2018 Early BABIP Surgers

Last year, I unveiled the latest version of my xBABIP equation. It utilizes our Splits Leaderboard in order to account for defensive shifts, something that has never been reflected in xBABIP formulas previously. As a result, it does the best job we’ve seen so far in estimating BABIP. So let’s check in on early xBABIP marks and discuss those who have underperformed the most. These guys are due for an imminent surge as balls fall in for hits on a far more frequent basis.

BABIP Surgers
Name LD% TFB%* TIFFB%** Hard% Spd PGBWS%*** % BIP Shifted
Ryan Zimmerman 25.5% 35.3% 2.0% 49.0% 3.3 0.0% 14.6%
Edwin Encarnacion 16.3% 41.9% 2.3% 32.6% 0.1 0.0% 43.6%
Ian Desmond 7.7% 19.2% 0.0% 25.0% 5.3 0.0% 4.3%
Andrew McCutchen 25.9% 29.4% 3.4% 46.6% 4.7 9.8% 28.3%
Francisco Lindor 29.1% 32.7% 1.8% 43.9% 5.3 6.4% 35.3%
Logan Morrison 14.3% 40.0% 8.6% 28.6% 1.1 19.4% 97.0%
Yadier Molina 21.9% 34.4% 1.5% 50.0% 3.5 0.0% 0.0%
Randal Grichuk 5.6% 52.8% 11.1% 30.6% 4.9 0.0% 44.1%
Carlos Santana 15.3% 44.0% 8.5% 40.7% 4.9 12.0% 78.9%
Dixon Machado 21.1% 35.1% 3.5% 49.1% 3.2 9.3% 30.8%
Alcides Escobar 14.3% 35.7% 3.6% 37.9% 6.8 0.9% 2.0%
Dexter Fowler 18.2% 43.6% 0.0% 32.7% 4.1 8.7% 56.9%
Lewis Brinson 14.0% 25.6% 0.0% 25.0% 3.8 0.0% 7.7%
*True FB%
**True IFFB%
***Pull Ground Ball While Shifted%

Heading into the season, Ryan Zimmerman was seemingly one of the easiest bust calls. The oft-injured first baseman actually stayed healthy last year and enjoyed an offensive resurgence, posting the second highest wOBA of his career. So far, those predicting a disappointing season have been right. But, xBABIP suggests that he has actually been quite fantastic, but just hitting into some rotten luck. How does one hit liners at a 25% clip and yet manage a sub-.200 BABIP?! He’s exactly the type you’ll be able to buy at a discount to his draft day cost because his owners might be doubting his ability to come anywhere close to repeating his 2017 performance.

Edwin Encarnacion’s xBABIP is far higher than his actual mark, of course, but it still confirms a lack of BABIP skills so far. Though his HR/FB rate has held steady, the rest of his advanced metrics paint a scary picture. His walk rate has plummeted, strikeout rate spiked (driven by a jump in SwStk%) and his Hard% is at its lowest mark since 2011. I’m sure he’ll rebound to some degree, but at 35, it’s possible this is finally the decline. That makes him a bit riskier to acquire.

How does anyone manage such a putrid BABIP when they call Coors Field home?! Ian Desmond has been surprisingly bad since arriving in Colorado and his GB% surge first experienced last year has been taken to an even higher level. I’m not buying.

Everything Andrew McCutchen has done so far looks good, but the BABIP hasn’t followed. He’s an easy rebound candidate the rest of the way on the batting average front and is a safe acquisition target.

Daaaaamn, check out that LD% from Francisco Lindor! It’s highly unlikely he keeps that up, but he’s surely more deserving than just a .259 BABIP. What’s a little worrisome, however, is a sudden penchant for striking out. In fact, his strikeout rate and SwStk% has nearly doubled from last season. I’m buying here, but I’d watch the strikeout rate.

LOL, Logan Morrison obviously won’t continue to BABIP below .100, but his xBABIP is only .199! And he’s been shifted on 97% of his batted balls! That’s crazy. Amazingly, there are actually three hitters who have been shifted more (Lucas Duda and Chris Davis at 100% and Joey Gallo slightly lower). Morrison is swinging and missing more than ever before, though he hasn’t affected his strikeout rate yet. His Hard% is also at a career low and he’s combined a low line drive rate with lots of fly balls and pop-ups. It’s been an absolute disaster so far to start his Twins career. I’d prob buy in an AL-Only league (especially OBP), but it would be based on blind optimism given last season’s performance.

Like Morrison, Randal Grichuk has been beyond awful, and his batted ball profile validates he’s been awful, though not as awful. I would love to trumpet him as a buy low, except now his playing time is at serious risk with Teoscar Hernandez scorching.

It’s unfortunate that Alcides Escobar has essentially stopped stealing bases, as he has become that rare zero category asset. That’s not an easy feat!

Lewis Brinson’s appearance him should give his owners at least some glimmer of hope that better days area ahead. Sadly, his plate discipline has been terrible (he sports an ugly 3/26 BB/K ratio) and he’s hitting way too many grounders for a hitter with above average power. On a bad Marlins offense, he’s probably not going to earn positive value in shallow mixed leagues.

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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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I think lindor will be fine but he might have gone too far in selling out for power.

The last year he lowered his grounder rate from 49 to 39% and I think that is good but this year it is 33% grounders and he also raised pull rate to 45%. Low gb and high pull rate often leads to lowish babip especially if exit velo is ok but not really that good.

I like Lindor at 40% gb, 40% pull but if if gets more extreme it might eat into babip.

The homers will come when the weather heats up but I rather see him hit 300 with 24 homers rather than 260 with 35.