Per Wikipedia: BABIP In baseball statistics, Batting average on balls in play is a statistic measuring the percentage of plate appearances ending with a batted ball in play (excluding home runs) for which the batter is credited with a hit. BABIP is commonly used as a red flag in sabermetric analysis, as a consistently high or low BABIP is hard to maintain – much more so for pitchers than hitters. Therefore, BABIP can be used to spot fluky seasons by pitchers, as those whose BABIPs are extremely high can often be expected to improve in the following season, and those pitchers whose BABIPs are extremely low can often be expected to regress in the following season. A normal BABIP is around .300.
In the first BABIP Leaders SP post, we looked at the best BABIP numbers across the league; this time, we look at the worst. I thought about naming this post, “the Good, the Bad and the Unlucky”. As the alternate title implies, pitchers with unusually high BABIP numbers are said to be unlucky. Of course, there are variables that need to be scrutinized before bestowing the unlucky label on our fantasy hurlers.
Justin Masterson [.412 BABIP, career .308] Admittedly, I talked up Masterson before the season started, but I’ve changed my tune since. Masterson is still owned in 7% of Yahoo! leagues so there is a small group who understands the potential and bad luck involved here. The misfortunes don’t end with the BABIP, his HR/FB% is 21.1%, basically double the league average. So batters are getting on base at an unusual clip and then launching more Home Runs than they should. Of course, these numbers are fueled by the repulsive 24.6% Line Drive Percentage so it’s not all “bad luck”. There are a few encouraging signs here, Masterson is still generating a lot of Ground Balls (58.8% GB%) and he has posted a 10.18 K/9. I do not believe the K/9 will stand the test of time, his O-Swing% is up and his O-Contact% is 10% below his norm, despite the fact that he is throwing less breaking pitches. What I find strange about his pitch usage is that he is throwing his fastball 82.2% of the time (up from 72.8% last year), a percentage generally reserved for relief pitchers. There are a few things to like here (GB%, K/9), but because Masterson struggles mightily vs Left Handed Batters (2.45 WHIP) and is still allowing over 4 walks per nine. I do not believe he will be roster worthy until he develops something to offers Lefties. Masterson should probably be coming out of the bullpen.
Bud Norris may not be the descendant of Chuck Norris, but he can still kung foo chop batters like no other. When people say, “Bud Norris often donates blood to the American Red Cross, just never his own”, they didn’t anticipate the blood being that of the managers who drafted him. Norris was a semi-popular sleeper pick in some circles, but his 1.69 WHIP and 6.03 ERA have him slumbering on many a waiver wire. The 4% owned strike out machine has been a victim of a .392 BABIP, and like Justin Masterson, his 26.1% Line Drive Percentage has been identified as the assailant. He’s also been pretty wild (5.24 BB/9), but he and his pitching coach have identified a flaw in his mechanics and have made an adjustment to his arm slot. In his last appearance (@STL) he allowed no walks while striking out 8 batters in 8 Innings. I believe Norris is worth a roster spot in most leagues. If he has another game like the last, where he walks few, he is standard league must add material. It could very well end up being a roller coaster ride here, but it’s hard to not get excited about a pitcher who is striking out 10.75 batters per nine and just threw a gem after making a mechanical adjustment.
Cole Hamels is quickly becoming a poster child for bad luck. Last year his .325 BABIP was deemed unlucky by the fantasy community, but this year he’s rocking a .372 BABIP. The peculiar thing is, his LD% is below his norm (17.5% LD%, career 20.1%). His HR/FB% is elevated at 15.9% so this really does look like a classic case of bad luck. He has changed up his arsenal a bit, adding a Cutter that he throws 15.4% of the time. The addition of the Cutter has him throwing his other 3 offerings less often (FB down 6%, CB down 3%, CH down 6%). I’m assuming he added the Cutter to generate more Ground Balls (up 7%), but it is his worst valued pitch (4.6 runs below avg) and it seems to be effecting his control (3.30 BB/9, career 2.34). At least his K/9 is up (10.10 K/9)… I’m not sure what to think of this… his Zone% is down, his F-Strike% is down…. bottom line is, he’s been unlucky. Some people came into the season down on Hamels and I’m sure more have jumped the gun on him after the rough start, so he is a good Buy Low target. Ask around about his services.
Gavin Floyd was another sleeper pick of mine. It’s not that people didn’t know who he was, but he seemed to be under appreciated coming into drafts. What happens when people feel under appreciated? They lash out. Looking at my Team Log and what Gavin has done to me, I feel like one of those parents with an out of control teen on the Maury Povich show. I don’t think Floyd needs to go to boot camp, he seems to be a victim of bad luck so far. His .371 BABIP looks completely out of place in context with his 18.3% LD%. Gavin has his GB% up to 47.6%, the K/9 is still solid, but his BB/9 is up a little bit. A 3.69 BB/9 doesn’t have alarms sounding, but it’d definitely be nice to see him refine his control a little bit. I think Floyd is a nice Buy Low target, someone actually dropped in a league of mine and I was quick to snatch him up.
Ten Worst BABIPs
.415 Doug Davis
.412 Justin Masterson
.392 Bud Norris
.389 Charlie Morton
.378 Jonathon Niese
.372 Cole Hamels
.371 Gavin Floyd
.365 Josh Beckett
.363 James Shields
.363 Brandon Morrow
Other Notable Victims of BABIP: Rick Porcello (.361, career .296), Aaron Harang (.358, career .317), Wade LeBlanc (.356, career .288), Dan Haren (.356, career .302), Kyle Lohse (.355, career .309), Brian Matusz (.353), Kevin Slowey (.353, career .3220, Tom Gorzelanny (.353, career .307), Wandy Rodríguez (.351, career .312)