June 9, 2012 posted by Matthew Dewoskin

2012 Fantasy Baseball Leaders and Laggards, Pitchers’ BABIP LEADERS Edition

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Brandon Beachy, SP, Atlanta Braves

BABIP, along with HR:FB ratio and LOB%, is one of the luck stats. Pitchers with a few years in the majors give us a track record. That track record gives us a pattern of behavior from which fantasy GMs try to guess how a pitcher will pitch in the future. Pitchers tend to come fairly close to their career averages when it’s all said and done. A guy with a .290 career BABIP will likely post a BABIP within a few standard deviations of his career average.

When a pitcher goes through an outlier season in which his BABIP is a lot lower than a few standard deviations of his career average fantasy GMs start to worry. “Is it time to sell high,” they tweet or send panicked emails asking questions like, “How long can Beachy keep this up?” We’ll answer these questions and more in this week’s Leaders portion of FP911’s own Leaders and Laggards.

1. Brandon Beachy .206
2. Hector Noesi .222
3. Brandon Morrow .223
4. Chris Capuano .228
5. Ricky Romero .231
6. Jered Weaver .232
7. Kevin Correia .234
8. Carlos Zambrano .236
9. Jason Vargas .238
10. C.J. Wilson .240

Brandon Beachy is an ideal sell high candidate. His 4.12 xFIP is telling us that his 1.98 actual ERA is a total mirage and is poised to rocket upwards any second now. Beachy doesn’t have a large body of work to look at, but his BABIP is fairly lucky compared to the .276 career mark Beachy has compiled in over 200 innings. He’s also not posting the K/9 numbers that fantasy owners expected. His 7.33 K/9 is solid, but it’s nowhere near the 10.74 K/9 that Beachy posted in 2011. He’s been lucky on balls in play and isn’t posting the K numbers that earned him a fairly high draft position. It’s time to sell high to the guy that wrote “nice pick” in the chat room after you took Beachy off the board.

Hector Noesi has been fairly rotten with a 5.99 ERA and a low BABIP. Imagine what’s going to happen when his BABIP starts to rise. Stay away.

Brandon Morrow has stopped trying to strike everyone out in an effort to cut down on his walks. For the most part it’s worked, but Morrow is no longer the source of K’s that he’s been over the last two years. The days of the +10 K/9 are over, but the days of the +4.00 ERA also appear to be over. There is a concern with Morrow’s BABIP. His career mark is at .290 and he’s putting more balls in play this year than he has in years past. He’s been getting by because those balls have been finding gloves. Morrow could be due for a second half swoon if those balls start falling in for hits. He’s another sell high guy, but don’t sell him for Brandon Beachy.

Chris Capuano could wind up on the all-star team. He’s 8-2 with a K/9 over 8.00 and solid ratios. Sadly, his BABIP and xFIP indicate that it’s mostly fake. His BABIP is 70 points over his career mark. Cappy hasn’t posted an BABIP below .283 since his rookie year. His 4.05 xFIP indicates that his 2.82 actual ERA isn’t going hold up for the long term. Enjoy the solid pitching while it lasts.

Ricky Romero’s K/9 has fallen below 7.00 and his BB/9 has risen to 4.48. He owns a 4.02 ERA with a low BABIP. Romero owners could be in for a lot of pain if he continues to post high walk numbers and his BABIP starts to rise. He’s a matchup play until he remembers how to control his pitches.

Jered Weaver is the kind of high strikeout/high fly ball pitcher that can maintain a lower than average BABIP. He strikes out over seven batters per nine innings and owns a 0.69 GB:FB ratio for his career. He probably won’t end the year with a .232 BABIP, but there’s no reason he can’t finish close to the .250 he posted last year. Weaver’s in the prime of his career and appears to be perfectly capable of putting up numbers like this until his skills erode.

If Kevin Correia is on your roster please stop reading and quit playing fantasy baseball. There is no upside to using Correia in any format. Your hope is that he might luck his way into a W. He doesn’t strike anyone out and he won’t help ratios. Stay away. The only analysis to offer here is that Correia is a fringe major league pitcher who is fortunate to be on a team willing to give him the ball every fifth day.

Carlos Zambrano owners need to be very, very careful. Zambrano is the same mediocre guy he’s been for a few years, but he’s been getting lucky on balls in play in the first few months of 2012. What’s keeping his ERA under 3.00 isn’t Zambrano’s rocket arm or amazing stuff. It’s his fielders saving his butt. His 3.92 xFIP tells us that his 2.81 actual ERA isn’t likely to continue. His BABIP is almost 40 points off his career average. He’s another guy that could cause some pain in the second half.

Jason Vargas is striking out more guys than he ever has before that the major league level. His K/9 is a blistering 6.21. He’s getting by with his low BABIP and a high strand rate(77.1%). He’s a matchup play in Safeco only.

C.J. Wilson is having a better season than last year’s contract year. He’s striking out the same amount of guys, but he’s actually walking more(3.76 BB/9). So, how are his ratios better? Well, his BABIP is over 40 points lower than his career average. Wilson is a prime regression candidate and his ratios should rise as his BABIP rises.


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