The Saber's Edge: Analyzing the 40/20/10 Pitching Club

The Saber's Edge: Analyzing the 40/20/10 Pitching Club

This article is part of our The Saber's Edge series.

Earlier this season, I looked at one group of pitchers I love to target – heavy groundball pitchers with a decent strikeout and walk rates. On the other end of the spectrum are flyball pitchers whose value is undervalued because they give up an above-average rate of home runs. These pitchers have been undervalued for years and are a good group of pitchers from which to find value.

The public's disdain for flyball pitchers can be traced to two things: Common Sense and xFIP. Common sense tells us that a hitter is extremely unlikely to hit a home run on a groundball. The more a pitcher can generate groundballs, he will have better results.

Besides the age-old common sense, my previous boss, Dave Studeman, created xFIP a little more than 10 years ago. xFIP is an ERA estimator which uses strikeout, walk and flyball rate. The data mainly points to pitchers having a higher home runs rate as they allow more flyballs.

Heads up, I am going to stop right now using any mention of flyball rate. I find baseball full of too many stats already. Instead of memorizing cut-offs of flyball and groundball rate, I just use groundball rate. If you want to convert groundball rate (GB%) to flyball rate (FB%) use FB% = 80%-GB% with the other 20 percent going to line drives.

xFIP works for most pitchers with more than 75 percent of all pitchers having a groundball rate less than 40 percent and 87

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff Zimmerman
Zimmerman writes analytics-focused baseball and football articles for RotoWire. He is a three-time FSWA award winner, including the Football Writer of the Year and Best Football Print Article awards in 2016. The 2017 Tout Wars Mixed Auction champion and 2016 Tout Wars Head-to-Head champ, Zimmerman also contributes to FanGraphs.com, BaseballHQ and Baseball America.
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