Fantasy Baseball

Using K%+IFFB%-BB% To Target or Sell Relief Pitchers: April 30th Update

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. During draft season I was targeting 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. At this point, I’m using this strategy to monitor the market. Targeting arms with a lot of green on the chart and looking to sell or avoid arms with lots of red on the chart. For this exercise, I’ve included only qualified relievers and previously released the starting pitchers exercise.

Additionally, I always like to give credit when credit is due. I was 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 as well as preseason 2019 research on the site as well (same topic/parameters, different data leading us to a few different names to target). Many thanks to our friends at FanGraphs and Baseball Savant for the data. All data is through games on 04.29.19.

It’s important to note that I arbitrarily decided to focus on starters that had no more than two sources of data that fell outside of our green target area. Do yourself a favor and do a through scan of the chart at the bottom of this post to absorb as much as you feel necessary.

New names that popped to target or hold:

Lou Trivino | Athletics

First and foremost, Athletics’ right-hander Lou Trivino has been sidelined since April 17th with a thumb injury. Apparently it wasn’t bad enough to be placed on the injured list because he’s remained on the 25-man active roster despite the issue. The 27-year-old popped as the number two overall reliever among qualifiers per our K%+IFFB%-BB% metric behind only Josh Hader of the Brewers. Trivino is a Statcast darling, ranked in the top 6% of the league in Barrel% (0.0%), average exit velocity allowed (83.5 MPH), top 4% of the league in wOBA (.195) and K% (36.4%), top 3% of the league in BB% (2.3%) and top 1% of the league in xBA (.116), xSLG (.165) and xwOBA (.132). Trivino should be owned in all formats as a “set it and forget it” type of arm to stack strikeouts and maintain ratios once he returns to action. May be worth adding him now if you have the space. Currently owned in just 22% of Y! leagues.

Nick Anderson | Marlins

The chart really loves Nick Anderson of the Marlins as well. And given that the chart doesn’t like what Sergio Romo has going on as we’ll discuss further down this article we can add Anderson with the hopes of him transitioning into the closer eventually. Anderson’s K% is top 1% in the league at 51% with a SwStr% of just over 19% – insanity. Unlike Trivino, however, Statcast doesn’t love Anderson as much. In 21 batted ball events he’s surrendered four barrels (19% Barrel% – Bottom 1% of the league) and a hard hit rate of 57.1% (also bottom 1% of the league). He’s just a two-trick pitcher, which could be part of the problem, but for now give him an add and monitor his outings. Could provide much of the same as Trivino (strikeouts/ratios) with upside being a future closer. Owned in just 6% of Y! formats at this time.

Hector Neris | Phillies

Neris is owned in 55% of Y! leagues at this moment, but that’s not nearly enough given the skills displayed so far this season parlayed with the fact that he’s on ninth-inning duty for the Phillies. The chart looks nice, clean and very green. And he’s currently among the top 3% of hurlers in the first-division with a 38.8% K%. Add and monitor since he’s done us dirty perviously.

Connor Sadzeck | Mariners

Now here’s a name that popped super high on the list that many outside of the Mariners and Holds communities may not have their eyes on. In 10.1 innings on the bump, Sadzeck has registered one save, one hold to go with a 1.74 ERA (allowed two earned in 1o.1 IP) and a 0.68 WHIP. FIP (2.74) thinks he’s in for some regression and the SwStr% (12.1%) doesn’t entirely support the 32.5% K% going forward, but just as we can stream starters, Sadzeck is a middle I’d be plugging in until he proves us wrong. Low risk. Nice reward. Connor Sadzeck is 0% owned in Y! formats.

Standing out for the wrong reasons:

Identifying relievers that stand out for the wrongs reasons could be a reflective or predictive exercise since there tends to be such a short leash with some closers and middles. Guys that pop for the wrong reasons on the chart such as Cody Allen, A.J. Minter and Jose LeClerc have already been pulled from their closer roles, so it’s important to look beyond those names and locate others that may be in danger of losing their gigs.

Alex Colome | White Sox

Alex Colome has six saves under his belt with a fine 2.13 ERA and 0.79 WHIP. But FIP (4.23) and xFIP (4.39) believe he’s been a bit lucky and could be in line for some poor outings down the road. The White Sox closer has a decent 12.6% SwStr% that seems to support his 26.1% K%, but the walk rate is too high (8.7%) for someone with ninth-inning duties.

Sergio Romo | Marlins

Romo has collected four saves and a hold this season, but this chart doesn’t believe in him one bit. The ratios are terrible and the ERA estimators think so as well. Romo is not striking out enough batters and he’s walking too many. Based on our metric, Romo is in the bottom 20 of qualified relievers and is the worst of the group among those that have at least a share of a closing job. Stay away if you like your ratios. Nick Anderson, as noted above, is much better suited for the closer position based on these skills.

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 or hit me on the Twitter machine and I’ll gladly respond.

The K%+IFFB%-BB% Chart:

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  1. Pat O'Neill
    May 6, 2019 at 12:09 pm

    Is there a minimum threshold on innings or are you leaving some reliever out based on some criteria? Looking for Guerra and Crick.

    • May 6, 2019 at 1:01 pm

      It was “qualified” relievers at the time I pulled the data, which worked out to be about 8 IP. Crick site about 31.5% K%+IFFB%-BB% as of today.

  2. Pat O’Neill
    June 7, 2019 at 7:04 pm

    Any plans to update this chart? Love it.

    • June 19, 2019 at 3:32 pm

      Updating the starters today and will run the relievers tomorrow. Thanks for reading!