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SOBB Preview: The One Pitching Stat You Need

RotoExperts Staff April 2, 2015 12:20AM EDT
For over two years now, I’ve been trying to tell everyone I can about a pitching stat that will help you predict future success (or failure). Not only is it mind-boggling how accurate it is, but I also can’t believe that people still haven’t heard of it or use it. I’m talking about SOBB (StrikeOut percentage minus Base on Balls percentage). You may be more familiar with K-BB%, as FanGraphs added it to their tables of stats last year. The good news is that by adding it, I at least don’t have to calculate it manually… even if that means my cooler name for it (thanks to Nando Di Fino) gets lost in the shuffle.

Using Strikeout Percentage (K%) and Base on Balls Percentage (BB%) over K/9 and BB/9 gives us a clearer picture, by accounting for the pitchers who face more batters in an inning. The best example of this is still Ubaldo Jimenez having a better K/9 but worse K% than Clayton Kershaw did in 2013. SOBB helped predict the breakouts for Corey Kluber, Jacob deGrom and Jake Arrieta last year, among many others who had value and some you shouldn’t have bought in to.

For a brief recap, an average SOBB is around 12.0 percent. Above 13.0 is good, higher than 16.0 is great and over 20.0 is terrific; only a few starters even reach that level. If you want the downside of it, under 11.0 percent is poor and under 8.0 is awful.

XX

Hughes finally returned the Fantasy value owners had been looking for. Photo Credit: Nicole

This weekly article will be part of the Xclusive Edge Package, so look for it there, but to prime you for 2015, we’re looking at some undervalued pitchers in the SOBB preview.

The Top 10 SOBB pitchers list is littered with big names – Kershaw, Chris Sale, David Price, Stephen Strasburg, etc. Guess who checks in at No. 3? Yusmeiro Petit. He’s not your typical starter, or reliever for that matter. That doesn’t mean Petit can’t have value this year. If you need a ratio stabilizer, something more imperative in deeper leagues, Petit is a better option than most starters at the end of the draft.

As mentioned above, Arrieta’s breakout was foretold by SOBB, and Arrieta finished with the 12th-best SOBB of pitchers with 100-plus IP at 20.5. When we dug deeper last year, we found that Arrieta changed his pitching repertoire, and that was a large factor in his success. Stop doubting Arrieta for the 2015 season.

Phil Hughes finally returned to Fantasy value with a great year in Minnesota, and it wasn’t just his not pitching in Yankee Stadium as much. Hughes had an amazing 1.9 BB%, which helped lead to his 19.9 SOBB. Yet somehow, Hughes still sits barely inside the Top 50 ADP for all pitchers, sandwiched between Michael Wacha and Justin Verlander.

Collin McHugh was another pitcher we discussed last year thanks to his 18.7 SOBB. He’s a legitimate mid-rotation Fantasy pitcher, and another option you shouldn’t fret, similar to Arrieta. Matt Shoemaker is just behind McHugh with an 18.4 SOBB. Shoemaker also surrendered more than three earned runs twice – June 27 and July 21, and after that July start, he carried a 1.49 ERA and went 9-1.

A few more of note:

Alex Wood – primed to take a step forward this year and near stardom (18.0).

Danny Salazar – still has concerns, but comes as a late-round flier pick after being in the Top 100 ADP and a breakout favorite last year (17.9).

Brandon McCarthy – was amazing after his trade to the Yankees (2.89 ERA and seven wins) and now pitches in Los Angeles for half of his games (17.0, 18.7 with NYY).

Jake Odorizzi – great 2015 breakout pick that settled down after May 25 with a 3.83 (16.0).

Drew Hutchison – another breakout pitcher, and Opening Day starter for the Blue Jays, who can be terrific if can avoid the blowup starts (15.8).

Jose Quintana – basically Sonny Gray at half the cost with a better SOBB too (15.2, Gray 12.1 FYI).

There is a reason I own about half of these pitchers in every league I’m in this year: SOBB. If you have any doubts, don’t… or just follow along this year, as we continue to find the breakouts and disappointments simply by tracking SOBB.

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