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2016 MLB Leaderboard: Pop up %

An often overlooked and hard-to-find stat, pop up%, is the focus of this post. Come for the unique leaderboards, stay for the Dad joke.

ALCS - Cleveland Indians v Toronto Blue Jays - Game Five Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

If you’ve read just about any of my posts about pitching, you probably saw me cite IFFB% (infield fly ball percentage) at least once. This, of course, is a measure of the number of balls hit in the air that never left the infield. However, this is an imperfect stat on its own. We can make it better by doing one mathematical operation and turning it into PU%. No, that’s not a measure of a player’s odor.

Dad jokes aside, PU% is pop-up percentage and is better than IFFB% because unlike IFFB%, PU% is expressed as a percent of all balls in play while IFFB% is only as a percent of fly balls. For example, a pitcher might have a very high IFFB%, but is a ground ball pitcher and doesn’t allow many fly balls. Thus, his high IFFB% doesn’t translate to many outs and we are most concerned with how a pitcher generates outs. You see, pop ups are almost guaranteed outs and can be considered almost equal with strikeouts.

So, why do I often use IFFB%? Because Fangraphs (my main data source) readily supplies IFFB% data but does not provide PU%. It requires that additional step of analysis. The math involved is pretty simple. PU% = IFFB% x FB%. It’s as simple as that. Regardless, it can be hard to find leaderboards with this stat in them so you can identify the league leaders and perhaps uncover some pitchers that make up for mediocre strikeout rates with elite PU%.

Today I’m going to show the PU% leaders for 2016. Hopefully this will be useful in preparation for 2017. The table will be limited to only the top 100 and only starters with more than 40 innings pitched, to keep it simple.

After that table, I put together a table where K% and PU% are added together. This shows a starter’s “easy out” percentage, which are outs that the pitcher doesn’t really have to rely on his defense for. The pitcher is basically in complete control of these outs. Thus, it is a measure of pitcher dominance over hitters and is likely to be very sustainable.

The top pitchers in this metric should be reliable fantasy options from start to start and less dependent on BABIP and luck. Further, this stat rewards starters that might be missed by other measures of value like xFIP, FIP, K%-BB%, etc. This is especially true for fly-ball pitchers that work high in the zone with their four-seam, like Drew Smyly or Marco Estrada. I hope you find both of these leaderboards to be useful when preparing for 2017.

Without further ado, here are the two tables I promised:

Name PU%
Ariel Miranda 8.8%
Marco Estrada 8.1%
Drew Smyly 7.8%
Dylan Bundy 7.4%
Jered Weaver 7.1%
Matt Cain 6.8%
Hector Santiago 6.8%
Clay Buchholz 6.7%
A.J. Griffin 6.6%
Anibal Sanchez 6.6%
Matt Boyd 6.4%
Max Scherzer 6.3%
Ian Kennedy 6.1%
Christian Friedrich 5.9%
Ryan Vogelsong 5.9%
Jordan Zimmermann 5.9%
Nick Tropeano 5.8%
Mike Clevinger 5.7%
Aaron Blair 5.5%
Eduardo Rodriguez 5.4%
Justin Verlander 5.4%
Chris Young 5.3%
Rick Porcello 5.2%
Jose Quintana 5.2%
Scott Kazmir 5.1%
R.A. Dickey 5.1%
Juan Nicasio 5.1%
Jerad Eickhoff 5.0%
Vince Velasquez 5.0%
Kevin Gausman 5.0%
Jeremy Hellickson 4.9%
Matt Shoemaker 4.8%
Jake Peavy 4.7%
Taijuan Walker 4.7%
Madison Bumgarner 4.6%
Matt Andriese 4.5%
Clayton Kershaw 4.5%
CC Sabathia 4.5%
Zach Eflin 4.5%
Rich Hill 4.5%
Collin McHugh 4.5%
Mike Wright 4.5%
Brandon McCarthy 4.4%
Phil Hughes 4.4%
Drew Pomeranz 4.4%
Julio Urias 4.3%
Paul Clemens 4.2%
Mike Fiers 4.2%
Mike Pelfrey 4.2%
Hisashi Iwakuma 4.2%
Junior Guerra 4.2%
John Lamb 4.2%
Mike Foltynewicz 4.1%
Matt Garza 4.1%
Jake Odorizzi 4.0%
Adam Conley 4.0%
Derek Holland 4.0%
Yu Darvish 4.0%
Kenta Maeda 4.0%
Joe Musgrove 4.0%
Jimmy Nelson 3.8%
Matt Harvey 3.8%
Zack Greinke 3.7%
Masahiro Tanaka 3.7%
Dillon Gee 3.7%
Dan Straily 3.7%
Danny Duffy 3.7%
Danny Salazar 3.7%
Robert Gsellman 3.6%
Bartolo Colon 3.6%
Julio Teheran 3.6%
Colby Lewis 3.6%
Jake Thompson 3.6%
Adam Morgan 3.6%
Miguel Gonzalez 3.6%
Nate Karns 3.5%
Michael Fulmer 3.5%
David Price 3.5%
Chris Sale 3.5%
Steven Wright 3.5%
Jose Urena 3.5%
Pat Dean 3.5%
Jon Lester 3.4%
Edwin Jackson 3.4%
Johnny Cueto 3.4%
Tom Koehler 3.4%
J.A. Happ 3.4%
Cody Anderson 3.4%
Gerrit Cole 3.4%
Robbie Ray 3.4%
Carlos Rodon 3.4%
Matt Moore 3.3%
Adam Wainwright 3.3%
Colin Rea 3.2%
Shelby Miller 3.2%
Jose Berrios 3.2%
Tyler Duffey 3.2%
Jorge de la Rosa 3.1%
Anthony DeSclafani 3.1%
John Lackey 3.0%

Name K% + PU%
Max Scherzer 37.77%
Jose Fernandez 36.74%
Clayton Kershaw 36.15%
Yu Darvish 35.70%
Rich Hill 33.91%
Stephen Strasburg 33.62%
Justin Verlander 33.49%
Vince Velasquez 32.59%
Madison Bumgarner 32.11%
Lance McCullers 32.10%
Robbie Ray 31.46%
Noah Syndergaard 31.34%
Danny Salazar 31.25%
Brandon McCarthy 31.14%
Dylan Bundy 30.94%
Marco Estrada 30.90%
Drew Pomeranz 30.79%
Drew Smyly 30.44%
Julio Urias 30.08%
Chris Archer 30.02%
Chris Sale 29.22%
Danny Duffy 29.08%
Kenta Maeda 29.00%
Nick Tropeano 28.81%
Corey Kluber 28.72%
Jon Gray 28.72%
Michael Pineda 28.64%
Ian Kennedy 28.55%
Juan Nicasio 28.40%
Alex Wood 28.25%
Jon Lester 28.24%
Kevin Gausman 27.96%
Chris Young 27.91%
Scott Kazmir 27.83%
A.J. Griffin 27.64%
David Price 27.53%
Robert Gsellman 27.34%
Nate Karns 27.23%
Eduardo Rodriguez 27.23%
Blake Snell 27.22%
John Lackey 27.15%
Anibal Sanchez 27.04%
Ariel Miranda 26.92%
Carlos Rodon 26.85%
Jose Quintana 26.79%
Collin McHugh 26.70%
Matt Boyd 26.63%
Rick Porcello 26.44%
Steven Matz 26.33%
Matt Shoemaker 26.22%
Daniel Norris 26.21%
Jacob deGrom 26.14%
Aaron Nola 26.04%
Jake Arrieta 26.02%
Carlos Carrasco 25.98%
Johnny Cueto 25.92%
Kyle Hendricks 25.64%
Julio Teheran 25.60%
Jerad Eickhoff 25.59%
Jake Odorizzi 25.54%
Taijuan Walker 25.50%
James Paxton 25.37%
Mike Clevinger 25.33%
Adam Conley 25.23%
Mike Foltynewicz 25.21%
Rubby de la Rosa 25.19%
Hector Santiago 25.05%
Gio Gonzalez 24.94%
Tyler Skaggs 24.93%
Jeremy Hellickson 24.92%
Cole Hamels 24.86%
Matt Andriese 24.75%
Matt Moore 24.53%
Junior Guerra 24.45%
CC Sabathia 24.32%
Matt Cain 24.29%
Francisco Liriano 24.24%
Masahiro Tanaka 24.22%
Archie Bradley 24.07%
Dan Straily 24.00%
Michael Fulmer 23.93%
J.A. Happ 23.91%
Zack Greinke 23.83%
Anthony DeSclafani 23.79%
Sean Manaea 23.75%
Jason Hammel 23.73%
Jake Peavy 23.72%
Joe Ross 23.71%
Christian Friedrich 23.65%
Joe Musgrove 23.47%
Ryan Vogelsong 23.37%
Trevor Bauer 23.31%
Daniel Mengden 23.22%
Mike Fiers 23.14%
Dallas Keuchel 23.11%
Tyler Anderson 23.05%
Steven Wright 22.91%
Jameson Taillon 22.90%
Bud Norris 22.89%
Carlos Martinez 22.80%

I will let you all ruminate on these leaderboards for a little while. In my next post, I will dig more into these tables and see if I can identify some sleepers. Tschus!