The 2017 BABIP Decliners

Last Thursday, I used my new xBABIP equation to identify 10 fantasy relevant hitters whose xBABIP marks were significantly above their actual BABIP marks, suggesting serious BABIP upside in 2017. Today, I’ll make many of you sad with a list of names who are at risk of major BABIP regression this season, if they don’t improve their underlying skills by a massive degree. By no means do you want to avoid these names, you just simply don’t want to value them assuming their 2016 BABIP marks are actually sustainable. But since someone in your league probably does believe the 2016 BABIP is real, you probably won’t end up rostering them at a fair price.

2017 BABIP Decliners
Name LD% Tru FB% Tru IFFB% Hard% Spd Pull GB Shifted% BABIP xBABIP BABIP-xBABIP
Ryon Healy 19.6% 35.9% 2.9% 30.0% 1.3 3.8% 0.352 0.277 0.075
David Dahl 21.5% 30.0% 3.1% 32.5% 7.7 0.0% 0.404 0.336 0.068
Devon Travis 19.2% 31.0% 3.4% 29.2% 3.8 0.0% 0.358 0.297 0.061
Hunter Pence 16.8% 25.4% 3.0% 30.0% 2.5 1.9% 0.348 0.290 0.058
Tyler Naquin 23.4% 27.7% 2.4% 38.5% 6.0 1.1% 0.411 0.355 0.056
Brett Lawrie 19.3% 35.4% 7.0% 28.8% 3.1 0.9% 0.325 0.269 0.056
J.D. Martinez 21.4% 34.7% 1.5% 41.0% 2.7 6.0% 0.378 0.323 0.055
J.T. Realmuto 20.4% 25.5% 4.8% 29.9% 3.7 0.9% 0.357 0.303 0.054
Andrew Benintendi 25.0% 35.0% 3.8% 32.9% 5.2 7.6% 0.367 0.316 0.051

And look at the name atop our list, none other than surprise 2016 second half contributor Ryon Healy. Eno told us why we should believe in his 2016 power surge, but that certainly doesn’t explain his inflated BABIP. Well okay, perhaps it boosted his Hard%, but 30% is nothing special and it didn’t do much for his xBABIP. Believe in the power, not the BABIP.

Boy that .404 BABIP has fantasy owners salivating over David Dahl! I didn’t even consider that he might be massively overvalued, but after comparing my LABR league rankings to NFBC ADP (being selected 88th overall!), yup, that is most certainly the case. You see from his .336 xBABIP that he still owns excellent BABIP skills, but obviously no one is good enough to maintain a mark above .400 and it’s rare to even sit above .350. As a left-hander, he might sit against southpaws, and he’s not even a lock to open the season with a starting role. I like his combination of power and speed, and of course love Coors aiding his offense, but his price is far too rich for my taste.

Devon Travis managed to perform admirably after returning from shoulder surgery, but it clearly hampered his power. That said, his BABIP actually jumped, despite his xBABIP declining from 2015. Both seasons he has posted BABIP marks well above his xBABIP marks, so it will be interesting to see if he becomes a consister outperformer. Perhaps he’s doing something not captured by the equation. Even with risk of a BABIP collapse, he’s in a good spot as the likely Blue Jays leadoff hitter.

Tyler Naquin came out of nowhere last year and surprised us all with not only his power, but also his BABIP. He’s another on this list that xBABIP loves, but will still see serious regression. Perhaps surprisingly, no one else seems to be buying in, as his NFBC ADP sits at just 301 overall. At that price, I’m more than willing to buy.

You heard it here first folks — this will be the year Brett Lawrie finally enjoys that long-awaited breakout and reminds us of his 2011 debut tease. Just kidding. Or am I? He’s that magical age 27, maybe, just maybe. Though he’ll have to fight off the BABIP dragons first, as he hit far too many pop-ups to have any business posting a .300+ BABIP.

J.T. Realmuto kind of needs that inflated BABIP to give him those extra opportunities to steal bases. Otherwise he’s just a meh power, decent average guy, which is more than acceptable for a catcher, but puts him in the bottom tier, many notches below where those steals currently put him.

While he displayed limited home run power, it was still quite the debut for uber prospect Andrew Benintendi. But, he’s not BABIPing .367 again. The good news is that his strikeout rate was fantastic during his time in the minors, but it jumped dramatically upon his promotion to the Majors. An improvement back toward his minor league strikeout rate could help soften the blow of a drop in BABIP. Since he’ll probably do a little of everything and perhaps even get some time in the two-hole, I’m a fan. He’s also not too expensive going 133rd overall.

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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Thanks for this work! How bout a post using this formula on guys whose BABIPs don’t “look” high or low on first glance but are not supported by xBABIP? It’s not to criticize, I expected guys like Dahl, JD, and Realmuto to regress on BABIP just because they were so high (and this gives me more confidence in that prediction).

It would be interesting to see if there were guys who BABIPed around average but xBABIP sees them as not average (for better or worse).