Highest Ground-Ball Rates Among 2014 Free Agents

Earlier in the season, I took a look at the highest ground-ball rates among free agent pitchers. That came several months ago, and over the course of the season the numbers have changed a bit. With nearly a full season under their belts, let's see which qualified pitchers out of this year's crop of free agents has done the best at keeping the ball on the ground (keeping in mind that the league-average ground-ball rate is currently 44.6 percent)…

Starting Pitchers

  1. A.J. Burnett — 56.3 percent
  2. Tim Hudson — 55.8 percent
  3. Roberto Hernandez — 52.9 percent
  4. Joe Saunders — 49.9 percent
  5. Scott Feldman — 49.4 percent
  6. Edinson Volquez — 48.2 percent
  7. Hiroki Kuroda — 48 percent
  8. Ervin Santana — 47.7 percent
  9. Jorge De La Rosa — 47.4 percent
  10. Andy Pettitte — 46.4 percent

Relief Pitchers

  1. Chad Qualls — 66 percent
  2. Matt Albers — 62.8 percent
  3. J.P. Howell — 57.4 percent
  4. Matt Lindstrom — 54.7 percent ($4MM club option)
  5. Jamey Wright — 52.7 percent
  6. Matt Belisle — 51.4 percent ($4.25MM mutual option)
  7. LaTroy Hawkins — 49.7 percent
  8. Fernando Rodney — 49.6 percent
  9. Darren Oliver — 48.7 percent
  10. Jason Frasor — 48.5 percent

Pitchers with strong ground-ball rates will often appeal to teams in smaller ballparks, and oftentimes a lofty ground-ball rate can get a pitcher paid in spite of mediocre strikeout rates. Santana figures to sign the biggest contract of this bunch due to his age and performance, but De La Rosa has quietly enjoyed a 3.1 fWAR season and should be in line for a solid payday as well as he enters his age-33 season.

Jake Westbrook (56.1 percent), Jason Marquis (52.3 percent) and Paul Maholm (50.7 percent) all deserve mention as well, but they don't have enough innings to qualify for the ERA title. Marquis also has little free agent value, as he recently underwent Tommy John surgery.

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