The discussion generated by Josh’s insightful post on Derek Jeter’s “groundball problem” got me thinking about a burgeoning trend in sabermetrics, one which has been avidly embraced by the MLB establishment. Put simply: Groundballs are good. Flyballs are bad. (For pitchers, that is.)
Groundball Rate is now one of the “dashboard” stats listed at the top of player pages on FanGraphs, alongside conventional stats like wins and ERA, as wells as popular “new” metrics like xFIP, WAR, and BABIP. In the inaugural version of a rotisserie league sponsored by SABR, one of the metrics on which we are judged is GB/FB ratio. Pitchers like Derek Lowe, Tim Hudson, and Brandon Webb are frequently commended for their ability to induce grounders (and therefore, presumably, double plays). Their success (including sizable paydays) has helped make the groundball-provoking sinker a wildly popular pitch, especially for prospects with otherwise mediocre fastballs (i.e. Justin Masterson).
The logic is straightforward enough. You can’t drive yourself in with a groundball. … Click here to read the rest