Fantasy Baseball 2018: Sabermetric Notebook – BABIP

Ron Rigney takes a sabermetric formula and breaks it down to show Fantasy baseball owners what it really means and why it’s important to look at when preparing for your upcoming Fantasy drafts! You can follow Ron on Twitter @therealmaday.

 

Sabermetrics can tell us a lot of things.  They help real life GM’s make key decisions in trying to make the most efficient use of their payroll, while still fielding a team they hope to play into October.  Do these stats have a place on the desk of fantasy GM’s?  Absolutely!  Over the course of the next few weeks, the Notebook will help you use these advanced stats to draft a contender by breaking down what some of these stats measure, and where they can fit into your 2018 draft plan.  Since I don’t claim to be Billy Beane, we will focus on recognizing the number range to look for in each category, not so much how to figure these stats yourself. 

BABIP - What is it?

BABIP or Batting Average on Balls In Play measures the outcome when a batter puts a ball in play.  This does not count home runs, so it could be said it is a measurement of what happens with each ball that comes off the bat in play that doesn’t go over the fence.  Major League average BABIP is around .300, so obviously when using this to draft, you want players who have a high BABIP, right? Yes and no.  Since BABIP can be affected by luck, a players’ skill and the opposing team’s defense, it can be misleading.  However, it can help evaluate a hitter’s performance, outside of home runs.

How to use it.

Instead of looking at only the previous season’s BABIP, look at the players’ career mark.  Mike Trout currently has a career mark of .355, which is 55 points above league average.  We all know that Trout kid is fairly decent, however, his BABIP was only .318 in 2017.  Still a good number, but nearly 40 points down from his career mark. When looking at yearly totals, Trout is clearly more of the .355 BABIP guy, than the .318 BABIP guy.  What can we blame this dip on?  Without diving too deeply into the numbers, Trout could have been a victim of bad luck, or good defense.  It could have possibly been some rust coming off an injury as well, or all of the above.  A sudden increase or decrease in BABIP from season to season, or within a season for a player is unlikely sustainable, and usually will level out to something closer to the career median.  For younger players, it is a tough stat to use, since there isn’t much to compare to, so use caution when applying this to young players.  For players with a few seasons under their belts, the higher career mark, the better!!

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