Fantasy Baseball

2019 Fantasy Baseball: Using K%+IFFB%-BB% To Target Pitchers

The fantasy baseball industry is lucky to have many analysts with interesting strategies up their sleeves to target players. One particular strategy I’ve enjoyed using over the years is K%+IFFB%-BB% to target pitchers. Strikeouts and the ability to induce easy pop ups is a recipe for fantasy success. In a perfect world, I’m trying to pair two of the top 20 hurlers along with a few of the middle relievers found atop of the K%+IFFB%-BB% list and some upside arms late in drafts.

I’m definitely not the first to use this, I’ve tweeted about my use of this strategy back in 2016, Jeff Zimmermann wrote about it here and per his discussion, I believe Rob Silver has been using this for a significant period of time (he may be the first!). Zimmermann expands on this strategy and probably makes the math more sound by placing PAs in the denominator. I encourage you to read more of his discussion and reasoning in the previous link. Additionally, I posted last year’s version of this research on the site as well (same topic/parameters, different data leading us to a few different names to target).

I kept this data close during the recent Mixed LABR draft. Chris Sale and Justin Verlander are the top two starting pitchers according to this strategy while Will Smith, Dellin Betances and Corey Knebel appear in the top-20 of this list and top-12 among relief pitchers. I put my money where my mouth is and selected five of the top 17 on this list. And I also plan to use it during the new Tour Wars Draft & Hold as well as The Great Fantasy Baseball Invitational, League Two.

Following the publishing of this chart, I will run separate pieces on pitchers to target and avoid that reflect this strategy and their current NFBC ADP.

Side note: I set a 50 inning minimum for innings pitched as I wanted a chart that included both starters and relievers who were frequently used. You may create a similar sheet and adjust your innings minimums and toggle between starters and relievers, should you choose.

Here’s a direct link to the chart, but it should also be embedded below. If you have any questions, pop them in the comments and I’ll gladly respond.

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  1. Sam
    February 14, 2019 at 11:25 am

    What does IFFB stand for?

  2. February 14, 2019 at 11:38 am

    IFFB = Infield Fly Balls.

    From FanGraphs: “Infield pop-ups are also tracked on FanGraphs (IFFB%), and they are expressed as the percentage of pop-ups a pitcher induces out of their total number of fly balls. These numbers are generally small and fluctuate from year to year, but they’re the best type of batted ball for pitchers, as they almost always lead to an out (in fact they count as strikeouts in WAR).”

  3. February 14, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    The Pirates bullpen wholeheartedly endorses this methodology

  4. Bob Ellis
    February 15, 2019 at 11:04 pm

    why not IFFB+GB…pitchers who keep it on the ground and induce IFFB are good to have.

    • February 20, 2019 at 9:26 pm

      Sure, I don’t disagree. However, for our game’s purposes pitchers are rewarded for strikeouts (Ks) as well as limiting hits/walks (WHIP) and essentially runs (ERA), so we needed a way to evaluate those skills and display the success of those pitchers accordingly.