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BABIP vs BA

Is having a high BABIP good? is a low BABIP bad?

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

In the past year of me writing at fake teams, I've learned to look deep when trying to decipher how to predict future events.   But in the beginning, I honestly believed BABIP was the first indicator of luck, and to be honest, not much has changed since then, I will always glance at BABIP early on to see if I should be arguing for a players luck to improve or discontinue.  I understand that hard hit rate is tremendously valuable, average homerun and fly ball distance is one of my favorite things to research, and line drive rate, although never stable in a single season, will tell you what kind of roll the guy is presently on.  The simplicity of it leaves you searching for more, but also an initial guideline.

So I decided to put all of this info into a spreadsheet, and see how the popularly cited difference between a player's BABIP, and his average looked when comparing all batting title contenders.  Below is the chart ordered from lowest to highest.

Rank

Name

AB

H

SO

HR

SF

BABIP

AVG

Difference

1

Albert Pujols

562

133

70

36

3

0.211

0.237

-0.026

2

Jose Bautista

516

129

101

36

8

0.24

0.25

-0.01

3

David Ortiz

507

134

94

35

9

0.256

0.264

-0.008

4

Edwin Encarnacion

498

138

95

35

10

0.272

0.277

-0.005

5

Daniel Murphy

467

130

35

13

6

0.275

0.278

-0.003

6

Nolan Arenado

579

164

103

39

9

0.28

0.283

-0.003

7

Josh Reddick

493

134

57

20

2

0.273

0.272

0.001

8

Buster Posey

518

168

50

19

7

0.327

0.324

0.003

9

Brian McCann

441

106

92

26

6

0.243

0.24

0.003

10

Aramis Ramirez

452

114

62

17

5

0.257

0.252

0.005

11

Adrian Beltre

523

146

61

16

8

0.286

0.279

0.007

12

Yangervis Solarte

502

138

51

13

3

0.283

0.275

0.008

13

Michael Brantley

523

164

50

15

5

0.322

0.314

0.008

14

Mike Moustakas

511

142

71

20

5

0.287

0.278

0.009

15

Anthony Rizzo

550

155

98

30

7

0.291

0.282

0.009

16

Ben Zobrist

423

120

47

12

4

0.293

0.284

0.009

17

Todd Frazier

583

152

122

35

7

0.27

0.261

0.009

18

Salvador Perez

496

128

77

20

5

0.267

0.258

0.009

19

Wilmer Flores

477

126

62

16

2

0.274

0.264

0.01

20

Kyle Seager

583

160

90

25

4

0.286

0.274

0.012

21

Carlos Gonzalez

520

135

129

37

6

0.272

0.26

0.012

22

Logan Morrison

432

97

78

16

1

0.239

0.225

0.014

23

Alexei Ramirez

549

136

66

10

6

0.263

0.248

0.015

24

Adam Jones

542

146

101

27

3

0.285

0.269

0.016

25

Manny Machado

592

171

103

30

4

0.305

0.289

0.016

26

Prince Fielder

570

173

80

21

5

0.321

0.304

0.017

27

Adrian Gonzalez

544

151

103

28

3

0.296

0.278

0.018

28

Josh Donaldson

589

177

128

39

10

0.319

0.301

0.018

29

Evan Gattis

544

131

116

26

4

0.259

0.241

0.018

30

Mookie Betts

552

162

72

15

6

0.312

0.293

0.019

31

Jose Altuve

598

188

61

12

4

0.333

0.314

0.019

32

Andrelton Simmons

506

131

45

3

2

0.278

0.259

0.019

33

Brandon Phillips

551

162

64

12

2

0.314

0.294

0.02

34

Jimmy Rollins

495

109

84

13

1

0.241

0.22

0.021

35

Torii Hunter

485

119

99

21

4

0.266

0.245

0.021

36

Melky Cabrera

592

164

83

12

10

0.3

0.277

0.023

37

A.J. Pollock

571

182

82

18

9

0.342

0.319

0.023

38

Russell Martin

422

101

102

21

5

0.263

0.239

0.024

39

Kevin Pillar

554

146

81

11

5

0.289

0.264

0.025

40

Elvis Andrus

557

145

73

7

8

0.285

0.26

0.025

41

Yadier Molina

488

132

59

4

9

0.295

0.27

0.025

42

Jay Bruce

541

124

134

25

7

0.254

0.229

0.025

43

Ian Kinsler

599

180

75

11

5

0.326

0.301

0.025

44

Martin Prado

467

134

65

9

8

0.312

0.287

0.025

45

Pablo Sandoval

470

115

73

10

2

0.27

0.245

0.025

46

Carlos Beltran

440

122

82

17

6

0.303

0.277

0.026

47

Jose Reyes

458

125

59

7

3

0.299

0.273

0.026

48

Alex Rodriguez

491

124

135

32

6

0.279

0.253

0.026

49

Brian Dozier

588

140

142

28

6

0.264

0.238

0.026

50

Trevor Plouffe

540

135

111

21

4

0.277

0.25

0.027

51

Ender Inciarte

503

152

54

4

5

0.329

0.302

0.027

52

Stephen Vogt

416

111

91

18

8

0.295

0.267

0.028

53

Alcides Escobar

570

146

68

3

5

0.284

0.256

0.028

54

Chris Coghlan

422

106

86

16

1

0.28

0.251

0.029

55

Carlos Santana

512

120

110

17

5

0.264

0.234

0.03

56

Wilson Ramos

445

103

94

13

7

0.261

0.231

0.03

57

Yoenis Cespedes

608

177

135

35

4

0.321

0.291

0.03

58

Robinson Cano

582

164

101

19

3

0.312

0.282

0.03

59

Billy Butler

505

126

92

13

4

0.28

0.25

0.03

60

Erick Aybar

554

149

67

2

5

0.3

0.269

0.031

61

Kendrys Morales

554

162

100

21

4

0.323

0.292

0.031

62

Didi Gregorius

495

132

79

9

5

0.299

0.267

0.032

63

Yunel Escobar

510

165

66

9

2

0.357

0.324

0.033

64

Adam Lind

475

137

93

20

3

0.321

0.288

0.033

65

Starlin Castro

512

135

86

10

4

0.298

0.264

0.034

66

Ben Revere

555

167

62

2

2

0.335

0.301

0.034

67

Kolten Wong

530

140

92

11

5

0.299

0.264

0.035

68

Gerardo Parra

508

147

88

14

5

0.324

0.289

0.035

69

Jhonny Peralta

555

149

107

16

6

0.304

0.268

0.036

70

Neil Walker

516

141

102

15

8

0.31

0.273

0.037

71

Mitch Moreland

436

124

102

23

4

0.321

0.284

0.037

72

Jason Heyward

520

150

87

12

3

0.325

0.288

0.037

73

Ryan Braun

501

144

113

25

3

0.325

0.287

0.038

74

Lorenzo Cain

522

160

94

16

4

0.346

0.307

0.039

75

Evan Longoria

565

152

123

19

9

0.308

0.269

0.039

76

Charlie Blackmon

578

167

105

16

4

0.328

0.289

0.039

77

Bryce Harper

487

166

122

41

4

0.381

0.341

0.04

78

Brandon Crawford

477

122

114

19

4

0.296

0.256

0.04

79

Mike Trout

540

159

149

40

4

0.335

0.294

0.041

80

Jean Segura

529

139

86

5

2

0.305

0.263

0.042

81

Logan Forsythe

526

149

108

17

5

0.325

0.283

0.042

82

Eric Hosmer

561

170

101

15

3

0.346

0.303

0.043

83

Matt Kemp

578

153

141

23

8

0.308

0.265

0.043

84

Ryan Howard

467

107

138

23

3

0.272

0.229

0.043

85

Jose Abreu

579

169

133

29

1

0.335

0.292

0.043

86

Miguel Cabrera

410

138

77

17

2

0.381

0.337

0.044

87

Adeiny Hechavarria

470

132

78

5

4

0.325

0.281

0.044

88

Matt Duffy

526

156

90

10

2

0.341

0.297

0.044

89

Nick Markakis

582

173

79

2

1

0.341

0.297

0.044

90

Billy Burns

482

143

72

4

2

0.341

0.297

0.044

91

Joe Mauer

554

148

105

9

5

0.312

0.267

0.045

92

Nelson Cruz

554

172

147

42

0

0.356

0.31

0.046

93

Asdrubal Cabrera

476

125

105

13

4

0.309

0.263

0.046

94

Andrew McCutchen

530

157

122

22

9

0.342

0.296

0.046

95

Starling Marte

538

155

115

18

5

0.334

0.288

0.046

96

Lucas Duda

446

107

131

22

3

0.287

0.24

0.047

97

Kole Calhoun

588

153

148

24

4

0.307

0.26

0.047

98

Cameron Maybin

483

127

97

10

2

0.31

0.263

0.047

99

Matt Carpenter

544

146

142

26

4

0.316

0.268

0.048

100

Kevin Kiermaier

482

126

93

8

1

0.309

0.261

0.048

101

Freddy Galvis

521

137

99

7

3

0.311

0.263

0.048

102

Angel Pagan

476

126

85

3

5

0.313

0.265

0.048

103

Joey Votto

507

159

122

29

2

0.363

0.314

0.049

104

Curtis Granderson

548

139

146

23

4

0.303

0.254

0.049

105

Mark Trumbo

477

123

125

21

1

0.307

0.258

0.049

106

Gregory Polanco

559

143

112

9

2

0.305

0.256

0.049

107

Brett Gardner

538

140

125

16

3

0.31

0.26

0.05

108

Jason Kipnis

529

159

98

8

6

0.352

0.301

0.051

109

Justin Upton

524

134

152

26

5

0.308

0.256

0.052

110

Xander Bogaerts

571

185

93

7

3

0.376

0.324

0.052

111

Dee Gordon

573

190

87

3

4

0.384

0.332

0.052

112

Troy Tulowitzki

478

133

113

17

4

0.33

0.278

0.052

113

Dexter Fowler

566

142

142

17

3

0.305

0.251

0.054

114

Marlon Byrd

472

117

139

22

4

0.302

0.248

0.054

115

Brandon Moss

452

100

142

19

3

0.276

0.221

0.055

116

David Peralta

447

139

102

16

6

0.367

0.311

0.056

117

J.D. Martinez

566

160

168

37

2

0.339

0.283

0.056

118

Marcus Semien

526

135

125

13

1

0.314

0.257

0.057

119

Derek Norris

490

120

124

13

1

0.302

0.245

0.057

120

Joc Pederson

460

99

165

25

2

0.272

0.215

0.057

121

Jace Peterson

512

123

116

6

3

0.298

0.24

0.058

122

Adam Eaton

575

161

127

13

2

0.339

0.28

0.059

123

Chase Headley

546

142

130

11

4

0.32

0.26

0.06

124

Paul Goldschmidt

536

170

143

31

6

0.378

0.317

0.061

125

Shin-Soo Choo

510

138

136

18

5

0.332

0.271

0.061

126

DJ LeMahieu

536

163

101

6

1

0.365

0.304

0.061

127

Brett Lawrie

526

140

135

16

3

0.328

0.266

0.062

128

Adam LaRoche

418

88

130

12

2

0.273

0.211

0.062

129

Chris Davis

534

141

196

43

5

0.327

0.264

0.063

130

Francisco Cervelli

419

126

85

6

1

0.365

0.301

0.064

131

Christian Yelich

437

126

92

7

0

0.352

0.288

0.064

132

Avisail Garcia

529

137

136

12

4

0.325

0.259

0.066

133

Nick Castellanos

515

130

147

15

6

0.32

0.252

0.068

134

Brock Holt

424

120

89

2

2

0.352

0.283

0.069

135

Ian Desmond

552

128

174

18

4

0.302

0.232

0.07

136

Austin Jackson

471

125

121

8

1

0.341

0.265

0.076

137

Addison Russell

445

105

142

13

2

0.315

0.236

0.079

138

Chris Owings

485

114

134

4

3

0.314

0.235

0.079

139

Brandon Belt

492

138

147

18

4

0.363

0.28

0.083

140

Michael Taylor

444

104

149

14

2

0.318

0.234

0.084

141

Odubel Herrera

469

137

125

8

1

0.383

0.292

0.091

142

Anthony Gose

452

116

130

5

0

0.35

0.257

0.093

143

Kris Bryant

525

145

186

26

5

0.374

0.276

0.098

This left me with an interesting dilemma.  To this day in fantasy, I would rather be lucky than good, but there are big names splayed all over this chart, as there should be, and they've found success on all spectrums.

First, let's chop the list up.  Jose Reyes, and everyone above him at #47 are the "least" lucky players.  The top 6 players on this list have managed the unfathomable batting average over BABIP. Five of those six, have clubbed over 30 home runs, giving them a sizable chunk of hits that did not land "in play." The sixth member of that group is Daniel Murphy, perhaps the least lucky man alive, since opening day.  Seriously, who has played a full season, only struck out 35 or less times, and had a less productive year than Daniel Murphy.  These players as a whole are also a dawdling group.

Courtesy of Collectthemets.com

I would have never guessed that the lowest BABIP-BA players were a combination of the best power seasons, and least lucky players, but that's exactly what it's comprised of, from Nolan Arenado to Ben Zobrist, a low BABIP is not an indicator of much on its own.

The middle third is from #49 Alex Rodriguez to #96 Starling Marte.  There isn't much to say about this group as these are player performing as expected, and overall shouldn't be considered lucky or unlucky.  This goes chiefly for Bryce Harper because he's the best in all of the land.

Courtesy of Jack Cecil

The high BABIP hitters are the inverse of group 1.  Speed demons or players who have found ways to appease the fantasy gods, in ways that fantasy owners would kill to learn about.  Most surprisingly, this group's success isn't that much greater than the low BABIP players.  While everyone would love to roster Goldschmidt, a member of the high BABIPs, all owners would also love A.J. Pollock a player with one of the lowest BABIP -BA differentials.  If you own a slower player who is in the last third, you may want to look into his specific batted ball profile to assess if they are good keepers for next year, for example, next season I will be reinvested in Lucas Duda and Chris Davis.  Last note on the high third of the group, something with Kris Bryant has to change, because the likelihood of him repeating at .270 batting average while striking out 200+ times in a full season are slim to none, unless he starts hitting 50 homers a year to support everything else he puts in play.

Courtesy of CorkGaines

But looking at the players clumped together based on their BABIP-BA has given us surprisingly little.  Perhaps cutting the data up based on pieces of the equation will teach us more.

Here are the top 20 in home runs:

Rank

Name

AB

H

SO

HR

SF

BABIP

AVG

Difference

Group

1

Chris Davis

534

141

196

43

5

0.327

0.264

0.063

3

2

Nelson Cruz

554

172

147

42

0

0.356

0.310

0.046

2

3

Bryce Harper

487

166

122

41

4

0.381

0.341

0.040

2

4

Mike Trout

540

159

149

40

4

0.335

0.294

0.041

2

5

Josh Donaldson

589

177

128

39

10

0.319

0.301

0.018

1

6

Nolan Arenado

579

164

103

39

9

0.280

0.283

-0.003

1

7

J.D. Martinez

566

160

168

37

2

0.339

0.283

0.056

3

8

Carlos Gonzalez

520

135

129

37

6

0.272

0.260

0.012

1

9

Jose Bautista

516

129

101

36

8

0.240

0.250

-0.010

1

10

Albert Pujols

562

133

70

36

3

0.211

0.237

-0.026

1

11

Yoenis Cespedes

608

177

135

35

4

0.321

0.291

0.030

2

12

Todd Frazier

583

152

122

35

7

0.270

0.261

0.009

1

13

Edwin Encarnacion

498

138

95

35

10

0.272

0.277

-0.005

1

14

David Ortiz

507

134

94

35

9

0.256

0.264

-0.008

1

15

Alex Rodriguez

491

124

135

32

6

0.279

0.253

0.026

2

16

Paul Goldschmidt

536

170

143

31

6

0.378

0.317

0.061

3

17

Manny Machado

592

171

103

30

4

0.305

0.289

0.016

1

18

Anthony Rizzo

550

155

98

30

7

0.291

0.282

0.009

1

19

Joey Votto

507

159

122

29

2

0.363

0.314

0.049

3

20

Jose Abreu

579

169

133

29

1

0.335

0.292

0.043

2

The top 20 home run hitters are a diverse group made up of 4 high BABIP players, 6 of the middle group, and 10 low BABIP players.  This upward trend makes a lot of sense as most power hitters are not also high batting average threats, making them true examples of the all of nothing game they go for, along with generally being lumbering players.

Sorting by BA gives you the following list:

Rank

Name

AB

H

SO

HR

SF

BABIP

AVG

Difference

Group

1

Bryce Harper

487

166

122

41

4

0.381

0.341

0.040

2

2

Miguel Cabrera

410

138

77

17

2

0.381

0.337

0.044

2

3

Dee Gordon

573

190

87

3

4

0.384

0.332

0.052

3

4

Buster Posey

518

168

50

19

7

0.327

0.324

0.003

1

5

Yunel Escobar

510

165

66

9

2

0.357

0.324

0.033

2

6

Xander Bogaerts

571

185

93

7

3

0.376

0.324

0.052

3

7

A.J. Pollock

571

182

82

18

9

0.342

0.319

0.023

1

8

Paul Goldschmidt

536

170

143

31

6

0.378

0.317

0.061

3

9

Joey Votto

507

159

122

29

2

0.363

0.314

0.049

3

10

Michael Brantley

523

164

50

15

5

0.322

0.314

0.008

1

11

Jose Altuve

598

188

61

12

4

0.333

0.314

0.019

1

12

David Peralta

447

139

102

16

6

0.367

0.311

0.056

3

13

Nelson Cruz

554

172

147

42

0

0.356

0.310

0.046

2

14

Lorenzo Cain

522

160

94

16

4

0.346

0.307

0.039

2

15

Prince Fielder

570

173

80

21

5

0.321

0.304

0.017

1

16

DJ LeMahieu

536

163

101

6

1

0.365

0.304

0.061

3

17

Eric Hosmer

561

170

101

15

3

0.346

0.303

0.043

2

18

Ender Inciarte

503

152

54

4

5

0.329

0.302

0.027

2

19

Josh Donaldson

589

177

128

39

10

0.319

0.301

0.018

1

20

Ian Kinsler

599

180

75

11

5

0.326

0.301

0.025

1

These hitters are obviously some of the better contact hitters in baseball, or true burners. Miguel Cabrera, Buster Posey, Nelson Cruz, and Prince Fielder are the only hitters who I consider slow in that group.

Courtesy of Scott Johnson

In case you wanted to know, the following superstars were the only players to be duplicates in the past two lists:

  • Bryce Harper
  • Nelson Cruz
  • Josh Donaldson
  • Paul Goldschmidt
  • Joey Votto

Not only are those 5 players stars this year, but also likely some of the most stable players to keep going forward as they have shown multiple good characteristics that are required to be a good fantasy player.  Health is the only thing slowing them down.

I'm going to take a closer look at a large number of these players this offseason, but something I'm realizing is that when it comes to BABIP, bigger isn't better.  There comes a point where certain players are high BABIP because the balls they are driving aren't making it over the wall, something I've ignored in the past, and low BABIP guys may simply not be leaving enough in the park, or on top of hitting many homers, they also hit many fly balls, the lowest BABIP outcome.

Lastly for my friend Kyle who asked "what does it mean to have a BABIP below your batting average? Nolan Arenado is doing that." it means, don't worry about it, Nolan is good, Harper is better.

Please follow me on twitter @jackcecil1