Written by Daniel Paulling
Published: 19 June 2008
The Major League season is so long that luck tends to even out. BABIP, or batting average on balls in play, is a statistic that can fluctuate widely over a short period of time and eventually correct itself. If you know how to play the market correctly, you can receive a huge advantage. Here are nine pitchers whose BABIP is over what is generally considered an acceptable mark, .290.
Aaron Harang, Cincinnati Reds – Harang’s .325 mark places him well above the accepted average of .290. He is a quality pitcher who makes a living by missing bats: Harang has 89 strikeouts in only 101 innings pitched this year. With an excellent strikeout-to-walk ratio, it’s only a matter of time until his 4.10 ERA drops into the mid 3.00s.
Bronson Arroyo, Cincinnati Reds – Hey, another Reds starting pitcher! Now, this one is a little bit of a stretch, considering how bad Arroyo has thrown this year, but hear me out. His .361 BABIP just has to fall sometime. Furthermore, Arroyo is a post-All Star break pitcher (4.57 ERA before, 3.99 after). If you’re looking for a solid end-of-the-rotation starter for your fantasy league with strikeout capabilities, this is your man.
CC Sabathia, Cleveland Indians – Sabathia’s .336 mark may be artificially high because of his being lit up earlier in the season. As he continues his free agent drive (Sabathia’s ERA in May was 2.44, June, 2.74), expect his stats to go down. I believe it is too late to buy low on him, however.
Javier Vazquez, Chicago White Sox – Vazquez throws plenty of strikes -- he has 93 Ks so far this season -- but that has also led to a lot of home runs. Playing in that home ballpark, Vazquez may keep giving up those home runs. However, with that strikeout to walk ratio, I’m buying continued success and improvement.
AJ Burnett, Toronto Blue Jays – Burnett’s ERA is more affected than these other guys by his .336 BABIP. Why? He walks a lot of hitters, and when the more-than-normal number of hits fall in, more runs are going to score. As Burnett pushes for a new contract -- he can and likely will opt out of his contract after this season -- watch for him to improve, if he can stay healthy.
Brad Penny, Los Angeles Dodgers – Brad Penny is having a downright bad year, especially when we consider the first half is his better half. When examining Penny, do we go with his BABIP lowering from here on out, which would help him out, or do we expect him to wear down in the second half and be as bad as he has been in previous seasons? I say he bucks the latter trend (assuming he’s not hurt).
Andrew Sonnanstine, Tampa Bay Rays – We can look at Sonnanstine’s .340 BABIP and think it’ll fall. After all, that’s way above normal. But you know what? I’m not buying. Sonnanstine is the worst pitcher with a winning record so far this year. I’m just not a big fan of him overall.
Andrew Miller, Florida Marlins – Call this a gut feeling. Call it stepping out onto a limb. Call it whatever you want, but I’m buying on Miller. Yes, he was downright atrocious his first month of the season (9.12 ERA), but the last two months (2.43 and 3.22) he has looked better. Add to that a .354 BABIP and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly 2:1, and I’m buying.
Roy Oswalt, Houston Astros – It may seem like Oswalt has fallen in fantasy baseball cheat sheets in recent seasons, but he’s still a top 15 guy in my mind. His K:BB is 3:1. His BAA is .292. His BABIP is .325. Expect his numbers to fall dramatically in the near future. Oswalt is too great of a pitcher to be throwing like this.