BABIP wanderings

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

Player PA BAbip BA difference Tm SO SO%
Josh Hamilton 636 0.303 0.25 0.053 LAA 158 24.84%
Chase Headley 600 0.319 0.25 0.069 SDP 142 23.67%
Eric Young 598 0.301 0.249 0.052 TOT 100 16.72%
Chris Carter 585 0.311 0.223 0.088 HOU 212 36.24%
Giancarlo Stanton 504 0.313 0.249 0.064 MIA 140 27.78%
Drew Stubbs 481 0.319 0.233 0.086 CLE 141 29.31%
Emilio Bonifacio 461 0.312 0.243 0.069 TOT 103 22.34%
Brandon Barnes 445 0.327 0.24 0.087 HOU 127 28.54%
Juan Lagares 421 0.31 0.242 0.068 NYM 96 22.80%
Juan Francisco 385 0.314 0.227 0.087 TOT 138 35.84%
Alex Avila 379 0.305 0.227 0.078 DET 112 29.55%
Jose Lobaton 311 0.3 0.249 0.051 TBR 65 20.90%
J.D. Martinez 310 0.319 0.25 0.069 HOU 82 26.45%
Kyle Blanks 308 0.317 0.243 0.074 SDP 85 27.60%
Derek Norris 308 0.301 0.246 0.055 OAK 71 23.05%
Jayson Nix 303 0.321 0.236 0.085 NYY 80 26.40%
Andres Torres 300 0.31 0.25 0.06 SFG 61 20.33%
Darin Ruf 293 0.324 0.247 0.077 PHI 91 31.06%
Jason Kubel 290 0.311 0.216 0.095 TOT 92 31.72%
Ronny Cedeno 288 0.323 0.242 0.081 TOT 73 25.35%
Brett Wallace 285 0.31 0.221 0.089 HOU 104 36.49%
Jordan Schafer 265 0.348 0.247 0.101 ATL 73 27.55%
Hank Conger 255 0.307 0.249 0.058 LAA 61 23.92%
Curtis Granderson 245 0.302 0.229 0.073 NYY 69 28.16%
Jonathan Villar 241 0.362 0.243 0.119 HOU 71 29.46%
Chris Nelson 227 0.313 0.227 0.086 TOT 66 29.07%
Sean Rodriguez 222 0.323 0.246 0.077 TBR 59 26.58%
9946 2672 26.87%
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One Response to BABIP wanderings

  1. Great piece about you and your brother. Really enjoyed reading it.

    In an earlier post, you said [TWICE IN THE SAME PARAGRAPH]:

    batting average is a fairly meaningless statistic

    You are going to have to explain this one. There are lesser mortals out here (like me, for instance), who want to more about your thinking, scary as this may sound.

    So, give it up, William!

    A lengthy defense of this mildly surprising statement is in order!

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