Baseball Prospectus Unconventional Wisdom

May 18, 2008

If you're looking for a pitcher to turn around your favorite team, consider three stats: batting average allowed on balls in play (BABIP), strikeout-to-walk ratio and homers allowed. A hurler who's missing bats and stingy with walks and homers may have a high ERA because the balls are falling in behind him, something pitchers don't have much control over. An average BABIP is around .300, and pitchers who are far above or below this number typically converge on it as the year progresses. So look for C.C. Sabathia (.379 BABIP) to continue his strong recovery, with Chad Billingsley (.371) and Mark Buehrle (.353) also in line to see their ERAs drop. Conversely, Gavin Floyd (above, right) has two near no-hitters while walking more men (20) than he's whiffed (19), thanks to a .195 BABIP. Look for his 3.32 ERA to climb. The strong starts of Scott Olsen and Ryan Dempster are suspect as well.

PHOTOANDY ALTENBURGER/ICON SMI (FLOYD)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)