It’s sad that we’re already more than halfway through the season, so it’s hard to believe that our fantasy teams could make dramatic moves in the ratio categories. But don’t give up hope! If you have a roster full of BABIP underperformers, there’s still potential to gain a bunch of points in batting average. So let’s identify and discuss the hitters who are most underperforming their xBABIP marks. Naturally, xBABIP isn’t perfect, which is why I stick to the players on the bookends, those underperforming and outperforming the most.
|Name||LD%||TFB%*||TIFFB%**||Hard%||Spd||PGBWS%***||% BIP Shifted||BABIP||xBABIP||BABIP-xBABIP|
|Richie Martin Jr.||19.3%||26.9%||5.0%||25.8%||7.1||0.8%||5.2%||0.222||0.303||-0.081|
***Pull GB While Shifted%
Raise your hand if you guessed that the slow left-handed power-hitting Ronald Guzman would appear atop the BABIP underperformers list. None of you? Yeah, this shocks me too. Before you yell at your screen that he has little speed and is probably grounding into shifts all day long, remember that both of these factors are incorporated into xBABIP. While he has certainly been shifted against more frequently than the average bear and has grounded into that shift more often, but marks aren’t as high as you might expect.
Besides, his xBABIP is terrific because his elite line drive rate, combined with his low TIFFB%, which is his true pop-up rate. It’s actually a fantastic batted ball distribution ignoring those grounders into the shift that nearly all lefties experience. Add in an increased walk rate, he’s not a bad buy in deeper leagues, especially those that count OBP instead of average. Of course, you can’t expect that inflated LD% to be sustained all season, so I wouldn’t exactly go betting his BABIP sits above .300 the rest of the way.
Man, I really thought my reserve selection of Richie Martin Jr. in AL Tout Wars would turn out to be a good one, but he’s been pathetic. It’s actually amazing to me that he’s remained on the team this long with a .217 wOBA, even if he was a Rule 5 selection who they would lose. His xBABIP suggests he’s been quite unlucky though, so perhaps the Orioles understand this. What xBABIP loves is the speed and that he has rarely grounded into the shift. Everything else about his profile is blah. A higher batting average would result in more stolen base opps, which is a good thing, but there’s so much else wrong with his profile (like few walks and too many strikeouts), that I’m not interested regardless of format.
Jesse Winker is Joey Votto. Finkle is Einhorn. Einhorn is Finkle. Winker is certainly hurting from the shift, but look at that line drive rate and low pop-up rate! He has also hit the ball hard and isn’t completely immobile. I’m not sure what happened to his walk rate, but this profile has the chance to make him a star offensively.
Marcell Ozuna is a ways away from returning from the IL, but at least he has potentially better BABIP luck to look forward to when he does.
The same goes for Yadier Molina, whose age is finally showing. But even though his ISO has plummeted, his batted ball skills still remain excellent.
Jurickson Profar lost his every day job partially because of this BABIP underperformance. That xBABIP is essentially league average, but his inflated pop-up rate, which ranked second highest in baseball, really killed him.
Wait, wait, wait. It’s not enough that Franmil Reyes owns a near 35% HR/FB rate and .290 ISO, but he also has major BABIP upside as well?! He combines a low pop-up rate, massive power, and low penchant for grounding into the shift. It’s pretty ridiculous that he’s hit 25 homers already, yet has scored just 38 times and has only knocked in 42 runs. Blame his supporting cast.
I honestly didn’t even realize that Joe Panik was still playing and doing so as the Giants’ every day second baseman. Goes to show just how much I’ve paid attention to that team’s offense this year. Panik is as boring as it gets, but he certainly deserves better BABIP fate. And hey, his Hard% has surged to a career high! Though hilariously, his ISO still remains below .100.
Is there something wrong with the Spd score that Kendrys Morales could still earn a 2.1 mark? That’s still below average, but I would have to think that he’s one of the league’s slowest, not just in the lower half. Anyhow, his career is likely over.
It’s a good thing that Derek Dietrich’s HR/FB rate and ISO have more than doubled or he’d be out of a job given that pathetic BABIP. Obviously, you don’t need a formula to guess that he’s been unlucky, but xBABIP does suggest he’s been a below average BABIP guy, just not deserving of a sub-.200 mark. It’s actually been a pretty bad combination of a low line drive rate, lots of fly balls and pop-ups, and frequent grounders into the shift. Perhaps weak marks in multiple metrics have more of an exponential or logarithmic effect here, rather than a linear one, explaining the severe underperformance.
Evan Longoria’s BABIP is down for a fourth straight season to a career low. That’s weird considering his LD% sits at a career high, while his TIFFB% might be close to a career best. His BABIP has sat above .300 just once since 2013 though and now that he’s dealing with plantar fasciitis, he may not reach that xBABIP potential. At least his power has bounced back though.
Danny Jansen ranked second in biggest difference between his wOBA and Statcast’s xWOBA, most of which came from a better xAVG. Jansen’s appearance on this list means that xBABIP and Statcast agree that there’s significant batting average upside. It’s not that Jansen has been anything special on the batted ball front, it’s that he just hasn’t been bad and is wholly undeserving of such a depressed mark.
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.