MLB
March 19, 2013 posted by Matthew Dewoskin

2013 Fantasy Baseball Leaders and Laggards: Hitter’s BABIP Laggards Edition

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Ike Davis, 1B, New York Mets

We all know about BABIP and it’s safe to say we all understand how it works, right? Okay, for those who haven’t been paying attention, BABIP is a measure of what happens when a hitter puts the ball in play. No homers, no strike outs, no walks. It’s only what happens when the ball is actually hit somewhere on the field. When evaluating BABIP, it’s very important to consider GB:FB ratio as well as GB%, LD% and FB%. All of those numbers can have an impact on a hitter’s BABIP.

The guys on his list basically fall into two categories; Guys who disappointed in 2012 and power hitters. Some of these guys occupied both categories. Let’s dive right to the shallow end in the laggards edition of Leaders and Laggards…

1. Justin Smoak .242
2. Ike Davis .246
3. Adam Dunn .246
4. Mark Teixeira .250
5. J.J. Hardy .253
6. Gordon Beckham .254
7. Eric Hosmer .255
8. Jemile Weeks .256
9. Colby Rasmus .259
10. Curtis Granderson .260

Justin Smoak hits a lot of fly balls (0.94 GB:FB ratio) and should maintain a lower than average BABIP until he finds a way to post a LD % in the 20% range instead of the mid to high teens. Supposedly he adjusted his swing in the second half and saw his BABIP improve from .225 in the first half to .271 in the second half. His ISO also improved from .130 in the first half to .176 in the second half. He’s worth a late round flier at this point, but that’s about all he’s worth at this point.

Ike Davis posted a LD% over 20.0% for the first time in his career last year, but still slogged through a season with a .246 BABIP. His 0.97 GB:FB ratio wasn’t that far off his 1.02 career average. Davis owns a .292 career average and is a solid bet to rebound in 2013. Feel free to draft Ike with confidence.

The current Adam Dunn is the Adam Dunn fantasy GMs have to live with. Thanks to The Shift and natural aging, Dunn simply isn’t the same guy he was in the National League. He’s had back-to-back seasons of sub-.250 BABIPs. He’s a solid bet to end 2013 with another season with an awful BABIP.

Mark Teixeira hasn’t posted a BABIP over .300 since 2009 and he’s nursing a wrist injury that could hamper his swing even when he returns to the field. He hasn’t posted a LD % over 20.0% since 2008 and his GB% spiked to a career high 41.1% last year. Last season was the first time Teix posted a GB % over 40%. That’s…not a good sign for an aging power hitter.

J.J. Hardy hasn’t posted a BABIP over .300 since 2008 and owns a .275 career BABIP. Hardy has a reputation as a fly ball hitter. He actually owns a 1.14 GB:FB ratio for his career and posted a 1.09 GB:FB ratio last year. He does hit more fly balls than most shortstops, Jhonny Peralta not included, but he’s basically a neutral hitter when it comes to GB:FB ratio. What he doesn’t do is hit a lot of line drives. Hardy has exactly one season with a LD % over 20% and that came in his rookie year. His lack of line drives is likely what keeps his BABIP lower than average.

Gordon Beckham seems determined to put the ball in the air. His fly ball rates have been trending upward since 2010 and its had an impact on both his power numbers and his numbers on balls in play. Beckham posted a 42.3% fly ball rate last year and that came with 16 homers. His 2012 fly ball rate was his highest since his rookie year in 2009 and his 16 homers were actually a career high. His previous high? You guessed it. His rookie year. More fly balls have also lead to a downturn in his BABIP. Beckham’s BABIP has dropped almost 20 points per season as his fly ball rate increased. He’s a solid bet to repeat the power production, but his batting average will likely continue to suffer as long as he’s putting the ball in the air at a rate over 40%.

Eric Hosmer’s mediocre 2012 season has been picked over and discussed almost as much as Mike Trout’s phenomenal season. Hosmer has officially become a post-hype sleeper. He was wildly overdrafted in most leagues last year and wildly underperformed. Hosmer’s LD% was 18.5% last year. For comparison sake, his LD % during his cup of coffee that got everyone excited was 18.7%. The issue doesn’t lie there. He posted a 53.6% GB% last year. That’s ungodly for a guy with the power potential of Hosmer. He put the ball on the ground more than half the time when he made contact. Fantasy GMs who invest in Hosmer need to pay attention to his GB % early in the year. If it’s over 45% heading into May, deal Hosmer as quickly as possible. He needs to make an adjustment to fulfill his power potential and that adjustment will be visible in his GB %.

Jemile Weeks was another young player who suffered through a horrific season last year. Weeks’ BABIP was only .256 in 2012 after posting a .356 mark during his first extended big league action in 2011. He hit a lot fewer line drives (18.8% vs 23.3%) and put a lot more balls on the ground (49.5% vs 39.8%) in 2012 than in 2011. What’s odd is that his BB% was up and his K% was down in 2012 compared to 2011. His plate discipline improved, but it came at the cost of his numbers on balls in play? That doesn’t make any sense. Weeks’ issues were likely BABIP driven and he’s a solid bet to have a correction in 2013. The problem is that he appears to have hit his way out of a job. Oakland has a crowded infield with the additions of Jed Lowrie and Hiroyuki Nakajima. Weeks could find himself riding the buses in Triple-A again if he doesn’t somehow win the second base job in Oakland in the next few weeks. His 2012 BABIP won’t matter if he doesn’t have a job.

Colby Rasmus is another guy who could find himself watching baseball rather than playing baseball in 2013 if his luck doesn’t change soon. Unlike Weeks, Colby actually should at least break camp with the big club. Statistical variance (i.e. luck) had something to do with his struggles in 2012. Rasmus posted a career high 20.1% LD %, but still posted a career low BABIP. He does hit a lot of fly balls (0.77 GB:FB ratio for his career), so he should carry a lower than average BABIP, but hitting in the .250-range is simply too low for a guy who hit as many line drives as Rasmus did in 2012. He could actually be a decent sleeper if he were guaranteed playing time.

Curtis Granderson owns a .305 career average BABIP, but he hasn’t posted a BABIP over .300 since 2008. Granderson has posted GB:FB ratios of 0.60, 0.70, 0.71 and 0.75 since then. He won’t sniff a .305 BABIP unless he somehow lucks his way into a ridiculous statistical variance. Ol Grandy is looking to put the ball over the fence and that’s about all he’s looking to do now. Don’t expect a competent batting average and you won’t be disappointed.

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