Pfft, Who Needs A Good K/BB?

Just like he did this past offseason, Billy Beane recently traded one of his top pitchers for a bevy of prospects. Dave and Marc have done a great job profiling this Rich Harden deal and the pool of talent heading to Oakland. Earlier in the season, when discussing the Dan Haren move, I noted how Dana Eveland and Gregory Smith, just one third of the return from Arizona, were performing quite well. At that time, which was after the month of April had been completed, Eveland had a 1.86 K/BB and 1.34 WHIP while Smith had a 1.91 K/BB and 1.09 WHIP.

At that point in time both players were outdoing their FIP via ERA and, while their K/BB totals have taken somewhat substantial hits since my last look, they have continued to “beat” their controllable outcomes. For the season, here are their numbers:

Gregory Smith: 17 GS, 3.62 ERA, 4.24 FIP, 1.57 K/BB, 1.27 WHIP, 74.4% LOB
Dana Eveland: 18 GS, 3.50 ERA, 3.84 FIP, 1.35 K/BB, 1.38 WHIP, 75.3% LOB

Now, over the last thirty days they have both posted great ERAs, but are way out in front of what their FIP would suggest, which is higher primarily due to their ultra-low strikeout to walk ratios. Neither are punchout machines, but they have the 2nd and 4th lowest ratio in the last thirty days. For the season, Eveland has the third lowest in the AL while Smith joins him in the top ten at spot number eight. Here are their numbers in these parameters:

Gregory Smith: 3.34 ERA, 5.15 FIP, 4.85 K/9, 5.76 BB/9, 0.84 K/BB, 81.5% LOB
Dana Eveland: 2.89 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 4.58 K/9, 4.34 BB/9, 1.06 K/BB, 80.9% LOB

Combining for 1.22 WPA wins in this span, Smith and Eveland have found ways to produce arguably better results recently despite the triumvirate of less strikeouts, more walks, and more runners on base. The Athletics rotation currently has a 3.47 ERA and .238 BAA, both tops in the AL. They have struck out the sixth most amount of batters while simultaneously walking the fifth most; this places them 10th out of 14 teams in terms of K/BB ratio. With three pitchers in the top twelve (Smith, Eveland, Joe Blanton) this does not really come as a surprise.

It will be very interesting to see what happens to this rotation sans Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin but, for the sake of having much confidence moving forward, Smith and Eveland should be working towards improving their controllable outcomes; that way their success could be defined by skills and not potentially luck.

Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

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15 years ago

A best-in-baseball 0.723 DER goes a long way to making up for those “missing” strikeouts… Exactly how much of that FIP discrepancy can be accounted for by defense is beyond me.