What is LOB%, anyway?

Pitchers find themselves in tricky situations many times throughout a season. In these cases, we often hear commentators talk about limiting the damage, preventing as many runs as possible. This translates in manager-speak to: “Keep the goddam runners on base and off home plate.”

Left On Base Percentage (LOB%) is an estimation of the percent of runners that a pitcher was able to strand on base, as opposed to allowing them to score. While pitchers’ abilities vary to extremes, LOB% tends to fall between 65% and 75% for most pitchers. A high LOB%, like 80%, indicates that a pitcher is able to keep most of his base runners off the scoreboard. Pitchers who strike out a lot of batters and who generally keep runners off the base paths will usually see higher LOB%s, while pitchers who allow a lot of walks and strike out less batters are less likely to strand runners on base.

Even though a pitcher has some control over stranding runners, luck and team defense likely play key roles in the LOB%. Sometimes bloopers find the outfield grass with a runner on third, and other times hard-hit line drives destined for the gap get snared by middle infielders with two outs and the bases juiced. A few fortunate or unfortunate bounces in the first half of a season can raise or lower a pitcher’s ERA as much as a full run.

As always, in half a season a pitcher’s can be a function of some luck, so be sure to check out that LOB% when deciding to add Edwin Jackson or dump Ricky Nolasco from your fanstasy team.

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2 Responses to What is LOB%, anyway?

  1. […] there’s Left On Base Percentage (LOB%). The percent of runners that reach base on a pitcher yet never score. Good strike out pitchers can […]

  2. […] don’t seem to be able to control very much, yet still strongly influence their ERAs: BABIP, LOB%, and home runs per fly ball (HR/FB). During short periods of time, these three […]

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