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Rafael Betancourt’s amazing K/BB ratio

Posted by Andy on September 22, 2010

(Firstly, sorry I haven't made my regular posts this week. Real life has gotten in the way. Secondly, thanks to reader spartanbill for this post idea.)

Check out the season Rafael Betancourt is having. Here are the highest K/9 rates registered by a pitcher allowing no more than 2 B/9 innings pitched (minimum 10 innings in the season):

Rk Player SO/9 BB/9 IP Year Age Tm Lg G GS GF W L SV H ER BB SO ERA ERA+ OPS+
1 Matt Perisho 14.81 1.74 10.1 1999 24 TEX AL 4 1 3 0 0 0 8 3 2 17 2.61 201 47
2 Rafael Betancourt 13.27 1.25 57.2 2010 35 COL NL 67 0 15 5 1 1 51 25 8 85 3.90 121 68
3 Pedro Martinez 13.20 1.56 213.1 1999 27 BOS AL 31 29 1 23 4 0 160 49 37 313 2.07 243 35
4 Pat Neshek 12.89 1.46 37.0 2006 25 MIN AL 32 0 3 4 2 0 23 9 6 53 2.19 206 36
5 Pedro Martinez 12.57 1.93 116.2 2001 29 BOS AL 18 18 0 7 3 0 84 31 25 163 2.39 190 39
6 Eric Gagne 12.46 1.75 82.1 2002 26 LAD NL 77 0 68 4 1 52 55 18 16 114 1.97 193 49
7 Josias Manzanillo 12.05 1.93 18.2 1999 31 NYM NL 12 0 1 0 0 0 19 12 4 25 5.79 78 113
8 J.J. Putz 11.95 1.49 78.1 2006 29 SEA AL 72 0 57 4 1 36 59 20 13 104 2.30 194 39
9 Joe Thatcher 11.91 1.59 34.0 2010 28 SDP NL 59 0 11 1 0 0 21 5 6 45 1.32 283 27
10 Jose Nunez 11.81 1.69 10.2 1989 25 TOR AL 6 1 3 0 0 0 8 3 2 14 2.53 150 49
11 Pedro Martinez 11.78 1.33 217.0 2000 28 BOS AL 29 29 0 18 6 0 128 42 32 284 1.74 291 18
12 Santiago Guzman 11.70 1.80 10.0 1971 21 STL NL 2 1 1 0 0 0 6 0 2 13 0.00 7
13 Bryan Harvey 11.56 1.94 78.2 1991 28 CAL AL 67 0 63 2 4 46 51 14 17 101 1.60 257 36
14 Mike Gonzalez 11.42 1.25 43.1 2004 26 PIT NL 47 0 12 3 1 1 32 6 6 55 1.25 349 31
15 Joaquin Benoit 11.06 1.79 55.1 2010 32 TBR AL 58 0 15 1 2 1 26 9 11 68 1.46 271 24
16 Billy Wagner 10.99 1.12 48.1 2004 32 PHI NL 45 0 38 4 0 21 31 13 6 59 2.42 187 34
17 Arthur Rhodes 10.99 1.59 68.0 2001 31 SEA AL 71 0 16 8 0 3 46 13 12 83 1.72 243 37
18 Curt Schilling 10.97 1.15 259.1 2002 35 ARI NL 36 35 0 23 7 0 218 93 33 316 3.23 142 57
19 Mike Adams 10.95 1.95 37.0 2009 30 SDP NL 37 0 5 0 0 0 14 3 8 45 0.73 512 -9
20 Takashi Saito 10.91 1.82 64.1 2007 37 LAD NL 63 0 55 2 1 39 33 10 13 78 1.40 319 19
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/22/2010.

A few things of note:

  • This list is heavy on recent seasons thanks to the ever-increasing K rate across MLB.
  • Joe Thatcher and Joaquin Benoit also make it from 2010.
  • Josias Manzanillo makes it with what is an altogether pretty lousy season--how is that possible with such good K and BB rates? (Small sample size...)
  • Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling are the only starters to make to top 20.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010 at 5:41 am and is filed under Season Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

21 Responses to “Rafael Betancourt’s amazing K/BB ratio”

  1. Interesting Andy, although I'd love to see the list re-run with, say, a 50 IP minimum. 10 innings is too small a sample size and doesn't add much to the discussion.

  2. I kept the IP limit so low mostly out of curiosity. You can see the leaders with at least 50 IP by picking them out from the list above.

  3. So it's Gagne who pitches the most innings of any reliever on this list, at 82.1. Heck of a season there.

  4. Cool. And yet ... by the standards of ERA (3.90) and ERA+ (121), Betancourt has been just so-so for a reliever. Out of 159 relievers with 40+ IP this year, his ERA+ ranks 71st; the median is 114.

    That's mainly due to his 9 HRs allowed, which have scored 17 of the 25 runs against him. With anyone on base, he's allowed a .500 SLG I haven't done the research yet, but I suspect that BB/9 has an inverse correlation to HR/9.

    Betancourt also hasn't gotten a single GIDP this year; he averaged 4 GIDP over the prior 3 years.

  5. Just glanced at Gagne's page because of Dan's comment. I was amazed to see that Gagne had exactly 82.1 IP in each of three straight seasons! I wonder if any other pitcher has done that.

  6. Since there was so much talk of Cliff Lee's dominance in this regard, I checked his number for the year, it's 10.88 ... is he just off this list at #21?

  7. Scott V-

    I thought the same thing. But Cliff Lee really started to suck in Texas. I mean, ONLY an 8.5 K/BB? What a waste.

  8. @ 6
    For some reason, this list has K/9 rather than K/BB

  9. Also, Andy, I hope all is well in the personal life.

  10. Good point, Rich. I think the title is a bit misleading. Lee is probably still tops in K/BB. This looks at guys with absurd K rates and low BB rates, which will generally lead to high K/BB rates but not necessarily the best.

  11. Jason has a good idea in players with similar seasons in their career. I remember Tony Perez having the same doubles, triples, hr,and rbi's two consecutive years (but he had a lot of similar seasons).

  12. this Pedro martinez guy sounds like a good pitcher....

  13. Jason has a good idea in players with similar seasons in their career.

    Going by memory from the New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, take a look at John Gochnaur, 1902-03, and Bob Bailey, 1967-68.

  14. Already been said, Andy, but to be interesting the list has to have a higher cut-off in terms of innings pitched or batters faced.

    What I would like to know about Rafael Betancourt from people closer to his situation than I, is how is he being used this year?

    In looking at his 2010 stats, I conclude he is a "middle"(?) reliever, which is surprising considering his control and dominance of batters.

    He is facing only about 3.7 batters per appearance and less than an inning per appearance, so he is not a long reliever.

    I would assume he is a niche pitcher, a specialist who benefits from favorable righty-lefty matchups. Am I doing him a disservice here? Given his awesome K/9 IP, perhaps it is his age that prohibits him from being promoted to a more prominant role with the Rockies.

    Or is it one of those statistical quirks that is invisible even as it is happening.....?

  15. I just don't agree Neil. By putting the IP low, the list includes both exceptional performances such as those by Gagne and Pedro as well as flukes of passing interest by others. All the info you could want, even if ignoring the low-IP performances, is there.

  16. @15
    Fair enough, Andy. One can subjectively "filter" the names on the list to separate oddities from solid acheivements based on common knowlege.

    I suppose it is difficult to distinguish starters from releivers in the search. The point being that a reliever like Rafael Betancourt might not maintain his favourable ratio if he had to go more than once through the order in a given game like a starter such as Pedro Martinez or Curt Schilling.

  17. I had forgotten just how good Curt Schillings' 2001 and 2002 seasons where. He pitched 259.1 innings at age 35 in Arizona with a sub 1.00WHIP in 2002. While striking out 316 batters that is crazy.

  18. K/BB should really include HBP, since it's effectively the same thing.

  19. Oh, pre-TJ surgery Pat Neshek, we miss you and your crazy snaggle-tooth so...

  20. Ok, I know this is about Rafael Betancourt, but the SO/9 ratio should be called the Pedro ratio... this guy was both amazing and brilliant in the mound.

  21. @ Fcomerejo

    Pedro? More like the Johnson ratio. 14 seasons of 10+ K/9, led the league 9 times, and 7 of the top 10 performances single-season therein.