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Cliff Lee’s K/BB ratio

Posted by Andy on June 26, 2010

Cliff Lee currently has the best K/BB ratio of all time:

Rk Player SO/BB Year Age Tm G GS CG SHO W L W-L% IP H ER BB SO ERA ERA+ HR IBB BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Cliff Lee 19.00 2010 31 SEA 11 11 4 1 6 3 .667 86.2 75 23 4 76 2.39 173 3 0 .227 .234 .320 .554
2 Bret Saberhagen 11.00 1994 30 NYM 24 24 4 0 14 4 .778 177.1 169 54 13 143 2.74 153 13 0 .254 .271 .389 .660
3 Curt Schilling 9.58 2002 35 ARI 36 35 5 1 23 7 .767 259.1 218 93 33 316 3.23 142 29 1 .224 .251 .362 .613
4 Pedro Martinez 8.88 2000 28 BOS 29 29 7 4 18 6 .750 217.0 128 42 32 284 1.74 291 17 0 .167 .213 .259 .473
5 Greg Maddux 8.85 1997 31 ATL 33 33 5 2 19 4 .826 232.2 200 57 20 177 2.20 189 9 6 .236 .256 .311 .567
6 Pedro Martinez 8.46 1999 27 BOS 31 29 5 1 23 4 .852 213.1 160 49 37 313 2.07 243 9 1 .205 .248 .288 .536
7 Ben Sheets 8.25 2004 25 MIL 34 34 5 0 12 14 .462 237.0 201 71 32 264 2.70 162 25 1 .226 .255 .383 .637
8 Carlos Silva 7.89 2005 26 MIN 27 27 2 0 9 8 .529 188.1 212 72 9 71 3.44 130 25 2 .290 .300 .441 .741
9 Greg Maddux 7.87 1995 29 ATL 28 28 10 3 19 2 .905 209.2 147 38 23 181 1.63 262 8 3 .197 .224 .258 .482
10 Curt Schilling 7.51 2001 34 ARI 35 35 6 1 22 6 .786 256.2 237 85 39 293 2.98 157 37 0 .245 .273 .402 .675
11 Fergie Jenkins 7.11 1971 28 CHC 39 39 30 3 24 13 .649 325.0 304 100 37 263 2.77 142 29 6 .246 .269 .373 .642
12 Cy Young 7.00 1905 38 BOS 38 33 31 4 18 19 .486 320.2 248 65 30 210 1.82 148 3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/26/2010.

Saberhagen currently has the record although Curt Schilling's season is perhaps more impressive since 1994 was a short year.

Lee has a long way to go yet before he breaks the record, but he sure is pushing up his trade value for the Mariners.

This entry was posted on Saturday, June 26th, 2010 at 2:30 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

20 Responses to “Cliff Lee’s K/BB ratio”

  1. Carlos Silva's 2005 was especially remarkable, as he accomplished his great K/BB ratio while averaging just 3.4 strikeouts per nine innings. Only seven unintentional walks in 188.1 innings is downright ridiculous.

  2. It's worth noting that if you remove intentional walks from the picture, the record belongs to Maddux. His 177 strikeouts to 14 unintentional walks in '97 is good for a ratio of 12.64/1.

  3. good point davidj, which brings up the point that i think it should actually be k/(bb-ibb) ratio. a pitchers stats shouldnt get punished because of a managerial move.

  4. Exactly, Cubbies. Intentional walks shouldn't count against a pitcher's K/BB ratio (or his WHIP, for that matter, or any other stat that incorporates walks) for the same reason that sacrifice bunts don't count against a hitter's batting average.

  5. on a related note, through 33 innings in relief, marmol is setting the k/9 record right now. no one with as little as 6 innings has come close to his 16.64 k/9. (according to PI)the current record for k/9 with at least as many innings as marmol is gagne in his famous 03 year with 14.98 k/9.

  6. I disagree. Intentional walks are a product of what else has happened in the game, i.e. baserunners allowed. The only exception would be setting up a double play to prevent the winning run from scoring. But IBBs occurring just to avoid a particular batter should definitely count. After all they aren't that much different from unintentionally walking the same batter in that situation.

  7. k/bb is a great method to figure out a pitcher's control. if they intentionally walk someone, they did it on purpose, going against what a normal walk may be (in most cases). if it is not an intentional walk, a pitcher would prefer an out, and do everything he can to do it, one of which could be pitching around the batter and hoping he swings at a bad pitch. an intentional walk is completely different, handing the batter a base for strategic reasons. it does not reflect the pitchers true ability.
    what is the point of a stat, to find a players true ability, or recount what exactly happened in the game?
    i say the first in the case of k/bb, and ibb does not depend on the pitchers skill level.

  8. Cubbies, that's a fair point. It's a matter of how you want to use the stat. Indeed ignoring IBBs does make K/BB a better measure of control. But regular K/BB with IBBs included is a better measure of actual performance as opposed to theoretical best. Like I said, though, you have a fair point. Depends on how you want to use the stat.

  9. Drew Cobb Says:

    Greg Maddux's year in 1995 (as essentially proven here) was one of the finest seasons of all time. 90.5% winnng pct; opponent batting average < .200 and an era of 1.63. Great, great year.

  10. DoubleDiamond Says:

    Another thing regarding intentional walks - the pitches thrown are not tallied as part of a pitch count. That's how someone can show up in a box score with something like 1/3 of an inning pitched, 1 BB, and only, say, 3 pitches thrown.

    Sometimes, the strategy changes part of the way through an at-bat, such as a stolen base or wild pitch opening up first base or the count going to 2-0 on a dangerous hitter. I'm guessing that the earlier pitches, before the catcher stands up way outside, do count as number of pitches thrown, but the remainder don't.

  11. But if that pitcher didn't let that man on base he wouldn't have been able to give up the stolen base and then need the Intentional walk....

  12. K/SO is another one of those stats that, while significant, must be taken into account with consideration of what ground ball/fly ball ratio a pitcher has. If Pitcher A fans 18, but allows six home runs in a game, and pitcher B allows two but only strikes out three, which would you prefer? {This is a hypothetical example, of course}

  13. Sometimes, pitchers have low BB totals not because they have excellent command, but because they're so hittable, they never get to three balls. So the stat is flawed regardless.

  14. I love what Lee has done for the M's this season. He has been a consumate professional, and a total team guy, even as he waits to hear where he'll finish the season.

    He was just as pumped as anyone when they held on to beat the Brewers, 5-4, this afternoon. When the M's players held a closed-door meeting recently, it was organized by Lee and Milton Bradley(!)

    I almost wish they'd keep him here through the end of the season, just to see what happens. We may not make it back to .500, but Lee has been an awesome influence on the rest of the staff.

    In fact, I'd absolutely love to see the M's find a way to keep him.

    Either way, the deal to bring him to Seattle has been worth it.

  15. "Either way, the deal to bring him to Seattle has been worth it."

    Meanwhile, Phillies fans like myself still can't figure it out. Maaaybe if any of the prospects were any good, but they sure don't appear to be.

  16. Single-season leaders for K/BB are available at http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/strikeouts_per_base_on_balls_season.shtml

    Saberhagen broke a 110-year old record, as the previous record was 10, set by Grasshopper Jim Whitney in 1884. Records that last over 100 years are not so rare, but records that are broken after standing over 100 years are very unusual.

  17. Maddux in '95 is akin to Saberhagen in '94 in that both were shortened seasons. Maddux's season was indeed great but he would have had 3 more starts in a normal season. If any one of those was bad (like Jimenez's last start last week) a season's worth of greatness could be lowered quite a bit in a hurry. I agree that Schilling's '02 season was the best.

  18. Larry, Maddux's record K/UBB ratio came in '97, not '95.

  19. Hey, DoubleDiamond, I'm pretty sure that bit about intentional balls not counting against a pitcher's pitch count is not true.

  20. If Lee is traded to a NL team, will he be eligible for the all-time record?

    4 walks in 86 innings is absolutely absurd, particularly as 9 of his 11 starts have been against winning teams - TB (x2), MIN, TEX (x2), SD (x2), LAA and CIN