Cleat Geeks

Saber-Metrics Sunday: BABIP

Baseball can be a cruel game, especially for batters standing at the plate. A batter can see the pitch and smoke the ball, yet be caught by a fielder. While still yet a batter can be rewarded by sticking the bat out blindly and the ball falls in for a base hit. Both will happen to all players a number of times during a long baseball season.

However it will happen to different players at different rates. Some hitters have a better ability to put the ball in play for hits than others. Sure there is luck involved as there always is in this game, but it takes skill to not only put the ball in play consistently but also in timing the swing right to put the ball on grass or dirt and not leather.

This week’s stat is about BABIP (Batting Average of Balls in Play). This statistic measures how often a player makes contact with the ball, putting it in play and resulting in a hit. NOTE, this does not count home runs, because the ball goes over the fence and does not end up “in play.” This also does not include walks, hit by pitches, sac bunts, catcher interference or strikeouts because again, the ball is not put in play in any of these outcomes.

Even something like this increases a players BABIP.

So for example, if a player in a game swings and puts the ball in play in four at bats, and three times the ball lands for a base hit, their BABIP will be high. If the balls put in play are caught and/or are groundball outs three out of four times, the BABIP for that player in that game will be low.

The formula for BABIP is as follows:

BABIP =  (H – HR)/(AB – K – HR + SF)

Variables:

H = hits, HR = home runs, AB = at bats, K = strikeouts, SF = sac flies

As usual, when analyzing stats we will take a look at some leader boards. The following list will look at the top ten MLB players with the highest BABIP, so the highest percentage of balls in play resulting in hits this season up to now.JonathanVillarBatFlip

 

Jonathan Villar          .408MikeTroutAtThePlate

Christian Yelich         .388

Starling Marte            .387

Jose Altuve                  .376

Carlos Gonzalez          .372

David Freese               .371

DJ LaMahieu               .368

J.T. Realmuto              .367

Mark Reynolds            .364

Mike Trout                    .361

 

That is the basics of BABIP, so now if you hear someone say, “They got BABIP’d,” you know that it means the player scolded the ball for an out or bloop for a hit over someone’s head.

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