BABIP difference and hidden value

BABIP, or batting average on balls in play, is now a commonly used stats and maybe it can be used to be better prepared for the fantasy draft 2019? A significant different BABIP season can maybe be because of great defense or simply luck. A batters BABIP is best compared to his career value to see if the new stat line is sustainable. In this article 140 qualified batters BABIP in 2018 were compared to their career number. The difference can maybe tell us something where we might find hidden value, and players who will be significant better compared to last year?

BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is one way to calculate the value of a player. Even more useful it can be compared to his career average. If suddenly one season is completely different and he has not changed his way of playing it can maybe be due to defense or just luck. If we then assume the defense and luck will even out, a bounce back season might be on the horizon.

It is important to remember the difference in BABIP can be due to many different reasons, and if the goal is to find differences which will even out, we have to be careful. A way to determine change of playing style can be to examine launch angle, groundball-, flyball- and line drive rate. Another important thing to remember is sample size. It has to be large enough to make more precise predictions and evaluations. A player who has only played a couple of seasons will likely adapt to big league pitching, and the numbers must be judged with this in mind.

The purpose of the article is to find outliers among BABIP and then try to make projections of better performances in the future. Maybe it is possible to find hidden value, which can be useful information before the fantasy draft? Remember a batters BABIP tend to trend close to their career BABIP, if now sudden changes have been made.

Stats from 140 qualified batters in 2018 have been collected and then compared to their career BABIP. The difference was calculated in this table.

BABIP

  Name 2018 Career Difference
1 Chris Davis 0,237 0,305 -0,068
2 Odubel Herrera 0,29 0,342 -0,052
3 Kole Calhoun 0,241 0,293 -0,052
4 Jason Kipnis 0,258 0,306 -0,048
5 Ryon Healy 0,257 0,303 -0,046
6 DJ LeMahieu 0,298 0,343 -0,045
7 Victor Martinez 0,26 0,305 -0,045
8 Travis Shaw 0,242 0,286 -0,044
9 Ian Desmond 0,279 0,322 -0,043
10 Nelson Cruz 0,264 0,305 -0,041
11 Jose Ramirez 0,252 0,292 -0,04
12 Brett Gardner 0,272 0,31 -0,038
13 Salvador Perez 0,245 0,283 -0,038
14 Tim Anderson 0,289 0,326 -0,037
15 Yangervis Solarte 0,233 0,27 -0,037
16 Jose Abreu 0,294 0,329 -0,035
17 Dee Gordon 0,304 0,338 -0,034
18 Carlos Santana 0,231 0,265 -0,034
19 Starling Marte 0,312 0,346 -0,034
20 Yadier Molina 0,264 0,297 -0,033
21 Ian Kinsler 0,25 0,283 -0,033
22 Trey Mancini 0,285 0,317 -0,032
23 Brian Dozier 0,24 0,271 -0,031
24 Kyle Seager 0,251 0,281 -0,03
25 Alcides Escobar 0,263 0,293 -0,03
26 Bryce Harper 0,289 0,318 -0,029
27 Cesar Hernandez 0,315 0,343 -0,028
28 Ender Inciarte 0,293 0,321 -0,028
29 Matt Carpenter 0,291 0,317 -0,026
30 Justin Bour 0,27 0,295 -0,025
31 Didi Gregorius 0,259 0,283 -0,024
32 Francisco Lindor 0,279 0,302 -0,023
33 Evan Longoria 0,274 0,297 -0,023
34 Andrew McCutchen 0,304 0,326 -0,022
35 Jon Jay 0,319 0,34 -0,021
36 Stephen Piscotty 0,29 0,311 -0,021
37 Max Kepler 0,236 0,257 -0,021
38 Trea Turner 0,314 0,334 -0,02
39 Ketel Marte 0,282 0,302 -0,02
40 Joey Votto 0,333 0,352 -0,019
41 Johan Camargo 0,315 0,332 -0,017
42 Xander Boegerts 0,317 0,332 -0,015
43 Yonder Alonso 0,283 0,298 -0,015
44 Khris Davis 0,261 0,276 -0,015
45 Marcell Ozuna 0,309 0,323 -0,014
46 Manuel Margot 0,281 0,295 -0,014
47 Alex Bregman 0,289 0,302 -0,013
48 Kevin Pillar 0,281 0,294 -0,013
49 Jeimer Candelario 0,279 0,292 -0,013
50 Eric Hosmer 0,302 0,314 -0,012
51 Alex Gordon 0,299 0,311 -0,012
52 Dansby Swanson 0,29 0,302 -0,012
53 Joe Mauer 0,33 0,341 -0,011
54 Asdrubal Cabrera 0,296 0,307 -0,011
55 Miguel Rojas 0,272 0,283 -0,011
56 David Peralta 0,328 0,337 -0,009
57 Tommy Pham 0,342 0,351 -0,009
58 Mike Trout 0,346 0,354 -0,008
59 Charlie Blackmon 0,329 0,337 -0,008
60 Willson Contreras 0,313 0,321 -0,008
61 George Springer 0,303 0,311 -0,008
62 Marwin Gonzalez 0,301 0,309 -0,008
63 Ozzie Albies 0,285 0,293 -0,008
64 Shin-Soo Choo 0,33 0,337 -0,007
65 J.T. Realmuto 0,312 0,319 -0,007
66 Edwin Encarnacion 0,265 0,272 -0,007
67 Joey Gallo 0,249 0,256 -0,007
68 Brian Anderson 0,332 0,338 -0,006
69 Justin Upton 0,321 0,327 -0,006
70 Eddie Rosario 0,316 0,322 -0,006
71 Jesus Aguilar 0,309 0,315 -0,006
72 Michael Conforto 0,289 0,295 -0,006
73 Aaron Hicks 0,264 0,27 -0,006
74 Tucker Barnhart 0,291 0,296 -0,005
75 Mike Moustakas 0,259 0,264 -0,005
76 Brandon Nimmo 0,351 0,355 -0,004
77 Miguel Andujar 0,316 0,32 -0,004
78 Amed Rosario 0,31 0,314 -0,004
79 C.J. Cron 0,293 0,297 -0,004
80 Jurickson Profar 0,269 0,273 -0,004
81 Jonathan Villar 0,339 0,342 -0,003
82 Jose Peraza 0,307 0,31 -0,003
83 Jose Martinez 0,351 0,353 -0,002
84 Chris Taylor 0,345 0,347 -0,002
85 Gregory Polanco 0,287 0,289 -0,002
86 Yasmani Grandal 0,278 0,28 -0,002
87 Marcus Semien 0,296 0,297 -0,001
88 Anthony Rizzo 0,287 0,287 0
89 Yoan Moncada 0,344 0,343 0,001
90 Matt Kemp 0,339 0,338 0,001
91 Nick Markakis 0,318 0,317 0,001
92 Jackie Bradley Jr 0,299 0,298 0,001
93 Nomar Mazara 0,298 0,296 0,002
94 Adam Jones 0,311 0,308 0,003
95 Billy Hamilton 0,309 0,306 0,003
96 Manny Machado 0,304 0,301 0,003
97 Yolmer Sanchez 0,3 0,297 0,003
98 Nick Ahmed 0,265 0,262 0,003
99 Paul Goldschmidt 0,359 0,355 0,004
100 Corey Dickerson 0,333 0,329 0,004
101 Teoscar Hernandez 0,313 0,309 0,004
102 Yuli Gurriel 0,306 0,302 0,004
103 Trevor Story 0,345 0,34 0,005
104 Eugenio Suarez 0,322 0,317 0,005
105 Michael Brantley 0,319 0,314 0,005
106 Brandon Crawford 0,303 0,298 0,005
107 Mitch Haniger 0,336 0,329 0,007
108 Jean Segura 0,327 0,32 0,007
109 Cody Bellinger 0,313 0,306 0,007
110 Rhys Hoskins 0,272 0,265 0,007
111 Starlin Castro 0,33 0,322 0,008
112 Jed Lowrie 0,304 0,296 0,008
113 Andrew Benintendi 0,328 0,319 0,009
114 Anthony Rendon 0,323 0,314 0,009
115 Eduardo Escobar 0,308 0,299 0,009
116 Joey Wendle 0,353 0,343 0,01
117 Javier Baez 0,347 0,337 0,01
118 Lorenzo Cain 0,357 0,346 0,011
119 Jose Altuve 0,352 0,34 0,012
120 Josh Bell 0,305 0,292 0,013
121 Christian Yelich 0,373 0,359 0,014
122 Giancarlo Stanton 0,333 0,319 0,014
123 Nolan Arenado 0,314 0,3 0,014
124 Freddie Freeman 0,358 0,343 0,015
125 Whit Merrifield 0,352 0,336 0,016
126 Kyle Schwarber 0,288 0,272 0,016
127 Matt Chapman 0,338 0,322 0,016
128 Freddy Galvis 0,304 0,288 0,016
129 Matt Olson 0,292 0,275 0,017
130 Mallex Smith 0,366 0,349 0,017
131 Andrelton Simmons 0,3 0,281 0,019
132 Matt Duffy 0,353 0,332 0,021
133 Scooter Gennett 0,358 0,334 0,024
134 Rougned Odor 0,305 0,279 0,026
135 Justin Smoak 0,297 0,271 0,026
136 Nicholas Castellanos 0,361 0,333 0,028
137 J.D. Martinez 0,375 0,347 0,028
138 Derek Dietrich 0,336 0,308 0,028
139 Ben Zobrist 0,331 0,292 0,039
140 Mookie Betts 0,368 0,315 0,053

 

At the top of the list we find Baltimore Orioles Chris Davis. He had a historically terrible season in 2018, and his BABIP difference was by far the biggest. It is reasonable to assume he will bounce back, but of course the question is how much and will he still be fantasy relevant? In deep fantasy leagues Chris Davis can maybe be a player to target, if you get him at a reasonable draft position.

Odubel Herrera will play for a Phillies team in 2019, which want to contend. He makes a nice candidate for a come back season. Herrera’s line drive rate was down in 2018, 18.3 % compared to career 21.1%. The flyball rate was on the rise instead, and ground ball rate was about the same. Herrera is an interesting player to target in drafts using this analysis. Kind of scary is to see Jose Ramirez on 11th place. He had a breakout 2018 campaign, and to see it is possible he might even be better in 2019.

Other interesting names at the top of the list are Travis Shaw 8th (Milwaukee Brewers), Ian Desmond 9th (Colorado Rockies), Nelson Cruz 10th (Minnesota Twins, new team in 2019), Salvador Perez 13th (Kansas City Royals), Jose Abreu 16th (Chicago White Sox), Carlos Santana 18th (Cleveland Indians, new team in 2019) and Starling Marte 19th (Pittsburgh Pirates). All of the mentioned players have been fantasy baseball relevant in the first part of the draft for many years now.

A closer look at the superstars is always interesting. Boston Red Sox had a historic season an many ways and their best player was without doubt Mookie Betts. He also standout above because he was the player of all 140 who had the highest rise in BABIP 2018 compared to career numbers. A relevant question is of course if we can expect a regression? However, even if Betts was predicted to have a worse season he will still be drafted top three in most fantasy formats. A closer look at Betts swing shows he cut down on his ground ball rate and instead produced more line drives and fly balls. To project a regression is maybe not wise when we talk about Betts, one of the best players in baseball. Bryce Harper is another player who might get better results in 2019, using the analysis above. Mike Trout was close to his career average in 2018 and he is still mister Consistent (consistently great).

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