Cleat Geeks

SABERmetrics Sunday: An Update on BABIP

Back in the opening months of the season, we discussed which players were leading the majors in BABIP (Batting Average of Balls in Play). In the early parts of the season, the top BABIPs were well over .400 for a number of players. It was determined based on previous data that having batted balls put in play at a .400+ average over an entire season is not sustainable, and eventually those BABIP numbers will go down by season’s end. Note this was discussed for everyday players that play over 100 games, the .370-.390 range is typically where the qualified BABIP leader ends their season based on data taken from the past decade.

This article will explore the latest leaders in BABIP and compare them to the leaders back early in the season. As of the morning of August 18th, here are the top-five BABIP leaders.

Image result for chris taylor dodgers

  1. Chris Taylor: .399 BABIP / .373 OBP / .917 OPS / 9.3 BB%
  2. Tim Beckham: .389 BABIP / .337 OBP / .802 OPS / 6.4 BB%
  3. Jose Altuve: .389 BABIP / .422 OBP / .991 OPS / 8.3 BB%
  4. Ben Gamel: .385 BABIP / .345 OBP / .769 OPS / 6.8 BB%
  5. Miguel Sano: .385 BABIP / .356 OBP / .866 OPS / 11.0 BB%

BABIP Leaders end of April:

Lot of differences here. None of the BABIP leaders in late April are the same here in early August. Plus the current leaders are currently all under .400, unlike early on when they were all well above it with a much smaller season sample size. Now that a long season has progressed over four months, those previous leaders saw their batted balls not fall in at the outrageous rate as they did early on which is what was due to happen. Also notice the differences in on-base percentage. These are all still great hitters, but your on-base percentage will obviously go down when BABIPs go down.

Continuing the sustainability conversation, lets now look at the current BABIPS of the previous leaders.

Image result for avisail garcia 2017

Zach Cozart: .348 BABIP / .405 OBP / .989 OPS in 81 games

Avisail Garcia: .367 BABIP / .353 OBP / .841 OPS in 91 games

Ryan Zimmerman: .331 BABIP / .355 OBP / .935 OPS in 103 games

Steven Souza: .333 BABIP / .365 OBP / .868 OPS in 109 games

Bryce Harper: .360 BABIP / .420 OBP / 1.036 OPS in 105 games

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There are some major drops here, yet still very good numbers for most of these guys. Harper and Zimmerman are still two of the best hitters in baseball and everyone still has an OPS above average. But, as predicted their ridiculous fortune of batted balls finding grass nearly half the time was not going to hold up. Adjustments are made in the field and the chances just do not hold at that percentage. The game of baseball is a game of trends especially during a long season.

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