One of my favorite tools for assessing players in fantasy baseball is Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP). A great piece done on BABIP can be found here. To those unfamiliar, here is a brief synopsis:
“Simple logic states that once a ball is hit into play, there is nothing a hitter can do to increase his chances of a hit. So, if you keep hitting them into play, they’ll eventually start to drop for you” – Steven Lourie
Basically, BABIP measures the percentage of plate appearances that end with a ball hit into play and is credited with a hit. Home runs are excluded from BABIP since they are out of play. The average BABIP for a player is usually in the area of .290-.300. So knowing that, we should be able to examine who is benefiting from luck or who is a pure hitter.
Players with ridiculously high BABIP’s should be “sell high” candidates since there is very little possibility of them keeping them up. Likewise, a player with a very low BABIP in relation to their batting average is likely due for a rebound. However, this does not necessarily mean they will do a 180 and fall off the charts/become offensive juggernauts.
Here are just a few players who have extraordinary BABIP’s:
- David Wright (.356 avg, .476 BABIP): I’m not saying he isn’t a great talent, but the balls can’t keep falling this well for him forever. The .356 avg won’t hold up, he may go through a dry spell, but his usual .300 avg will be there.
- Evan Longoria (.309 avg, .364 BABIP): Longoria’s scorching hot start wasn’t all skill and we see by his .246 avg in June that he hasn’t been getting as lucky with the drops.
- Michael Bourn (.294 avg, .369 BABIP): Yeah, a career .255 hitter with a strikeout rate of 21.8% is going to hit close to .300? Not likely. He is on pace for well over 100 K’s and that alone means a drop in batting avg.
- Carlos Beltran (.336 avg, .367 BABIP): Not as big a difference as Michael Bourn, but still, Beltran’s luck is going to run out. It already has begun as evident by his monthly average from April-June (.388, .323, .292). Too bad he went on the DL before you could trade him.
- Mark Reynolds (.263 avg, .345): My boy Andy Behrens over at Yahoo! Sports already wrote a great piece on Reynolds. His average had dropped 15 points before Thursday night’s game. He will strikeout 200 times this season and doesn’t walk enough to demonstrate any kind of patience.
Now for players you should be trying to trade for:
- Jose Lopez (.248 avg, .245 BABIP): There is very little difference between avg and BABIP, but the fact that his avg is higher than his BABIP does point to an increase in production. He was hitting .309 with 5 HR in June before he went on bereavement. Yes, he went 0-5 on Thursday, but don’t let it scare you.
- Adrian Gonzalez (.275 avg, .254 BABIP): As incredible as his season has been, the numbers show that he has room to improve. That is pretty spectacular.
- Ian Kinsler (.266 avg, .257 BABIP): Don’t expect a .300 season, but his avg should get a boost as the season goes on.
- Mark Teixeira (.286 avg, .278 BABIP): Again, not a HUGE difference, but it is something to look forward too (especially if A-Rod comes around).
- Albert Pujols (.325 avg, .281 BABIP): That’s almost unfair. He is hitting that well and his BABIP is still below the norm. Simply unreal.
As always, not everything goes according to plan. Some players can keep their lucky streaks going all season. Again, just because I say that these players are due for gains and dropoffs, it doesn’t mean they will start doing the complete opposite of what they have been doing. Most of the time it will be a slight regression or improvement, but in some instances, big things can happen.
Tags: Adrian Gonzalez, Albert Pujols, Carlos Beltran, David Wright, Evan Longoria, Fantasy, Ian Kinsler, Jose Lopez, Mark Reynolds, Mark Teixeira, Michael Bourn, TGIF