MLB
June 17, 2012 posted by Matthew Dewoskin

2012 Fantasy Baseball: LAGGARDS Pitchers’ HR:FB ratio Edition

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Mike Leake, SP, Cincinnati Reds


HR:FB ratio is one of the advanced metrics that help us figure out luck how lucky a pitcher has been. Some guys can give up fly balls in bunches and never pay for it with a big fly, but some guys(looking at you, Henderson Alvarez) can’t go two innings without having to watch one sail into the bleachers. Some of these guys could actually be buy-low candidates. Some of these guys could be primed for a massive correction and lead you to fantasy glory. Some of these guys…you want absolutely no part of.

We’ll start this week’s Leaders and Laggards with those sad sacks who have been getting their brains beaten in so far in 2012.

1. Ervin Santana 22.8%
2. Henderson Alvarez 20.5%
3. Tommy Hunter 19.8%
4. Jonathon Niese 18.9%
5. Max Scherzer 17.3%
6. Dillon Gee 16.9%
7. Clay Buchholz 16.9%
8. Gavin Floyd 16.7%
9. Mike Leake 16.4%
10. Kyle Drabek 16.1%

Ervin Santana has changed his approach and it’s having an impact on his HR:FB ratio. Santana owns a 0.93 GB:FB ratio for his career, but for some reason Santana is posting a 1.57 ratio this year. He’s giving up fewer fly balls, but more of them are reaching the cheap seats. The weird part is that Santana’s skills haven’t really deteriorated. He’s throwing just as hard in 2012 as he did in 2009. What is concerning about Santana is that his 3.94 BB/9 would be a career high and his 6.30 K/9 is the lowest he’s put up since 2006. Santana is basically waiver wire fodder until we have more data to figure out why his fly ball numbers are so out of whack.

Henderson Alvarez is going out of his way to prove that ground ball pitchers are just as capable of giving up lots of homers as fly ball pitchers. Alvarez fits the profile of an extreme ground ball pitcher with his 2.18 career GB:FB ratio. His 20.5% HR:FB ratio is high even for a guy who only gives up fly balls 25.5% of the time. Alvarez is a stay away because he’ll actually hurt your team due to his exceptionally weak strikeout numbers. Alvarez owns an anemic 2.72 K/9. The other side of that coin is that his BB/9 is only 1.88. Either way, Alvarez puts a lot of balls in play. He’s going to be a victim of luck stats more often than pitchers who post high strikeout totals. He’ll get into trouble when or if his defense betrays him.

Tommy Hunter is essentially a league average tomato can who has been slightly unlucky on balls hit in the air. His career average HR:FB ratio is 12.2%. He’s likely to end up close to that number by the end of the year, but that doesn’t mean you want him on your roster.

Jonathon Niese has been getting pummelled on the road this year. His 23.3 HR:FB ratio is almost double his 13.0% mark at home. His career average is at 11.8% and he’s likely to end up closer to that number than the 18.9% he’s currently suffering through. He’s essentially the same guy with a higher than average GB:FB ratio and mediocre velocity. He’s just had some bad luck on balls hit in the air. Niese is actually a decent option for a deep or NL-only league at this point.

Max Scherzer should be a guy that sharps are looking to acquire for a second half run. Almost all of Scherzer’s advanced metrics are indicating he’s due for a correction, including his HR:FB ratio. Scherzer’s BABIP is at .376(his career average is .313). His 3.46 xFIP is screaming that his 5.76 actual is a mirage. His 17.3% HR:FB ratio is well off his 11.6% career average. His velocity and GB:FB numbers are all similar to his career averages. He’s the same guy he has always been, but he’s been exceptionally unlucky and appears to be poised for a monster second half.

Dillon Gee is barely owned in most mixed leagues. He’s worthy of a roster spot. He’s actually been very unlucky at home with a 21.4% HR:FB ratio. Gee does pitch at Metco right? He’s not accidentally showing up at New Yankee and getting battered is he? His 16.9% HR:FB ratio doesn’t pass the smell test. It should end up closer to his 11.5% career average. His 7.99 K/9 makes him a better choice than most of the zombies currently occupying the waiver wire. He’s worthy of an ad in most formats.

Clay Buchholz is another ground ball pitcher with an out-of-whack HR:FB ratio. Buchholz’ HR:FB ratio is likely to end up closer to his 11.0% career average, but he’s still not that great of an option for fantasy purpose. He strikes out too few(6.16 K/9) and walks too many (3.70 BB/9). Remember that year he posted a 2.33 ERA? Yeah, that came with a .261 BABIP and a 5.6% HR:FB ratio. It took a ridiculous amount of luck to get him to have a career year. His luck has normalized and his numbers have gotten worse. He’s a stay away in most league formats. Buchholz really isn’t that exciting for fantasy baseball purposes.

Gavin Floyd is actually posting competent K-numbers(8.45 K/9),  but he’s been getting knocked around when he puts the ball in the air. Floyd has been absolutely destroyed in June. We’re 16 days into June and his HR:FB ratio stands at 43.8% for the month. It wouldn’t be a huge shock to see him suddenly develop tendonitis and need a turn on the DL if this continues. His career average is 12.0% and he’s likely to end up closer to that number, but he’s also likely to need a few weeks off due to a shoulder strain or something.

Mike Leake has been absolutely clobbered at the Great American Ballpark and owns a 23.3% HR:FB ratio at home. Only start Leake on the road if you absolutely have no choice. For example, if some thugs tie you up, hold you hostage in Aroldis Chapman’s hotel room and then tell you they will release you, but you have to start Mike Leake at home. Put Leake in, but run to a computer when they let you go and take him out of your lineup.

Kyle Drabek would have been an interesting pitcher to profile in this section if his elbow hadn’t blown up on Wednesday. It’s going to be a long time until Drabek is fantasy relevant again.

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