Advanced_Stats

Fantasy Baseball: Advanced Stats Primer

Photo Credit: Future Atlas

Here at Sons of Roto, we do our very best to relay advanced baseball statistics in a way that makes them easy to understand. Yet we still get e-mails like this:

“From: MeAngry@Gmail.com
To: Sonsofroto@gmail.com

You no make sense when rite. Numbers no like. Me angry. Me no read none no more.

Warmest Regards,
Every Person From The Bible Belt”

So to try to help our readers understand what all those wacky statistics we use are about, your boy Daddy Starbucks has decided to post an Advanced Stats Primer. Trust me, after reading this shit, you’ll be hooked. You have no idea how much fun it is to tell your fiancée how her ravioli dish is three wins below replacement level. Just imagine the laughs you’ll draw from your buddies when you explain that the isolated power you generate whilst masturbating is in elite territory. The possibilities are endless.

So without further ado, here are the most useful (and most used) advanced stats you will find discussed on this site.

Class begins after the jump:

Advanced Stats For Hitters
The Advanced Stat: Contact Percentage
The Abbreviation: Contact%
What’s a Good Contact%: Anything over 82 percent
What’s a Bad Contact%: Anything below 79 percent
Contact% measures the percentage of swings a hitter takes that they actually make contact on. It’s a good “trend” tool, which is to say that it’s useful to see if there is a trend (one way or the other) in a hitter’s Contact% from year-to-year. Increases in Contact% could mean a hitter is displaying better plate discipline and swinging at better pitches to hit. Decreases in Contact% could point to a loss of bat speed or be the result of a hitter changing his approach.

The Advanced Stat: Ground Ball Percentage and Line Drive Percentage
The Abbreviation: GB% and LD%
What’s a Good GB%: Anything around or below 40 percent
What’s a Good LD%: Anything above 19 percent
What’s a Bad GB%: 50 percent or higher
What’s a Bad LD%: 16 percent of below
These stats literally measure the percentage of batted balls a hitter laces or puts on the ground. A high GB% and low LD% can help explain why a hitter has a very low BABIP. Conversely, a high LD% and low GB% are the calling cards of hitters who are performing very well and making consistently good contact, putting balls in play that are tougher to field. It’s worth noting that some speedy players can get by with a high GB% since their wheels allow them to beat out throws to first.

The Advanced Stat: Home Run to Fly Ball Ratio
The Abbreviation: HR/FB
Use It Instead Of: HRs and Slugging Percentage
What’s a Good HR/FB: 15-17 percent
What’s a Great HR/FB: 20 percent or above
What’s a Bad HR/FB: Anything below 10 percent
By measuring the percentage of fly balls a hitters has turn into HRs, HR/FB gives us a good idea of how much power a hitter possesses. This stat can be influenced by home ball park, as players hitting in San Diego will naturally have a lower HR/FB ratio while a batter in, say, Yankee Stadium will have a much higher HR/FB ratio. It’s not a perfect stat, but if a player spends a few years with one team, it’s a solid “trend” tool to see if they are sending more (or fewer) fly balls out of the stadium.

The Advanced Stat: Infield Fly Ball Percentage
The Abbreviation: IFFB%
What’s a Good IFFB%: Anything below nine percent
What’s a Bad IFFB%: Anything above 13 percent
This statistic literally measures the percentage batted balls turn into infield fly balls. We don’t use this stat all that much, but it helps to explain some BABIP issues players may be having. Infield flys are the easiest batted balls for fielders to turn into outs, so if you see a player trending negatively in this area, chances are there batting average is suffering a bit.

The Advanced Stat: Isolated Power
The Abbreviation: ISO
Use It Instead Of: Slugging Percentage
What’s a Good ISO: .190-.210
What’s a Great ISO: Anything above .220
What’s a Bad ISO: .140 or below
This stat is calculated by a really super scientific method of… subtracting Slugging Percentage from Batting Average. Sounds basic? Well, this eliminates all the singles a hitter raps, leaving us solely with the extra-bases (which are a better indicator of power, obviously). We’re big fans of this stat here, mostly because it’s an easy to understand statistic that has proven to be incredibly accurate.

The Advanced Stat: Strikeout Percentage and Walk Percentage
The Abbreviation: K% and BB%
Use It Instead Of: Strikeouts and OBP
What’s a Good K%: 16-18 percent
What’s a Good BB%: Anything in double-digits
What’s a Bad K%: Anything above 20 percent
What’s a Bad BB%: Anything below seven percent
These statistics literally tracks the percentages of plate appearances that end with either a walk or strikeout. They are among the best “trend” tools fantasy owners can use to see if a hitter’s plate patience is improving or eroding. They may not be considered “advanced stats” by all of you, but they are worth mentioning solely because of the value they possess.

The Advanced Stat: Swinging Strike Percentage
The Abbreviation: SwStr%
Use It Instead Of: Strikeouts
What’s a Good SwStr%: Anything below eight percent
What’s a Great SwStr%: Anything below 6.5 percent
What’s a Bad SwStr%: Anything above nine percent
One of my favorites. This statistic is measured by calculating how many swings a hitter takes result in no contact whatsoever (a swing and miss). Sometimes, hitters have a high K%, but if their SwStr% is trending in a positive direction, it gives us hope that they are doing a better job at the plate overall. Another quality “trend” tool, but it also stands as a great single season measure of success.

The Advanced Stat: Weighted On Base Average
The Abbreviation: wOBA
Use It Instead Of: OPS
What’s a Good wOBA: .350-.370
What’s a Great wOBA: Anything above .380
What’s a Bad wOBA: Anything below .330
The calculation is so complex for wOBA, that I can’t even begin to describe. What I can tell you is that it takes linear weights (I know, what is that right?!) and takes into account all offensive contributions a hitter makes. It then spits out a number that is scaled in the same way as OBP. It sounds convoluted, but it’s way better than OPS. The problem with OPS is that it treats Slugging Percentage and On-Base Percentage as equals by simply adding the two together. However, given the fatal flaw with SLG (a hitter can go 2-for-2 with two singles and have a 1.000 SLG that day) and the overly basic OPS calculation, wOBA gives fantasy owners a better alternative. Look at the best hitters every year, and you’ll see they were among the league leaders in wOBA.

Advanced Stats For Pitchers
The Advanced Stat: Contact Percentage
The Abbreviation: Contact%
Use It Instead Of: Batting Average Against
What’s a Good Contact%: 76 percent or below
What’s a Bad Contact%: 82 percent or higher
Contact% measures the percentage of swings an opposing hitter takes that they actually make contact on. It’s a proper “trend” tool to use to track if a pitcher is giving up more or less contact as their career progresses.

The Advanced Stat: Fielding Independent Pitching and Expected Fielding Independent Pitching
The Abbreviation: FIP and xFIP
Use It Instead Of: ERA
What’s a Good FIP/xFIP: Anything below 3.85
What’s a Great FIP/xFIP: Anything below 3.5
What’s a Bad FIP/xFIP: Anything above 4.1
The Sons of Roto aren’t very fond of FIP or xFIP, but they still have some value. The way these two stats are calculated is by taking into account things only the pitcher is responsible for (walks, strikeouts, HRs) and then spitting out a number that is scaled to look like ERA. These stats are great because they remove the luck factor associated with a pitcher’s defense. The difference between FIP and xFIP is that xFIP uses the league average HR/FB for pitchers to put all hurlers on an even playing field. The problem with that is that home parks ABSOLUTELY play a major role in a pitcher’s ERA, so giving a pitcher in San Diego and a pitcher in Yankee Stadium the same HR/FB makes little sense because if each of those pitcher’s traded parks, their HR totals change drastically. Alas, until Million Dollar Sleeper’s projected ERA stat makes it to the mainstream, we will still refer to FIP and xFIP from time to time. These stats, after all, can be useful when pointing out when certain pitchers are having bad or good luck. Of course, context needs to be used when incorporating these stats.

The Advanced Stat: First Pitch Strike Percentage
The Abbreviation: F-Strike%
What’s a Good F-Strike%: 61 percent or higher
What’s a Bad F-Strike%: Below 58.5 percent
This statistic measures the number of first pitches a pitcher throws that result in a strike. It essentially measures how good a pitcher is at getting ahead in the count, which (as every old timer and baseball announcer will tell you) is important. It’s a terrific “trend” tool that can help track whether or not a hurler is getting better at the art of pitching.

The Advanced Stat: Ground Ball Percentage and Line Drive Percentage
The Abbreviation: GB% and LD%
What’s a Good GB%: Anything above 45 percent
What’s a Good LD%: Anything below 18 percent
What’s a Bad GB%: Anything below 40 percent
What’s a Bad LD%: Anything above 20 percent
Just like with hitters, these stats measure the percentage of batted balls end up as grounders or line drives. Another quality “trend” tool.

The Advanced Stat: Home Run to Fly Ball Ratio
The Abbreviation: HR/FB
Use It Instead Of: HRs Against
What’s a Good HR/FB: 8.5 percent or below
What’s a Bad HR/FB: 11 percent or higher
This measures the percentage of fly balls that turn into HRs. It’s obviously affected by the ball park a pitcher is in, but it’s a good “trend” tool and can also show how much luck may be at play.

The Advanced Stat: Strikeouts and Walks Per Nine Innings
The Abbreviation: K/9 and BB/9
Use It Instead Of: Strikeouts and WHIP
What’s a Good K/9: Anything above eight
What’s a Good BB/9: Anything below three
What’s a Bad K/9: Anything below 6.5
What’s a Bad BB/9: Anything above 3.5
As you can deduce, it’s simply the number of Ks and BBs a pitcher has per nine innings pitched. It’s better than looking at just the total number of walks or strikeouts, because you can compare the K/9 and BB/9 between pitchers much easier this way.

The Advanced Stat: Swinging Strike Percentage
The Abbreviation: SwStr%
Use It Instead Of: Strikeouts
What’s a Good SwStr%: Above nine percent (preferably double digits)
What’s a Bad SwStr%: Below eight percent
This statistic measures the percentage of swings an opposing hitter takes that result in no contact whatsoever (a swing and miss). Not only is it a great “trend” tool, but it also works beautifully when just looking at a pitcher for one single year. It’s a terrific predictor of strikeout potential.

Starbonell

About Starbonell

Starbonell is the co-founder of Sons of Roto and one of the most insightful and colorful fantasy analysts in the game. Mixing intelligent and well-researched advice with an entertaining style of writing that is easy to digest, Starbonell is the king of info-tainment.

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