August 19, 2012 posted by Matthew Dewoskin

2012 Fantasy Baseball Leaders and Laggards Pitchers’ BABIP Revisited Leaders Edition

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Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

If you were lucky/smart enough to draft/acquire the men on this list, well, you’re likely headed to fantasy glory(in some cases). You’re flying high with wins, K’s and solid ratios. It’s important that we look back on our fantasy season to figure out why certain events have occurred and if said events will continue in the future. 

For those of us not on such solid fantasy footing, well, it’s never too early to start eyeing up potential sleepers, busts, over draft guys and under draft guys.  This list has a nice sampling of all four in this week’s edition of Leaders and Laggards, Leaders Edition.

1. Jered Weaver .233
2. Jason Vargas .245
3. Derek Holland .254
4. Ervin Santana .255
5. Jeremy Hellickson .256
6. Madison Bumgarner .258
7. Clayton Kershaw .259
8. Justin Verlander .260
9. Ryan Dempster .260
10. Ross Detwiler .261


Jered Weaver is one of the rare fly ball pitchers that isn’t victimized by homeruns. He’s able to keep his BABIP lower than average because he’s constantly getting guys to hit lazy fly balls that are caught for easy outs. He’ll likely never post a K/9 over 9.00 again, but Weaver is capable of posting elite fantasy numbers in other categories. He’s one of the few guys for whom BABIP simply isn’t that important because of his unusually low GB:FB ratio.

Wondering why Jason Vargas is producing a career year? His .245 BABIP and a lot of luck are the main reasons. His career average is .275.  Vargas is a league average starter having an unusually lucky season. There’s not much to see here. Other than a guy who will likely disappoint anyone foolish enough to think he’s a competent pitcher in fantasy baseball.

Derek Holland has posted a low BABIP, so he should be enjoying a career year right? Well, let’s take a deeper look. He’s posting a fly ball % over 40%, but he’s getting killed with a 15.4% HR:FB ratio. Yeah, that’s why his ERA is almost at 5.00. He’s also lost almost a mile and a half off his fastball from last year. Hmmm. Holland looks like a stay away until he proves he’s not a gopher ball pitcher.

Ervin Santana is another pitcher with a lower than average BABIP who has been murdered by home runs. Santana has a ..287 BABIP for his career, so a .255 isn’t completely ridiculous, but what has gotten Santana into trouble is his 19.0% HR:FB ratio. That almost one home run in every five at bats. His ground ball % is 47.1% and he’s currently posting a 1.40 GB:FB ratio, so he actually fits the profile of a guy who should have a higher than average BABIP. So, he’s been lucky on balls in play, but unlucky on balls hit in the air and altogether weird. Santana is basically waiver wire fodder at this point in his career. His K/9 is under 7.00 and he’s giving up bunches of homers. He could still be a useful innings eater in real life, but his days as a competent pitcher in fantasy baseball appear to be over.

Jeremy Hellickson is still on this list? The Luck Dragons haven’t come for him yet? Hellickson gets by on smoke and mirrors. He doesn’t strike out very many but he does walk a few. He puts a lot of balls in play and basically hopes that his defense is good enough to keep him in the game. Both his FIP and xFIP are a full point above his actual ERA for the second straight year. He is the enemy of all sabrmetricians.

Madison Bumgarner was actually fairly unlucky during his first two years in the big leagues and most people paying attention knew that his was due for an improvement in his luck stats. This is that improvement. What’s kept him from really breaking out is a fairly unlucky 12.0% HR:FB ratio. Madison had posted HR:FB ratios under nine during his first two years. The only reason dyntasty league GMs have to be afraid of Madison is the fact that he throws sliders 38.0% of the time. That’s a lot of stress on a young arm.

Clayton Kershaw’s career BABIP is only .275. .259 isn’t that far fetched. This is what Clayton Kershaw looks like and it’s nothing to be concerned about.

See one centimeter above this sentence for the same analysis on Justin Verlander. Verlander owns a .282 BABIP for his career. .260 isn’t nearly as concerning as his .236 was in 2011. This is what elite looks like.

Remember when everyone was cutting Ryan Dempster when he had an ungodly .400+ BABIP last year? It’s fun when other fantasy GMs panic. He’s simply enjoying a return to normal after an unbelievably unlucky first half of the 2011 season. Dempster has been really unlucky this August(.359 August BABIP), but even that should normalize by the end of the year.

Ross Detwiler’s career low .261 BABIP can be traced back to a sudden drop in his LD %. His current LD % is only 15.0%. He’s never posted a full year under 20.0% before. Detwiler profiles as a ground ball pitcher with a 1.64 GB:FB ratio and he puts a ton of balls in play. Detwiler is getting by on luck and isn’t a solid bet to have continued success.


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