Sometimes even the most in-depth statistical baseball research can prove wrong with regard to actuall results. I mean, it is a game played by actual humans after all. That being said, the numbers can still tell us a lot and one doesn’t have to be a sabermatrical supergenius to dissect what they mean. The chart below is a simple way to look at some sabermetric stats with the attempt to determine which pitchers to buy low, which to sell high and which to hold on.
I’ve used three components here. First is K/BB rate. The more strikeouts to walks the better and while I’d prefer to target pitchers with a K/9 of 7.35 or above, sometimes control artists can find success without the whiffs. The second number is good ole BABIP. Since the season is so young, there are quite a few BABIP numbers that are so greatly skewed it’s ridiculous. While not every pitcher will end up with a BABIP against of around .300, most of the current BABIP numbers that are much higher or much lower than .300 should work their way toward the middle. The final number is left on base percentage. A league average LOB% should be around 71-72%. This is also a number that can get extremely skewed in small sample sizes. By looking at these three numbers together and comparing them to a pitchers ERA, we have a simple way of gauging luck or randomness.
Note: Buying or selling is all relative to what it means for your team. If you have Jered Weaver and have some depth in your pitching staff, why not try and sell him off for that top-shelf bat? However, if he’s the glue that is keeping everything together, you’re probably going to hold and know that even a regression will result in awesome numbers when all is said and done. All pitchers below have a K/BB rate over 3.
Brandon McCarthy – While McCarthy has an excellent K/BB rate, I’m concerned about his low strikeout rate and durability. He was tagged for 14 hits and seven earned runs in 5.1 innings against the Angels in his last outing. Still, his lower arm slot has added a lot of movement to his pitches and his command had been great until that last outing.
Matt Garza – The most lopsided pitcher so far this season might be Matt Garza. He has 41 strikeouts to only 9 walks and zero home runs allowed in 30.2 innings this season, but his ERA stands north of 4.00. Garza has allowed his fair share of line drives, but he has also kept the ball on the ground quite a bit. Look for his league leading .414 BABIP to regress in a big way as the season moves along and for his incredibly low 60% LOB% to improve greatly as well.
Sam LeCure – This buy low really only applies to deep mixed or NL-only leagues as LeCure will likely jump back and forth from the rotation and bullpen all season. Other than the four home runs he allowed to Arizona on the 19th, he’s been a decent pitcher for NL-only GM’s. He’s worth keeping an eye on if given the right matchup.
Jason Vargas – While I’m not crazy about pitchers who have well below average strikeout rates, Vargas mixes above average command with the ability to generate weak contact. As long as he can avoid the long ball, he’ll be an interesting name to consider in deeper leagues.