Pitchers With a Similar K/9 and ADP
There I was sitting in my checkered pajama pants and sweater. My dog Oliver was laying beside me all curled up and sleeping the day away. My coffee was hot and The Office was playing in the background. I was on my couch slouched back relaxing and reading my first ever copy of Baseball Forecaster (highly suggest it). Sifting through the pages I reached page 36 and saw something I found interesting. “Findings: Pitchers with higher strikeout rates had better ERAs and WHIPs than pitchers with lower strikeout rates, regardless of ground ball profile. However, for pitchers with similar strikeout rates, those with higher ground ball rates had better ERAs and WHIPs than those with lower ground ball rates.” This got me thinking. I wonder what pitchers are close in ADP with a similar K/9. If any, I wonder which pitcher has the highest GB%. I found five different groupings of pitchers that were similar in K/9 and put them in the chart below.
The First Grouping
Jack Flaherty - Steamer Proj. - 192.0 IP - 10.76 K/9 - 2.94 BB/9 - 3.61 ERA
Shane Bieber - Steamer Proj. - 198.0 IP - 9.74 K/9 - 1.80 BB/9 - 3.66 ERA
Stephen Strasburg - Steamer Proj. - 200 IP - 10.27 K/9 - 2.55 BB/9 - 3.59 ERA
This first grouping is interesting as Flaherty is the highest rank, yet has the lowest GB%. Strasburg, on the other hand, is an enigma of sorts. His high GB% is rather uncanny to have with a high K/9. In my current rankings, I have them in the order of Bieber, Strasburg, and Flaherty. Bieber doesn’t present a lot of injury risk and produced over 200 innings pitched. Strasburg always has health issues and Flaherty’s second half is questionable. That being said, if all three stay healthy again I could see Strasburg having the best ERA and WHIP of the bunch in 2020. Based on Steamer projections it looks like Strasburg could be the best of the bunch. Strasburg has literally never been bad and his changeup/curveball combo is lethal. Cheers to another healthy season!
The Second Grouping
Patrick Corbin - Steamer Proj. - 192.0 IP - 10.20 K/9 - 2.95 BB/9 - 3.56 ERA
Luis Castillo - Steamer Proj. - 190.0 IP - 10.19 K/9 - 3.22 BB/9 - 3.83 ERA
This one is hard because I love both for these pitchers in 2020. Corbin has the best slider in the majors and a very high floor. Castillo was amazing last year and really showed his elite talent. Currently, I have Castillo over Corbin mainly due to the upside and bigger pitch mix. Castillo is so good and his GB% was second overall in the league (150 IP min.). It is very uncanny what he accomplished and I will gladly take the walks if it means a high strikeout rate and high ground ball rate. I definitely see Castillo outperforming Corbin.
The Third Grouping
Trevor Bauer - Steamer Proj. - 200.0 IP - 10.76 K/9 - 3.32 BB/9 - 3.90 ERA
Brandon Woodruff - Steamer Proj. - 183.0 IP - 9.90 K/9 - 3.11 BB/9 - 4.06 ERA
Trevor Bauer has the pitch mix, talent, and history to outproduce Woodruff. But if Woodruff develops his changeup and slider he could outperform Bauer. Woodruff has a high GB% while Bauer’s shows he is a fly ball pitcher. I have Bauer and Woodruff back to back in my rankings with Bauer ahead of him. The reasons are he has had a dominant season before, more developed arsenal, and a new pitching coach. But there are still a lot of questions with him. According to the study by Baseball Forecaster Woodruff should provide a better ERA and WHIP. Honestly, it’s very possible and more so of owner preference. Although Woodruff did have a much better WHIP than Bauer in 2019.
The Fourth Grouping
Mike Soroka - Steamer Proj. - 189.0 IP - 7.85 K/9 - 2.43 BB/9 - 4.13 ERA
Hyun-Jin Ryu - Steamer Proj. - 186 IP - 7.99 K/9 - 2.05 BB/9 - 4.26 ERA
Next up are two pitchers who are low in the strikeout department. They both rely on being crafty and creating weak contact. Soroka has a higher GB% here and I have him over Ryu in my rankings. Ryu moved to Toronto which hurts him in the wins category and could affect his ERA ever so slightly. While I do like the young core they have behind him defensively, his health also is a concern. I think Soroka outperforms him in every aspect - wins, strikeouts, and ratios. Plus I would take a young healthy arm over a pitcher who has struggled to stay healthy.
The Fifth Grouping
Jake Odorizzi - Steamer Proj. - 172.0 IP - 9.38 K/9 - 3.19 BB/9 - 4.59 ERA
David Price - Steamer Proj. - 164.0 IP - 9.17 K/9 - 2.73 BB/9 - 4.15 ERA
My rankings are very different from NFBC’s here, although we have to realize NFBC does include relievers. I have Price at 40 and Odorizzi at 53. There is a lot to like about Odorizzi but my main issue is he relies on his fastball a lot. In 2019 he threw his four-seam fastball 58% of the time. It comes with an okay splitter and cutter but he is all fastball. If his fastball isn’t working Odorizzi isn’t working. David Price is getting up there in age and a lot of people seem down on him. Yet in 2019 he still had a 3.62 FIP, 3.85 SIERA, 10.73 K/9, and 11.2 SwStr%. I think we see 2018 Price again who had a 3.58 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 9.05 K/9. I think their study hit again here and Price, who has a higher GB%, will outproduce Odorizzi in the ERA and Whip category. Steamer clearly agrees with me here and it is interesting how people are taking Odorizzi over Price.
In the end, I tend to agree with Baseball Forecaster's study. Looking at pitchers with a similar strikeout rate and going with the higher GB% between the two seems legit. Based on my findings as I looked at these pitchers underlying numbers I gravitated towards the pitchers with the higher GB %. This might be a quick tool when deciding between two pitchers come draft time. If you think about it GB% means a pitcher is creating weak contact and they are less likely to give up home runs. Makes sense. Well, that's all and as always if you have any questions feel free to reach out!