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Remaining Free Agent Strikeout Relievers

There are more than 40 unsigned free agent relievers at this stage of the offseason, but not all of those relievers are strikeout guys.  To zero in on the strikeout artists left on the market, let's take a look at the leaders in K/9 and K% in 2012.

You're probably familiar with K/9, which is strikeouts per nine innings.  The league average was 7.56 K/9 last season, and Craig Kimbrel led all qualified relievers with 16.66 K/9.  The second metric, K%, measures the percentage of batters faced that the pitcher struck out.  The league average was 19.8% in 2012, and Kimbrel also topped that mountain at 44.0%.

The K/9 and K% leaderboards are predictably similar, but not identical.  More efficient pitchers will have a higher K%, even though they may have a lower K/9 than their baserunner-prone counterparts.  Here are lists of unsigned free agent relievers with above average K/9 and K% rates.

Strikeouts Per Nine Innings (K/9)

  1. Jason Frasor - 10.92
  2. Mike Gonzalez - 9.84
  3. Manny Parra - 9.36
  4. Hisanori Takahashi - 9.30
  5. Brandon Lyon - 9.30
  6. Vicente Padilla - 9.18
  7. Rafael Soriano - 9.18
  8. Francisco Rodriguez - 9.00
  9. Juan Cruz - 8.33
  10. Matt Lindstrom - 7.66
  11. Kevin Gregg - 7.63

Just missing the cut was Rays left-hander J.P. Howell, who posted a 7.51 K/9 rate in 2012 to go along with a 3.04 ERA and 3.9 BB/9.  Howell has drawn interest from the Nationals, Phillies, Cubs, Mariners, and Rangers this winter.

Strikeouts Per Batter Faced (K%)

  1. Frasor - 27.8%
  2. Gonzalez - 25.8%
  3. Soriano - 24.7%
  4. Takahashi - 24.5%
  5. Lyon - 24.4%
  6. Rodriguez - 23.6%
  7. Padilla - 23.4%
  8. Parra - 22.3%
  9. Howell - 20.7%
  10. Cruz - 20.4%
  11. Lindstrom - 20.0%

That's a bit of redemption for Howell, as he posted an above-average K% while Gregg (18.5%) missed the mark.  That essentially means that Howell was more efficient and struck out a higher percentage of the batters he faced.  Chad Durbin was just left on the outside-looking-in with a 19.1% posting.

Special thanks to Mike Axisa, who compiled a similar post last year.

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