Potential Batting Average Decliners — May 20, 2021, A Review

Yesterday, I reviewed the hitters who most underperformed their Statcast xBA marks through May 17. All but one posted a stronger batting average the rest of the way. Now let’s flip over to the overperformers — those hitters who posted batting averages significantly above their xBA marks.

Potential BA Decliners
Player BABIP – Through May 18 BABIP – RoS BABIP Diff BA – Through May 18 xBA – Through May 18 BA – RoS BA Diff
Yermín Mercedes 0.422 0.174 -0.248 0.368 0.288 0.150 -0.218
Randy Arozarena 0.362 0.364 0.002 0.257 0.185 0.281 0.024
Eric Sogard 0.291 0.294 0.003 0.258 0.188 0.243 -0.015
Jean Segura 0.356 0.307 -0.049 0.317 0.248 0.283 -0.034
Francisco Mejia 0.333 0.288 -0.045 0.290 0.225 0.250 -0.040
Yordan Alvarez 0.421 0.285 -0.136 0.346 0.281 0.254 -0.092
Yonathan Daza 0.410 0.315 -0.095 0.327 0.263 0.260 -0.067
Jazz Chisholm Jr. 0.413 0.295 -0.118 0.308 0.245 0.231 -0.077
Tucker Barnhart 0.433 0.288 -0.145 0.287 0.227 0.231 -0.056
Ryan Zimmerman 0.354 0.263 -0.091 0.292 0.233 0.224 -0.068
Tim Anderson 0.411 0.361 -0.050 0.318 0.261 0.306 -0.012
Unweighted Avg 0.382 0.294 0.306 0.240 0.247

Once again, we find that all but one of the hitters suffered a decline in batting average over the rest of the season. The group’s unweighted BABIP dropped by nearly a full 100 points! And amazingly, the group’s unweighted batting average plummeted to just above its xBA mark from the first month and a half. That’s not always going to happen as BABIP isn’t the only driver of batting average, but it’s fun to see.

Yermín Mercedes was far and away the biggest xBA overperformer, but no one expected him to hit .150 the rest of the way. His luck turned from one extreme to the other. After he faded hard from one of the biggest surprises early on, he was eventually demoted back to the minors by the beginning of July and failed to find his way back to the Majors after that. Heading into his age 29 season and with no real defensive home, it’s hard to imagine him earning significant playing time again. Hope you sold high in April!

What’s crazy is that it’s quite possible Randy Arozarena was a disappointment to some, and yet he still massively overperformed all his Statcast expected metrics. It’s far too early to determine if he’s gone some innate ability not being captured in their equations, but it does greatly diverge from the player he was in 2020. I don’t know where I’m going to fall on the projections and I’m curious how my valuation will ultimately compare to my leaguemates. He didn’t crush it from a counting stat perspective, so perhaps even some wOBA regression won’t actually lead to fantasy disappointment.

Well duh, Yordan Alvarez wasn’t going to maintain a .400+ BABIP. He ended up posting a below league average mark the rest of the way and his batting average dropped to just .254. That’s not terrible, but definitely disappointing, as the hope was he would be a positive contributor in the category. That said, his owners certainly didn’t complain as he made a triumphant return after missing nearly all of 2020 to injury.

I was already surprised that Jazz Chisholm Jr. won a starting job out of the gate, and once that happened, expected him to flop and quickly get demoted back to the minors. That didn’t happen. He opened the season super strong and that carried him all season, but was much more ordinary on the batting average front the rest of the way. Encouraging was that his strikeout rate finished below 30% and didn’t spiral out of control after some high marks in the minors, while his power immediately translated. He even stole over 20 bases which was probably a bit more than anyone expected. This looks like real improvement, so he should be a legit power/speed contributor for years to come, as long as the strikeouts don’t come back to bite him.

Tim Anderson has become a BABIP superman and has now posted marks of at least .370 in four seasons! That’s pretty insane. Obviously, he couldn’t quite keep up that .411 early BABIP, but he merely regressed to a .361 mark the rest of the way, which still ain’t too shabby. For all that, his batting average only declined from .318 to .306. I’m sure his owners were reaching for their tissue boxes. Anderson has now handily outperformed his xBA every single season. One of the reasons is because he rarely hits grounders into the shift. But that doesn’t explain everything, so even I can’t figure out the rest. All I could do is let another owner pay full price and take the risk that this is the year his BABIP doesn’t reach into the stratosphere.

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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Having looked at Arozarena all year he did an admirable job for a rookie. As he gains more experience reading pitchers I think his SB% will pick up. He adjusted well to how pitchers were pitching him as he saw a 12-14% increase in sliders and change ups thrown to him and he still had a positive value on almost all pitches. It may not always have been the loudest contact but he seemed to have a knack for also taking what was given to him sometimes which is what led to that higher BABIP. As he learns the strike zone better and learns to hunt pitches better if that K% drops 3-4% and that FB% increases 3-4% you could easily have a 280-30 w/ 20SB guy. He’s hungry too and has good hands overall through the zone.