Last week on Stats Sunday we took a look at OPS (on base % + slugging %), a pretty straightforward if not perfect way to measure offensive performance. This week we are going to meander down the mysterious trail of BABIP.
BABIP or batting average on balls in play is not so much a way to evaluate performance as it is a predictive tool. The premise being that aside from strikeouts, walks and home runs all other outcomes are subject to the quality of the defense and random dumb luck. The formula, in case you were wondering:
Hits – Hrs/ ABs -K-HR- Sac Flies
League average for BABIP is fairly consistent from year to year, usually between .290 and .300. Typically higher for speedy guys who get leg hits and line drive hitters who don’t chase many bad balls and therefore make more solid contact.
Now for the crystal ball part of this: If your favorite player is posting a BABIP well above or below that .290-.300 range you can expect some sort of correction in the market. Sorry Welington (.406). The good news you ask? Edwin Jackson has yielded a BABIP of .353 prior to his Saturday start, well above his norm and the league average of .293. Call your broker and buy 100 shares of EJAX! Warning: Past performance does not guarantee future results. (it does predict it however with a good deal of accuracy). It is possible to sustain a BABIP well above league average.
Joey Votto has a career mark of .361 and sported a lofty .404 last season. Line drives, as you would presume are converted into outs less frequently than fly balls and ground balls, and Votto is a line drive machine. He has not popped out on the infield once this season! If you are a pitcher and that number remains high over an extended period you might want to consider mixing a little sunscreen with your rosin. Otherwise you will be headed back to AAA……or maybe the broadcast booth.
Be well and hit the cut-off man