BABIP Trailers – June Update Part 2 of 2

My last article highlighted some of the more fortunate hitters in terms of BABIP. I use xStats.org and find large discrepancies between xBABIP and BABIP. Today, I’m going the other direction and finding some potentially unlucky hitters in terms of their BABIP. Wow, ok I just typed BABIP a few too many times.

Someone you might expect included on this list that I will tell you upfront is not is Gary Sanchez. He’s hitting far too many popups (23.4% IFFB%) and hitting a career low line drive rate at only 13.9%. With his near 45% fly ball rate, that means that nearly 11% of his batted balls are pop ups or automatic outs and 8.5% of his batted balls are home runs which don’t influence BABIP. His profile lends itself to a very low BABIP and while his xBABIP and xAVG are higher, they don’t make the cut. Expect a low batting average this year with power and a decent OBP with his improved walk rate.

NameBABIPxBABIPDiffAVGxAVGDiff
Bryce Harper0.2160.296-0.080.2280.277-0.049
Johan Camargo0.2220.293-0.0710.2120.253-0.041
Anthony Rizzo0.2270.287-0.060.2380.274-0.036
DJ LeMahieu0.3010.346-0.0450.2840.312-0.028
Try Mancini0.2780.322-0.0440.2290.263-0.034

Would you look at that. How could I not start with Bryce Harper. That 0.080 difference is huge but the difference in AVG and xAVG is quite a bit less. That’s most likely due to his home run totals, since we are only talking about balls in play here. Looking at Harper’s value hits and high drive percentages this year, he’s actually hit a higher percentage of those batted balls this year compared to 2017. That’s great! His launch angle is just fine and his exit velocity is up from last year. His 18 home runs certainly back up those numbers, but why the low BABIP?

Here’s the deal, as I mentioned, he’s actually hitting the ball harder and barreling up a higher percentage of balls. He is swinging and missing a little more but that doesn’t affect BABIP. Based on the solid line drive rate and hard contact, you’d expect his BABIP to improve instead of decrease. Then there’s the pulled ground balls into the shift. I don’t fully support this argument except for the fact that he’s been a little unlucky on ground balls. His career ground ball rate when shifted against matches this years and his pull percentage is up a modest eight percent against the shift. So that’s a factor, but not a huge one. Take a look at his career BABIPs on grounders, fly balls and line drives and compare that to this year.

Bryce Harper BABIP Career 2018
Ground Balls 0.258 0.176
Fly Balls 0.139 0.067
Line Drives 0.679 0.459

There you have it. Based on the batted ball data and xStats, he’s been just plain unlucky, extremely unlucky. BUY, BUY, BUY!

Anthony Rizzo
Rizzo has turned it around of late but still lags quite a bit from his xBABIP. Similar to Harper, his power numbers have kept his difference between AVG and xAVG closer and therefore his fantasy value has not torpedoed many teams. If you’re a Rizzo owner, I’ve got good news for you! Rizzo has increased his exit velocity, launch angle and overall contact. I know what you’re thinking, his launch angle has increased due to an increase in popups. Nope, not at all. He’s hitting a ton of valuable line drives and fly balls, both up from 2017. He’s currently under-performing against all types of pitches: fastballs, offspeed, and breaking pitches. The only negative is a lower barrel percentage. It’s far from terrible though, and Rizzo is another buy here. Rizzo has been plagued by plain bad luck.

Johan Camargo
A relatively unknown and mostly a deep league option Camargo is holding down third base for the Braves right now until Austin Riley is ready. He’s part of the reason they let Bautista go, the Braves figured Camargo could handle the hot corner. Camargo has been a more patient hitter this year and he’s benefited by making more solid and hard contact. His K rate and BB rate are nearly identical. That’s fantastic! There’s no doubt Camargo has be dealt some bad luck but he’s also a slow runner and while launch angle has increased, he’s still hitting nearly 48% of balls in the ground. Combine that with a pretty terrible 23% IFFB rate and boom, low BABIP. I’m not buying in except in very deep formats and NL ONly leagues.

DJ LeMahieu
Previously known for his ground and pound approach, Lemahieu is elevating the ball a bit more. It’s not a huge increase but he’s attacking fastballs. Even with a short stint on the DL, he’s still managed to barrel more balls this year than in 2017 in one-third of the plate appearances.

Not bad right? It’s not that DJ is a power hitter now, he’s only decreased his ground ball rate by less than four percent. However, he’s increased the fly ball rate by almost six percent and he’s pulling the ball more. Oh wait, we are talking about BABIP here, not power. The two are related, more hard contact/barrels while limiting poor contact should boost his BABIP, not regress it. DJ is a moderate buy as I expect the average to hover around .300-.310 with 12-15 HR and 6-8 steals.

Trey Mancini
What a disappointment thus far after an unexpected rookie breakout. Am I right guys? Actually no, he’s the same guy he was last year in terms of his contact and batted ball profile. Now, he hits too many ground balls to really be a 30 home run hitter but he is ranked inside the top 20 for most barreled balls this season with 23. He’s also walking more than last year, so maybe he’s developing some patience. Mancini is kind of like a poor man’s Marcell Ozuna in terms of ground balls and hard contact. His line drive rate is solid and he sprays the ball all over the field. There’s not reason for Mancini to have a below average BABIP. Owners in shallow leagues have moved on, so give him a shot and grab him. In deep leagues add him as a cheap throw with a trade and reap the benefits.

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