By the Numbers: Lack-ing owner support

If you have been reading this "Lucky/Unlucky" feature for awhile, you have probably noticed that some players' good or bad luck has persisted for much of the season. Ramon Vazquez , Justin Duchscherer and Armando Galarraga have all maintained improbably favorable H/BIP rates for weeks on end, while Mark Ellis , Andrew Miller and Randy Johnson have been "unlucky" for so long, you have to start wondering if they will ever turn things around. For better or worse, some of these players may keep up their fluky performances for most or all of the season, but sometimes it just takes a player a while to come back down (or up) to earth. John Lackey is one of these players. A longtime regular on the "Lucky Pitchers" list, Lackey has been gliding along most of the year with a sub-2.00 ERA that was bolstered by a mid-20s H/BIP percentage. Just as it was starting to look like he was immune to bad luck, Lackey’s H/BIP finally changed course over the last couple of weeks.

After his first four stars, Lackey had a miniscule 1.80 ERA, but not all owners were buying it, as he was still either on waivers or reserves in 19 percent of leagues. There was good reason for skepticism, as his strikeout (6.0 per nine innings) and home run (1.2 per nine innings) ratios were unimpressive and his ERC was a more humdrum 3.10. If you take Lackey's ratios at that point and project his stats with a more normal rate of hits per balls in play, you're looking at a pitcher with an ERA in the upper 3.00s who isn't helping much with Ks.

Despite the recent adjustment in Lackey's H/BIP, things have worked out well for his owners. It may not seem that way, as he has given up 11 runs and 23 hits over his last two starts, but his skill stats have been improving steadily, even through those two disastrous appearances. This is an encouraging sign for Lackey owners, because those two bombs were not a sign of him falling apart; it's just a streak of bad luck that was roughly equal to his earlier streak of good luck. With a 28 percent H/BIP and 2.92 ERC, now you can trust Lackey's stats. And they're pretty darn good: 6-2, 2.46 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 66 Ks in 80 1/3 innings. He is still not on an active roster in 17 percent of leagues, so it's time to claim or activate him.

It's harder to know what's more strange: seeing Fernando Tatis name in boxscores again, or seeing him on this week's "Good Stats, Good Skills" list. His numbers, such as his .765 OPS, are actually pretty ordinary for an outfielder, but they are probably better than anyone expected. Tatis' .293 average and 19 RBI in 116 at-bats are also a reflection of some genuine power skills and not a disproportionate number of seeing-eye singles. His 35 percent H/BIP may seem high, but it's right on target for someone hitting a lot of hard grounders (1.9 ground ball-to-flyball ratio, .147 Isolated Power). His skill stats and H/BIP so far look just like those for Aaron Rowand , and that's not a bad skill set to emulate.

All statistics below are for season-to-date performances through Saturday, July 12.

'Lucky' Hitters H/BIP RC/27 'Lucky' Pitchers H/BIP ERC
Jerry Hairston , OF, Cincinnati 40% 8.2 Brandon Morrow , RP, Seattle 18% 1.93
Howie Kendrick , 2B, L.A. Angels 39% 5.8 Andrew Brown , RP, Oakland 21% 2.69
Ramon Vazquez , 3B, Texas 38% 6.9 Justin Duchscherer , SP, Oakland 21% 1.61
Edgar Gonzalez , 2B, San Diego 37% 4.5 Gavin Floyd , SP, Chicago White Sox 22% 3.47
Nick Punto , 3B, Minnesota 37% 6.1 Armando Galarraga , SP, Detroit 23% 3.15
Fred Lewis , OF, San Francisco 36% 5.7 Tim Wakefield , SP, Boston 23% 3.37
Clete Thomas , OF, Detroit 36% 5.3 Cory Wade , RP, L.A. Dodgers 24% 2.98
Brian Buscher , 3B, Minnesota 35% 5.1 Kevin Gregg , RP, Florida 24% 2.76
Ray Durham , 2B, San Francisco 35% 6.0 Scott Olsen , SP, Florida 25% 3.65
Miguel Montero , C, Arizona 35% 4.4 Oliver Perez , SP, N.Y. Mets 26% 4.77
Unlucky' Hitters H/BIP RC/27 'Unlucky' Pitchers H/BIP ERC
Kenji Johjima , C, Seattle 22% 2.5 Jorge De La Rosa , SP, Colorado 37% 6.01
Carlos Ruiz , C, Philadelphia 23% 2.3 Bronson Arroyo , SP, Cincinnati 36% 6.34
Austin Kearns , OF, Washington 23% 3.0 Andrew Miller , SP, Florida 35% 4.79
Ronnie Belliard , 2B, Washington 23% 5.4 Rafael Betancourt , RP, Cleveland 35% 5.14
Freddy Sanchez , 2B, Pittsburgh 25% 2.3 Brian Wilson , RP, San Francisco 34% 4.31
Ramon Hernandez , C, Baltimore 25% 3.7 Darrell Rasner , SP, N.Y. Yankees 34% 5.06
Mark Ellis , 2B, Oakland 25% 4.7 Randy Johnson , SP, Arizona 34% 4.76
Kevin Millar , 1B, Baltimore 25% 4.7 Manny Corpas , RP, Colorado 34% 4.90
Willie Harris , OF, Washington 25% 4.5 Nate Robertson , SP, Detroit 34% 5.19
Jeff Francoeur , OF, Atlanta 26% 3.4 A.J. Burnett , SP, Toronto 34% 4.47
Good stats, good skills - hitters H/BIP RC/27 Good stats, good skills - pitchers H/BIP ERC
Josh Willingham , OF, Florida 31% 7.5 Kerry Wood , RP, Chicago Cubs 30% 2.07
Marcus Thames , OF, Detroit 27% 6.5 Cliff Lee , SP, Cleveland 29% 2.21
Eric Hinske , OF, Tampa Bay 29% 6.2 Jorge Campillo , RP, Atlanta 28% 2.71
Troy Glaus , 3B, St. Louis 29% 6.0 John Danks , SP, Chicago White Sox 28% 2.81
Fernando Tatis , 3B/OF, N.Y. Mets 35% 4.9 John Lackey , SP, L.A. Angels 28% 2.92
Poor stats, poor skills - hitters H/BIP RC/27 Poor stats, poor skills - pitchers H/BIP ERC
Matt Murton , OF, Oakland 26% 1.9 Miguel Batista , SP, Seattle 32% 6.88
Brendan Ryan , SS, St. Louis 30% 2.9 Brandon Backe , SP, Houston 30% 5.99
Michael Bourn , OF, Houston 27% 3.0 Mark Redman , SP, Colorado 32% 5.64
Yuniesky Betancourt , SS, Seattle 28% 3.2 Josh Fogg , SP, Cincinnati 30% 5.61
Gary Sheffield , DH, Detroit 25% 3.4 Garrett Olson , SP, Baltimore 32% 5.48
Runs Created per 27 Outs (RC/27) -- An estimate of how many runs a lineup would produce per 27 outs if a particular player occupied each spot in the order; ex. the RC/27 for Miguel Cabrera would predict the productivity of a lineup where Cabrera (or his statistical equal) batted in all nine spots; created by Bill James
Component ERA (ERC) -- An estimate of a what a pitcher's ERA would be if it were based solely on actual pitching performance; created by Bill James
Base Hits per Balls in Play (H/BIP) -- The percentage of balls in play (at bats minus strikeouts and home runs) that are base hits; research by Voros McCracken and others has established that this rate is largely random and has a norm of approximately 30%
Isolated Power -- The difference between slugging percentage and batting average; created by Branch Rickey and Allan Roth
Walk Rate -- Walks / (at bats + walks)
Whiff Rate -- Strikeouts / at bats

Al Melchior was recently a Fantasy columnist and data analyst for Baseball HQ and will be providing advice columns for Click here to send him a question. Please put "Melchior" in the subject field.

Data Analyst

Al Melchior has been playing Fantasy Baseball since 1994, getting his start in the Southern Maryland Anthropomorphic Baseball League (SMABL). He has been writing about Fantasy Baseball since 2000, getting... Full Bio

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