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De-Lucker! or Josh Hamilton is Under-Performing

Posted By Bradley Woodrum On June 5, 2012 @ 11:00 am In Angels,Orioles,Pirates,Rangers,Red Sox,Today in FanGraphs,White Sox | 17 Comments


DATA!

Let us delve once again into the numbers. The season is now two months aged and we have more stories unfolding than we have enough digital ink to cover: Will the Red Sox ever find an outfielder? Is Adam Jones the new Matt Kemp? Can the White Sox really make a playoff push in a rebuilding year? And will the 2012 Pirates really go down as one of the worst offenses in modern history?

We will not truly know the answers to these questions for some time, but we can peer into the murky mirror-mirror that is the De-Lucker! and at least get a better feel for the state of everything. Much of the offensive fluctuations in the early part of the season come from strange movements in BABIP. The De-Lucker! attempts to smooth those fluctuations and give us a better guess as to who is doing well and who is not.

And Josh Hamilton, you will see, is in both categories.

Methodology

Combining Fielding Independent wOBA (FI wOBA for shortsies) and slash12′s xBABIP, we can get a specific wOBA calculation that strips away unusual luck, whether good or bad. It is important to remember these are both regression-based calculators, so they are backward-looking, not forward looking. Please do not pester me in 3 months when “[X Player] didn’t suck like you said he would! lulzlulzlulz, ur dum!”

Is BABIP the only stat that has a lot of luck in it? No. Stuff like home run rates can be wild early too. And moreover, BABIP is many parts skill, several parts luck. But there is more luck (or random variation) in BABIP than probably any other hitter stat out there. That is why it is worth focusing on it here.

For this latest rendition of the De-Lucker, I have tweaked slash12′s xBABIP formula. As the average leaderboard fiend will already know, we are in the midst of the lowest BABIP season since 2002. The venerable slash12 invented his xBABIP calculator near the crest of the BABIP hill, so it is biased a little upward. A lot upward in fact.

Though the best method for adjusted this would be to go through and adjust down for the players getting shifted the most, that method is both tedious and possibly impossible (good shift data is hard to find). So, instead we will adjust the whole league down according to the xBABIP formula’s over-optimism. The net result should be relatively pessimistic numbers, but it’s better to be pessimistic in this case, say I.

All told, I present, once again:

The De-Lucker!

SORTABLE! FILTERABLE! DOWNLOADABLE! (Note: Minimum 100 PA.)

Reactions to the De-Lucker results:

    Josh Hamilton is both slaughtering the league and underplaying his peripherals. According to the De-Lucker, Hamilton is homering, walking, and striking out at rates good enough to warrant a higher wOBA — even if his BABIP dropped 23 points! His homer-rate is bound to slow down, but if it does not, the man could obliterate Barry Bonds from the record books. By July.
    • If we use the team filter to look at only the Pirates, we see the team is still due for some solid regression, namely from Alex Presley and for Andrew McCutchen. If Presley cannot change some of his peripherals and outdo his De-Lucker’d numbers, then these two regressions will cancel each other out. Which is not great news for the Pirates.
    Marlon Byrd is still on track for a big, positive regression, but both he and Ryan Sweeney look like terrible hitters on the other sides of their repsective regressions, which is no doubt frustrating for a Red Sox team stuck in the “cellar” of the toughest, bestest, manliest division in baseball.
    • If Adam Jones can keep up his homer rate, then holy crap.
    • The White Sox are getting a great season from Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn, and even after those two over-30 sluggers regress, they should still have the rest of the team sitting comfortably on their shoulders. However, let us take note now of the under-30 duo of Dayan Viciedo (.359 FI wOBA) and Alejandro De Aza (.349 FI wOBA). That’s some nifty talent springing up in the outfield — and Viciedo is only 23!
    Jonathan Lucroy and Melky Cabrera — enjoy it while it lasts. Talk about some BABIP-heavy production! These two early-season studs simply cannot keep up their production without some more power, some better plate discipline, or some combination of the two.
    • So Albert Pujols has a .235 BABIP, and his home run rate is a little wonky (despite jumping to 8 HR pretty quickly this last month), but his FI wOBA (.340) is still very un-Pujolsian. The Man is walking at worse than half his career rate, striking out three percentage points higher than his career numbers, and displaying all the signs of a pressing slugger, a la Adam Dunn 2011. Even in his vastly improved May, his numbers were out of whack.

What else?

As always, you can download my workbook using the Excel icon at the bottom of the De-Lucker. And if you’re feeling frisky, refer to the first De-Lucker article for details on how to use your own data for the De-Lucker.


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