.54. So, by filtering for starters with these requirements yielded a lower average ERA.

WIthin that new grouping, I looked at only those starters who limit the free pass at three walks per nine or less. Former Fake Teams writer, Bret Sayre, now over at Baseball Prospectus, coined this group as "The Holy Trinity" for starting pitchers, but he filtered the starters with a 50% ground ball rate, not 45% like I did here. Next, from the same list as above, I only looked at those starters who walked less than three batters per nine innings.

Here is a look at this group:

Name

GB%

K/9

BB/9

IP

ERA

ER

Cliff Lee

45.20%

9.01

1.38

666.1

2.80

207.0

Adam Wainwright

49.90%

8.24

1.78

440.1

3.39

166.0

Cole Hamels

46.10%

8.46

2.02

651.1

3.15

228.0

Roy Halladay

47.30%

8.02

2.13

452.0

3.70

186.0

David Price

47.40%

8.31

2.16

622.0

3.13

216.0

Clayton Kershaw

45.40%

9.15

2.18

697.0

2.21

171.0

Felix Hernandez

50.10%

8.88

2.27

670.0

3.20

238.0

Madison Bumgarner

46.90%

8.51

2.30

614.1

3.12

213.0

Zack Greinke

47.50%

8.80

2.32

561.2

3.32

207.0

Chris Sale

46.30%

9.37

2.34

477.1

3.02

160.0

CC Sabathia

46.40%

8.36

2.36

648.1

3.69

266.0

R.A. Dickey

45.70%

7.30

2.42

667.0

3.40

252.0

James Shields

46.70%

8.21

2.44

705.2

3.15

247.0

Jon Niese

50.30%

7.30

2.59

490.2

3.82

208.0

Anibal Sanchez

45.40%

8.95

2.60

574.0

3.39

216.0

Luke Hochevar

45.30%

7.02

2.78

453.2

4.68

236.0

Edwin Jackson

47.40%

7.19

2.85

564.2

4.24

266.0

This resulted in just 17 starters who met the following requirements over the last three seasons (2011 - 2013):

  • 400 innings pitched
  • ground ball rate of 45% or higher
  • strikeouts per nine of 7.0 or higher
  • walks per nine of 3.00 or fewer

This group of starting pitchers yielded an average ERA of 3.33. That's pretty darn good.

This analysis, over the last three seasons, shows that pitchers who met these requirements above yielded an ERA that would probably rank in the top 3-4 of most leagues in 2013. Focusing your draft strategy of these types of pitchers, along with some closers and middle relievers could result in a league leading ERA in 2014.

Tomorrow I will look at the what pitchers met these requirements in 2013, and who you should target in fantasy drafts in 2014.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join Fake Teams

You must be a member of Fake Teams to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Fake Teams. You should read them.

Join Fake Teams

You must be a member of Fake Teams to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Fake Teams. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker