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Grounded Success

This morning, RJ took a look at the ridiculously high BABIP belonging to David Wright, noting that nobody since 1954, with 300+ AB has ever exceeded .408, let alone .450 or .460. Though hitters tend to exert more influence over their BABIP than pitchers, not necessarily falling prey to the standard regression to .300, it is less likely for a hitter to post a .450+ BABIP than it is for Adam Eaton to pull a Johnny Vander Meer. One of the primary culprits of Wright’s BIP success is an otherworldly batting average on groundballs.

To date, Wright has a .471 BA on grounders. The league average is right around .240 over the last several seasons. Wright has essentially doubled that mark so far, recording hits on almost half of his grounded balls. Over the last few seasons, his GB% has held relatively steady with raw numbers in the 180-210 range. Given that his current pace falls in line with past results, a query for his contemporaries will stipulate a minimum of 160 groundballs.

Of those with 160+ GB from 2003-08, here are the highest GB-BAs:

Willy Taveras    2007  .413
Ichiro Suzuki    2007  .379
Norris Hopper    2007  .364
Akinori Iwamura  2007  .361
Carlos Gomez     2008  .359

Only one player with as many grounders as Wright has bested a .400 BA and only eight others have even exceeded .350. Suffice to say, Wright is currently in uncharted territory. There is no way he will sustain his seasonal line, but even with a severe regression, Wright is on par for an historical season in a few different areas.

Most of the players atop this groundball success leaderboard are speedsters, the guys known more for stealing bases than mashing longballs. Ironically, and somewhat comically, with his current tally of both steals and home runs, as well as his high BA on grounders, Wright has been performing more like the theoretical leadoff hitter than the powerhouse corner infielder we have come to expect.