9 Potential BABIP Decliners, June 2018

Yesterday, I used my xBABIP equation to identify and discuss eight hitters who appear due for a BABIP surge. Today, I’ll check in on the other side of the ledger, those whose xBABIP marks are significantly below their actuals, suggesting serious downside.

Potential BABIP Decliners
Albert Almora Jr. 21.0% 28.4% 3.1% 29.9% 4.2 1.8% 7.7% 0.384 0.310 0.074
Scooter Gennett 24.4% 34.7% 1.9% 39.4% 2.2 4.8% 29.3% 0.387 0.328 0.059
Odubel Herrera 22.5% 27.0% 7.5% 26.2% 3.4 3.1% 18.9% 0.342 0.284 0.058
Willson Contreras 13.1% 32.0% 4.0% 29.8% 4.8 1.4% 16.0% 0.331 0.274 0.057
Manny Machado 17.2% 42.3% 6.6% 34.8% 2.1 3.6% 24.9% 0.311 0.259 0.052
Matt Kemp 25.9% 36.8% 1.2% 47.0% 1.2 5.7% 24.8% 0.396 0.346 0.050
Justin Smoak 13.7% 42.9% 1.2% 31.1% 1.1 20.2% 67.3% 0.276 0.228 0.048
Jean Segura 22.5% 20.5% 5.2% 29.1% 6.6 0.0% 1.7% 0.376 0.331 0.045
Aaron Judge 18.2% 35.2% 2.5% 48.4% 2.9 11.7% 42.1% 0.362 0.317 0.045
*True FB%
**True IFFB%
***Pull GB While Shifted%

Albert Almora Jr. hasn’t exactly been an every day player as the Cubs continue to play the merry-go-round. But he has been excellent when he has come to the plate. Unfortunately, a portion of that excellence appears to be the result of some fantastic luck. He’s essentially done everything perfectly fine, except perfectly fine should never result in a .384 BABIP. So he has combined for just three homers and steals, he’s going to quickly become useless once his batting average tumbles. Oh, and he’ll lose even more playing time.

Count me among those who believed Scooter Gennett’s breakout 2017 to be a complete fluke. That was mostly on the power side of course, but he has mostly maintained that power while posting the second highest BABIP among qualified hitters. And while he has hit a healthy rate of line drives and done other things pretty well as confirmed by a still impressive .328 xBABIP, there’s no player who ever has a true talent .387 BABIP. Of course, if you’re an owner, you’re not going to care too much if he merely BABIPs .328 the rest of the way.

So Odubel Herrera has posted a .345+ BABIP in each of the last two seasons and sits with another mark over .340. For his career, his BABIP stands at a lofty .357! xBABIP doesn’t believe any of his previous seasons were real (which makes me think he’s doing something not being captured in the equation), but this is the first time his xBABIP has dipped below .300. That’s because his True IFFB% has more than doubled and he’s suddenly pulling grounders into the shift with great frequency. Since he isn’t much of a running threat anymore, you’re banking on him maintaining a strong batting average to go with his middling power. I doubt he’d fetch a whole lot in return, but I expect some regression here.

Geez, with the surprising lack of power, imagine if Willson Contreras’s BABIP was actually sub-.300! It’s easy to understand why his xBABIP sits so low, as his LD% is painfully low and his Hard% has dropped. I was down on him heading into the season compared to his cost, so it’s hard to recommend buying here, but since you probably need a catcher upgrade, he’s a reasonable target given his last two seasons.

Every season I bet on Manny Machado as my AL bold batting average leader given his good strikeout rate and home run power, as it just takes a bit of BABIP to push his average over .300. Well guess what’s happening…he’s finally having some luck and his average has creeped above .300! Sadly, that’s not due to any skill improvement, as his xBABIP now sits at its lowest mark since he debuted in 2012. He still hits too few liners and too many pop-ups, but this year his True FB% has spiked to a career high, and the first time it has jumped over 40%. This is not the profile of a better than average BABIP.

Wow, Matt Kemp reminding us of the good old days. From 2012 to 2015, his xBABIP marks never dipped below .337 and he posted actual BABIPs of at least .345 from 2012 to 2014. He’s really doing everything right as a .346 xBABIP has superb, but obviously, again, no one is a true talent .396 BABIPer.

Yeesh, that’s no typo, but Justin Smoak really does own a .228 xBABIP. That’s because he has become allergic to the line drive and is grounding into the shift 20% of the time. And yet his BABIP hasn’t budged! Since his home run power has also taken a hit, he’s been a real disappointment. He’ll prob get a bit better there the rest of the way, but I wouldn’t consider him a very good acquisition target.

What has gotten into Jean Segura these past three years?! He was never much before that, but has become a monster since 2016. On the negative side, his True IFFB% has skyrocketed to more than double his previous career high. On the positive side, he hasn’t grounded into the shift all season.

How do you bat near .280 with a 30% strikeout rate? BABIP .360! That’s what Aaron Judge is doing, marking the second straight season of BABIP outperformance. Last year, though, his xBABIP was a bit better, as his LD% has slipped and he’s grounding into the shift more often. Don’t ignore the batting average downside here.

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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Cliff B
4 years ago

Odubel- “he’s suddenly pulling grounders into the shift with great frequency.” 3.1%. Not trying to be flip, what am I missing here? Doesn’t sound like a lot.