Today I’d like to highlight a few players who are experiencing lower batting averages compared to their career norms. In each of these cases, the player is dealing with a low (or lowish) BABIP, but each of them also has a high contact rate. Because of this, it is easier to justify that the batting average loss is due to balls in play rather than a lessened ability to make contact.
Juan Pierre, OF
Pierre’s career batting average is .298, but he’s hitting just over .250 this season. He’s still been of value to fantasy owners because of the bags he is stealing, but I’ve been expecting Pierre to pick up his BA for quite some time now. I’m still not worried, Pierre has a 14.6% line drive rate and league second-best 95.1% contact rate. And, of course, the more times on the base paths the more opportunities to swipe a bag. Particularly if you’re hurting for steals, I recommend going after Pierre.
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Pedroia is experiencing a bit of down year in the average department, though its been a little better as of late. His line drives are fine but his BABIP is down. There’s little other statistical evidence (and the increase in his K’s is a little troubling) to support him heading back toward .300, but considering his track record I’m confident in Pedroia.
Jose Lopez, 2B, 3B
Lopez is still making good contact with the ball despite swinging at a lot of pitches outside the zone. He did the same thing last year so it doesn’t mean he can’t improve his average, but he would be better off if he laid them off. He has the lowest BABIP of all these guys, but I wouldn’t count on Lopez getting back to the .272 mark he set last year.
Alberto Callaspo, 2B, 3B
Callaspo was someone I liked in the preseason and he made me look smart for the first month or two. Since then he’s cooled off and so has his batting average. Like Lopez he’s swinging at more pitches outside the zone, but he also has a very low line drive rate. The concern with Callaspo before the year was with playing time, but that won’t be an issue now, so he shouldn’t be a free agent in 10-team leagues. He should be north of .290 by season’s end.