Calculating Luck – An Early Look Into LOB|PERCENT|

 

He was raised on one of the local farms in the area.

He went by the name Dent.

Also known as ‘Farmer Young’ or ‘Farmboy Young’, he stopped his formal education just after 6th grade so he could help out on his family farm. It was just outside of Gilmore, Ohio. He liked to fish.

His professional career began with a tryout for a minor league team out of Canton. During his tryout he impressed the scouts, later recalling, ”I almost tore the boards off the grandstand with my fastball.” But his nickname came from the fences he destroyed while practicing. One of the reporters present remarked that the fences looked like a cyclone had hit them. That reporter, sadly unnamed, shortened the description, which became the nickname Young used for the rest of his life.

Cy

He pitched 7362 innings in his career. And in the 1901 season with the Boston Americans he finished with a 31-10 record, an ERA of 1.62, a K/9 of 3.83 (Whoppin’!) and a .264 BABIP.

AND, a Left On Base Percentage of 71.3.

Though a radical percentage for its day, 71.3|PERCENT| is a fairly accurate baseline to compare players in the modern era. In 2001 when Bonds set the single season Home Run record the average LOB|PERCENT| was 71.2|PERCENT|. In 2007 it dipped to 70.7|PERCENT|, before a pitching resurgence in 2011 pushed the total to 72.5|PERCENT|.

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Using Cy Young’s 71.3 LOB|PERCENT| as a reference point, let’s look at the status of some notable MLB pitchers’ LOB percentage, so that we can identify selling and buying candidates for the run up to the All Star break.

Move em while ya can:

Lance Lynn – Cardinals – 91.7 LOB|PERCENT|

Lynn’s a fascinating study. In his 2010 AAA season he had a 4.77 ERA in 29 starts, with a K/9 of 7.7. In his 2011 AAA season he had a 3.84 ERA in 12 starts, and an identical 7.7 K/9.

Then he got called up to the bigs, and in 34.2 innings (mostly in relief) he put up a 3.14 ERA and a K/9 of 10.7. That’s on a class jump.

This year he looks like a Clemens omelet with a side of juice.

A K/9 of 8 isn’t going to get you a sub 2 ERA for long. Particularly in keeper leagues where his value is highest, I’d be sowing the seeds for a sell high.

Yu Darvish – Rangers – 84.4 LOB|PERCENT|

Yu’s got’s a BB/9 of 4.64, which is positively ghastly! Vincent Price could come back from the dead, do a cameo appearance as Yu’s BB/9, and children wouldn’t sleep at night.

His WHIP is 1.424.

And he’s stranding a higher percentage of his men than the S.S. Minnow. (Which brings up the Ginger vs. Mary Ann debate – but I digress.)

Abandon ship comrade. There are lives at stake!

Gio Gonzalez – Nationals – 78.6 LOB|PERCENT|

I recon Gio’ll regress to give you a 3.30 ERA for the first half. I recon he’ll put up a few 5 run stinkers to get there. I recon his 3.69 BB/9 rate will be the prime suspect.

The day of reckoning will soon fall, upon my reconin’.

He’s good. He ain’t 1.82 ERA good. 3 more starts and I’d start to tout him up. He’s pitching over his walk rate.

Brandon McCarthy – A’s – 75.3|PERCENT| LOB|PERCENT|

His ERA is 2.96 and I’m not biting. Primarily because his K/9 is a lackluster 5.8, and his last 4 starts included Seattle twice, and Anaheim, who are in a funk so deep that it’d have Grandmaster Flash taking notes.

3.80 is the regression point. If he’s anything more than your 4th starter you’re not winning your (10 team) league.

 

Grab em if ya can:

Mike Minor – Braves – 56.2 LOB|PERCENT|

The 3rd incarnation of the gem of the Braves system is carrying a 4.68 ERA. Pick him up now and ride the correction.

8.27 K/9. 2.2 BB/9. The guy’s getting unlucky.

Grab him and tuck him into your shirt pocket. He’ll be coming in handy soon.

Jeff Niemann – Rays – 57.7 LOB|PERCENT|

The former 1st round pick of the Rays enters the conversation with a 1.20 WHIP, a 4.05 ERA and a K/9 of 8.44.

I like him to carry similar ratios for the next 4 (difficult) starts before June hits and he starts to draw attention.

Ya’ve been warned.

Jeff Samardzija – Cubs – 64.4 LOB|PERCENT|

9.38 K/9, 10 walks, a 47.8 GB|PERCENT|. Jeff Zilla’s started the season illin’ like a Dylan (with his homeboy Slim).

I think Jeff is this years the year before last years CJ Wilson.

That’s 2 degrees of separation with a flux capacitor twist, for those of you scoring at home.

CC Sabathia – Yankees – 66.7 LOB|PERCENT|

A 4.58 ERA and a 9.68 K/9 that’s obviously been eating its Wheaties.

Last year in May, June and July he put up 3.63, 3.20 and a 0.92 ERA.

Jump on the regression train if you still can. The ‘mean’ is a lovely place to visit in early May.

 

 

At the moment the MLB average LOB|PERCENT| is 72.2. It’s historically fallen in May and June. Incorporate it into your arsenal of player evaluation tools. Though comprised of many factors, it can still be a useful indicator.

Happy gambling folks.