With rankings season upon us and which is soon followed by draft season and then the real season which is actually our fake season, there are two things to take note of. One, it’s ‘upon’ us and not ‘up on’ us. The first one means ‘I’m snooty’ the second one means ‘I still use 90’s hip hop slang when referring to coitus’.  Sadly, both could describe me.  But since we’re not here to talk about knocking boots, let’s take note of the second note: BABIP can change the scope of how we view a player for the better or for the worse.  Since BABIP is such a combination of things – player speed, hitting style, plain old luck, etc – it’s good to take a peak at some of those who topped the 2014 season and whether or not we can expect the trend to last.  One thing of note: I’m looking at players with a minimum of 350 plate appearances.  Why 350 PA you ask? Because I started at 200 and worked my way up until I couldn’t see Justin Turner’s name near the top.  Sound, scientific reasoning if you ask me.  With that, let’s get down to business.  Here’s me breaking down a few players that seem primed for a BABIP regression for the 2015 fantasy baseball season…

Danny Santana2014 BABIP .405, Career BABIP .405, last three years BABIP N/A: Let’s start with an easy one, shall we?  Danny had the highest BABIP of any player with a minimum of 350 PAs in the last 15 years and the 20th highest of all time.  The last closest player was Joey Votto in 2012 with a .404 BABIP.  The thing about Votto is his BB% was almost quintuple of Danny’s (4.4% vs 19.8%) that year and he struck out 5% less of the time (22.8% vs 17.9%).  Since Danny is a speed guy, it’s very likely he will have a high BABIP for most of his career.  That said, let’s just expect something above .340 BABIP as being a reasonable expectation and not stare too long at his .319 batting average from 2014 when considering him in drafts this year.

J.D. Martinez2014 BABIP .389, Career BABIP .333, last three years BABIP .335: Another ‘easy’ call but with an M. Night Shamallamadingdong twist!  JD Martinez was dead the whole time prior to 2014.  I say this in jest, of course.  Martinez altered his batting stance prior to the 2014 season to make more contact without losing power and it appears to have worked.  He finished 2014 with 23 home runs, 5 of which went to center and 9 apiece to left and right.  This is a drastic shift when considering his other 24 career homeruns are split from left field to right: 15/4/5.  That said, it’s not like Martinez has much speed on the basepaths to talk about so believing in his 2014 BABIP would be pretty foolhardy and his BB%/K% suggests a player who isn’t a .300 hitter without ample luck.  Given he can and does hit to all fields and doesn’t sell out as a pull hitter to gain his power, I’m inclined to believe he could hit .290 but that would be his high watermark; he’d need major improvement in his peripherals to hit .300 again.

Juan Uribe2014 BABIP .368, Career BABIP .288, last three years BABIP .326: Deep league shoutout, snitches!  Yeah, not like you were drafting him in a regular league but this is me warning you in those leagues where Joe Panik is gonna get drafted to 1) not draft Joe Panik and 2) don’t draft Uribe.  I don’t think this one needs much cajoling.  Moving on…

Jose Abreu – 2014 BABIP .356, Career BABIP .356, last three years BABIP N/A: Might as well talk about the elephant in the room, I always say.  Yes, that’s a joke about how big Abreu is.  I see Jose as an interesting case because his splits between the first and second half showed overall plate approach improvement at the expense of losing power.  That said, here’s my main reason for my expectation for regression: 73.2% contact rate.  That put him 131st in the league in that category, 5 spots behind Nelson Cruz who had a similar batting profile but hit .271.  This is not to say I don’t like Jose Abreu but I don’t think he’s a .300 hitter and think he’ll most likely finish around .280 if everything falls right.  Unless of course his second half splits become a reality.  Then he’s hitting 18 HRs…eh, let’s just hope for BABIP regression.

Corey Dickerson2014 BABIP .356, Career BABIP .340, last three years BABIP N/A: This one has a lot less to do with his actual BABIP and more to do with how will the Rockies utilize him in 2015.  The Rockies did not let him bat much against lefties on the year (only 91 AB against vs 345 ABs against RHP) and for good reason: he batted .253 against and struck out against them 7% of the time more than against a righty.  He also has massive home/road splits in terms of his BABIP (.387 vs .313).  Now of course, when betting against a Rockies BABIP, you’re already fighting uphill but I’d be more inclined to believe with such a pull hitter as Dickerson that we don’t see a BABIP above .340 in 2015 without a different approach.  Given his massive splits, you’re either going to get a reduced quantity or reduced quality.  I’ll bank on the latter.

Marlon Byrd – 2014 BABIP .341, Career BABIP .326, last three years BABIP .335: Byrd had a bit of a career renaissance the last two years after altering his approach to hit for more power.  With this change in approach, though, also came an increased K% in 2013 (24.9% vs 19.3% for his career) and that ballooned even higher in 2014 to 29%.  We are looking at an outfielder who will turn 38 in August with back to back solid HR seasons who might not be looking at a .250 batting average in 2015.  My reason for saying this?  There were 15 players with higher K% than Byrd in 2014 with a minimum of 350 PA.  Of those, only one player (Drew Stubbs), hit above .250.  The next highest BA was .241.  You get the picture.  Oh and let’s just pretend we talked about Stubbs regressing from his .404 BABIP while we’re at it, m’kay?

Regression Bonus Round!

Kennys Vargas – 2014 BABIP .340, Career BABIP .340, last three years BABIP N/A – I just couldn’t fit him in because Justin Turner ruins everything.  Curse you, Turner!  Vargas only had 234 PAs so he was pretty below the cutoff as it was.  That said, as much as I like Vargas long term, I’m not entirely on Grey’s Kennys Vargas Sleeper wagon.  Though the power is for real (as it should be…I mean he’s 6’5″ and 275 pounds guys), I think too many will see his .274 average and not realize it’s a bit of a mirage and draft him higher than he should go.  The biggest worry for Vargas is contact rates.  His zone contact percentages are just fine but his overall plate approach shows someone who swings at almost everything.  If he were a slap-hitter or a speedster, that’s a fine approach but if you’re a power hitter and trying to barrel everything up, being more selective makes sense.  For him to be a solid .250+ hitter, either he starts to lay off pitches outside of the zone or his K:BB profile needs to vastly improve.  Or both.  I’m not picky.

  1. Grey

    Grey says:
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    I will say I am worried about that with Vargas… Where he’s drafted though, I’d still jump on him…

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      If his ranking stays low, you’ll hear no argument about that from me. I had him all last year and was trumpeting him with Nick on the show when the All-Star break came around. He’s one of those guys who’s one year away to me unless some improvements come in. Really hope they stick with him through the lean times (and I worry there’ll be some long ones without changes).

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        Yeah, that’s a concern too… Hopefully, the fact it’s the Twins and their other options at DH are catchers, it’ll convince them

        • Sky

          Sky says:
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          With a new staff, it’ll be interesting to see how they handle players in general. If Molitor is as patient with the kids as he was at the plate, there’s hope. Seriously, the kid is a beast…built like damn football player!

          • Grey

            Grey says:
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            Yeah, Big Papi-ish…Waiter, there is too much Papi-ish in my Papi-kash!

            • Sky

              Sky says:
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              Ha! Yeah, it’s funny: they actually compared his swing to Papi’s last year. Those sluggers sometimes take a little longer to grow into the hitter we want. Chris Davis took forever, Chris Carter took even longer and still never became what people wanted, yadda X infinity.

  2. Ron says:
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    Why don’t you just get minor league BABIP from fangraphs?

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      Because minor league BABIP is from the minor leagues. It would be like comparing Nick Franklin’s K% now to his minor league track record: they aren’t correlative in my book.

      • Montezuma's Revenge... right now says:
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        @Sky: there’s that bill james originally based conversion for minor leaguers, one of which is used by Ron Shandler’s book. But yeah, the defense in minors is atrocious compared to MLB. This was the biggest worry about Billy H when he was about to come up; anybody that fast getting “singles” and bunts down there won’t at all necessarily get safe at first in MLB.

  3. claw dog says:
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    were these supposed to say 2014 BABIP? I got confused at first haha. But anyways Hooray! I don’t own any of these players as keepers. Really thought altuve was going to show up here since I actually own him lol

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      DAH…fixed!

      Actually Altuve trimmed 5% off his K% last year. Given he’s a speed guy and makes contact, I could see a BABIP regression but not one that would hurt him. I was more focused on players who had some underlying stats that would make you believe the BABIP would regress which would hurt their overall line. Altuve just didn’t fit that mindset.

  4. Baezaworldseries says:
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    12 team 13 keeper MI 4 OF 1 UT start any 7 pitchers semi weekly no penalty for keepers keep forever.
    Would you feel confident going into the 2015 draft with a pitching staff of
    H Bailey
    I Kennedy
    K Gausman
    M Fiers
    Heaney
    With an offense of
    Goldschmidt
    Rizzo
    Arenado
    Harper
    Trout
    Stanton
    Soler
    Betts
    Last keeper options
    Avisail
    Cain
    Dickerson
    Vargas
    Pederson
    C. Allen
    Street
    C. Rodon
    Tropeano
    Who would you keep? Having Goldy and Rizzo. Would you trade Goldy for Kershaw or F-Her? I thought I had it figured out before I saw the Dickerson and Vargas info.

    • Hawk says:
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      @Baezaworldseries:

      Bailey’s not a keeper for me on that list. Not sure about Kennedy either.

      I like Dickerson (<—that's what she said!) and Pederson (if he gets the full time gig) ahead of both pitchers.

    • Hawk says:
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      @Baezaworldseries:

      Also – I would not deal Goldy or Rizzo for a pitcher but if I could package 2-3 guys (Soler, Pederson, Betts etc…) for either Kershaw or F-Her, I’d do that.

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      I say you throw back your staff and go hard at them in the draft, basically. Here’d be my 13 –

      Avisail/Goldy/Rizzo/Arenado/Harper/Trout/Stanton/Soler/Betts/Dickerson/Vargas/Pederson/Fiers

      I know it sounds crazy but I think you’ll have a better chance of building your staff in the draft or making reasonable trades in season. Just because I’m down on Vargas/Dickerson’s BABIP doesn’t mean I don’t like them. Both are potential 25+ HR hitters. Plus you can get most of those arms back in the draft easier than you can get those bats.

      • Baezaworldseries says:
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        @Sky: But what would I do with 3 first base and eight outfielders? No way I could carry that many bench bats. What am I missing?

        • Sky

          Sky says:
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          You don’t have keepable pitchers. It’s better to trade from strength than keep and try to work on an inherited weakness.

          • Sky

            Sky says:
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            That said, moving some of your smaller hitters for a more intriguing keeper pitcher could also go to your benefit. Just saying overall, the pitchers you have aren’t really keeper worthy in most leagues unless there’s monetary or draft round values that are being excluded from the equation.

    • Cram It says:
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      @Baezaworldseries: Grey has Dickerson as the 10th ranked OF. Just because this guy, Sky is it?, foresees a BABIP regression, doesn’t mean you should abandon ship on the guy.

      • Sky

        Sky says:
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        #ThisGuy

        • Cram It says:
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          @Sky: #OhHeyBuddyDidn’tSeeYouThere

          • Sky

            Sky says:
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            I like the idea that I’m JAG (Just A Guy) around here. Keep with this theme!

            • Cram It says:
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              @Sky: Don’t shortchange yourself, Sky. You’re easily one of the top 10-12 Razzball writers.

              • Sky

                Sky says:
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                I like to think of myself as the twelfth man around here.

                • Cram It says:
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                  @Sky: You steal other people’s material?

                  • Sky

                    Sky says:
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                    Nah, I paint myself in Razzball colors and yell really loudly for them when they’re writing at home.

      • Baezaworldseries says:
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        Not really on the Dickerson bandwagon this year. Just a preference I guess. Just not seeing it.

  5. glad not to see Fraizer on this list.

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      .309; .300 is considered neutral luck so there wasn’t much abnormal going on there.

    • McNulty says:
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      @Sky: @Doh! No!:

      he should be on a SB regression list

      • Sky

        Sky says:
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        If he gets on base less, then yes he will steal less bases and in general, any guy who steals over 50 is probably a good bet to regress. SB are one of the most hair-pulling stats. It’s a skill to be able to steal bases but it’s also tempered by team needs and gameflow.

        • McNulty says:
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          @Sky:

          I was referencing more of how Frazier stole those bases. He had the running potential all along, he just finally got a manager who was ok with him running.

          However, this year, pitchers will be more aware of Frazier on the base paths and won’t let him get the absolute ridiculous jumps. If you’re looking for a “bold” prediction, project Frazier with around 8 steals

          • Sky

            Sky says:
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            Ah gotcha. I think there were multiple factors that lead to Frazier stealing more. Their offense was bad so a lot of their guys ran more to try and generate offense. Even Jay Bruce set a career high there last year. Also – and this is hard to say since I don’t have the stats – I wonder how many he got on the back end of a BIlly Hamilton double steal. But he wasn’t a very successful basestealer overall (71% success rate) so I don’t think he’s going to run as much this year in general. May be a 10 steal guy with 15 steal potential but I’d bet on the 10.

  6. Shoe Gum Reynolds says:
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    Sky…Dickerson isn’t “such a pull hitter”. Check out his batted ball and hit type spray charts. They don’t indicate a pull hitter at all.

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      I was extremely focused on the power numbers. What you say is fair.

  7. Ian says:
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    Will there be a companion piece to this? It’s “regression to the mean” after all. Regression doesn’t necessarily equal “regress.” (That’s me channeling my inner Ron Shandler). Got some bounce back candidates coming our way? Good stuff here Sky

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      Yep, I plan on working on such things shortly. Thanks for reading!

  8. the swinging says:
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    Is corey dickerson a top 40 player overall?

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      I wouldn’t put him there, personally, but I know others would. I love he plays in Colorado but his splits put me off calling him top 40

  9. BreakOut says:
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    I personally witnessed the Kennys put a 99 MPH fastball in the upper deck and it changed my life.

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      Ha! I think if you read my blurb with Grey you know I like him too. Just worried it’s not a breakout year yet; adjustment in 2015 is what I think we see. Would love to be wrong, though.

  10. Wake Up says:
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    Nice work. And good good calls on on Dee and Ross.

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      Thanks Wake…but what about my Yan Gomes and Corey Kluber?!? I’m not a praise whore, more a praise glutton.

      • Wake Up says:
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        @Sky: Kluber was JB, and I agreed with him before you mentioned it.
        Check your Yan post, I was with you.
        Dee and Ross is where you shined.
        I gave you credit for Ross the other day too.

        I could set my watch to you, whore…now get Jack on the streets and make me some of that green…

        • Sky

          Sky says:
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          Ha, it’s funny that JB is Kluber…but I didn’t write the post when he was breaking out in 2013 so that is fair.

          JFOH really needs to pull his weight. I’m getting sore down there…

          • Wake Up says:
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            @Sky: haha…I wrote get back on the…stupid auto correct…take the compliment will you?

            • Sky

              Sky says:
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              I will…just don’t backhand me afterwards!

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Sky: when the stitches get removed I can get back to turning tricks.

        I have one question on kluber? If everyone liked the call last year why wasn’t he drafted higher like Brad miller and some.of the other darlings? Just a thought. Don’t get me wrong, he beyond impressed me, even after that train wreck of an april, but hindsight is a beee-atch….oh and I drafted gomes everywhere (because of you) and then grew impatient and dropped him when I forgot all catchers suck, he just sucked less.

        Glad to see wake give FCL love to our former leaguemate *sheds tear*

        • Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey says:
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          @J-FOH: kluber went early enough in all my leagues that i only had him in one. i did win pitching in that one too. and i was going off Razzball (Grey) rankings, so it’s not as if i didn’t want the guy last year.

          • Sky

            Sky says:
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            @Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey: He was SP55 according to Grey’s rankings. If you he was going high/higher, it was from JB or possibly my influence. He was down around rounds 16 to 18, most likely, if he was going ‘high’.

        • Sky

          Sky says:
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          @J-FOH: He’s a pitcher is probably the best answer. Even when I called Cobb in 2013, he could be had late because he was a pitcher. Just one of those things and a firm reminder of why I like hanging back on pitching in general.

          • J-FOH says:
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            @Sky: I think Im just being a dick, no I am being a dick. Ive been getting a kick out of the Kluber/Brantley hindsight takes. The Dickerson ones are heeeelarrrrreeeeeuuuusssss.

            On the flipside of that. One of my lasting memories from last year was in FCL when Wake drafted Dickerson. I was so mad at him for like 5…6 minutes. I knew then I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.

            • Sky

              Sky says:
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              Hindsight is the best sight you’ll ever see

              • J-FOH says:
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                @Sky: I prefer right now sight when looking at boobs, in hindsight they just dont come in as clear…unless you took a picture.

                • Sky

                  Sky says:
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                  I have a pornographic memory so I do not have these issues.

                • Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey says:
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                  @J-FOH: he definitely was going higher in my drafts than 14th round for sure, and it looks like Grey was way lower on him than i thought at 55th, and that’s why i had him almost no where. He probably was somewhere around 11-12th round in my leagues.

  11. Ante GALIC says:
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    Sky!!

    Very nice analysis and succinct report. Agree w/others concerning the other side of this BABIP aka who was SUPER UNLUCKY and therefore due for BABIP improvement and maybe EVEN stats improvement. In general, life is a crapshoot so why bother with anything, right? (Rhetorical question no need to answer.)

    Cheers,
    Ante

    • Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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      @Ante GALIC: rutledge 2013 was due for huge comebacker, it was like worst BABIP in the league.

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      @Ante GALIC: It’s true, I’ve now just given up writing anything more. J/K, that post will happen, promise!

  12. Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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    have you seen anybody say fantasy baseball season is “up on” us? that would be funny.

    • Sky

      Sky says:
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      @Aubrey Plaza’s Pillow: I haven’t witnessed it but then again, I wasn’t hanging with Grey in the early 90’s. That would’ve been the time it happened.

  13. Count de Monetball says:
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    It figures you would bring them up, because I heart H-Town!

  14. David Niven says:
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    Nice piece chief.

Comments are closed.