by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Sometimes elevated HR/FB for pitchers can be attributed to poor luck, though sometimes there are other factors (like home ballpark) that contribute to elevated marks. Let’s take a look at which 10 qualified pitchers had the highest HR/FB last season and try to determine if there is a potential turn around in their future:
1. Jaime Garcia – 20.2%
2. Francisco Liriano – 18.8%
3. James Shields – 17.8%
4. Josh Tomlin – 17.7%
5. Michael Pineda – 17.0%
6. Marcus Stroman – 16.5%
7. Dallas Keuchel – 16.4%
8t. Wade Miley – 16.2%
8t. Chris Archer – 16.2%
10. Robbie Ray – 15.5%
Marcus Stroman gave up an elevated HR/FB, but he also had an elite groundball rate (60.1%). He was more susceptible on the road (1.17), which shouldn’t be the case considering his home ballpark. The upside is there, especially as he gives up fewer home runs, as long as he can improve his strikeout rate.
There was a lot of poor luck involved in Robbie Ray’s season, though an 11.25 K/9 and 3.67 BB/9 shows the potential for an elite starting pitcher. Surprisingly his HR/FB was actually worse on the road (1.27) than at home (1.20), so while there is the risk of him maintaining an elevated mark he should be able to improve (from June-August his highest month was 1.05). An improvement there would help his strand rate (68.7%). We will take a deeper look at him in the future, but he’s going to be firmly on the buy list for 2017.
We all know the struggles Chris Archer had this season, with home runs being among the biggest issues (1.34 HR/9). A lot of that came on the road (1.81 HR/9) and he also improved as the season wore on (1.47 to 1.18). Part of this is simply poor luck, so there’s no reason to downgrade him.
Michael Pineda has now had home run issues for back-to-back seasons, though it was a bit extreme this season (and especially at home). He actually posted a solid 0.72 HR/9 on the road, but the number ballooned to 2.05 while pitching at Yankee Stadium. Last season his split was 1.61/0.63, so it’s hard to anticipate a significant shift in production. There’s appeal, especially with the strikeouts and control upside, but he’s looking more and more like a pitcher to avoid when he’s pitching at home.
Source – Fangraphs