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Stats 101: Take Time to Learn Newer Stats

There’s no doubt, in this “Moneyball” age of baseball, that Fantasy Baseball owners have to start taking a more serious look at different statistics in a more analytical way.

Check out the work at FanGraphs.com for more in-depth explanations. If you’re not familiar with FanGraphs, bookmark it and take a deep look at some of their articles. Whether it’s discussions about specific players or trends, this site does a great job of taking a look at the game from a numbers perspective.

These baseball stats I mention below will help you figure out which players might be better to acquire, and some might assist you in your efforts to trade targets.

BABIP: Batting Average on Balls In Play

In short, this means luck. It’s a stat that measures how often a batter reaches base after putting the ball in play. And for pitchers, it measures how often hitters they face reach base after putting the ball in play. This is usually helped to measure pitchers more than batters. If a pitcher has a high BABIP against him (above .295), then that pitcher has seen some bad luck, and a few too many seeing-eye singles. He can expect better days ahead. But if a pitcher has a low BABIP (under .270), then a black cat must have crossed his path – and good times are ahead. These usually indicate pitchers to target in draft and trades. Although, there are exceptions, of course, when dealing with extreme groundball or flyball pitchers.

wOBA: Weighted On-Base Average

Batting average alone tends to make people think that any hit is as good as any other hit. And slugging percentage does a little better, but not perfectly (like, is a double really twice as good as a single, or 33-percent worse than a triple?).  Instead, wOBA brings all of those stats together, and in a complicated formula, it measures true offensive value. Generally, a wOBA over .370 is great, under .300 is poor, and .320 is juuuuuust right (according to the fine people at FanGraphs.com).

When discussing hitters, this refers to the number of runs that player has contributed to beyond what a replacement-level player at his position would deliver.

ISO: Isolated Power

This is essentially a measure of a hitter’s raw power, or hitting for extra bases – something every Fantasy owner hopes their batters can do. While there is a more complicated way of measuring this number, simply deducting a player’s batting average from their slugging percentage will give you a good idea of their ISO number. Again, the guys at FanGraphs point out that a .200 ISO is great, .100 is poor, and Goldilocks would be happy with an ISO average of about .145.

FIP and xFIP: Fielding Independent Pitching and Expected Fielding Independent Pitching

Since pitchers have relatively little control over a batted ball in play, the FIP stat was created to track things that a pitcher is able to control, like hit by pitches, home runs allowed, strikeouts and walks. It also accounts for the differences between those events (a home run being much worse than a walk, etc.). The number essentially comes out as a more accurate picture of a pitcher’s ERA. FanGraphs puts a great FIP at 3.25, a poor one at 4.50 and an average FIP at 4.00. Easy round-ish numbers to remember!

The xFIP takes it one step further, as a regressed version of FIP, and replaces a home run total with an estimation of how many homers a pitcher should have allowed. While league averages vary from year to year, the great, average and poor xFIP numbers are still similar to those of regular ol’ FIP.

These two measurements are great indicators for a pitcher’s future performance.

LOB%: Left On Base Percentage

This calculates the number of hits, walks and runs allowed by a pitcher to form a truer picture of the percentage of base runners a pitcher strands on base in a season. A pitcher with a low LOB% is allowing a lot of runners to score, but will usually regress back to stranding more runners eventually, so future success can be predicted. A great LOB% is 78%, while a poor one is around 65%, and the league average is usually about 72%, according to FanGraphs.

Other stats that are easier for you to understand on your own, include: WHIP (walks+hits/innings pitched), OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage), K/9 (dominance), K/BB (command), and BB/9 (control).

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David Gonos

David Gonos has been writing about Fantasy Sports online since 2000 – and playing Fantasy Sports since 1989. He has drafted both Curt Warner and Kurt Warner, along with Big Unit and Big Papi. A veteran of hundreds of drafts in the past 15 years alone, Gonos is closely acquainted with sleepers, breakouts and busts – as he has drafted many of all three. He was a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBSSports.com for five years, and he has been columnist on SI.com and FanDuel.com, while also getting published on MLB.com, NFL.com, FoxSports.com and USAToday.com.
Follow DG

David Gonos has been writing about Fantasy Sports online since 2000 – and playing Fantasy Sports since 1989. He has drafted both Curt Warner and Kurt Warner, along with Big Unit and Big Papi. A veteran of hundreds of drafts in the past 15 years alone, Gonos is closely acquainted with sleepers, breakouts and busts – as he has drafted many of all three. He was a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBSSports.com for five years, and he has been columnist on SI.com and FanDuel.com, while also getting published on MLB.com, NFL.com, FoxSports.com and USAToday.com.

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