The Good, the Bad and the Unlucky

When we talk about unlucky BABIP numbers, we should only be talking about players who have truly been unlucky. Those who have made solid contact, posting good Line Drive Percentages, but get saddled with a bad Batting Average. There are plenty of players out there who have bad BABIP accompanied by a bad Line Drive Percentage and a sky high Fly Ball Percentage. The following list is comprised of the league’s hitters who have experienced the worst luck in terms of BABIP and Batting Average. Players who have a good Line Drive Percentage, but a bad Batting Average of Balls In Play.

All the BABIP, LD%, FB% numbers come from

Mark Teixeira is going about business in his usual manner, but his .254 Batting Average doesn’t suggest the same. Teixeira has the normal 20.4% LD% and is striking out below his average rate so you would expect his Batting Average to be strong this season. He will eventually go on a hot streak, all will be well and everyone can continue saying, “Teixeira is a second half player”. He is a great Buy Low target if you can find someone who is willing to part ways with him. Good luck.

Not many people think highly of Aramis Ramírez right now. He has many problems; the thumb, rising strikeouts and a .207 Batting Average. ARam’s .220 BABIP can be attributed to his below average LD% (17.6%) and career high in FB% (55.6%). Only Rod Barajas and Mark Reynolds hit fly balls at a higher clip. Things are looking better for Aramis lately; his LD% for June was 24.1% and for July, it’s currently at 22.6%. His strikeout problem has stopped too. He recently had a string of multi-hit games so the window to Buy Low is closing quickly, if it hasn’t already.

If it weren’t for Aramis Ramírez, Adam Lind would be the most hated man in fantasy baseball during the first half. His 19.8% LD% is a hair over his career average and a hair below his career high from last year so his .253 BABIP appears to pretty unfortunate. He could make for a good Buy Low target if you understand that he was lucky in terms of his HR total last year and he is striking out more often this season. Basically, the best you can hope for is a poor man’s Adam Lind of 2009. Brad Hawpe comes to mind here.

Justin Smoak was the clear loser in the Cliff Lee trade and his bad luck doesn’t end there. If it weren’t for Brendan Ryan, Smoak would have the lowest BABIP (.237) of all players who have a LD% above twenty percent (23.2%). His Fly Ball Percentage (37.8%) checks out too. It can be argued that Smoak has had the worst luck among all hitters in baseball. Maybe the trade will shake off the bad juju, but his ceiling came down a few inches because of it.

José López doesn’t normally have a great BABIP (.282 career) and his 18.6% LD% could be better, but that is what he usually does so his .256 BABIP can be viewed as being unlucky. His problems against Right Handed Pitching this season can be traced back to the BABIP, so I don’t see why López cannot hit .270 the rest of the way. The possibility for 10 HR and a SB or two is there. If he is traded and lands in an ideal hitting situation, López would make a sneaky add.

The once reliable Yadier Molina and A.J. Pierzynski have disappointed everyone thus far. The low Batting Averages can be explained by an unlucky BABIP. Molina’s 20.3% LD% is slightly better than his career average and his FB% is fine. Pierzynski’s LD% is lower than his career average by three percent. This helps explains why his BABIP is down, but AJP has had a 17% LD% in a couple recent years and his BABIP was .278 and .300. Both of these catchers will see a small-to-moderate bounce back in Batting Average which should restore what was left of their minimal value.

Too Deep to Talk About

Casey Kotchman .219 BABIP (.270 career BABIP), 17.4 LD% (17.6% career LD%)
Brendan Ryan .225 BABIP (.296 career BABIP), 20.3% LD% (19.3% career LD%)
Tony Gwynn .253 BABIP (.296 career BABIP, 20.3% LD% (22.3% career LD%)