August 27, 2012 posted by Matthew Dewoskin

2012 Fantasy Baseball: Leaders and Laggards Pitchers’ HR:FB Ratio Revisited Laggards Edition

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A.J. Burnett, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates

Some guys have all the luck. Not these guys. It’s amazing that the guys on this side of the ledger haven’t spent time on the DL with neck strains from all the times they’ve had to whip their heads around to see exactly where their latest offering would land. There is hope…for some of the guys here. There is no hope for Henderson Alvarez. Some of these guys are simply not as bad as their numbers have suggested and will reward fantasy GMs with future performance. Not Henderson Alvarez. The only person he rewards is whoever happens to be standing in front of him in the batters’ box. That dude gets rewarded again and again…and again…and again.

Some men are able to lead while others lag behind. A great man once said, “The world needs ditch diggers too.” Not everyone can lead. If they did, Patrick would only get one column and it would be called “Leaders.” What good are leaders without others to lag behind? These are the pitchers that make our leaders look that much better in this weeks Leaders and Laggards: Laggards Edition.

1. Ervin Santana 18.9%
2. Henderson Alvarez 16.8%
3. Joe Blanton 16.4%
4. Ivan Nova 15.9%
5. Jeremy Guthrie 15.8%
6. Mike Leake 15.1%
7. Derek Holland 14.8%
8. Jon Lester 14.7%
9. A.J. Burnett 14.4%
10. Ricky Romero 14.3%

Ervin Santana is having a statistically weird season. He’s giving up few fly balls than ever(career low 34.3% FB %), but more fly balls are finding their way to the cheap seats. It would be easy to chalk it up to bad luck, but Santana isn’t the same pitcher he used be. He’s lost a few clicks on the fastball and simply isn’t getting the same results. Santana has a lot of miles on his shoulder for a guy in his age 30 season. This could be more than bad luck. This could be Santana can get by doing what he used to.

Albert Lang dies a little more on the inside everytime Henderson Alvarez gets lit up. It’s hard to chalk this up to bad luck either. Alvarez posted a 15.1% HR:FB ratio last year. 16.8% isn’t that unheard of. There really isn’t a lot of value here from a fantasy baseball perspective. Alvarez doesn’t strike anyone out and tends to get lit up. He’s pretty much a stay away unless the luck dragons give Alvarez a lot of help.

Joe Blanton actually looks like a buy low for next year. Blanton’s career average HR:FB ratio is only 10.3%. He’s due for a regression back to that number, he posts useful K numbers(K/9 over 7.00 three of the last four years) and doesn’t walk that many(BB/9 under 2.00 for the last two years). He’s a name that is totally unsexy. No one gets excited about having Joe Blanton on their roster, but he could be a guy that helps a lot of fantasy GMs compete for a title in the stretch run of this year and next year.

Ivan Nova is on the DL with an inflamed rotator cuff. That’s not a good sign, but he could have some value for next year if he comes back healthy. He’s proven that he can post enough K’s to relevant in fantasy baseball and this is the first season that his HR:FB ratio is over 10% for the season. He’s been unlucky on balls in the air this season and he could come at a considerable discount next year with the injury concern.

Jeremy Guthrie would be an interesting play for next year if his K-numbers weren’t so mediocre. Guthrie’s HR:FB ratio is well over his 10.8% career average and there really hasn’t been that big of a change in his GB:FB ratio. Guthrie is at a 1.00 GB:FB ratio for his career and he’s posting a 1.10 this year. The problem is that Guthrie only strikes out 5.49 batters per nine innings. No thanks. He’s basically a league average starter that’s been a little unlucky on balls hit in the air.

One of the issues Mike Leake is dealing with is that he’s a victim of his home park. Leake allows fewer fly balls at home(28.9% FB %) than on the road(30.6%), but he allows a higher HR:FB ratio at home(15.3%) than on the road(12.5). It’s safer to use Leake on the road than at the GAB. He’s a reverse Padre. He’s not going to wow you with his K numbers(6.05 K/9 this year), but he’s rocking a 3.10 K:BB ratio. That would be useful this year…if his BABIP hadn’t regressed from .269 in 2011 to .310 in 2012. Leake is a stay away at home, but a decent match up play on the road. 

Part of Derek Holland’s problem this year is that he’s giving up a 40.7% FB %. His FB % was only 33.6% last year and he had a career year. His giving up more fly balls this year and more of them are dropping onto the bleachers. He’s a guy to stay away from in drafts, but a guy to acquire if his fly ball numbers are lower than his career average.

A 14.7% HR:FB ratio would be a career high for Jon Lester. Lester hasn’t lost any of his stuff and he’s still basically the same pitcher he’s always been. He’s a solid bet for a statistical bounceback in 2013 and he’ll likely come at a discount in drafts. There’s upside here for those who want to grab it.

A.J. Burnett really isn’t that far off his 11.5% career average. He’s lost a few clicks off his fastball, but he’s basically the same guy he’s always been and he’s pitching in the NL again. There’s not much to see here other than a guy who most fantasy pundits said would have success succeeding. 

Ricky Romero is a mess, but has little to do with his HR:FB ratio. Romero’s career average is 12.3%. 14.3% isn’t a ridiculous number for him to post. The problem is that his BABIP has gone up from .242 last year to .290 this year and his BB/9 is a career high 5.05. So, he’s giving up the same amount of homers as usual, but more balls are falling in and he’s walking more batters than he ever has before. That’s not a recipe for fantasy success and he looks like a stay away in drafts until he proves that he’s not this bad.


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