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10 under-the-radar baseball stats you should know

Reflecting on the 2019 Season

Pete Rogers Illustrations

With the season coming to an end, I thought it would be fun to review the year looking over some stats that maybe you are not aware of. These are thing numbers and players to keep in mind heading into the 2020 baseball and fantasy season. (Note: Stats through Sept 17, 2019)

Stat #1: 21.6%

K-BB% looks to be an excellent way to rank your fantasy pitchers. I went a little further than just the qualifiers to look for sleepers for 2020. So I sorted starting pitchers with 80 or more innings. There were 24 starting pitches with a K-BB% above 20% (25 pitchers if you were to count Liam Hendriks who ranks 2nd). The list is as follows:

  1. Cole (33.3%)
  2. Verlander (30.3%)
  3. Scherzer (29.6%)
  4. Sale (29.6%)
  5. Clevinger (27.5%)
  6. DeGrom (25.9%)
  7. Bieber (25.7%)
  8. Snell (25.1%)
  9. Buehler (25.0%) Looks like a lot of experts’ rankings, right? Well those were the elite > 25% guys.
  10. Boyd
  11. Giolito
  12. Darvish
  13. Strasburg
  14. Morton
  15. Woodruff
  16. Flaherty
  17. ???
  18. Paddack
  19. Price
  20. Kershaw
  21. Montas
  22. Corbin
  23. Paxton
  24. Lynn

The next 15 above mostly fall into your SP1-2 range and have a K-BB% between 20-25%. Boyd is probably high versus fantasy rankings, however the list is pretty spot on. But who is #17 on this list? His K-BB% is 21.6% which is right in line with the SP2’s and ahead of notable names that are not on this list such as Greinke, Domingo German, Bauer, Gallen, Syndergaard, and Sonny Gray.

He goes by the name of Andrew Heaney. Something to think about for early drafts as I believe we will see some Heaney hype building next spring.

Stat #2: 11

Of all pitchers with over 80 innings pitched, eleven of them have faced an average of under four batters per inning. The top three on the list are Cole, Verlander, and Greinke. Astros are going to be tough to beat. Others include DeGrom, Hendriks, Clevinger, Kershaw, Ryu, and Bieber. But notably, the two not yet listed are Yonny Chirinos and Ryan Yarbrough. If you keep working your way down the list after that you get Giolito, Flaherty, Soroka, Buehler, and Scherzer. Those two Rays are the only ones on the list with an ERA over 3.50. Can these two pitchers make a leap forward or is this more a result of their usage?

Stat #3: 2

Only two pitchers have a K/9 over 10.0 and a BB% under 5%. None were named Cole, Verlander, Scherzer or DeGrom.

They are Buehler and Bieber. Can they be top 3 pitchers next season? I already have Buehler ranked in my top 5.

Stat #4: 7.79

Playing in a rotisserie league, K/9 is an important stat because, as you have an innings cap, you must accumulate as many strikeouts as you can in those innings. Similarly, wins are important. This year, only three pitchers have an “innings per win” under 10. Domingo German has a crazy ratio of 7.79 while Mike Clevinger and Max Fried have ratios just under 10.0.

Stat #5: 12.35

Mitch Garver and Miguel Sano have a combined 60 home runs at a clip of one homer per 12.35 plate appearances. Your league leader in home runs, Pete Alonso, has 48 and has homered at a clip of one homer per 13.40 plate appearances. In fact, Garver leads all batters with over 200 plate appearances in home run rate at 11.27. He is followed by Jay Bruce, Yordan Alvarez, Gary Sanchez, Nelson Cruz, Christian Yelich, Eugenio Suarez, Mike Trout, Pete Alonso, and Miguel Sano rounding out the top ten. If you looked at AB/HR, Garver would be the only player with a ratio under 10.

Stat #6: 5

In my pre-season bold predictions, I said that Pete Alonso would exceed Vlad and Eloy in both homers and RBI. Well guess what? I was right. For good measure, Alonso has 5 more homers (48 as of September 17) than Vlad (15) and Eloy (28) combined! Vlad has hit into more double plays than hit homers this season.

Stat #7: 9

Among players with over 200 at bats, nine have scored over 50% of the time they were on base (runs divided by hits/walks/HBP). Three of the nine are Twins – Garver, Rosario and Buxton. Note that two other twins fall in the top 15 (Kepler and Sano). Twins hit a lot of homers so they are scoring at a really high clip of being on base. The other six players scoring over half the time they are on are pretty random – Jon Berti, Jake Marisnick, Leury Garcia, Didi Gregorius, and Rafael Devers.

Stat #8: 17

Ranking 2nd in the majors in intentional walks with 17 is a fellow named Maikel Franco. He has 34 walks and 17 are of the intentional variety. That is 50% and he’s been in the minors for a good portion of the year. The only player with more intentional walks is Cody Bellinger with 20. This has no fantasy relevance, but was too odd to leave off this list. Challenging this for oddest stat is the fact that Chris Davis was actually intentionally walked once.

Stat #9: 10

There are 10 players with a hard hit % over 50% according to Fangraphs (over 200 plate appearances). They include:

  1. Aaron Judge
  2. Matt Olson
  3. Yordan Alvarez
  4. Joey Gallo
  5. Justin Turner
  6. Christian Yelich. The other four – you guessed it – Twins:
  7. Jake Cave
  8. Jason Castro
  9. Nelson Cruz
  10. Miguel Sano

Where’s Garver? Only 46.8% hard hit which ranks 26th overall. And he’s working with only a .274 BABIP. In a deep roster league, drafting the Twins catching duo of Garver and Castro would get you a 42/105/95 line. Willians Astudillo, a popular sleeper, hit one home run as a catcher this year. I can see this being a popular strategy in deeper leagues next season. Also, Sano should be a popular sleeper pick with the ability to yield over $20 of profit in auction leagues.

Stat #10: 5

There are an amazing group of five ( but realistically seven) players with an OBP over .400, 30 HR, 100 runs, and 100 RBI:

  1. Trout
  2. Bregman
  3. Bellinger
  4. Rendon
  5. Soto
  6. Yelich (missed with 97 RBI, but he would have made it if healthy)
  7. Freeman (missed with a .395 OBP but we know he belongs)

These are elite hitters. Elite. If we are making exceptions for Yelich and Freeman, can we make one for someone with a 32/97/92/.389? Ketel Marte is definitely in this discussion now. Also a 35/88/90/.382 line across limited 113 games is also in the top 2 round discussion a la George Springer.

How about a 34/105/89/.398 line? Might be better than the Marte or Springer lines in OBP leagues. Yes, Carlos Santana.

Points to be made here are that Rendon is a slam dunk first rounder in OBP leagues and that Carlos Santana is a second rounder in OBP leagues based on these stats that no one will anticipate him to repeat.