Fantasy Football

Sabermetrics Series – K/9 : Toronto Blue Jay Brandon Morrow is King

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Don't be fooled, Sabermetrics can be simple too!  SABR has provided us with some complex statistics to interpret Baseball production, but sometimes we need to take a step back and look at some simple stats to uncover telling information.  In part three of our Sabermetric Series, we're looking at K/9 and how to use it for Fantasy pwnage.

There is no better counting statistic to measure the dominance of a pitcher than the Strikeout.  The Strikeout is one of the few statistics which the Pitcher has the ability to allow his skill to show as compared to statistics where defense is a factor.  It's no coincidence that the league leaders in Strikeouts make up a list of the who's who in our Fantasy game.  But to look simply at the number of strikeouts a pitcher tallies would devalue pitchers who have thrown in a limited number of innings…. Say hello to K/9, Strikeouts per nine Innings

The formula for K/9 is:

K/9 = Strikeouts / (Innings Pitched / 9)

A simple percentage of Strikeouts to batters faced is a telling statistic, but K/9 presents the Strikeouts against the base of one full baseball game.  The baseline allows for interpretation in meaning full baseball terms, as compared to a percentage.  For example, Bud Norris strikes out 23.4% of the batters he faces and Norris tallies 9.20 Strikeouts per nine innings. The strike out percentage doesn’t indicate how well he’ll tally Strikeouts while K/9 does.

When evaluating K/9, any pitcher approaching a Strikeout per Inning has pitched very well.  Anything above that is very special for starting pitcher, but for a reliever it could be skewed by appearances where the pitcher is in a favorable situation.

The only starting pitchers to produce a K/9 of nine or more in at least 100 IP this year according to Fan Graphs are:

Brandon Morrow – 10.95
Yovanni Gallardo – 9.99
Jered Weaver – 9.89
Clayton Kershaw – 9.75
Francisco Liriano – 9.69
Jon Lester – 9.51
Tim Lincecum – 9.47
Jhoulys Chacin – 9.39
Jonathan Sanchez – 9.27
Mat Latos – 9.25
Bud Norris – 9.20
Manny Parra – 9.13
Cole Hamels – 9.10

One name that may stand out in that list could be Manny Parra, but as an owner of his I can attest that many of his poor outings have been full of Strikeouts.  I've owned him in a points league where his Strikeout tallies have helped me fade the negative points he racked up in his worst appearances.  This probably goes a long way to explaining the persistence of the Brewers as they keep sending him out there every fifth game.

With that said, you don't want to own Parra.  Let him and the Brewers figure things out and keep an eye on the situation, but for the rest of this year, hes a very risky start.

Instead, take a look at Norris as the playoffs start this summer, at only 12% owned in Y! leagues, Bud Norris could be available in your league.  Jhoulys Chacin is another great option and is only owned in 11% of Y! leagues, but there is a risk that the Rockies will move Chacin between MLB and AAA.

As I said earlier, anything above nine K/9 is special.  But a pitcher who finds his K/9 above seven is still doing a lot of the right things.  Like Gio Gonzalez for example, who has put up a 7.49 K/9 and is only owned in 52% of leagues.  Or how about the 23% owned Travis Wood and his 7.19 K/9 and his 10% owned teammate Homer Bailey, with a 7.17 K/9.

It doesn't matter what your format is, Strikeouts matter in your league.  Anyone of the guys listed above is going to help you increase your strikeout numbers.  On the other end of the spectrum, there are guys that "pitch to contact" or just haven't been pitching well.  Nick Blackburn at 3.52 and John Lannan at 3.73 have put up the lowest K/9 with at least 100 IP.  It should be no surprise that both of these pitchers have high ERA's, WHIPs, and have been disappointing pitchers in 2010.

Written by James Weston for theFantasyFix.com. When James isn’t spittin’ statistics down on paper he’s hacking away at Fantasy apps at http://valuetownfantasy.com  You can also find him on Twitter @TheRealJamesA

Tags: The Fantasy Fix, Fantasy Baseball Advice, Fantasy Sports Blog, MLB, K/9, Sabermetrics, SABR, Fangraphs, Brandon Morrow, Yovanni Gallardo, Jered Weaver, Clayton Kershaw, Francisco Liriano, Jon Lester, Tim Lincecum, Jhoulys Chacin, Jonathan Sanchez, Mat Latos, Bud Norris, Manny Parra, Cole Hamels


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