Skillin: The left-on-base conundrum

From Alex Skillin at Beyond the Box Score on February 26, 2014:

Stranding runners is a necessary accomplishment for any successful big league pitcher. After all, working out of jams is something a pitcher is tasked with nearly every time he takes the mound, and giving up a long ball to a hitter with runners on first and second brings a far different result than getting that hitter to ground out meekly to second base.

So leaving runners on is crucial for any hurler, although some starters are far better at it over the course of a season than others. The major league average left-on-base percentage in 2013 was 73.5%, but any number of pitchers posted an LOB% far below or above this mark. Yu Darvish led the league with an 83.9% LOB%, the best since J.A. Happ’s 85.2% in 2009, while Edwin Jackson trailed all other starters, stranding runners at a lowly 63.3%.

What makes a particular pitcher good at leaving men on base is up to a number of different factors, though simply being able to generate whiffs is a great starting point. Yet LOB% is also partly dependent upon the laws of regression, with extreme numbers in either direction often regressing back towards the mean over a large enough sample. Regardless, some pitchers show an ability to outperform the rest of the league in LOB%, which can make analyzing the stat a fickle task.

Here are some of the pitchers who had an extreme LOB% in either direction last season along with my analysis of their chances at repeating their performances in 2014.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: February 27, 2014. Last Updated: February 27, 2014.