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There is this idea out there that being a “ground ball pitcher” means that said pitcher is more likely to give up fewer runs; after all, there is zero chance that a ground ball turns into a guaranteed grand slam (I say guaranteed because of Luis Sojo). Now, giving up a ton of ground ball hits can be problematic, but ground ball hits are harder to come by because ground balls usually give more time for the defense to make a play on it. Anyway, I wanted to know if there honestly is a correlation between being a ground ball pitcher, and allowing fewer runs.
To do this, I went to the Fangraphs pitchers page and arranged the list by having the pitchers with the highest ground ball percentages (GB%) at the top of said list. Then I took a look at their FIP and xFIP to see if it did…here is the top ten;
Some of these pitchers are names known around baseball (Burnett, Porcello, Fister, Jackson), but others are not (Harrell, Locke, Peralta, Cashner). That being said, most of these pitchers have a high ground ball percentage and a FIP/xFIP in the three’s; obviously there are some outliers in the data, but there are only two of them. Basically what I am trying to say is that most of these pitchers are pretty good at keeping the opposing teams off of the score board, and it appears that the fact that a lot of the contact they get is grounders.
So the answer to the question in the title is, yes. Yes, being a ground ball pitcher does equate to being better at limiting the other teams ability to score runs.