On Friday, Jeff Zimmerman published the calculated xBABIP marks using his new equation incorporating Inside Edge data. While we are well aware that we remain far away from a perfect xBABIP equation as some commenters pointed out what’s missing, it’s still a useful metric to analyze. So I have curated a list of hitters whose xBABIP marks are significantly higher than their actuals and could represent good acquisition targets for the final two months of the season.
**xBABIP marks are as of July 24
Jedd Gyorko burst onto the scene last season, supplying strong power numbers at a position you don’t normally enjoy some production from. And he did that as a rookie, no less. But his 2014 has been a disaster, as his power has plummeted, BABIP sits below .200 and he found himself on the disabled list with a case of plantar fasciitis. He hasn’t played since June 3rd. He’s always shown excellent power historically, so you figure a rebound was forthcoming, while there was no chance that his BABIP would remain so low. Given his recent injury status and struggles while on the field, he makes for a perfect guy to trade for now, as he should come quite cheaply, or even free if he’s sitting in your free agent pool.
Big things were expected of Mark Trumbo in the power department after moving to the more home run friendly park in Arizona. And he was off to quite the start, posting a 33.3% HR/FB ratio during the first month of the season. But a foot injury cost him about two and a half months and he has done nothing offensively since his return. Trumbo has never been a high BABIP guy and the fact that he strikes out so often makes it difficult for him to contribute in batting average. But still, his luck should turn soon and power has not been a problem. However, two concerns do remain — a career low fly ball rate and that he has been receiving some additional days of rest as a result of the injury.
This is precisely why drafting Chris Davis in the first round represented a substantial risk. Striking out 30% of the time means your value is highly dependent on the vagaries of BABIP. And the BABIP dragons are biting down hard. Although his power has predictably dipped to a more sustainable level, his disappointing season really just boils down to the BABIP problem. He’s striking out a bit more too, but not significantly so. His BABIP is actually down on every batted ball type and his fly ball BABIP has been halved since last year. He’s been a high BABIP guy historically, is hitting lots of line drives and avoiding the pop-up. So a respectable average along with all the homers could be in the cards over these last two months.
David Ortiz’s BABIP has really jumped around throughout his career. Because he gets shifted, perhaps it’s just the luck of whether balls are finding the holes that year or not. Clearly, this year those ground balls do not have eyes. His grounder BABIP sits at just .147 compared to a .232 mark last year. That has been the primary driver of his poor overall BABIP for the year. Every other skills is stable, his power remains strong and he continues to refuse to age. He could come at a discount, especially if his owner is frustrated at the lack of flexibility owning Ortiz forces given his DH-only eligibility.
Carlos Beltran is 37 years old and playing with a bone spur in his elbow that has limited him to DH duties in recent weeks. And that’s precisely why he makes for a good trade target. His power is fine, as are the rest of his peripherals, but he’s been saddled with a low BABIP driven by fly balls and grounders that keep finding gloves. A career low line drive rate is hurting his xBABIP, but you figure that should improve. It’s doubtful that any fantasy owner is real happy to own Beltran at the moment, which means he could come rather cheaply.
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.