MLB
July 8, 2012 posted by Matthew Dewoskin

2012 Fantasy Baseball: Leaders and Laggards Pitchers’ LOB % Laggards Edition

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Jake Arrieta, SP, Baltimore Orioles

A high left on base percentage typically comes with an usually high BABIP. It’s like a chicken and egg kind of deal. Which one comes first? It’s hard to say, but they typically work in tandem. LOB % is a stat that fantasy GMs need to be aware of because it can help explain why an ERA is bloated and possibly why it won’t be bloated any more. Some of these guys will continue to be bad because, well, they’re not very good at major league baseball. A great man once said, “The world needs ditchdiggers, too.” Some of these guys are fantastic buy low opportunities that you need to be aware of. 

1. Jake Arrieta 58.2%
2. Tim Lincecum 60.0%
3. Mike Minor 62.0%
4. Lucas Harrell 62.8%
5. Randy Wolf 64.8%
6. Hector Noesi 65.7%
7. Francisco Liriano 66.0%
8. Ervin Santana 66.4%
9. Ricky Romero 66.5%
10. Luke Hochevar 66.7%

The source of Jake Arrieta’s 58.2% LOB %? Well, he’s been a punching bag(24.7% LD %) when he’s not striking guys out(7.90 K/9). His BABIP is a fairly high .324. The problem is that Arrieta is headed for a 200 inning season after throwing only 119 innings last year. Arrieta is likely to normalize, but he’s also likely to fatigue down the stretch. He’s a spot starter, if you need K’s. Don’t get too far ahead of yourself with Arrieta. 

Tim Lincecum has had a weird first half. He’s lost some velocity(average fastball only 90.4 MPH), but his 9.74 K/9 is actually better than last year. His BABIP is at .330(.296 career average) and his 60.0% LOB % is almost 15 points lower than his 74.4% career average. This is what the combination of unlucky and diminishing skills looks like. Lincecum is a buy low for those with true grit and a stay away for those without.

The source of Mike Minor’s struggles isn’t his low LOB %. His problem is the fact that he’s giving up fly balls 45.2% of the time. This normally wouldn’t be a problem, but his HR:FB ratio is a robust 15.6%. He’s going to hit the DL with a neck strain if he keeps giving up homers at that rate. His 7.63 K/9 is useful in fantasy, but it comes with a lot of bad. He’s waiver wire fodder until he can prove that he’s not.

Lucas Harrell isn’t as bad as Kevin Correia, but he still shouldn’t be on a roster in any format. He’s a fringe major league pitcher who won’t really help in fantasy baseball.

Randy Wolf is worth a flier in a NL-only leagues. He’s been to, erm, competent for too long to be this bad. His low LOB % is a function of his .330 BABIP. If The Wolfman will be useful in fantasy baseball if his BABIP can inch closer to his .287 career average.

Hector Noesi is a stay away in most formats, especially if he’s on the road. He’s a mediocre pitcher who can’t strike anyone out at home, but he’s a complete disaster away from Safeco. His 7.42 road ERA with a 1.52 road WHIP won’t help anyone in fantasy baseball. He has a .254 BABIP, but that’s a function of his 0.78 GB:FB ratio. He gives up a lot of fly balls and that will keep his BABIP lower than it likely should be.

Francisco Liriano has been useful in fantasy baseball since getting his starting job back in May. He’s still walking too many(3.45 BB/9 in June), but his K numbers are useful in fantasy baseball. He really hasn’t been that unlucky in 2012. His career LOB % is 70.1%. 66% isn’t that ridiculous of a number for Liriano. He’s worth a roster spot and is useful at home or in pitchers’ parks, but that’s as far as fantasy GM’s should trust Liriano.

Ervin Santana is only 29 years old. That’s amazing. He’s been a full-time starter(barring injury) since was 22 years old. It feels like he should be 34. His LOB % is a little low(71.9% career average), his BABIP is a lot low(.255 this year vs. a .288 career average) and he’s getting killed on balls in the air(18.9% HR:FB ratio). His velocity is about where it’s always been, so his skills haven’t really diminished. He’s just been unlucky on balls in the air. He might actually be a decent buy low guy if you have absolute balls of steel.

Ricky Romero regressed? Who could have called that? Well, let me put it this way; Who has two thumbs and is a huge Max Scherzer shill? This guy! His LOB % is a little low(73.5% career average), but that’s really not a number that fantasy GMs should worry about. They should worry that his K numbers are down(6.38 K/9) and his walk numbers are up(4.74 BB/9…yuck). Romero is waiver wire fodder with a draftable name. No thanks.

Luke Hochevar? More like Luke? Whatever. He’s 29 years old! He’s not a prospect anymore. If it hasn’t happened for Luke by now, it’s probably not going to. There is nothing about Luke Hochevar that is remotely fantasy relevant. His LOB% is actually better than his 64.1% career average.

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