Out% for Fantasy Baseball Week 15

Taylor Tarter breaks down the Out% leaderboard for Week 15

Sonny Gray’s sweeper continues to be the most dominant out pitch in baseball. Not only that, but it keeps getting better. The league average Out% for sweepers is 18.6%, and his is 36.2%. That is nearly double the league average, and .4% higher than his sweeper Out% last week.

The other pitches in the top 10 of Out% include fellow sweepers from Andrew Abbott, Mitch Keller, and Jameson Taillon. The top 10 also includes splitters from Reed Garrett and Bryce Miller, and sinkers from Tyler Holton and Michael Wacha. The top-10 best out pitches also feature Sean Hjelle’s knuckle curve and Derek Law’s slider.

Below are the individual pitches, the top performers in Out%, and a few notes on some of the pitchers who are performing well and those who are struggling. You can find more information in our weekly Out% Google Sheet.

Average Out%

Here are the average Out Rates for each pitch. We will use this to measure how well a pitcher has performed versus the league average. They will likely fluctuate slightly from week to week.

Fastball (FF) – 16.6%

Cutter (FC) – 16.6%

Sinker (SI) – 18.1%

Splitter (FS) – 21%

Slider (SL) – 18%

Curveball (CU) – 17.5%

Sweeper (ST) – 18.7%

Changeup (CH) – 19.4%

Fastball Out% Leaders

As I review the Out% leaderboard for each pitch, please note that they are based on pitchers who have thrown a league-average amount of pitches for each pitch. This helps separate starters from most relievers.

Of the 13 pitchers ranking among the top fastball Out%, just three possess an ERA worse than league average – Frankie Montas, Pablo López, and Ryan Feltner. Montas has one other pitch, his sinker, that is above league average in Out%, but his cutter is the fifth worst out pitch in baseball and his slider is 20th worst. Pablo López has a 5.11 ERA, but his curveball ranks above league average in Out%, and his advanced ERA metrics all point toward Lopez being a much better pitcher than his ERA suggests. Feltner’s fastball is his only pitch ranking above league average in Out%, so his high ERA should not be a surprise. What this leaderboard continues to show is the parallels between having a fastball that can get outs, and an above-average ERA.

Fastball Out% Leaders (16.6% League Average)

Tobias Myers has a truly excellent fastball. What he lacks in velocity, he makes up for in other ways. Myers has elite induced vertical break, and locates the ball well, leading to a PLV score bordering on a Quality Pitch. His fastball ranks as the 12th-best fastball on our PLV leaderboard. Among pitchers who have thrown a fastball at least 250 times, Myers’ 3.3 inches of vertical movement versus league average ranks as the second most. So instead of blowing his fastball by batters, he fools them with its movement. Here is a look at it from earlier this season:

Here are some noteworthy pitchers whose fastballs have not been effective this season.

Cutter, Sinker, and Splitter Out% Leaders

Some of the pitchers below toss these pitches in addition to their fastball. Others use these pitches in lieu of a fastball. Pitchers who have above average Out% on these pitches and fastballs are definitely pitchers to target.

Cutter Out% Leaders (16.6% League Average)

Sinker Out% Leaders (18.1% League Average)

Splitter Out% Leaders (21% League Average)

Elite extension and pinpoint location have been the keys to success for Garrett Crochet’s cutter. Among pitchers who have thrown a cutter in at least 50 plate appearances, Crochet’s 37% whiff rate and 35% put away each rank first. His cutter’s .218 batting average against ranks tied for 12th using the same parameters. It has played a major role in his 12.4 K/9 rate, which ranks first among qualified pitchers, and has contributed to his top-20 3.05 ERA. Take a look at it here, along with a wipeout slider:

Zach Eflin owns a few top out pitches, one of which is his sinker. He has thrown six different pitches this season, but his sinker is arguably his best, and the pitch he throws most. While he does not induce many whiffs with his sinker, he still manages to induce outs with it. It has a four-degree launch angle and a 25% putaway rate, suggesting he has been able to get groundouts with it while leaning on pitches like his curveball to miss bats. Additionally, his PLV data shows that he can locate his sinker well, and Stuff+ backs that up as well – his sinker’s Location+ is tied for fourth-best in the league.

George Kirby has so many excellent out pitches including a top fastball and sinker, but his splitter is noteworthy as well. Three Seattle pitchers rank among the best splitters in Out%, and clearly this was an organizational focus. Among pitchers who have thrown at least 100 splitters, Kirby has the ninth most vertical inches of movement, the fourth most vertical inches of movement versus average, and the third highest percentage of drop versus average. Kirby having multiple elite out pitches has helped to turn his season around, and his splitter has been a key to that. And the insane movement on his splitter has helped to fool batters like this:

For pitchers without a four-seamer, this is also a good place to look for how well pitchers are doing. Here are a few pitchers whose cutters, sinkers, and splitters have been lacking.

Slider, Curveball, and Sweeper Out% Leaders

Below, you will find pitchers with some of the best breaking pitches in the league. These pitchers are using their breaking pitches to induce whiffs, strikeouts, and grounders on weak contact. The data from the offseason showed that the more a pitcher throws an elite breaking pitch, the better, so these are pitchers who have thrown an above-league-average amount of each pitch.

Slider Out% Leaders (18% League Average)

Curveball Out% Leaders (17.5% League Average)

Sweeper Out% Leaders (18.7% League Average)

Corbin Burnes perhaps is more known for his cutter, but his slider is actually a better out pitch, and a borderline Quality Pitch according to our PLV data. It may also be his best pitch overall. Burnes’ slider has a .206 BAA, a 46% whiff rate, and a 24% putaway rate. Those rank third, first, and second respectively among his five-pitch arsenal. A major reason for his slider’s success at getting batters out comes thanks to some pretty ridiculous movement. Among pitchers who have thrown a slider at least 250 times, only Mitch Spence has more horizontal and vertical movement than Burnes. This is why batters have such a hard time against it:

Jose Quintana has had a rough season so far, but despite that, his curveball has performed well. Quintana’s curveball ranks as one of the best at getting batters out. Location is his bread and butter, considering he throws it about 77 MPH on average. His plvLoc+ on his curveball ranks above league average, and his Location+ is fourth best in the league. Perhaps if he leaned on it more in the right situations, he could improve his outlook for the rest of the season.

Mitch Keller has ranked high on the sweeper Out% leaderboard for most of the season, and analyzing his sweeper, it is no surprise why. His sweeper grades as a Quality Pitch according to PLV. He tosses it faster than average, which definitely leads to whiffs. In fact, among pitchers who have thrown a sweeper in at least 75 PAs, Keller’s has the seventh-highest whiff rate at 27%. Using the same parameters, its 22% putaway rate ranks fifth best, its 32% strikeout rate ranks third best, and its .203 BAA ranks fifth best. In addition to Keller’s sweeper being faster than league average, it also has more horizontal movement than league average. Its speed, movement, and location make it tough for batters to connect, like in this moment against Max Kepler:

Here are a few pitchers whose sliders, curveballs, and sweepers have been lacking.

Changeup Out% Leaders – 19.4% League Average

Similar to breaking pitches, pitchers who can throw an offspeed offering with a high Out% will often find success. Even better are pitchers with an offspeed pitch and a breaking pitch that can induce outs. Here is the changeup leaderboard:

Changeup Out% Leaders (19.4% League Average)

Tarik Skubal is having an amazing bounce-back campaign, and his changeup has a lot to do with it. It has an absurd 45% whiff rate, topped only by Cole Ragans and Luke Weaver among pitchers who have thrown a changeup in at least 50 PAs. Skubal’s 30% putaway rate is first and his 34% strikeout rate is seventh best using the same parameters. He throws it faster than league average, and among pitchers who have thrown a changeup at least 250 times, Skubal’s has the sixth most horizontal movement compared to average. But what sets Skubal’s changeup apart from others is that it does not move like a typical changeup and that horizontal movement goes in the opposite direction that changeups normally go. Take a look:

Here are some pitchers whose changeups have not performed well:

Pitchers to Target Based on Out%

Here are a few pitchers that I would try to acquire based on their Out% data. These are pitchers who are successful at getting outs in multiple ways with multiple pitches.

  1. Logan Gilbert
  2. George Kirby
  3. Seth Lugo
  4. Tarik Skubal
  5. Ranger Suárez
  6. Zach Eflin
  7. Bryce Miller
  8. Corbin Burnes
  9. Spencer Arrighetti
  10. Brandon Pfaadt

Taylor Tarter

Taylor is a fantasy baseball champion that has been playing for over a decade. Tune into his podcast, Fastball Fantasy Baseball, every Wednesday for in depth analysis making sabermetrics friendly to the everyday fantasy player.

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