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Biggest Fallers: K-BB%, Part 2


K-BB% is a valuable metric because it shows which pitchers can combine strikeout ability with pinpoint control. Pitchers with high K-BB% possess high floors and ceilings because even when they’re not accumulating strikeouts, they are still usually able to pound the strike zone.

Name K-BB% '18 K-BB% '19 K-BB%-Diff ADP (NFBC)
Patrick Corbin 24.80% 20.10% 4.70% 48
Trevor Bauer 22.90% 18.80% 4.10% 82
Hyun-Jin Ryu 22.80% 19.20% 3.70% 123
Mike Foltynewicz 18.00% 13.80% 4.20% 203
Masahiro Tanaka 19.50% 14.40% 5.10% 223
Anibal Sanchez 16.80% 10.70% 6.10% 357
Marco Gonzales 16.50% 10.50% 6.00% 390
Mike Fiers 14.30% 9.70% 4.60% 392
Rick Porcello 17.60% 12.80% 4.80% 404
Zach Eflin 15.70% 11.50% 4.20% 452

Part 2 of this series will examine five of the biggest K-BB% fallers in 2019, sorted by ADP, focusing on the bottom five pitchers on the list above.

You can also read Part 1 of this biggest K-BB% fallers series.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off. Exclusive access to our Draft Kit, premium rankings, projections, player outlooks, top prospects, dynasty rankings, 15 in-season lineup tools, and over 200 days of expert DFS research. Sign Up Now!

 

Anibal Sanchez (RHP, Washington Nationals)

Sanchez entered the 2019 season as an intriguing late-round target on the heels of a 2018 season where he posted a 2.83 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 7.6 BB%, and 24.4 K% in 136.2 IP. His cutter (.283 xwOBA) and splitter (.208 xwOBA) were plus pitches, while his 10.5 SwStr% was his highest total since 2013. Sanchez ultimately regressed in 2019, putting up a 3.85 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 8.2 BB%, and 18.8 K% in 166.0 IP. Hitters feasted on his fastball with a .585 xSLG and .388 xwOBA, a significant increase from a .399 xSLG and 318 xwOBA from the previous season.

The sharp decrease in K-BB% is a major red flag for Sanchez’s 2020 outlook. He needs his fastball to be more effective for everything else to fall into place, but the problem is that it’s flat with limited movement and low velocity (90.2 MPH). Steamer projects Sanchez to post a 5.06 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 8.0 BB%, and 19.7 K% in 163.0 IP. It’s hard to view him as anything more than an underwhelming streamer, even in deeper leagues. 

 

Marco Gonzales (LHP, Seattle Mariners)

Gonzales’ appeal is his high volume and strong control - he posted a 4.00 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 4.7 BB%, and 21.1 K% in 166.2 IP in 2018. His ability to induce groundballs at a strong rate (45.3 GB%) helped make up for his low strikeout rate. This past season, Gonzales posted similar surface numbers, with a 3.99 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 6.5 BB%, and 17.0 K% in 203.0 IP, but the decline in K-BB% is alarming. Gonzales already struggled to miss bats, but last season it became even worse - his SwStr% declined from 9.3% to 7.9%, a mark that ranked tied for third-worst in MLB.

Perhaps he needs to change up his pitch mix to be more effective - he increased his sinker usage from 24.6% to 38.5%, which lowered his groundball rate from 45.3% to 41.9%, as hitters became more accustomed to the pitch. Steamer projects Gonzales to put up a 4.61 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 6.2 BB%, and 17.7 K% in 193.0 IP. He’s merely an innings-eater with low upside who belongs on the waiver wire.

 

Mike Fiers (RHP, Oakland Athletics)

Fiers posted a 3.90 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 7.0 BB%, and 16.7 K% in 184.2 for the A’s last season. What was once a strikeout pitcher (27.7 K%, in 2014) is now merely a low-end streamer due to his low strikeout rate. Fiers put up an abysmal 7.9 SwStr% this past season, demonstrating a real difficulty in missing bats. This is troubling for a pitcher who has always had a problem with home runs (1.2+ HR/9 in every year since 2014). Fiers was also one of the luckier pitchers in MLB, as his 4.97 xFIP and 5.19 SIERA were over a full run higher than his ERA.

Steamer projects Fiers to put up a 5.21 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 7.1 BB%, and 17.5 K% in 188.0 IP. ATC composite projections are more bullish at a 4.63 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in just 169 IP. At this stage in his career, Fiers is an innings-eater who is more useful to the A’s than your fantasy team. This is an underwhelming option with low upside - you would be wise to avoid him in drafts and select a pitcher with more strikeout ability.

 

Rick Porcello (RHP, New York Mets)

It’s hard to believe that Porcello won a Cy Young only three years ago after such a fall from grace. He finished the 2019 season with an ugly 5.52 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 5.9 BB%, and 18.6 K% in 174.1 IP. Hitters hit him harder, as his Barrel% rose from 7.0% to 9.6%, while he failed to induce groundballs at his career norms, as his GB% fell from 44.9% to 38.9%. Perhaps the move from the Red Sox to Mets will help him improve on such a poor season. However, the Mets’ infield defense is among the worst in baseball, which is bad news for a sinker-dependent pitcher, so the park upgrade might be mitigated by a decline in defense.

Steamer projects Porcello for a 4.62 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 6.2 BB%, and 20.7 K% in 165.0 IP. Like Gonzales and Sanchez, Porcello is an underwhelming option, even in deeper leagues. It’s possible that he could turn in a season similar to 2018, where he put up a 4.28 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 5.9 BB%, and 23.5 K% in 191.1 IP, but it’s better to leave him on the waiver wire and monitor his progress. 

 

Zach Eflin (RHP, Philadelphia Phillies)

Eflin put up a 4.13 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 6.8 BB%, and 18.3 K% in 163.1 IP. These numbers were inflated by a terrible month of May, where he was shelled for an 11.88 ERA and 2.28 WHIP in 16.2 IP. Eflin’s SwStr% declined from 10.3% to 9.0%, as his changeup was not as effective - its SwStr% declined from 17.9% to 8.6%. Eflin’s curveball was also hit much harder this past season, as its xwOBAcon rose from .337 to .565. We also saw the effects of the juiced ball, as his HR/9 increased from 1.13 to 1.54. We need to see him miss more bats in order to trust him again as a streamer.

Steamer projects Eflin to put up a 5.05 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 6.8 BB%, and 16.8 K% in 146.0 IP. Entering his age 26 season, Eflin is a better option than veterans like Fiers, but still should be viewed as no more than a potential streamer. He simply does not strike out enough hitters to warrant a roster spot on your fantasy team.

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