I was wandering through some 2013 statistics this morning looking for anything that might be interesting. What I came upon was some interesting BABIP statistics. I fully admit that they interest me and might not interest anyone else. And I also admit that these numbers have nothing to do with a player’s worth/value or anything on that side of the equation. The only thing it might indicate in the end is my lonely hatred of strikeouts. But these are guys who had a batting average on balls in play of .300 or better and yet still hit below .250.
I grind my teeth when it comes to strikeouts. So many people tell me to get over it. An out is an out they all say. Strikeouts mean nothing when a guy still slugs over .500 and has a wOBA over .330. I get it. I really do. I understand. But I hate them. I hate when I watch baseball and there are runners on second and third and a strikeout-prone guy does what he normally does 25% of the time or higher. It becomes a totally useless at bat. I scream at the screen, “Just put the ball in play and you can score!”
There were 27 players with more than 200 plate appearances whose BABIPs were .300 or better and yet whose batting averages were .250 or worse. In other words, when these players put the ball in play, they can contend for the batting title. But these 27 players averaged a strikeout percentage of 26.87%. So more than a quarter of the time, they do not put the ball in play.
And before you go all gonzo on me, I know that batting average is a fairly meaningless statistic. And yet, it does make up a component of on-base percentage, which is meaningful and OBP is a part of OPS, which again holds meaning. While a batting average by itself is fairly meaningless as a statistic, if it is low, it does drag down the OBP and OPS. So it matters. It does not matter enough to make Tony Gwynn more valuable than Tim Raines, but that is not what this post is all about.
This post is about guys who have very good success when they put the ball in play, but don’t put the ball in play enough.
Take Jonathan Villar of the Astros for example. He had a BABIP of .362. Yeah, that sounds a bit lucky. But when he hit the ball, he was phenomenally successful. But he batted .243. His 118 point swing between BABIP and batting average was the highest in baseball in 2013 of all players with more than 200 PAs. His strikeout rate was 29.46%.
The second highest disparity was Jordan Schafer of the Braves. He had a BABIP of .348 and a batting average of .247. That is a 101 point difference. Rad. He struck out over 27% of the time.
Five of the 27 players were Houston Astros: Villar, Brett Wallace, Brandon Barnes, J.D. Martinez and Chris Carter.
Jason Kubel was interesting. He was the guy that chased Chris Young away from the Diamondbacks. That did not work out so well. Not only did you lose a ton of defense, but Kubel had a .311 BABIP with a .216 batting average. To be fair, Young was awful with the A’s.
Drew Stubbs was another one with a BABIP of .319 and a batting average of .233.
I will leave you will my list below, but I just thought it was interesting. The list feeds my hate of strikeouts. But I know, I know: Get over it, William