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Batted Ball Leaders From the Hill

The top 30 pitchers in various batted ball rates

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

I've always been very interested in batted ball profiles over a players actual rates of production when trying to guess the future.  This is mainly due to me trusting the way a player hits the ball more, than a way a player hits a ball versus the opposing defense.  With that said, both batted ball and triple slash rates are unstable in a single season.  In fact most of the stats I am about to use aren't stable until over 1000 balls in play have been hit.  But since the big K pitchers are already owned, the players who can supply great rates while posting lesser K rates might be your only choice.  Below you'll see a few of my favorite stats, and the top 30 starters in each stat.

Name

LD%

Brett Anderson

14.20%

Sonny Gray

14.60%

Garrett Richards

16.30%

Wei-Yin Chen

17.20%

Shelby Miller

17.40%

Tom Koehler

17.60%

Marco Estrada

17.70%

Matt Harvey

17.70%

Hector Santiago

18.00%

Rubby de la Rosa

18.10%

Felix Hernandez

18.30%

Danny Salazar

18.30%

Wade Miley

18.90%

Max Scherzer

18.90%

Carlos Carrasco

19.00%

Carlos Martinez

19.10%

Edinson Volquez

19.10%

Colby Lewis

19.20%

Chris Tillman

19.30%

Collin McHugh

19.40%

Jon Niese

19.60%

John Lackey

19.60%

Jimmy Nelson

19.80%

Dan Haren

19.90%

Mark Buehrle

19.90%

Trevor Bauer

20.00%

Jacob deGrom

20.10%

John Danks

20.10%

Jeremy Hellickson

20.10%

Andrew Cashner

20.20%

Now I'll be damned, but that list looks like a pretty good group of arms.  One who watches baseball knows line drives become hits frequently.  Some of my favorite big arms are placed here, and I've also noticed that Felix Hernandez, despite having a down year, is still limiting line drives with the best of them.

Name

GB%

Brett Anderson

66.40%

Dallas Keuchel

63.10%

Tyson Ross

62.50%

Felix Hernandez

56.10%

Gio Gonzalez

55.20%

Carlos Martinez

55.00%

Jon Niese

54.80%

Jake Arrieta

54.20%

Sonny Gray

54.00%

Garrett Richards

54.00%

Chris Heston

53.90%

A.J. Burnett

53.20%

Francisco Liriano

53.00%

Clayton Kershaw

52.80%

Kyle Gibson

52.60%

Mike Pelfrey

52.50%

Nathan Eovaldi

51.60%

Mike Leake

51.50%

Kyle Hendricks

50.50%

Carlos Carrasco

50.50%

Rubby de la Rosa

50.20%

Gerrit Cole

50.00%

Shelby Miller

50.00%

Yovani Gallardo

49.90%

Jeff Locke

49.90%

Wade Miley

49.70%

Jimmy Nelson

49.70%

Jon Lester

49.00%

Andrew Cashner

48.40%

Edinson Volquez

48.10%

Now things are starting to get interesting.  Please take notice of the following repeat offenders.  Brett Anderson, when the guy isn't in a hospital room, he's still great.  Felix Hernandez (still a stud), Carlos Martinez, Jon Niese (?), Sonny Gray, Garret Richards,  Carlos Carrasco (my preseason darling), Rubby de la Rosa, Shelby Miller, Wade Miley, Jimmy Nelson, Andrew Cashner, and Edison Volquez.  I'm probably stating the obvious, but if you're limiting line drives, and leading the MLB in ground ball rate, you're definitely doing your best to tame your babip.

Name

FB%

IFFB%

Jesse Chavez

35.60%

15.50%

Chris Tillman

37.20%

14.90%

R.A. Dickey

37.20%

14.70%

Dallas Keuchel

16.50%

14.60%

Madison Bumgarner

35.50%

14.30%

Mike Fiers

40.20%

14.20%

Trevor Bauer

41.80%

13.90%

Matt Garza

33.10%

13.90%

Drew Hutchison

35.80%

13.80%

Cole Hamels

30.90%

13.70%

Max Scherzer

46.00%

13.70%

J.A. Happ

33.60%

13.60%

Ubaldo Jimenez

28.10%

13.50%

Anibal Sanchez

39.10%

12.70%

Dan Haren

48.30%

12.60%

Wei-Yin Chen

42.00%

11.90%

Jordan Zimmermann

37.20%

11.90%

Alfredo Simon

34.20%

11.80%

Chris Heston

24.10%

11.80%

Clayton Kershaw

26.00%

11.80%

John Lackey

35.60%

11.70%

David Price

38.60%

11.60%

Aaron Harang

43.20%

11.40%

Julio Teheran

35.00%

11.30%

Taijuan Walker

39.50%

11.20%

Jimmy Nelson

30.60%

11.00%

Lance Lynn

37.10%

11.00%

Matt Harvey

37.20%

11.00%

Nick Martinez

33.70%

10.90%

Phil Hughes

40.70%

10.80%

Now this list is ordered by infield fly balls, which are the next best thing to strikeouts.  Infield fly ball pitchers are typically a different breed of arms from ground ballers, which leads me to the only player that has managed to be on all three lists... Jimmy Nelson.  This forced me to look at his Fangraphs page, and I found nothing surprising, his babip is a little low, his strand rate is a little high, and yet his 1.22 WHIP and 3.60 ERA are incredibly normal.  With this I learn that a) this is not an exact science and b) if Jimmy Nelson could limit his walks, he'd be a LOT better.

But after looking at those names, I wanted to see how soft and hard hit rates looked to try and spot any other overlap.

Name

Hard%

Dallas Keuchel

20.10%

Francisco Liriano

21.50%

Sonny Gray

22.70%

Chris Sale

22.90%

Jake Arrieta

23.20%

R.A. Dickey

23.30%

Wade Miley

23.60%

Garrett Richards

23.70%

Tyson Ross

23.80%

Scott Kazmir

23.90%

Mike Pelfrey

24.00%

Chris Heston

24.10%

Yovani Gallardo

24.70%

Chris Tillman

24.70%

Kyle Hendricks

25.00%

Collin McHugh

25.00%

Zack Greinke

25.10%

Felix Hernandez

25.90%

Jeff Samardzija

26.00%

Clayton Kershaw

26.00%

Wei-Yin Chen

26.20%

Brett Anderson

26.20%

Corey Kluber

26.30%

Carlos Martinez

26.30%

Jacob deGrom

26.40%

Jeff Locke

26.50%

Jose Quintana

26.50%

Shelby Miller

26.50%

John Danks

26.60%

Jake Odorizzi

26.70%

So here is yet another long list of studs.  If a pitcher is limiting hard hit balls with the best of them, they're primed for success. But...

Name

Soft%

Francisco Liriano

27.70%

Brett Anderson

24.20%

Dallas Keuchel

23.70%

Chris Sale

23.20%

Drew Hutchison

23.20%

Cole Hamels

22.90%

Garrett Richards

22.80%

Zack Greinke

22.40%

Jeff Locke

22.30%

Carlos Martinez

22.00%

Jake Arrieta

21.90%

Wei-Yin Chen

21.80%

R.A. Dickey

21.80%

Jon Lester

21.40%

Nathan Eovaldi

21.40%

Marco Estrada

21.30%

Shelby Miller

21.10%

Collin McHugh

21.00%

Clayton Kershaw

20.90%

Trevor Bauer

20.80%

Max Scherzer

20.70%

Johnny Cueto

20.40%

Michael Wacha

20.40%

Chris Archer

20.30%

Nate Karns

20.00%

Kyle Hendricks

19.90%

John Danks

19.70%

Tyson Ross

19.60%

Mike Fiers

19.60%

Chris Tillman

19.50%

If you are also a league leader in soft hit rate you're likely to be one of the best pitchers in baseball.  Those names are Dallas Keuchel, Francisco Liriano, Chris Sale, Jarke Arrieta, R.A. Dickey, Garrett Richards, Tyson Ross, Chrisl Tillman, Kyle Hendricks, Collin McHugh, Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Wei-Yin Chen, Brett Anderson, Carlos Martinez, Jeff Locke, Shelby Miller, and John Danks.  John Danks is an anomaly, but the rest of this list.  Lastly, as the most recent man to enter the no hit club, I felt obligated to mention that Mike Fiers gives up the largest percentage of balls hit hard in the MLB according to Fangraphs, where all of these stats were pulled from.  So what do you think readers?  I frequently find myself grasping for anything I can find when it comes to late season pitching acquisitions, lets hear what you look into when finding your playoff push savior.