Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Unlucky with the Long Ball

In order for a ball to leave the yard it must be hit in the air. Historically, the percentage of flyballs that end up as home runs comes in around 11%. If a pitcher’s HR/F ratio is much higher it is a result of poor luck. That logic does not hold true for hitters, as some of them can maintain higher than average HR/F rates.

Over the last few years the unluckiest pitchers when it comes to HR/F have clocked in with ratios between 18% and 21%. Looking at the data for the first few weeks of this season shows 5 pitchers with a ratio higher than 24%. The follwoing pitchers have been particularly unlucky with the long ball this season. (All of the following stats can be found at The Hardball Times)

Scott Baker: Baker currently sports a HR/F rate of 32.3%. He has given up 6 HRs in just under 26 innings. He certainly has been a victim of poor luck, but his peripherals have been largely unaffected. Baker sports a 3.51 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. Couple that with 20 Ks to 4 BB and you have yourself a nice pitcher for any staff. The HR/F will regress towards the average, but I can’t see it having an affect on Scott’s peripherals.

Todd Wellemeyer: Wellemeyer’s 27.9% HR/F ranks him the second unluckiest in the category. He is another guy, however, that seems to be immune to the long ball affecting his performance. He has given up 5 HRs in 25 IP. He also has a 3.24 ERA with 26 Ks and a 1.08 WHIP. I would also not expect a positive effect on Todd’s peripherals as a result of his impeding HR/F rate correction.

Roy Oswalt: Oswalt owners were nervous about their ace after a shaky start to the season. He has given up 7 HRs in 30 IP and he rocks a 26.8% HR/F rate. Here is a case where his misfortune in the flyball department may lead to improved peripherals in the future. Roy currently has an ugly 6.00 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP. Once his HR/F rate normalizes I’d expect those two ratios to follow suit.

Jeff Francis: Francis, who has a 24.7% HR/F rate, has given up 7 long balls this year. Jeff’s HR/F rate has been under 10% the past two years and its eventual regression will hopefully affect his unsightly peripherals (ERA 5.68, WHIP 1.46).

Bronson Arroyo: Arroyo has maintained a HR/F rate of about 10% over the last four seasons. His 2008 HR/F rate sits at 24.6%. He has given up 6 HRs in only 21.33 IP. As a result his ERA is well north of 5.00 and his WHIP is a disgusting 1.64. Hopefully his luck will even out sooner than later or else that HR total will double before you know it considering his home ball park.

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