2018 Early BABIP Decliners

Yesterday, I ran my newest xBABIP calculations, comparing it to actual BABIP. I discussed a slew of hitters who are due for an imminent BABIP surge given xBABIP marks that greatly exceed their actuals. Today, let’s check in on those hitters whose xBABIP marks are significantly below their actual marks. These batters are at serious risk of dramatic regression over the rest of the season.

BABIP Decliners
Christian Villanueva 24.4% 41.4% 4.9% 39.0% 3.7 8.0% 27.3% 0.441 0.307 0.134
Yoenis Cespedes 11.1% 44.4% 13.4% 26.7% 1.3 9.3% 53.7% 0.293 0.171 0.122
Rhys Hoskins 24.4% 46.7% 4.4% 37.8% 3.6 8.4% 57.5% 0.415 0.297 0.118
Dansby Swanson 22.4% 29.3% 1.7% 28.8% 6.4 0.0% 5.4% 0.439 0.330 0.109
Ryan Flaherty 25.0% 13.6% 0.0% 26.1% 3.4 8.4% 47.7% 0.444 0.337 0.107
Manny Machado 19.4% 44.5% 8.3% 33.3% 2.4 3.5% 12.5% 0.359 0.255 0.104
Odubel Herrera 20.3% 28.1% 4.7% 26.6% 5.1 1.6% 7.0% 0.397 0.297 0.100
Yasmani Grandal 20.4% 22.4% 4.1% 44.9% 1.9 15.9% 42.9% 0.413 0.318 0.095
Brian Dozier 15.3% 40.7% 5.1% 32.2% 4.5 20.0% 68.5% 0.327 0.241 0.086
Miguel Sano 12.5% 43.8% 6.3% 37.5% 1.3 8.3% 44.4% 0.321 0.236 0.085
Travis Shaw 19.4% 33.9% 4.8% 30.7% 1.5 11.8% 56.1% 0.345 0.262 0.083
Cody Bellinger 16.4% 27.9% 9.8% 39.3% 4.6 20.4% 79.3% 0.345 0.263 0.082
*True FB%
**True IFFB%
***Pull Ground Ball While Shifted%

There’s always at least one hitter who comes out of nowhere to fuel championships. So far, Christian Villanueva is one of those very hitters. On the batting average front, xBABIP feels like this is all smoke and mirrors. Obviously, no player has .400+ BABIP skills, but this suggests Villanueva deserves a mark just above the league average. He’s hitting lots of line drives and hitting it hard, but also has hit many fly balls and is one of the rare right-handers who has actually been getting shifted.

Sheesh, who know Yoenis Cespedes was overperforming so drastically with just a .293 BABIP?! His xBABIP is just a putrid .171…that’s crazy! It’s obvious why — he’s gone fly ball crazy, at the expense of line drives, and hitting a ton of pop-ups along the way. And what’s up with that strikeout rate?! Something is going on here.

I could swear I discussed Rhys Hoskins and my feeling that he had some major BABIP upside, but can’t seem to find any articles saying that. Anyhow, I didn’t expect his BABIP to rise this much! He hits far too many fly balls to maintain a strong BABIP and has also been grounding into the shift. I’m a huge fan though, so I’m not even considering selling high.

Props to commenter hebrew for calling Dansby Swanson’s appearance here. He’s doing a lot of good things, like maintaining a better than average liner rate and keeping his pop-up rate low. He has also hit nary a grounder into the shift. His .330 xBABIP suggests he’s doing a lot of the right things, but obviously there’s always going to be a whole heaping of luck when your BABIP jumps above .400.

Every year, I boldly claim Manny Machado leads the AL in batting average. I argue that he just needs to cut his pop-up rate and enjoy a bit of good luck for it to happen. It hasn’t yet, but so far it has this year! Unfortunately, it’s not going to last. He’s still popping up a ton, to go along with lots of fly balls. Enjoy the power though.

Pretty crazy to find Brian Dozier, a right-handed batter, at 20% for grounders pulled into the shift. That, combined with a low line drive rate, should prevent him from maintaining a BABIP above .300.

Man, what happened to Miguel Sano?! His walk rate has declined, strikeout rate skyrocketed, and he’s forgot how to hit line drives. He’s lived by a high BABIP in the past, but now that’s on shaky ground.

It’s no surprise to see the lefty hitting Cody Bellinger find himself on this list. He has been shifted on 79% of his batted balls and grounded into that shifts 20% of the time. He has also hit an absurd rate of pop-ups, as his IFFB% ranks seventh highest in baseball. I’m not selling here, but just be prepared for a batting average drop.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Where can we find a full list? Is pulling into a shift percentage data publicly available?