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FANTASY BASEBALL – SOBB Leaders & Hidden Value


Another month is in the books, and that means it’s time for @allinkid to take just one Twitterverse question… and it has to do with pitchers.

@t2***en: you see fangraphs has your sobb stat?

Yes, yes I did see that. After preaching the value of SOBB (StrikeOut percentage minus Base on Ball percentage) for two years, it appears that FanGraphs caught on and saved me the calculations (although, it was just subtracting two numbers, so my teeny brain only hurt a tad). They have it listed as K-BB%, but it’s the same… just without the cool name.

This question came with good timing, as it’s the end of the month and time to look at SOBB changes and/or pitcher SOBBs of note.

The Good (May SOBB in parenthesis):

Wade Davis (53.1) – Davis has an extremely elite 34.8 SOBB. For reference, an average SOBB is around 12.0 percent. Above 15.0 is good, higher than 19.0 is great and over 23.0 is elite, and only a few starters even reach that level. Last year, Koji Uehara led the league with a 34.7 SOBB. Greg Holland, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen checked in at 33.3, 32.2 and 31.9, respectively. For the month of May, Davis’ SOBB is other-worldy! That’s because he hasn’t walked anyone. Obviously, Davis will see regression in his SOBB, but you should certainly grab him in start-limit leagues. With a mid-1.00 ERA, sub-1.00 WHIP and a SOBB like this, Davis carries significant value. After all, his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is -0.35… that’s not a typo.


Sean Doolittle (46.0) – The new closer in Oakland is a terrific bet to hold on to the gig all year. Doolittle is 4-for-5 in save opportunities, and I’d be surprised if his Blown Save total tops five come season’s end. Like Davis, Doolittle is dominating hitters in May, and when you couple that with a wonderful 13.7 SwStr% (Swinging Strike Percentage), we have one of the most dominant closers from here on out.

Hyun Jin-Ryu (29.4) – Vying for a perfect game aside, Ryu has been just as good as last season and actually a bit better in the SOBB and strikeout department. Ryu sits at 16.1 for his season SOBB. That is above average (as you should now know), which points to continued success for Ryu in his MLB sophomore campaign.

Corey Kluber (29.3) – The “Klubber” returns this month. Last time, I said that Kluber would end up as the Indians breakout pitcher for 2014, not Danny Salazar, based on SOBB. With Salazar in the minors and Kluber still mowing people down (21.4 SOBB) there is no stopping his fulfillment of my prediction.

Madison Bumgarner (27.0) – Bumgarner is elite, plain and simple. Anyone doubting that is nuts and you should take advantage of them in a trade. The fact is, Bumgarner could be even better due to an unlucky .346 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) to date. That’s why his FIP and xFIP are lower than his 3.15 ERA, which is already good. Obviously, the 20.4 SOBB, and higher mark for May, will have Bumgarner finishing in the Top 10 for starting pitchers.

Jaime Garcia (25.0) – Garcia only has two starts under his belt (just returned from injury), but he looks much better than his 4.26 ERA would indicate. Garcia hasn’t walked anyone, and that’s why his SOBB is so high. His fastball speed and SwStr% are at career highs through those two starts, which tells us that Garcia is certainly 100 percent and ready to provide value.

David Price (23.1) – Buy low! Price has a .332 BABIP currently, which is 48 points over his norm. His 1.40 HR/9 mark is 0.55 higher than his career average. Price also has a 23.7 SOBB for the season, right in line with his May mark. With a career best 71.9 F-Strike% (First Strike Percentage), best SwStr% (10.3) since his rookie season and an elite SOBB, Price is one of the best buy lows, as evidenced in his 2.64 xFIP (ERA is 4.42).

Dallas Kuechel (18.5) – He’s real, and he’s spectacular.

Screen Shot 2012-01-03 at 8.38.43 AM

Okay, maybe not “spectacular,” but Keuchel is certainly a legitimate must-own… everywhere. Keuchel will finish as a Top 40 SP, and honestly, I can see him reaching Top 25 status at this rate. Keuchel’s season SOBB is in line with May’s at 18.0, and it’s more than that. Keuchel is throwing his slider more than ever, dropped the curveball and has a career high 11.5 SwStr%. With a change in his approach, Keuchel had the “light come on” this season and will provide season-long value.

The Bad

Justin Verlander (2.7) – How quickly things can change in two months. I ranked Verlander as SP11 to start the season, but that was when then, and now I wouldn’t even put him in the Top 20… or worse. In Spring Training, it appeared as though Verlander was getting his velocity back. That has not been the case. For the fourth straight year, Verlander’s fastball speed has dropped, and for the third straight season, so has his SwStr%. Add in that putrid 2.7 SOBB for May and a weak 6.3 overall mark, and we have a pitcher that’s a shell of his former self. Use the name value and trade him away before it’s too late.

Scott Kazmir (4.7) – Even with durability issues, a low win total and mediocre ERA last year, Kazmir still had value because of the strikeouts. Those aren’t coming this season, and Kazmir’s low SOBB in May and lucky BABIP that should have you concerned. Kazmir still has an average 13.5 SOBB for the year, but the May run and career low 6.8 K/9 should have you looking to sell… just like all pitchers on the “bad list.”

Jacob deGrom (5.2) – Don’t get me wrong, deep leaguers should enjoy the value while they can. Heck, I own deGrom in LABR. Just don’t expect deGrom to be one of this year’s breakout youngsters. Now, deGrom’s K% is pretty good at 18.2, but his BB% is way too high at 13.0. It’s only been three starts and deGrom is young, but this is far from a recipe for success. deGrom also has a very fortunate .200 BABIP, so when you add all of these factors together, you get a real clear picture of why deGrom’s FIP is 5.14 while his ERA is just 1.83.

The Ugly

Juan Nicasio (0.8) – There is a reason why Nicasio’s FIP is over a run higher than his ERA (3.61), and it starts with his 7.5 season SOBB and 0.8 mark the past month. You simply can’t expect success with SOBBs that low. In addition, Nicasio has actually been lucky so far with a .259 BABIP. If you happen to own him, sell now or get ready to jump ship soon.

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