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The Stranders

Whatta strand, whatta strand, whatta mighty mighty good strand.

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Strand rate is frequently cited as one of the measurements of luck for pitchers.  Sometimes a pitcher experiences a spike, or serious drop, and it gives an opportunity for fantasy owners to anticipate better or worse production in the following season.

Typically, abnormally high strand rates are highly correlated with players whose ERA's out performed their FIPs and xFIPs.  For example, only one pitcher out of the top 15 strand rates had a better FIP than ERA (Max Scherzer).  None of the top 15 strand rate pitchers had an ERA over 4 last year.

#

Name

Team

LOB%

ERA

FIP

xFIP

1

Zack Greinke

Dodgers

86.50%

1.66

2.76

3.22

2

John Lackey

Cardinals

82.60%

2.77

3.57

3.77

3

Wei-Yin Chen

Orioles

80.50%

3.34

4.16

4.01

4

Jake Arrieta

Cubs

80.00%

1.77

2.35

2.61

5

Hector Santiago

Angels

79.90%

3.59

4.77

5

6

James Shields

Padres

79.90%

3.91

4.45

3.7

7

Dan Haren

- - -

79.80%

3.6

4.61

4.69

8

Max Scherzer

Nationals

79.60%

2.79

2.77

2.88

9

Dallas Keuchel

Astros

79.40%

2.48

2.91

2.75

10

Marco Estrada

Blue Jays

79.20%

3.13

4.4

4.93

11

Lance Lynn

Cardinals

78.90%

3.03

3.44

3.9

12

Carlos Martinez

Cardinals

78.80%

3.01

3.21

3.28

13

Matt Harvey

Mets

78.70%

2.71

3.05

3.24

14

Nate Karns

Rays

78.70%

3.67

4.09

3.9

15

David Price

- - -

78.60%

2.45

2.78

3.24

While holding runners on, pickoffs, and a speedy delivery to home are all important when it comes to stopping runners from scoring, the ability to maintain your velocity, movement, location, and release point are still the core of stranding runners.  When you look at the bottom 15 strand rates, you find pitchers who all had notable issues last year.

#

Name

Team

LOB%

ERA

FIP

xFIP

1

Drew Hutchison

Blue Jays

64.50%

5.57

4.42

4.21

2

Andrew Cashner

Padres

65.60%

4.34

3.85

3.84

3

Matt Garza

Brewers

65.60%

5.63

4.94

4.5

4

Colby Lewis

Rangers

65.90%

4.66

4.17

4.62

5

Jeff Locke

Pirates

67.10%

4.49

3.95

3.94

6

Jeff Samardzija

White Sox

67.20%

4.96

4.23

4.31

7

Chris Rusin

Rockies

67.20%

5.33

4.71

4.21

8

Rick Porcello

Red Sox

67.50%

4.92

4.13

3.72

9

Taijuan Walker

Mariners

67.80%

4.56

4.07

3.82

10

Alfredo Simon

Tigers

67.80%

5.05

4.77

4.78

11

John Danks

White Sox

68.10%

4.71

4.49

4.65

12

Chris Tillman

Orioles

68.20%

4.99

4.45

4.58

13

Michael Pineda

Yankees

68.60%

4.37

3.34

2.95

14

Kyle Kendrick

Rockies

68.60%

6.32

6.12

5.09

15

Kyle Lohse

Brewers

68.70%

5.85

5.12

4.48

I wrote about Samardzija last week and found that he was likely tipping his pitches, (EDITORS NOTE: Samardzija has stated that he was tipping his pitches) , but there are some obvious characteristics of the worst stranding pitchers.  Everyone but Alfredo Simon and Taijuan Walker pitch in a hitters park, and while not a statistical evaluation, these guys were generally considered "not good" last year.

Taijuan Walker finished last season as a man on fire, and will not be cheap in 2016, but Michael Pineda might be my favorite target in 2016.  He produced mediocre fantasy results, but his stat line was so interesting that I see the potential for a very high ceiling.  His main issues were that he gave up his highest line drive rate (21.9%) and hard hit rate (29.7%), but he also radically changed his batted ball profile, and saw hitters hit fewer fly balls than every before.  Fly balls can sometimes fly over the wall, and Yankee Stadium is not forgiving, making me think Pineda made good adjustments in 2015, and was just unlucky when it came to his fantasy results.  Pair that with his also excellent strikeout and walk numbers, and you have yourself a great arm to buy low on in upcoming drafts.

Another interesting discovery was the difference between players 2014 and 2015 strand rates.  Ideally I would have been able to also have the players career strand rate, but seeing the difference between a player's rate from year to year shows the value of this stat even though its unscored in fantasy.  Below are the 77 pitchers who qualified for the ERA title in 2014 and 2015.

Rank

Name

2015

2014

15-14

1

Dan Haren

79.80%

65.70%

14.1%

2

A.J. Burnett

77.80%

67.50%

10.3%

3

John Lackey

82.60%

72.60%

10.0%

4

Phil Hughes

78.10%

70.10%

8.0%

5

Nathan Eovaldi

72.80%

65.50%

7.3%

6

Jose Quintana

76.30%

69.20%

7.1%

7

Zack Greinke

86.50%

79.70%

6.8%

8

Kyle Gibson

73.00%

66.30%

6.7%

9

David Price

78.60%

72.70%

5.9%

10

Jake Arrieta

80.00%

74.20%

5.8%

11

James Shields

79.90%

74.60%

5.3%

12

Scott Kazmir

75.70%

71.10%

4.6%

13

Marco Estrada

79.20%

74.60%

4.6%

14

Justin Verlander

70.90%

66.80%

4.1%

15

Dallas Keuchel

79.40%

75.50%

3.9%

16

Jake Odorizzi

77.00%

73.40%

3.6%

17

C.J. Wilson

73.80%

70.50%

3.3%

18

Wei-Yin Chen

80.50%

77.50%

3.0%

19

Yovani Gallardo

77.20%

74.70%

2.5%

20

Max Scherzer

79.60%

77.20%

2.4%

21

Sonny Gray

76.80%

74.50%

2.3%

22

Jorge de la Rosa

72.90%

70.80%

2.1%

23

Madison Bumgarner

77.90%

75.80%

2.1%

24

J.A. Happ

75.40%

73.60%

1.8%

25

Bartolo Colon

71.90%

70.20%

1.7%

26

Chris Archer

73.10%

71.60%

1.5%

27

Gerrit Cole

74.90%

73.50%

1.4%

28

Gio Gonzalez

72.10%

71.00%

1.1%

29

Felix Hernandez

77.80%

77.00%

0.8%

30

Lance Lynn

78.90%

78.10%

0.8%

31

Jacob deGrom

78.00%

77.40%

0.6%

32

R.A. Dickey

73.30%

73.40%

-0.1%

33

Francisco Liriano

74.20%

74.70%

-0.5%

34

Mike Leake

74.80%

75.50%

-0.7%

35

Matt Garza

65.60%

66.60%

-1.0%

36

Tyson Ross

74.00%

75.10%

-1.1%

37

Jordan Zimmermann

74.50%

75.80%

-1.3%

38

Danny Duffy

75.80%

77.20%

-1.4%

39

Trevor Bauer

71.60%

73.20%

-1.6%

40

Tom Koehler

71.90%

73.50%

-1.6%

41

Ryan Vogelsong

70.50%

72.30%

-1.8%

42

Collin McHugh

74.30%

76.10%

-1.8%

43

Kyle Kendrick

68.60%

70.50%

-1.9%

44

Julio Teheran

73.80%

75.90%

-2.1%

45

Wade Miley

69.70%

72.10%

-2.4%

46

Ian Kennedy

71.60%

74.00%

-2.4%

47

Jeremy Guthrie

69.60%

72.40%

-2.8%

48

Colby Lewis

65.90%

69.00%

-3.1%

49

Jon Niese

71.50%

74.60%

-3.1%

50

Garrett Richards

71.80%

74.90%

-3.1%

51

Shelby Miller

73.80%

76.90%

-3.1%

52

Clayton Kershaw

78.30%

81.60%

-3.3%

53

Matt Shoemaker

74.10%

77.50%

-3.4%

54

John Danks

68.10%

71.90%

-3.8%

55

Kyle Lohse

68.70%

72.60%

-3.9%

56

Carlos Carrasco

71.80%

75.90%

-4.1%

57

Jon Lester

71.80%

76.10%

-4.3%

58

Edinson Volquez

73.10%

77.50%

-4.4%

59

Jesse Chavez

72.00%

76.70%

-4.7%

60

Yordano Ventura

72.50%

77.30%

-4.8%

61

Rick Porcello

67.50%

72.40%

-4.9%

62

Aaron Harang

69.70%

74.80%

-5.1%

63

Jason Hammel

72.80%

78.30%

-5.5%

64

Masahiro Tanaka

74.00%

79.50%

-5.5%

65

Jeff Locke

67.10%

72.70%

-5.6%

66

Jeff Samardzija

67.20%

73.20%

-6.0%

67

Cole Hamels

75.30%

81.90%

-6.6%

68

Drew Hutchison

64.50%

71.20%

-6.7%

69

Mark Buehrle

69.00%

75.90%

-6.9%

70

Jered Weaver

71.10%

78.30%

-7.2%

71

Corey Kluber

71.40%

78.60%

-7.2%

72

Alex Wood

72.90%

80.20%

-7.3%

73

Chris Sale

73.20%

81.50%

-8.3%

74

Chris Tillman

68.20%

76.70%

-8.5%

75

Johnny Cueto

73.70%

82.50%

-8.8%

76

Alfredo Simon

67.80%

77.50%

-9.7%

77

Miguel Gonzalez

73.10%

85.50%

-12.4%

The average LOB% in 2014 among qualified starters was 74.47%, and in 2015 it was 73.69%.  The top 25 players all were more valuable than their original draft position.  The bottom 25 lost a lot of value.  The way I'm looking at this is that if a pitcher had an exceptional strand rate, but doesn't have a matching strikeout and walk rate, they are someone I'd avoid, as I think they'll be over priced, and I also believe in the inverse.  For example a few arms that I can see being overpriced are:

  • John Lackey
  • Wei-Yin Chen
  • Hector Santiago
  • Marco Estrada
  • Phil Hughes

None of these guys have great strikeout stuff, and likely got lucky when it came to stranding runners, relying on a strong babip.  The arms that I think will come at a nice discount in 2016 are:

  • Andrew Cashner
  • Jeff Samardzija
  • Taijuan Walker
  • Michael Pineda
  • Kyle Hendricks

All of these pitchers besides Samardzija had a strikeout rate over 8, but still had a bottom 25 strand rate.  Samardzija is experiencing the ultimate move in going from an extreme hitters park with terrible defense behind him, to an extreme pitchers park with great defense behind him.  As I mentioned in my previous article, I believe Samardzija's issues are more mechanical than him losing ability.

Below I'll post all of the pitchers who threw over 130 innings, along with their strand rates, ERA, FIP, and xFIP, tell me who you think will improve or regress negatively in 2016.

# Name Team LOB% ERA FIP xFIP
1 Zack Greinke Dodgers 86.50% 1.66 2.76 3.22
2 John Lackey Cardinals 82.60% 2.77 3.57 3.77
3 Wei-Yin Chen Orioles 80.50% 3.34 4.16 4.01
4 Jake Arrieta Cubs 80.00% 1.77 2.35 2.61
5 Hector Santiago Angels 79.90% 3.59 4.77 5
6 James Shields Padres 79.90% 3.91 4.45 3.7
7 Dan Haren - - - 79.80% 3.6 4.61 4.69
8 Max Scherzer Nationals 79.60% 2.79 2.77 2.88
9 Dallas Keuchel Astros 79.40% 2.48 2.91 2.75
10 Marco Estrada Blue Jays 79.20% 3.13 4.4 4.93
11 Lance Lynn Cardinals 78.90% 3.03 3.44 3.9
12 Carlos Martinez Cardinals 78.80% 3.01 3.21 3.28
13 Matt Harvey Mets 78.70% 2.71 3.05 3.24
14 Nate Karns Rays 78.70% 3.67 4.09 3.9
15 David Price - - - 78.60% 2.45 2.78 3.24
16 Clayton Kershaw Dodgers 78.30% 2.13 1.99 2.09
17 Phil Hughes Twins 78.10% 4.4 4.7 4.31
18 Jacob deGrom Mets 78.00% 2.54 2.7 2.92
19 Madison Bumgarner Giants 77.90% 2.93 2.87 3.02
20 A.J. Burnett Pirates 77.80% 3.18 3.36 3.55
21 Felix Hernandez Mariners 77.80% 3.53 3.72 3.33
22 Yovani Gallardo Rangers 77.20% 3.42 4 4.31
23 Jake Odorizzi Rays 77.00% 3.35 3.61 3.96
24 Sonny Gray Athletics 76.80% 2.73 3.45 3.69
25 Jose Quintana White Sox 76.30% 3.36 3.18 3.51
26 Michael Wacha Cardinals 76.20% 3.38 3.87 3.88
27 Danny Duffy Royals 75.80% 4.08 4.43 4.64
28 Scott Kazmir - - - 75.70% 3.1 3.98 4.14
29 J.A. Happ - - - 75.40% 3.61 3.41 3.69
30 Carlos Rodon White Sox 75.40% 3.75 3.87 4.03
31 Cole Hamels - - - 75.30% 3.65 3.47 3.4
32 Mike Fiers - - - 75.10% 3.69 4.03 4.04
33 Noah Syndergaard Mets 75.00% 3.24 3.25 2.91
34 Gerrit Cole Pirates 74.90% 2.6 2.66 3.16
35 Mike Leake - - - 74.80% 3.7 4.2 3.93
36 Adam Warren Yankees 74.70% 3.29 3.59 3.96
37 Danny Salazar Indians 74.50% 3.45 3.62 3.48
38 Jordan Zimmermann Nationals 74.50% 3.66 3.75 3.82
39 Collin McHugh Astros 74.30% 3.89 3.58 3.91
40 Francisco Liriano Pirates 74.20% 3.38 3.19 3.16
41 CC Sabathia Yankees 74.20% 4.73 4.68 3.99
42 Matt Shoemaker Angels 74.10% 4.46 4.59 4.16
43 Tyson Ross Padres 74.00% 3.26 2.98 3.15
44 Masahiro Tanaka Yankees 74.00% 3.51 3.98 3.29
45 Shelby Miller Braves 73.80% 3.02 3.45 4.07
46 Brett Anderson Dodgers 73.80% 3.69 3.94 3.51
47 C.J. Wilson Angels 73.80% 3.89 4.02 4.24
48 Julio Teheran Braves 73.80% 4.04 4.4 4.19
49 Ubaldo Jimenez Orioles 73.80% 4.11 4.01 3.83
50 Johnny Cueto - - - 73.70% 3.44 3.53 3.78
51 Chris Heston Giants 73.40% 3.95 4.02 3.98
52 R.A. Dickey Blue Jays 73.30% 3.91 4.48 4.72
53 Chris Sale White Sox 73.20% 3.41 2.73 2.6
54 Chris Archer Rays 73.10% 3.23 2.9 3.01
55 Edinson Volquez Royals 73.10% 3.55 3.82 4.26
56 Miguel Gonzalez Orioles 73.10% 4.91 5.01 4.48
57 Kyle Gibson Twins 73.00% 3.84 3.96 3.95
58 Rubby de la Rosa Diamondbacks 73.00% 4.67 4.81 4.1
59 Alex Wood - - - 72.90% 3.84 3.69 3.9
60 Jorge de la Rosa Rockies 72.90% 4.17 4.19 3.84
61 Jason Hammel Cubs 72.80% 3.74 3.68 3.47
62 Nathan Eovaldi Yankees 72.80% 4.2 3.42 3.81
63 Yordano Ventura Royals 72.50% 4.08 3.57 3.6
64 Chase Anderson Diamondbacks 72.30% 4.3 4.14 4.17
65 Gio Gonzalez Nationals 72.10% 3.79 3.05 3.59
66 Jesse Chavez Athletics 72.00% 4.18 3.85 3.89
67 Tom Koehler Marlins 71.90% 4.08 4.53 4.58
68 Bartolo Colon Mets 71.90% 4.16 3.84 3.94
69 Jon Lester Cubs 71.80% 3.34 2.92 3.06
70 Carlos Carrasco Indians 71.80% 3.63 2.84 2.66
71 Garrett Richards Angels 71.80% 3.65 3.86 3.8
72 Ian Kennedy Padres 71.60% 4.28 4.51 3.7
73 Trevor Bauer Indians 71.60% 4.55 4.33 4.28
74 Jon Niese Mets 71.50% 4.13 4.41 4.11
75 Jeremy Hellickson Diamondbacks 71.50% 4.62 4.44 4.16
76 Corey Kluber Indians 71.40% 3.49 2.97 3.05
77 Jered Weaver Angels 71.10% 4.64 4.81 5.1
78 Justin Verlander Tigers 70.90% 3.38 3.49 4.15
79 Erasmo Ramirez Rays 70.50% 3.75 3.76 3.88
80 Mike Pelfrey Twins 70.50% 4.26 4 4.45
81 Ryan Vogelsong Giants 70.50% 4.67 4.53 4.55
82 Jimmy Nelson Brewers 70.40% 4.11 4.1 4.06
83 Anibal Sanchez Tigers 70.00% 4.99 4.73 4.03
84 Kyle Hendricks Cubs 69.90% 3.95 3.36 3.25
85 Anthony DeSclafani Reds 69.90% 4.05 3.67 3.97
86 Wade Miley Red Sox 69.70% 4.46 3.81 4.08
87 Aaron Harang Phillies 69.70% 4.86 4.83 4.99
88 Jeremy Guthrie Royals 69.60% 5.95 5.62 5.11
89 Joe Kelly Red Sox 69.30% 4.82 4.18 4.08
90 Mark Buehrle Blue Jays 69.00% 3.81 4.26 4.46
91 Kyle Lohse Brewers 68.70% 5.85 5.12 4.48
92 Michael Pineda Yankees 68.60% 4.37 3.34 2.95
93 Kyle Kendrick Rockies 68.60% 6.32 6.12 5.09
94 Chris Tillman Orioles 68.20% 4.99 4.45 4.58
95 John Danks White Sox 68.10% 4.71 4.49 4.65
96 Taijuan Walker Mariners 67.80% 4.56 4.07 3.82
97 Alfredo Simon Tigers 67.80% 5.05 4.77 4.78
98 Rick Porcello Red Sox 67.50% 4.92 4.13 3.72
99 Jeff Samardzija White Sox 67.20% 4.96 4.23 4.31
100 Chris Rusin Rockies 67.20% 5.33 4.71 4.21
101 Jeff Locke Pirates 67.10% 4.49 3.95 3.94
102 Colby Lewis Rangers 65.90% 4.66 4.17 4.62
103 Andrew Cashner Padres 65.60% 4.34 3.85 3.84
104 Matt Garza Brewers 65.60% 5.63 4.94 4.5
105 Drew Hutchison Blue Jays 64.50% 5.57 4.42 4.21