|Good, Bad Luck on BABIP Affecting Hitters||| Print ||
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on July 19, 2007
There's a statistic commonly thrown around called Batting Average on Balls in Play. It is -- according to The Hardball Times -- "a measure of the number of batted balls that safely fall in for a hit, excluding home runs." It is calculated -- once again, according to The Hardball Times -- by using this formula: (H-HR)/(AB-K-HR+SF). The average BABIP is .290.
How does all of this mathematical mumbo-jumbo help your fantasy team? Well, just take a look at the stats. Batters with BABIP over .290 are considered lucky, while batters with a BABIP under .290 are unlucky. And, as we all know, luck tends to even out. Therefore, some of these guys will improve and others will regress. Here's a look at a few fantasy-relevant hitters.
(Note: Speedy guys will have higher BABIP than .290 because they can beat out infield singles more easily than slower, middle-of-the-order hitters. Keep that in mind when it comes to figuring out who to gamble on.)
Figure to Decline
C Jorge Posada, New York Yankees – Posada has been hitting a ridiculous .330 this season, which is merely 60 points above his career batting average. Are his new-found numbers a product of him beating Ponce Deleon to the fountain of youth? Unlikely. Have they come as a result of him looking for a new contract? Perhaps, but probably not the case. That gaudy batting average is certainly the byproduct of a .396 BABIP. He just does not have enough speed to beat out infield singles, which means that that number has to drop sometime, along with his batting average.
OF Magglio Ordonez, Detroit Tigers – Speaking of guys hitting about 60 points above their career average, check out Ordonez. He’s at a .360 figure and, like Posada, he doesn’t have the wheels to beat out infield singles. That means an inevitable drop from his lofty perch is bound for the second half. It’s too bad, too. I would’ve loved to see Spud Webb’s record for most doubles in a season go down.
1B Dmitri Young, Washington Nationals – As great of a story as it would be, Young just will not continue to hit .338 over the course of an entire season. Why? His BABIP is .382, which is way higher than .290. Young has a decent eye, but this just cannot be legitimate.
1B Carlos Pena, Tampa Bay Devil Rays – For someone who is only 29 years old, Pena sure has played in a lot of organizations: Detroit, New York, Boston, Oakland, and Tampa Bay. There were people at each stop that saw something in his bat, but he has not produced until this season. Pena, hitting .288, has a high BABIP of .333. He strikes out way too much to believe continued success is likely.
Figure to Stay Where They Are
1B Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers – Cecil’s kid is definitely establishing himself as one of the best hitters in all of baseball. You might as well call him a young Ryan Howard. Fielder’s BABIP is .288, which is right next to his .286 batting average. Don’t expect a huge uptick or drop from this heavy-set fellow.
1B Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox – It may surprise you, but Konerko’s batting average has climbed all the way back to .269. His BABIP is .286, so there’s reason to think he’s back and staying there. This is definitely a good buy-low candidate. He may even be on the waiver wire in some of your leagues.
1B Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins – Last year, Morneau was not playing over his head. If he was, then he’s doing so again this year. He has a .294 batting average, and with a .287 BABIP, that number is legitimate. Expect him to continue producing at this level and expect this to be the last first baseman listed in this category.
OF Sammy Sosa, Texas Rangers – That’s right, Sosa has actually made himself relevant in fantasy discussions once again. His power -- 14 home runs and 63 RBIs -- is nice, but don’t think he is going to help you in batting average. Sosa’s .241 mark figures to stay right there as a result of his .295 BABIP.
Figure to Improve
OF Andruw Jones, Atlanta Braves – What?! Someone actually projecting some sort of success for Jones, who has been absolutely atrocious at the plate this year for the Braves? Yes, that is the case. (And yes, I may be compromising some integrity by being a Braves fan.) However, Jones has a .244 BABIP. That number has to go up, which would boost an abysmal .213 batting average. He still has some power, too.
1B Richie Sexson, Seattle Mariners – He is hitting an atrocious .200 right now, even worse than Jones, if you can believe that. However, you have to believe in Sexson, a career .265 hitter, to turn things around in the second half. His BABIP is .205. Take a shot on this guy. He’ll reward you with some pop.
OF Johnny Damon, New York Yankees – Usually, speedy players are prone to having a higher BABIP, since they can beat out infield hits more often. Damon, who does have wheels, has not been healthy for much of the year, but should be turning around in the second half. We should see a boost in his statistics, pending health.
3B Garret Atkins, Colorado Rockies – There is a lot of talk about Rockies being Coors Field products. That may be true, and if it is, you should still slot them into your lineup. It does not matter how they get their statistics, as long as they get them for your team. Atkins is just too good of a hitter for this slow start to continue. I’m sure some of you may be saying he has a .281 BABIP, which is about average. I am aware of that. Atkins will improve upon that figure. It’s a gut feeling.