Pitching Stats Highlighting the MLB Betting Edge: K/BB & WHIP

Joe Gavazzi

Friday, June 26, 2015 2:47 PM GMT

Friday, Jun. 26, 2015 2:47 PM GMT

As we continue our quest towards baseball betting perfection, we will dive into statistical analysis as a way to predict a pitcher's success. Find out how to use K/BB stats before placing MLB picks.

For the last six weeks, I have isolated articles using the WHIP (a pitcher’s walks + hits per inning pitched) as an indicator of success or failure. To briefly review the findings of these articles, it was concluded that any home pitcher who has a home WHIP of 1.10 or less, or any road pitcher who has a road WHIP of 1.10 or less, has a positive correlation to TRGS (team record in games started).

The converse was also proved to be true; there is a direct correlation between a negative TRGS for a pitcher if he is pitching at home with a home WHIP of 1.55 or more, or pitching on the road with a road WHIP of 1.55 or higher. This short hand analysis of a pitcher’s success makes good sense due to the direct correlation between base runners and runs allowed by a pitcher. 

Today we shift gears to analyze another indicator that has become popular when using statistical analysis as a way to determine a pitcher’s success rate.

This measurement is K/BB. It is the ratio of strikeouts (Ks) to walks (base on balls that is recorded by a pitcher). It is a simple trail to follow that the more strikeouts and fewer walks allowed by a pitcher would result in greater success. Strikeouts are particularly important, because they allow a pitcher to be personally responsible for working out of jams in an inning where there are multiple base runners. He is not asked to rely on the defense behind him. 

The chart to the left will show that both at the upper end of the K/BB ratios, as well as the lower end of the K/BB ratios, there is a direct correlation between a pitcher’s TRGS.

In later articles, I will show how this K/BB variable, along with others, can be used in conjunction with each other to give us what many consider to be an ultimate index when determining a pitcher’s efficiency. 

The first chart features the work of all pitchers who have a 4.00 K/BB or higher in a minimum of 3 starts through Sunday, June 21, 2015. It will include the name of the starter, his K/BB (in descending order), his WHIP, and his TRGS. 

Pitcher

K/BB

WHIP

TRGS

J Ross

11.50

1.03

2-1

Scherzer

8.79

0.80

9-5

Pineda

7.91

1.18

9-4

Colon

7.56

1.21

9-5

Harvey

6.20

1.01

8-6

Hammel

6.14

0.98

6-7

Hughes

6.11

1.25

6-8

Sale

5.95

0.94

8-5

Tanaka

5.67

1.03

5-3

Cueto

5.38

0.95

8-5

Kluber

5.32

1.15

3-12

Kershaw

5.30

1.05

8-6

Bumgarner

5.18

1.07

8-6

de Grom

5.17

0.96

8-6

Archer

5.04

1.00

10-5

Carrasco

5.00

1.26

8-6

Sabathia

4.93

1.40

6-8

Greinke

4.88

0.94

9-5

Samardzija

4.81

1.34

6-8

Syndergaard

4.80

1.32

3-5

Salazar

4.79

1.17

9-3

Arrietta

4.57

1.09

8-6

Cole

4.41

1.07

11-3

May

4.33

1.29

6-7

Hendricks

4.29

1.24

7-6

Odorizzi

4.20

1.02

6-6

Price

4.19

1.11

11-3

Shoemaker

4.13

1.22

7-6

Lewis

4.00

1.19

7-7

Garcia

4.00

0.90

2-4

 

As predicted, there is a positive correlation between a K/BB ratio of 4.00 or higher and TRGS success.

The 30 pitchers who qualify have a combined TRGS of 213-166 for 56.2%.

Even more illuminating, however, is the fact that when we combine a 4.00 K/BB with a WHIP of 1.10 or lower, we get a record of 116-79 for 59.5%.

Though this is just slightly below the record for all pitchers with a WHIP of 1.10 or less, it does not mean that the K/BB does not have value. In and of itself, its value is clearly diminished.

But as I will prove in future MLB betting articles, when used in conjunction with other variables, it is a valuable component for our overall pitching index. 

For the sake of completeness, let us now examine those starting pitchers (minimum of 5 starts) who have a 2.00 K/BB or lower through Sunday, June 21, 2015. 

Pitcher

K/BB

WHIP

TRGS

Volquez

2.00

1.22

10-4

Miley

2.00

1.38

8-6

Warren

2.00

1.21

9-4

Oberholtzer

2.00

1.44

4-1

Milone

2.00

1.25

4-3

Kelly

2.00

1.44

5-8

Gibson

1.96

1.28

6-8

Koehler

1.90

1.29

7-6

J de la Rosa

1.89

1.54

5-5

Frias

1.89

1.47

4-6

B Norris

1.88

1.64

4-5

After totaling the record of these 11 starters with a 2.00 K/BB or lower, we see that their record is 66-56 TRGS.

This proves that much like the statistics in the chart above, that the K/BB, when used on its own merits, is an overvalued single way in which to evaluate a pitcher’s success.

It is 'buy or beware' when using this K/BB shortcut in your analysis of a starting pitcher.

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