The All-Star Break Batter Shopping List — Batting Average

Yesterday, I identified a group of hitters worth buying for their home run upside, given the discrepancy between their actual HR/FB rate and xHR/FB rate. Today, I move over to batting average, as I identify the hitters whose xBABIP marks most exceed their actual BABIP marks. These are the guys to target for batting average that you may be able to get at a discount.

Batting Average Shopping List
Name LD% True FB% True IFFB% Hard% Spd Pull GB While Shifted% % BIP Shifted BABIP xBABIP BABIP-xBABIP
Nick Castellanos 26.3% 32.2% 0.4% 49.6% 5.0 5.3% 21.2% 0.310 0.384 -0.074
Miguel Cabrera 28.1% 31.9% 0.5% 49.5% 1.0 2.6% 10.1% 0.307 0.375 -0.068
Dexter Fowler 21.9% 36.9% 1.6% 37.3% 5.6 2.7% 17.9% 0.268 0.331 -0.063
Ben Zobrist 16.7% 28.7% 2.9% 34.1% 2.6 9.3% 24.1% 0.226 0.285 -0.059
Maikel Franco 18.2% 28.4% 3.7% 27.7% 1.0 6.3% 23.9% 0.215 0.268 -0.053
Shin-Soo Choo 26.0% 24.2% 0.5% 37.7% 4.7 21.7% 69.2% 0.286 0.338 -0.052
Josh Bell 17.3% 27.9% 2.5% 32.9% 4.5 5.4% 19.6% 0.253 0.303 -0.050
Randal Grichuk 23.3% 40.1% 4.6% 42.7% 4.5 3.8% 20.0% 0.277 0.325 -0.048
Matt Carpenter 22.6% 48.4% 2.3% 45.1% 2.9 14.3% 75.9% 0.256 0.303 -0.047
Jose Reyes 17.7% 35.5% 8.5% 26.0% 6.7 0.4% 7.5% 0.222 0.268 -0.046
Brett Gardner 21.3% 35.8% 2.1% 35.0% 5.8 0.4% 4.3% 0.284 0.327 -0.043
Dansby Swanson 21.8% 25.8% 1.8% 29.8% 2.3 0.0% 0.5% 0.274 0.315 -0.041
Jonathan Villar 18.4% 21.2% 1.7% 34.2% 5.8 0.0% 2.1% 0.297 0.338 -0.041
Adam Frazier 21.9% 25.9% 1.0% 27.7% 5.2 0.5% 4.8% 0.286 0.327 -0.041
Francisco Lindor 18.2% 40.2% 2.0% 35.3% 4.5 2.7% 10.2% 0.260 0.300 -0.040

Good graces, it’s clear that Nick Castellanos should actually be the best hitter in baseball, as he sits third on my home run shopping list as well. Obviously, I kid, but the guy hits tons of line drives, rarely pops it up, hits the ball extremely hard, has above average speed, and doesn’t hit grounders into the shift too frequently. He has always been a strong BABIP guy, but he should be sitting on a career best mark, not a career low, given the underlying skills driving BABIP. His line drive BABIP sits at a career low of .556, while the league average is significantly higher at .681. Either the stats are telling blatant lies or Castellanos is in for a huge second half.

Miguel Cabrera is 34 years old and his wOBA has plummeted to its lowest mark since his 2003 debut. So it would be easy to chalk this up to age-related decline. But the underlying skills scream otherwise. Yes, he’s swinging and missing a bit more often, but everything else remains elite. I bet you could buy him cheaper than his draft day cost and that would seemingly be a wise move.

It’s rare to see a hitter who gets shifted so frequently still appear as a BABIP underperformer, but look at Shin-Soo Choo! Despite pulling grounders into the shift nearly 22% of the time, he still apparently deserve a BABIP nearing .340! The key here is Castellanosian skills with tons of liners, few pop-ups, power, and speed. The power has been a nice surprise so far, and since he’s been a big BABIPer in the past, there’s real potential for five category production in the second half.

If Randal Grichuk’s appearance atop the home run shopping list hasn’t convinced you to buy in NL-Only leagues, perhaps his appearance on this list too will be the push you need. It’s been a miserable season, and it’s possible that he’s suffered from a bit of bad fortune on both the power and batting average front. He should cost little so he’s worth pursuing in deep leagues.

Matt Carpenter is another double appearer, with both home run and batting average upside. With a line drive stroke and few pop-ups, he should be posting strong BABIP marks annually. The pulled grounders into the shift is the only red flag here.

Jose Reyes is just a better BABIP away from providing all-around category production.

No one really believed that Jonathan Villar would repeat his surprise performance from last season. But a lot of that has simply been a turn of BABIP fortune. But get this — his xBABIP has merely dropped from .345 to .338…he’s nearly the same hitter! He’s still displaying power and speed so more balls dropping like they should be means huge potential value in the second half.

Francisco Lindor opened the first month hot as can be, hitting .309 with seven homers. He only required a .301 BABIP thanks to his power and low strikeout rate. But since, he has batted just .231, driven by a pathetic .245 BABIP. There’s simply no reason for it, so his second half should see his batting average return to go along with some power and more opportunities to steal bases.

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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There is currently an ongoing issue with batted ball readings at Detroit that is causing their hard hit % to be far too high.

Whilst the top two probably have been unlucky, maybe not as unlucky as this table suggests.

OddBall Herrera
OddBall Herrera

The issue I have with this is…look at his home/away splits. 62 wRC away, 130 at home. Home stadium is not the problem at all, the problem is an inexplicable home/road split that looks a lot like bad luck.