Luck leaders: Week 10

Last year, we ran an occasional column here entitled “Luck leaders.” I realized that I haven’t been doing it this year, so I thought it would be a good idea to start this week. These numbers don’t change much from week-to-week, so maybe we’ll make this a biweekly thing.

We’ll look at starting pitchers in four categories to determine which have been aided the most by luck and which have been hurt by it. For this installment, a pitcher must have made at least eight starts to be eligible. If you’re not familiar with some of the indicators we’ll be using, here is a brief primer.

Luck indicator primer

Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP): It’s been known for a while now that major league pitchers don’t have a whole lot of influence on how many hits they allow on balls that are put into play. Pitchers who are showing abnormally high or abnormally low BABIPs should be expected to regress going forward. League average is generally around .300.

Left on Base Percentage (LOB): This measures how many runners who reach base off a given pitcher actually come around to score. This isn’t influenced by luck quite as heavily as BABIP, and some pitchers do consistently put up LOB percentages above or below league average, but those significantly higher or lower without a track record of it are likely in for some regression. League average is generally around 72 percent.

Home Run per Fly ball Rate (HR/FB): Pitchers have a lot of control over the percentage of fly balls they give up, but they don’t have very much control over how many of these fly balls clear the fences for home runs. As with BABIP and LOB, pitchers above or below league average are due for regression. League average is generally around 11 percent.

Luck Independent ERA (LIPS ERA): LIPS ERA was created by David Gassko; click here for a full explanation. LIPS ERA essentially shows what a pitcher’s ERA would look like given neutral luck. It takes into account only the things that aren’t influenced by a pitcher’s defense (i.e., strikeouts, walks, batted ball distribution) and adjusts to give the pitcher a league average line drive rate (another stat a pitcher has little control over) and HR/FB.

Pitchers who appear on this list will likely be on at least one of the other lists. If you’re curious why one isn’t, it’s likely because he’s receiving bad luck in two (or maybe all three) categories but not enough in any to warrant inclusion on one of these lists.

Additional notes

Please be aware that relief pitchers don’t have to follow all of these rules, so don’t hold them to these standards. For this reason (and because most relievers aren’t ownable in many leagues), only starting pitchers are included on these lists.

I know that there are a lot of numbers here, but hope I’ve organized this well enough that you can just skim down the lists or simply do a search for pitchers you own. If you think there’s a better way of doing this, feel free to let me know.

Batting Average on Balls in Play

Unucky

LAST            FIRST               ERA             LIPS ERA       BABIP
Arroyo          Bronson             5.74            3.56           0.378
Miller          Andrew M.           5.65            4.36           0.376
Snell           Ian D.              5.65            4.66           0.374
Buchholz        Clay                5.53            3.32           0.365
Washburn        Jarrod              6.56            4.19           0.351
Pelfrey         Mike A.             4.65            5.18           0.351
Hernandez       Livan               5.32            4.88           0.351
Sabathia        C.C.                4.81            3.70           0.349
McGowan         Dustin M.           4.26            3.94           0.347
Zito            Barry               5.87            5.29           0.345
Jimenez         Ubaldo              5.43            4.30           0.344
Chico           Matthew B.          6.19            4.61           0.344
Millwood        Kevin               4.65            4.08           0.343
Blackburn       Nick N.             3.94            4.40           0.342
Batista         Miguel              6.06            5.24           0.342
Pettitte        Andy                4.99            4.07           0.341
Marquis         Jason               5.02            4.59           0.338
Sonnanstine     Andy                4.88            3.81           0.337
Burnett         A.J.                4.98            3.34           0.336

Lucky

LAST            FIRST               ERA             LIPS ERA       BABIP
Galarraga       Armando             3.76            4.12           0.186
Floyd           Gavin C.            3.15            4.93           0.199
Marcum          Shaun M.            2.52            3.64           0.215
Dempster        Ryan                2.90            4.22           0.221
Olsen           Scott M.            3.44            4.90           0.223
Saunders        Joe                 2.63            4.53           0.237
Matsuzaka       Daisuke             2.53            4.18           0.238
Hamels          Cole                3.36            3.55           0.245
Feldman         Scott               4.31            4.53           0.247
Contreras       Jose                2.76            4.06           0.249
Bush            David T.            5.85            4.71           0.251
Redding         Tim                 4.15            4.89           0.253
Wellemeyer      Todd                2.92            3.85           0.254
Santana         Ervin R.            3.02            3.42           0.255
Duchscherer     Justin              2.32            4.23           0.255
Byrd            Paul                4.46            4.68           0.256
Wainwright      Adam P.             3.14            3.54           0.259

Left on Base Percentage

Unlucky

LAST            FIRST               ERA             LIPS ERA        LOB%
Bonser          Boof                6.00            4.38             53%
Tomko           Brett               6.34            3.77             58%
Kennedy         Ian Patrick         7.41            5.48             58%
Sampson         Chris K.            5.56            4.53             59%
Trachsel        Steve               8.39            6.23             60%
Silva           Carlos              5.96            4.56             61%
Badenhop        Burke               6.38            4.49             62%
Ponson          Sidney              3.88            4.64             63%
Washburn        Jarrod              6.56            4.19             63%
Sonnanstine     Andy                4.88            3.81             63%
Hendrickson     Mark                5.33            4.34             64%
Jimenez         Ubaldo              5.43            4.30             64%
Buehrle         Mark                4.80            4.29             65%
Buchholz        Clay                5.53            3.32             65%
Penny           Brad                5.45            4.75             65%
Burnett         A.J.                4.98            3.34             65%
Zito            Barry               5.87            5.29             65%
Bannister       Brian P.            4.98            3.98             65%
Verlander       Justin B.           5.05            4.76             65%
Wang            Chien-Ming          4.57            4.68             65%
Gorzelanny      Tom                 6.83            6.19             65%
Miller          Andrew M.           5.65            4.35             65%
Kendrick        Kyle                4.87            4.97             66%
Mussina         Mike                4.01            4.11             66%

Lucky

LAST            FIRST               ERA             LIPS ERA        LOB%
Volquez         Edison              1.32            3.42             88%
Sheets          Ben                 2.62            3.70             83%
Peavy           Jake                2.91            3.01             83%
Santana         Johan               3.08            3.40             82%
Danks           John W.             2.88            3.90             82%
Marcum          Shaun M.            2.52            3.64             82%
Litsch          Jesse               3.45            4.33             82%
Matsuzaka       Daisuke             2.53            4.18             81%
Hernandez       Felix A.            3.07            3.88             80%
Lincecum        Tim                 2.15            3.77             80%
Saunders        Joe                 2.63            4.53             80%
Backe           Brandon             4.66            4.65             80%
Greinke         Zack Z.             3.56            4.00             79%
Zambrano        Carlos              3.01            4.13             79%
Perez           Odalis              4.09            4.63             79%
Wellemeyer      Todd                2.92            3.85             79%
Lannan          John E.             3.47            4.12             79%
Padilla         Vicente             3.73            4.31             79%
Carmona         Fausto C.           3.10            5.75             78%
Hudson          Tim                 2.86            3.88             78%
Cabrera         Daniel A.           3.98            4.67             78%
Olsen           Scott M.            3.44            4.90             77%
Vazquez         Javier              3.64            3.39             77%

Home run per fly ball rate

Unlucky

LAST            FIRST               ERA             LIPS ERA       HR/FB
Oswalt          Roy                 5.38            4.08           21.05
Badenhop        Burke               6.38            4.49           19.44
Cueto           Johnny              5.06            3.55           17.58
Myers           Brett               5.13            4.07           16.48
Villanueva      Carlos M.           5.63            3.97           16.44
Reyes           Jo-Jo               4.80            3.73           16.22
Perez           Oliver              5.37            5.20           15.79
Trachsel        Steve               8.39            6.23           15.63
Chico           Matthew B.          6.19            4.61           15.38
Backe           Brandon             4.66            4.65           15.31
Byrd            Paul                4.46            4.68           15.24
Glavine         Tom                 4.47            4.81           15.09
Bush            David T.            5.85            4.71           15.00
Beckett         Josh                4.07            2.97           14.47
Arroyo          Bronson             5.74            3.56           14.29
Moyer           Jamie               4.56            4.35           14.10

Lucky

LAST            FIRST               ERA             LIPS ERA        HR/FB
Carmona         Fausto C.           3.10            5.75            2.94
Duchscherer     Justin              2.32            4.23            3.51
Lincecum        Tim                 2.15            3.77            3.57
Lohse           Kyle                3.87            4.59            3.66
McGowan         Dustin M.           4.26            3.94            4.00
Eveland         Dana J.             3.82            4.23            4.48
Matsuzaka       Daisuke             2.53            4.18            4.71
Contreras       Jose                2.76            4.06            4.76
Olson           Garrett A.          3.86            4.21            5.26
Lee             Cliff               2.45            3.12            5.33
Duke            Zach                4.19            5.04            5.33
Laffey          Aaron S.            2.98            3.70            5.45
Volquez         Edison              1.32            3.42            5.45
Pelfrey         Mike A.             4.65            5.18            5.48
Ponson          Sidney              3.88            4.64            5.88
Zambrano        Carlos              3.01            4.13            6.00

LIPS ERA

Unlucky

LAST            FIRST               ERA             LIPS ERA       LIPS ERA-ERA
Tomko           Brett               6.34            3.77           -2.57
Washburn        Jarrod              6.56            4.19           -2.37
Buchholz        Clay                5.53            3.32           -2.21
Arroyo          Bronson             5.74            3.56           -2.18
Trachsel        Steve               8.39            6.23           -2.16
Kennedy         Ian Patrick         7.41            5.48           -1.93
Badenhop        Burke               6.38            4.49           -1.89
Robertson       Nate                6.03            4.30           -1.73
Villanueva      Carlos M.           5.63            3.97           -1.66
Burnett         A.J.                4.98            3.34           -1.64
Bonser          Boof                6.00            4.38           -1.62
Chico           Matthew B.          6.19            4.61           -1.58
Cueto           Johnny              5.06            3.55           -1.51
Lilly           Ted                 5.23            3.75           -1.48
Silva           Carlos              5.96            4.56           -1.40
Francis         Jeff W.             5.53            4.19           -1.34
Miller          Andrew M.           5.65            4.35           -1.30
Oswalt          Roy                 5.38            4.08           -1.30
Weaver          Jered D.            4.79            3.55           -1.24
Meche           Gil                 5.42            4.18           -1.24
Bush            David T.            5.85            4.71           -1.14
Jimenez         Ubaldo              5.43            4.30           -1.13
Sabathia        C.C.                4.81            3.70           -1.11
Beckett         Josh                4.07            2.97           -1.10
Sonnanstine     Andy                4.88            3.81           -1.07

Lucky

LAST            FIRST               ERA             LIPS ERA        LIPS ERA-ERA
Carmona         Fausto C.           3.10            5.75            2.65
Volquez         Edison              1.32            3.42            2.10
Duchscherer     Justin              2.32            4.23            1.91
Saunders        Joe                 2.63            4.53            1.90
Floyd           Gavin C.            3.15            4.93            1.78
Matsuzaka       Daisuke             2.53            4.18            1.65
Lincecum        Tim                 2.15            3.77            1.62
Olsen           Scott M.            3.44            4.90            1.46
Dempster        Ryan                2.90            4.22            1.32
Contreras       Jose                2.76            4.06            1.30
Marcum          Shaun M.            2.52            3.64            1.12
Zambrano        Carlos              3.01            4.13            1.12
Sheets          Ben                 2.62            3.70            1.08
Danks           John W.             2.88            3.90            1.02
Hudson          Tim                 2.86            3.88            1.02
Garland         Jon                 3.87            4.87            1.00

Note on the numbers

Pitchers you see on the unlucky lists are those whose value is likely too low. That doesn’t necessarily mean you want to acquire the pitcher, though. Steve Trachsel, for example, has the worst LIPS ERA of any pitcher with at least eight starts. He’s on the unlucky list, but that’s only because his actual ERA is a ridiculous 8.39. Also, while he’s made eight starts, he has since been moved to the bullpen and is in danger of being released. Be sure to look at the player’s actual LIPS ERA and his overall skill set before you go buying or selling.

Concluding thoughts

If you have some free time at 11 pm EST tonight, I’ll be appearing on the Fantasy Baseball Roundtable radio show, which you can find here.

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