Advanced Stats Leaderboard: Starting Pitchers O-Swing% (2022 Fantasy Baseball)
The fantasy baseball ranking season is in full swing. For me, that typically starts with searching advanced stats leaderboards. Advanced statistics are often more predictive than traditional box score statistics. Thus, they’re an excellent jumping-off point. This series will dive into a variety of my favorite advanced metrics. However, I must caution that no statistic in isolation is the secret sauce for unearthing a hidden gem or burgeoning stud. Instead, they are a piece of the puzzle and best viewed through that lens, using other statistics in conjunction with them to formulate a well-rounded opinion of the fantasy value of players.
Outside-Zone-Swing Percentage (Chase Rate)
Outside-Zone-Swing Percentage (O-Swing%) is the number of pitches hitters swing at outside the strike zone divided by the total pitches a pitcher throws. It is also known as chase rate since it describes the pitches a hitter chases out of the strike zone. According to FanGraphs, the league average O-Swing% in 2021 was 31.3%.
Pitchers that can coax hitters to chase pitches outside the strike zone at a higher rate are essentially dictating the terms of an at-bat. Often, pitches swung at outside the strike zone result in swinging strikes, evidenced by the league average Outside-Zone-Contact Percentage (O-Contact%) of just 62.4% last year. But, of course, getting swinging strikes isn’t the only benefit of convincing hitters to chase. If hitters do make contact with pitches outside the zone, probably, the pitch isn’t one they can do much damage on. Thus, the following leaderboard features a mix of pitchers with filthy stuff that ranks among the league’s best and pitchers who live on the fringes of the strike zone, relying on location, pitch mixing, and avoiding hard contact for success.
2021 Qualified Starters O-Swing% Leaders
The qualified starting pitcher leaderboard for O-Swing% is an eclectic group. Predictably, it features bat-missing savants such as Corbin Burnes, Gerrit Cole, Kevin Gausman, Luis Castillo, etc. However, it also features pitchers that distinctly aren't elite bat-missers, such as Kyle Hendricks and Cole Irvin. Instead, Hendricks and Irvin live on, avoiding free passes and hard contact.
However, the pitcher I want to call your attention to explicitly is Tyler Anderson. The veteran lefty also narrowly missed the Swinging-Strike Percentage (SwStr%) leaderboard article, earning an 11.5 SwStr% in 2021 as a starter. Anderson's O-Swing% was the highest mark of his career last year, and his SwStr% was the second-highest mark in his six years in The Show. The 32-year-old is a free agent and could be a back-end roster option in 14-team mixed leagues or larger or a streamer in shallower leagues, depending on where he lands in free agency.
Noteworthy Non-Qualified Starting Pitchers in 2021
Jacob deGrom is a mainstay on the non-qualified starting pitcher leaderboards, and this isn't an exception. The same is true for a fellow ace and former Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber. Pablo Lopez and Chris Sale are the two other pitchers that capture my attention and interest.
Lopez is the real deal, building on a breakout 2020 campaign. Unfortunately, injuries limited him to 20 starts totaling 102.2 innings. In those starts, he had new bests in ERA (3.07), SIERA (3.49), WHIP (1.12), strikeout rate (27.5 K%), CStr% (16.0%), and O-Swing% (37.4%).
Meanwhile, Sale returned from Tommy John surgery and was good in nine regular-season starts spanning 42.2 innings. Sale had a 3.16 ERA, 3.90 SIERA, 1.34 WHIP, 6.6 BB%, 28.4 K%, 12.8 SwSt%, 30.4 CSW%, and 36.3 O-Swing%. Further removed from surgery, Sale might build on last year's promising return in 2022.
- Advanced Stats Leaderboard: Starting Pitchers CStr%
- Advanced Stats Leaderboard: Starting Pitchers CSW%
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