BABIP: Losers

Earlier we discussed the BABIP: Winners, now it’s time for the BABIP: Losers. Let me preface this by saying there are more Pitchers included on the previous list because A) Pitchers who give up a lot of Base Hits don’t last very long in baseball and B) I didn’t do projections for every Starting Pitcher. I had to cut out 30 or more that are not worthy of our fantasy baseball rosters outside the deepest mono-leagues. The previous list included Pitchers who bested the league average for BABIP (.293) by 10 points, this list includes SP whom I’ve projected to post a .300 BABIP or worse. Our common theme today will be poor team defenses, large Line Drive numbers and high Ground Ball percentages.

Jason Hammel is our biggest loser. Jason’s 2010 K/9 (7.14) and BB/9 (2.38) are choice. These, if paired with a league average BABIP, would be fantasy worthy numbers. However, Jason gives up plenty of Line Drives (20.3 LD%) and his GB/FB ratio tilts toward the Ground Ball side (1.33). Pitching at Coors Field in front of a poor defense doesn’t help matters either. In four of five seasons, Hammel’s BABIP has been above .325. That is absolutely brutal. To give you an idea of what Hammel’s BABIP did to his 2010 numbers; if he had a league average BABIP his WHIP would have been 1.29 instead of 1.40.
Career FIP 4.25 BABIP .325 ERA 5.06
MDS FIP 3.65 BABIP .316 ERA 3.98
Marcel FIP 3.80 BABIP .328 ERA 4.44

James McDonald is a fine sleeper as long as his health permits. The K/9 is perky (7.87 as a Starter) and the BB/9 is improving. McDonald’s BABIP troubles began in 2010 (late 2009 to be exact). From 2006 to 2009 (minor leagues) his BABIP numbers were more than solid. There is some hope here. However, if he surrenders another 23% LD% in front of the Pirates pathetic defense his BABIP will be forced to walk the plank. I hope I’m wrong with this projection, because I spent $1 on him Sunday night.
Career FIP 3.72 BABIP .307 ERA 3.84
MDS FIP 3.31 BABIP .313 ERA 3.55
Marcel FIP 3.62 BABIP .314 ERA 3.84

A.J. Burnett didn’t receive a warm welcome from the AL East after departing Florida for a bigger paycheck. Despite limiting Line Drives (18.1% LD%), his BABIP is an above-average .301 since 2006. It feels wrong to sully this projection with a .311 BABIP, but it was worse in 2010, he’s a Ground Baller, his stuff is declining (velocity and movement) and Marcel agrees with me. Plus I don’t like him. If you think his BABIP will be closer to .300 than .310, I won’t argue with you. My subconscious may be responsible for this projection. It’s all about self preservation; drafting A.J. Burnett can be hazardous to your team’s health.
Career FIP 3.93 BABIP .289 ERA 3.99
MDS FIP 4.47 BABIP .311 ERA 4.73
Marcel FIP 4.30 BABIP .311 ERA 4.53

Jonathan Niese would be an interesting sleeper for NL-Only leagues or very deep mixed leagues if it weren’t for batters beating up on him. From Buffalo to Queens, from the minors to the majors, everyone has gotten a Base Hit off Jonathan Niese. He isn’t blowing away batters with 89 mph Fastballs and the Cutter is his only pitch that has a positive Run Value according to Fangraphs. Numerous Line Drives (20.5% LD%) and Ground Balls (47.4% GB%) paired with his so-so offerings are to blame for the high numbers.
Career FIP 4.06 BABIP .327 ERA 4.39
MDS FIP 3.74 BABIP .311 ERA 3.98
Marcel FIP 3.95 BABIP .324 ERA 4.26

Homer Bailey was doomed from the start. His name is Homer, he can never escape that (even if he changes his name to Homer Ocho-Cinco). So technically Home Runs are not included in BABIP (singles, doubles and triples), but he’s still taking a beating from opposing batters. Homer’s 21.1% LD% is pretty bad. He’s not an extreme Ground Baller, but his GB/FB ratio sits above 1.00 (1.20). Bailey is no long a popular sleeper pick, so the price is right for those who want to gamble on the once top-prospect’s potential.
Career FIP 4.48 BABIP .313 ERA 5.09
MDS FIP 3.87 BABIP .310 ERA 4.06
Marcel FIP 3.92 BABIP .314 ERA 5.09

Francisco Liriano is regaining the form he once had before Tommy John surgery derailed his career. This includes a 50% Ground Ball percentage. Liriano does a good job of limiting Line Drives (19.4% career LD%, 18.8% the past three years), but he’s posted a BABIP above .300 in four of five seasons. The Ground Balls are just finding their way through the defense, a defense that just lost the slick fielding Nick Punto. I’m avoiding Liriano (because of the arm injuries), but if you want to roster him just don’t expect him to live up to his FIP.
Career FIP 3.38 BABIP .313 ERA 3.97
MDS FIP 2.82 BABIP .310 ERA 3.02
Marcel FIP 3.48 BABIP .323 ERA 3.97

Carlos Silva may be out of a starting job so this could be a useless conversation. His 20.2% career LD% and 48.0% career GB% paired with his below-average offerings have produced a poor BABIP. I don’t think this surprises anyone, he has a career 1.73 BB/9 and a 1.40 WHIP. Silva has allowed 29 Hits in Spring Training over the course of 11.1 Innings Pitched. Batters are having their way with Carlos and it’s not pretty.
Career FIP 4.49 BABIP .310 ERA 4.68
MDS FIP 3.84 BABIP .308 ERA 4.05
Marcel FIP 4.15 BABIP .320 ERA 4.73

James Shields is a popular bounce-back candidate after posting the league’s worst BABIP (.341). I think it’s obvious he is going to bounce back from the 1.46 WHIP and 5.18 ERA, but we must remember he has a poor BABIP over the course of his career. It wasn’t all bad luck last season, three of his four pitches were lacking his normal horizontal movement and his Curve lost some vertical drop too. His offerings were easier to hit, plain and simple. Over the past two seasons his LD% sits at 20.4%. He’s going to bounce back, but he’s not going to reach the mirage that is his xFIP/FIP. Least we forget, the (Devil) Rays lost Carl Crawford who rated as the league’s third best player in terms of UZR (+18.5).
Career FIP 4.03 BABIP .308 ERA 4.25
MDS FIP 4.13 BABIP .307 ERA 4.31
Marcel FIP 4.05 BABIP .322 ERA 4.45

John Lackey has been (and I stress the words “has been”) in decline mode since 2007. His 20.7% career LD% is poor and his 43.5% GB% only hurts his BABIP even more. These days Lackey is just an ordinary Pitcher, in terms of his K% and BB%, who gives up more Base Hits than the average MLB starter. The Red Sox did sign a defensive wunderkind in Carl Crawford, but they lost one of the league’s best Third Baseman to Texas. You’d be better served if you let someone else try to recapture Lackey’s glory days.
Career FIP 3.83 BABIP .306 ERA 3.89
MDS FIP 3.79 BABIP .307 ERA 3.99
Marcel FIP 3.92 BABIP .311 ERA 4.14

Edwin Jackson gives up Base Hits. That’s what he does and he does it well. Since 2007, when he became a full-time Starting Pitcher, Jackson has posted the league’s 10th worst BABIP (min. 600 IP). The names Jackson is led by include the likes of Zack Duke, Kevin Millwood, Livan Hernandez, Paul Maholm, Aaron Harang, Jeff Suppan and Josh Beckett. Not the most fantasy friendly cast of characters. The weird thing is, his 19.3% LD% isn’t bad, he’s not an extreme Ground Baller (43.% GB%) and the defenses he pitched in front of weren’t too shabby (combined +66.8 Team UZR). The White Sox haven’t put a good defense on the field since 2005 so Jackson’s numbers could continue to suffer. His BABIP was a .308 during his brief 75 IP showing after the trade last season. I’m expecting more of the same.
Career FIP 4.51 BABIP .306 ERA 4.62
MDS FIP 3.90 BABIP .306 ERA 4.07
Marcel FIP 4.09 BABIP .298 ERA 4.09

More Pitchers with a projected BABIP at or above .300

Derek Lowe
Career FIP 3.80 BABIP .293 ERA 3.85
MDS FIP 3.89 BABIP .306 ERA 4.06
Marcel FIP 3.90 BABIP .316 ERA 4.19

Livan Hernandez
Career FIP 4.41 BABIP .305 ERA 4.39
MDS FIP 4.37 BABIP .305 ERA 4.52
Marcel FIP 4.23 BABIP .314 ERA 4.52

Scott Baker
Career FIP 4.04 BABIP .303 ERA 4.32
MDS FIP 3.76 BABIP .305 ERA 3.90
Marcel FIP 3.98 BABIP .304 ERA 4.12

Carlos Carrasco
Career FIP 5.11 BABIP .352 ERA 5.51
MDS FIP 3.95 BABIP .305 ERA 4.10
Marcel FIP 4.30 BABIP .310 ERA 4.45

Aaron Harang
Career FIP 4.14 BABIP .309 ERA 4.33
MDS FIP 4.23 BABIP .303 ERA 4.33
Marcel FIP 4.25 BABIP .334 ERA 4.74

Zack Greinke
Career FIP 3.59 BABIP .307 ERA 3.82
MDS FIP 3.17 BABIP .303 ERA 3.29

Max Scherzer
MDS FIP 3.69 BABIP .303 ERA 3.78
Marcel FIP 3.15 BABIP .308 ERA 3.82

Jeff Francis
Career FIP 4.46 BABIP .309 ERA 4.77
MDS FIP 4.11 BABIP .302 ERA 4.26
Marcel FIP 4.03 BABIP .316 ERA 4.50

Chris Volstad
Career FIP 4.60 BABIP .289 ERA 4.47
MDS FIP 4.23 BABIP .302 ERA 4.33
Marcel FIP 4.30 BABIP .296 ERA 4.31

Yovani Gallardo
Career FIP 3.51 BABIP .299 ERA 3.67
MDS FIP 3.19 BABIP .302 ERA 3.32
Marcel FIP 3.39 BABIP .315 ERA 3.68

Jaime Garcia
Career FIP 3.74 BABIP .284 ERA 2.96
MDS FIP 3.43 BABIP .302 ERA 3.55
Marcel FIP 3.57 BABIP .298 ERA 3.36

Clayton Richard
Career FIP 4.11 BABIP .310 ERA 4.27
MDS FIP 3.89 BABIP .302 ERA 4.01
Marcel FIP 3.91 BABIP .309 ERA 4.27

Jair Jurrjens
Career FIP 3.85 BABIP .283 ERA 3.52
MDS FIP 3.93 BABIP .301 ERA 4.03
Marcel FIP 3.73 BABIP .292 ERA 3.57

Josh Beckett
Career FIP 3.69 BABIP .295 ERA 3.96
MDS FIP 3.77 BABIP .301 ERA 3.96
Marcel FIP 3.91 BABIP .316 ERA 3.96

Wandy Rodriguez
Career FIP 4.05 BABIP .303 ERA 4.18
MDS FIP 3.49 BABIP .301 ERA 3.60
Marcel FIP 3.51 BABIP .312 ERA 3.64

Doug Fister
Career FIP 4.03 BABIP .294 ERA 4.11
MDS FIP 3.97 BABIP .301 ERA 4.09
Marcel FIP 3.96 BABIP .298 ERA 4.05

Luke Hochevar
Career FIP 4.47 BABIP .311 ERA 5.60
MDS FIP 3.93 BABIP .301 ERA 4.05
Marcel FIP 4.23 BABIP .311 ERA 4.79

Kevin Slowey
Career FIP 4.21 BABIP .307 ERA 4.41
MDS FIP 3.81 BABIP .300 ERA 3.92
Marcel FIP 3.97 BABIP .313 ERA 4.22

I hate to say you should avoid all these players, but because of the popularity of the FIP statistic a good chunk of these Pitchers are overrated. Others are prone to injury and the rest of them just stink. I do like James McDonald, Edwin Jackson, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey and Carlos Carrasco at dirt cheap prices though. Homer Bailey can be scooped up for those who draft in Auction formats which allow you to bid quarters, rather than full dollars. It is true that BABIP is a volatile statistic that can easily sway one way or another so putting a lot of value into it may not be the most stable way to acquire talent. However, we should recognize the Pitchers who suffer or benefit from their (and their teams’ defensive) abilities instead of ignoring and grouping them with league average Pitchers in terms of BABIP by using the FIP statistic. Other than the Pitchers who consistently hover around the league average for BABIP, you should completely ignore the FIP statistic. Other than the Pitchers who consistently hover around the league average for BABIP AND HR/FB% (even fewer Pitchers), you should completely ignore xFIP. The days of Voros McCracken, xFIP and FIP are dead. mdsFIP is taking over.

BABIP: Winners

All numbers provided by Fangraphs