Braves Pitchers Get A Lot of Groundballs

January 12, 2011 at 12:12 pm 2 comments

Tim Hudson

As I was researching Blaine Boyer‘s numbers yesterday over at FanGraphs I happened to notice a trend in Groundball Rates;  the Atlanta Braves pitchers get a ton of them.  And by a ton I really do mean a ton.  Let me start with the starting pitchers where only 22 qualified pitchers had a GB rate above 50%.

Tim Hudson led all Major League starters in GB percentage at 64.1%, the highest mark of his brilliant career.  Hudson’s fastball also led all Major Leaguers in runs above average (wFB) at 32.1, more than 2 runs ahead of the 2nd place starter.  Hudson forced 439 balls into the ground in 2010. 

Derek Lowe wasn’t very far behind Hudson.  Lowe ranked 3rd among qualified starters in the Majors with a 58.8% GB rate, which was oddly the 2nd lowest total of his career.  He accounted for 357 groundballs last year.

The Braves have the 1st and 3rd most efficient starters at keeping the ball on the ground.  How does their bullpen stack up?  Take a look.

2010 rookie Jonny Venters led all pitchers with at least 40 innings with a 68.4% GB rate.  He did this over 83 relief innings, inducing 141 groundballs.  This was the main reason he only allowed one homerun all season.

Veteran Peter Moylan ranked 2nd behind Venters with a 67.8% GB rate over 63.2 innings, inducing 118 groundballs.

Eric O’Flaherty ranked 13th in the Majors with a 57.4% groundball rate in 44 innings, inducing 70 groundballs.

The Braves have the top two relivers when it comes down to inducing groundballs and their LOOGY ranked 13th.  Not too shabby.

The Braves, as a staff, ranked first in the Majors with a 49.9% GB rate.  This also helped the Braves lead the league in HR/9 innings at 0.79.  In fact, 5 of the top 6 teams in ERA were 5 of the top 7 in GB rate, including the Braves who were tied 2nd in the Major with a 3.57 ERA.  The great grounball rate helped the Braves post a league best 3.65 FIP.

The addition of Dan Uggla and his -7.4 UZR/150 in 2010 and -9.9 UZR/150 in 2009 could turn some of those groundballs into hits.  Secondbase was mainly manned by two players last year:  Maritn Prado and Omar Infante.  Prado posted a -2.6 UZR/150 and Infante posted a +0.2 UZR/150.  Nothing spectacular but Uggla’s defense is a downgrade.  If the Braves continue to get almost 50% groundballs they have a legit shot at being one of the top staffs again, even with the defense getting slightly worse.

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