Friday, November 9, 2007

A Lucky "Luck Stat"?

As promised I'm doing the follow-up to the BABIP article. In that previous article ( I explained that if someone's BABIP is above .300, then you can expect a regression in their stats, and vice versa. However today I am here to tell you that it is not that simple. Some players deserve to have higher BABIP's. How is that possible you ask? Well it all goes back to when you were wee-old and your dad was yelling at you to try hit a Line Drive.

Think about it, line drives fall for hits more than any other "type of hit". I'll give you the exact percentages in a second. Remember that BABIP in essence is the percentage of balls in play that fall for hits. So if you hit more line drives than Joe-Schmo, your BABIP should be higher than his.

Line Drives fall for a hit 75% of the time.
Ground balls roll for a hit 24% of the time.
Outfield fly balls fall for a hit 9% of the time.
Infield fly balls fall for a hit .29% of the time.

So a player who only hits line drives would have a BABIP of .750, and I think you can figure out the rest. A player who hits more line drives gets a stronger pull towards that .750 mark.

Let's look at some of the LD% leaders from 2007 and see what their BABIP's were:

1) Michael Young: 27.2 .366
2) Chone Figgins: 26.4 .391
3) Placido Polanco: 23.9 .346

Obviously these three players BABIP's were above the league average, and they deserved to be. Chone Figgins higher .391 BABIP can be attributed to his speed, which allows him to beat out a few more ground balls than the average major leaguer.

Similarly let's take a look at those who couldn't hit a line drive if the fate of the universe depended on it:

1) Gary Matthews Jr.: 12.9% .279
2) Torii Hunter: 14.0 .303
3) Nick Punto: 14.6 .255

Well Torii Hunter is ruining my argument here, but we can let him slide as a phenomenon. Matthews Jr. and Punto both display BABIP's well below the league average, and deservedly so.

You now know all there is to know about BABIP. Use it when evaluating players, see whose in for a big regression, or a big "gression". All up-to-date LD%, GB%, and BABIP numbers are available at the Hardball Times. I'd also like to acknowledge them for providing the statistics used in this article.

Please visit back soon, and feel free to comment.



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