Potential Second Half 2019 BABIP Decliners

Yesterday, I identified and discussed 12 hitters whose xBABIP marks were significantly higher than their actual marks, suggesting potential dramatic upside for the rest of the season…assuming they maintained those underlying skills. Now let’s check in on the opposite group of hitters — those whose BABIPs have significantly exceeded their xBABIP marks, suggesting the potential for serious downside the rest of the way if they are unable to improve those underlying skills.

BABIP Decliners
Fernando Tatis Jr. 18.6% 31.0% 1.4% 37.8% 8.1 6.7% 24.0% 0.425 0.336 0.089
Yoan Moncada 22.5% 32.0% 2.7% 39.5% 5.2 10.3% 51.8% 0.393 0.328 0.065
James McCann 25.4% 28.4% 0.6% 34.9% 4.2 4.5% 17.2% 0.406 0.346 0.060
Jeff McNeil 24.1% 29.7% 3.1% 39.7% 3.4 9.6% 44.5% 0.388 0.329 0.059
Charlie Blackmon 19.2% 33.5% 4.2% 39.3% 5.9 19.9% 80.0% 0.355 0.296 0.059
David Dahl 25.9% 32.6% 0.9% 35.8% 5.6 15.0% 66.2% 0.392 0.333 0.059
Brandon Lowe 25.9% 40.2% 2.9% 41.5% 5.5 16.7% 81.8% 0.381 0.325 0.056
Eric Thames 19.4% 42.7% 2.3% 47.3% 4.0 16.2% 88.7% 0.362 0.307 0.055
Bryan Reynolds 25.0% 25.6% 2.9% 49.4% 3.6 9.8% 45.6% 0.418 0.365 0.053
Clint Frazier 20.7% 37.8% 2.2% 34.8% 1.9 3.8% 19.4% 0.347 0.296 0.051
Kris Bryant 22.0% 37.2% 4.8% 35.9% 3.7 18.9% 71.4% 0.330 0.280 0.050
**True IFFB%
***Pull GB While Shifted%

Note that all data is from the games ended on July 13.

Surprise, surprise, Fernando Tatis Jr. tops our BABIP luck leaders with an insane .425 mark. His .336 xBABIP does validate above average skills, but man, not that good! The low pop-up rate is great, as is the elite speed. But a below average line drive rate means it’s pretty shocking his balls have dropped in for hits so often. His combination of power and speed is drool-worthy, and that he’s doing all this as a 20-year-old is crazy. But I wouldn’t be shocked if he kind of collapses the rest of the way and isn’t worth much in shallow mixed leagues.

Yoan Moncada’s skills are fairly similar to Tatis’, but he has grounded into the shift at a surprising rate, especially given his speed. You think of left-handed plodding sluggers most prone to grounding into the shift, but Moncada is definitely not one of those types.

I must ask — where was this, Mr. James McCann, last year when I bought you in AL Tout Wars?! I’m actually amazed his xBABIP sits as high as it does, as just once previously has he posted a BABIP above even .300. An elite combination of high line drive rate and low pop-up rate are driving that xBABIP, but will it last? Owners probably have no choice but to hold and hope here as I doubt he has a whole lot of trade value.

Jeff McNeil hasn’t done anything that fantastic, so it’s kind of a bit better than average across the board getting to that xBABIP. But a .388 mark for a guy who doesn’t stand out anywhere is absurd. Since he earns most of his value from his batting average, he could easily fall to replacement level in shallower leagues the rest of the way.

When talking Charlie Blackmon & David Dahl, I’ll remind you that xBABIP doesn’t account for home ball park. Frankly, it’s just too difficult to consider how a ball park affects every batter for each type of batted ball and hit. However, Blackmon actually hasn’t outperformed his xBABIP by a considerable margin over his career. On average, he has only outperformed by about .01 points, which is like a .310 BABIP versus a .300 xBABIP. So the gap this year can’t just be chalked up to Coors and call it a day. Both have grounded into the shift often, but that hasn’t hurt them yet. Will it?

Brandon Lowe has been a revelation in Tampa after a solid enough cup of coffee last year. Unfortunately, his BABIP is due for a decline once he returns from the IL. He’s certainly trying his hardest with an excellent line drive rate and below average pop-up rate despite his extreme fly ball tendency. He also brings both power and speed. However, he grounds into the shift a lot, like many left-handed batters, so it’s hard to believe his batted balls will keep sneaking through.

Eric Thames‘ BABIP outperformance is preventing Jesus Aguilar from getting another shot at the regular first base job. He has your prototypical slugger’s profile, hitting lots of fly balls and grounding into the shift often. It hasn’t caught up with his BABIP yet, but the risk is there that it does, and quickly.

Bryan Reynolds has been a popular free agent pickup, but realize that much of his success is due to that insane BABIP. The thing is, much of it is actually deserved based on his current skills. And he’s enjoyed a history of inflated BABIP marks in the minor. Still, it would be silly to think he could maintain a mark over .400, and since he’s nothing special in homers and has failed to swipe a base, his value could come crashing down depending on how much that BABIP regresses.

FREE CLINT FRAZIER! But be aware that his BABIP ain’t staying this high if he gets another shot.

Kris Bryant has been one of the most consistent xBABIP outperformers in baseball. I have no idea what he’s doing that isn’t being captured by my equation. From the outside, he seems like an extreme fly ball guy who hits lots of pop-ups and often grounds into the shift. That matches with xBABIP marks bouncing around the league average. And yet, he’s never posted a BABIP below .332, and I don’t get how. Research project request my dear readers!

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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Jimmy von Albade
Jimmy von Albade

Re Bryan’t consistently outperforming his xBABIP: Have you considered that fielders might be distracted by his dreaminess and not get to balls that they normally would?