Saber-Friendly Tip #1: The Linguistics of BABIP

Through some conversations with colleagues, I’ve recently had a bunch of thoughts floating around in my head about how to best present sabermetric stats to an audience. I posted some of these thoughts recently in an article, and I’m planning to continue listing tips every now and then. And of course, a bit thanks to Sky Kalkman’s old series at Beyond the Boxscore for the title inspiration.

Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) is one of the mainstays of sabermetric analysis. In fact, I’d suggest it’s one of the most commonly used saber-stats; it’s important whether you’re talking about batters or pitchers, and it’s useful in explaining why players aren’t performing as you’d otherwise expect. If you’re trying to analyze a player and talk about how they will perform going forward, how can you not talk about BABIP?

But despite being such an important statistic, many people are initially skeptical of BABIP. What do you mean to tell me that batters don’t have control over where they hit the ball? Why should I believe that there isn’t a large amount of skill involved in BABIP? To say that there’s a large amount of variation and luck involved in BABIP (and therefore, batting average) seems counterintuitive to people. After all, many baseball fans grew up with the idea that hitting for a high average is very much a skill, not the product of skill and some luck.

So recently, I’ve started trying something a little bit different: presenting BABIP as a percentage. And so far, I think it’s helping.

In other words, instead of writing out a sentence like, “Carlos Santana has a .233 BABIP — much lower than his.277 BABIP from last season — suggesting that his batting average should increase going forward,” I’m starting to write my analyses like so:

When Carlos Santana has put the ball in play this season, he’s only had balls fall for hits 23% of the time. The league average rate for a hitter is normally around 29-31%, while Santana had 28% of balls in play fall for hits last season. Since hitters have little control on if they hit a ball right at a fielder or slightly in the gap, Santana should have more balls fall for hits going forward and therefore, increase his batting average.

I think by using the percentage you accomplish two main things: you rid your article of an acronym and a decimal-heavy stat (both of which can turn people off), and you disconnect BABIP from batting average. As we mentioned above, people grew up thinking of batting average as a skill-driven stat, so when they hear “Batting Average on Balls In Play”, their implicit assumption connects the stat with a skill. Why shouldn’t better players have higher BABIPs? And why shouldn’t better pitchers have lower BABIPs against them? When you’re used to thinking of batting average as a skill, it’s tough not to automatically associate BABIP with skill too.

Also, our normal language surrounding BABIP reinforces that skill connection too. “Carlos Santana has a .222 batting average; he has a .233 BABIP.” It is something he has done, acquired as a result of his skill and performance. But when you use a percentage instead, your language becomes more passive and you imply a sense of uncertainty. Instead of saying a player is actively “hitting” or “produced” a .350 BABIP, you’re saying that 35% of his balls in play fell for hits. It’s no longer the hitter that’s driving these balls in play; it’s simply some balls fell in while some didn’t. Your semantics are matching up with the purpose of the statistic, and helping the reader better understand your point.

In the end, you should present BABIP however you think best serves the audience you’re trying to reach. At a site that’s already saber-heavy, it’s obviously fine to use BABIP since most readers would already understand the stat and it makes your articles more concise. But if you’re trying to reach out to a more mainstream audience, or trying to explain BABIP to someone that’s never heard of it before, it’s not a bad idea to slide that decimal point over two places and then round. Using a percentage instead of BABIP does more justice to the concept linguistically, and you might find your audience more immediately receptive to your point.




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Steve is the editor-in-chief of DRaysBay and the keeper of the FanGraphs Library. You can follow him on Twitter at @steveslow.


66 Responses to “Saber-Friendly Tip #1: The Linguistics of BABIP”

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  1. Dave Gershman says:

    Love this. Excellent work, Steve.

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  2. Everett says:

    Completely agree. Thanks for this.

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    • Everett says:

      Whoa, two Everett’s on this site? Is that even allowed? But yes, excellent article.

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      • gdc says:

        As long as one is a DH and the other is a rangy SS with no power. If the state of Texas could handle Carl and Adam, then the vastness of Fangraphs should accommodate that as well.

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  3. mlstarr says:

    This is awesome.

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  4. Johnny says:

    I was actually trying to explain why BABIP is more luck based than skill based to a friend of mine a few days ago. As soon as I said that home runs are not considered balls in play, so not included in the stat, he believed me.

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  5. Dan says:

    I think BABIP should always be accompanied with LD%. BABIP alone doesn’t tell us much. It also reinforces any case the writer is about to make about, if it is bad luch, defense, drop in skill… I think more people can understand that more LDs = harder hit balls = more balls going for hits.Or accompany with xBABIP, but if your purpose is to make it more believeable and easier to understand, I would stick with LD%.

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    • Big Oil says:

      I agree with this as well. BABIP, to me, represents at least two different things – first, whether balls hit in play are hits or not and second, whether a player is, to grossly oversimplify, getting lucky or not. We’ve all seen the “BABIP is X so BA should go up/down” articles and sort of collectively lost patience with that.

      So, and because there isn’t a better place to put this, as the lingo of the stat changes hopefully too will the detailed explanation of what it means for the future — is the LD% down? Has the player faced a ton of high UZR teams? O contact up/down? Seeing fewer fastballs? What does the spray chart say? These variables (and others) would seem to affect BABIP and put a little more meat on the bones of something that can be quite useful. I’d like to see more of this sort of analysis (not that it isn’t being done).

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      • Dan says:

        Wow Big Oil, that type of analysis would be great and thanks for taking my post to the next level!

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      • Young Gung says:

        I can’t wait til this site gets xBabip

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      • Vinnie says:

        Yeah, I have a problem with Steve’s wording in that it doesn’t really tell that the hitter still has control over the type of balls he’s putting in play, i.e. LD%. The authority of the batted ball is the skill; the landing spot is the luck. That isn’t to say there’s no luck in LD%, but that should be the overarching message.

        I think the spread between actual BABIP and the expected BABIP based on LD% should typically be reported when BABIP is cited. That seems more useful than simply comparing to league average, at least for a large enough sample, i.e. large enough for LD% to stabilize. (I don’t know what that PA threshold is.)

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      • Ben Hall says:

        While I’m in general agreement with all of these points, LD% is a tricky one. Since it is categorized by a human and is thus subjective, I’m always wary at predicting anything by looking at whether a player’s LD% is up or down. If it’s right at career levels, then I have more confidence in making judgments based on LD%.

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      • Samuel says:

        I seem to recall reading an article about how LD% probably isn’t a repeatable skill on some major sabermetric site, showing there was basically zero year-to-year correlation between players at the top or bottom of the LD% lists each season.

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      • Barkey Walker says:

        Ben Hall, you write, “LD% is a tricky one. Since it is categorized by a human and is thus subjective” How do you feel about strikeouts? Last I checked, those are categorized by an umpire.

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    • DrEasy says:

      How about a “BABIP on line drives” stat? I realize that it’s not exactly what you’re talking about, but I think it would further help isolate the luck factor. “When the dude hits it hard, it’s right at a fielder”.

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      • ridley25 says:

        “How do you feel about strikeouts? Last I checked, those are categorized by an umpire.”

        Whether decided by and ump who blew a call or by a batter swinging at and missing strike three, a K is a K. Even if the catcher misses it and the batter reaches first, the batter is still 0 for 1. No matter what caused the K, it’s a K.

        However, a line drive can result in either a hit or an out – so Ben Hall is right to remain somewhat skeptical about its classification, since its classification doesn’t change its result.

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      • Barkey Walker says:

        ridley25, there is no two ways about it, K rate is subjective, BB rate is subjective. The only thing you have fall back on is, something like, “well, it’s recorded in the official record of the game” then LD is no different. It is a subjective call made by a league official.

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  6. Shawn says:

    Great article. I am a graduate student studying inferential statistics, and am therefore addicted to fantasy baseball. I absolutely love the saber stats that are readily available these days and cannot stress their importance enough. In my opinion BABIP is the single strongest indicator of current/future BA trends for a player. I do agree with Dan though that LD% is also important. Here is why…. assuming BABIP reflects luck (and is therefore ‘random’), then 500 ABs ‘should’ normalize all players to the .290 to .310 BABIP AVG. However, as Dan, points out, LD% often mediates the relationship with BABIP and AVG. The differences between BABIP rates between players and between years for players is often most strongly mediated by LD%. The truth is that hitting a 93 mph pitch to the gaps IS luck. The batter take on more control with ‘well-hit’ balls, which is again, reflected by LD%. Case and point… Predroia

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    • Trotter76 says:

      I agree with this thread about LD%. BABIP is a product of luck BUT players who make solid contact will inevitably have higher batting averages and BABIP. As an example, Aaron Hill had a .196 BABIP last year (or just under 20%, thank you Steve), but his LD% was only 10.6%. It makes sense that if you’re hitting a ton of lazy fly balls you’re not going to have a lot fall in. So LD% and BABIP together combine the skill and the luck.

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    • Erik says:

      Is the sequence of hitting a 93 MPH pitch to the gap really considered “luck?” I mean, when Albert Pujols does it, I certainly don’t view it as “luck.” However, when I see Drew Butera do the same thing, it can be certainly argued as luck – with the reason being the significant difference in hitting ability between the two.

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  7. Dave says:

    Excellent post, and an important step in building the SABR-to-Mainstream bridge.

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  8. TK says:

    One thing that turns people off of SABR stats is overblowing certain things, like that BABIP is complete luck. This should be avoided. The top 3 BABIP of all time are Carew, Ichiro, and Jeter, 3 HOF players. BABIP is best used when comparing player X in year Y to previous years. Guys don’t just “get lucky” for their whole careers.

    This is a good article, but this point should be made as well. That every single ball hit in play (not for a HR) is not actually created equal.

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    • tangotiger says:

      “like that BABIP is complete luck”

      No saberist would ever say this about a hitter.

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      • Exactly. The point of this article wasn’t to be a BABIP primer, as we already have that in the Library and cover all the distinctions. It’s definitely not all luck, and I don’t think you’ll find any actual saberists that will claim that anymore.

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      • Aaron says:

        While I agree that “No saberist would ever say this” it’s still an important point since communication is a two way street. If I tell someone that BABIP and therefore BA have a large variance (luck) factor then many people are going to hear “BA is all luck” even if I’m careful to explain that that’s not what I’m saying. Especially given the unfortunately contentious nature of a lot of these discussions misunderstanding is always something to factor in.

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      • My echo and bunnymen says:

        I have a problem similar to the poster above me. If I try and explain that BABIP is part luck to everyone, eventually someone will misunderstand and immediately dismiss me. It gets frustrating and makes me come as a prick if I continue further in the conversation. Once I even joked that my BABIP for this conversation was low, further enraging my fellow baseball fan. However, this article gives me a link to post in the future for baseball fans wishing to learn more about the game. Is this already part of the glossary?

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  9. noseeum says:

    I don’t see any reason why “30%” is easier to understand than “.300″. It changes nothing about what you’re saying.

    Sure, if you say to some novice, “Player X has a .200 BABIP. His batting average will improve from here,” maybe he won’t understand you.

    But he won’t understand “Player X gets a hit on 20% of his balls in play. His batting average will improve from here,” either.

    There’s no difference. The beneficial sections of your sample statement are all of the explanatory areas, which apply whichever method you choose.

    These “how to talk to a non-SABR person” articles are pretty annoying if you ask me.

    How about you just don’t treat someone like an idiot? If you know they never heard of BABIP, maybe you can explain it to them before you start telling them how much you know about it? No one likes a condescending prick. And unfortunately many SABR folks can come across that way. There’s no need to change the language of SABRmetrics to suit someone else. Just explain it clearly and respectfully and that’s enough.

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    • Small Sample Goodness says:

      There is a difference, the nuance not having an effect on you doesn’t change that.

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    • jrogers says:

      I thought “you disconnect BABIP from batting average” was a pretty clear statement about why speaking that way is helpful.

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    • AKevin says:

      Sometimes when someone isn’t understanding you one way, it’s helpful to say things differently…even if it sounds the same to you.
      That’s all this is article is, and I think its great.

      I see your method as much more condescending, and incredibly self-centered. Have you never been in a conversation when you’re trying to learn something…there’s a little confusion…and all the person trying to show you does is repeat himself over and over?

      “Just grab the switch and double twist.”
      “What?”
      “Just GRAB the switch and double twist.”
      “What do mean?”
      “You grab the switch and you double twist it.”
      “I’m confused.”
      “TAKE the SWITCH and DOUBLE TWIST it.”
      -silence-
      “JUST DOUBLE TWIST THE GODDAMN SWITCH!!!”

      It’s not a very helpful way of teaching things or directing people. It screams…you’re an idiot for not understanding this MY way.

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    • eric says:

      “These “how to talk to a non-SABR person” articles are pretty annoying if you ask me”

      no one asked you

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    • Xenophanes says:

      “No one likes a condescending prick.”

      ……………………………………

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  10. Pat says:

    Love these saber-friendly tips! Can we get more? Makes a lot more sense to me now…

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  11. Bryz says:

    I haven’t run into this issue much yet (Don’t have many baseball friends that aren’t saber-friendly right now) but I’ve already decided that an easy way to incorporate BABIP into a conversation is to remember that for years, we’ve already had baseball players/coaches/commentators say the phrase “He’s just been hitting the ball right at the fielders.”

    This phrase basically implies that the batter has had some bad luck on balls in play, even if the person saying the phrase doesn’t even know of BABIP. Throwing in the mention of LD% can be helpful as well. Personally, I don’t like using the percentages as much; at times I prefer to just state if a player’s performance is above or below average for him or for all hitters.

    As for those that think that batters have more control over where to hit the ball than they actually do, I’d suggest posing a scenario to them. Say a batter wants to move a runner from 2nd to 3rd base, and the pitcher knows this. Then if the pitcher starts pounding the batter inside, it becomes tougher to hit the ball to the right side. Then if you throw in the fact that maybe he’s guessing fastball and the pitcher throws him a change-up, then he’ll either miss the pitch entirely, hit it weakly, or end up grounding out to short when his original intention was to hit it to the second baseman.

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    • B N says:

      “I haven’t run into this issue much yet ”

      I used to run into this issue, but then all my non-stat-friendly buddies stopped being willing to play fantasy baseball with me… haha. What is the phrase? The proof is in the pudding?

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  12. Aaron says:

    I’ve decided to start referring to my favorite stats as HD statistics. People love HD.

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  13. Chris says:

    Wow! Until this post, I never realized I was doing exactly what you said: connecting BABIP and average and implicitly assuming “Better hitter = better BABIP”. Thank you SO much for correcting me!

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  14. Will says:

    Babip is also a flawed staistic in that it doesn’t tell us about singles, doubles , groundballs, line drives etc

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    • Oscar says:

      It also tells us far too little about how tall the player is!

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    • hjrrockies says:

      WAR is a flawed statistic in that it doesn’t tell us about personality, grit, “leadership”, clutch, scrappiness, and generic intangibles.

      BABIP isn’t designed to include those things. I agree that other information can aid in the analysis of BABIP, but it isn’t flawed.

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  15. BDF says:

    I’m a sabrmetric believer (this site is the first I check every day), and like the approach here, attempting to make saber-language more friendly to outsiders. One of the things that I think is a real conceptual stumbling block for outsiders is the way that saber-language often suggests that, say, a player with an unsustainably high BABIP doesn’t deserve his high BA, or somehow didn’t actually get the hits he got. It kind of drives me a little crazy sometimes, too. A guy who wins the lottery certainly didn’t do anything to deserve it, but he’s still rich. That money in his bank account is still real. We can fairly easily predict that it won’t grow, but what he’s already got is no less actual just because it wasn’t a result of some particular skill he has in picking lottery numbers.

    I understand that sophisticated (or even unsophisticated) saber-thinkers don’t actually believe that lucky hits don’t count. I’m making a rhetorical point. The way the point is presented often obscures this fact, and so saber-outsiders immediately throw up their hands and the deeper point cannot sink in.

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  16. toby says:

    Two things.
    1. To me, the easiest way to explain to a non-SABR person that a hitter is likely getting some extreme BABIP luck or un-luck is to say: “He’s striking out at about the same rate as he usually does, so that part of his batting average is the same. Assuming he’s otherwise hitting the ball about as hard as he usually does, he probably won’t end up with his batting average this high (or as the case may be: will end up with with a higher batting average a lot higher than this).”

    Then they say “why’s that?” and I say, “well, his batting average on just the balls he put in play, disregarding the strikeouts (and home runs), is X points higher/lower than his career rate, so even though he’s making contact like he usually does more/fewer balls are finding holes.” Kinda introduces the stat backwards, but foregrounds the idea that strike out rates tend to be stable, BABIP less so, and both affect batting average.

    2. I think many people tend to overstate the luck component in hitting BABIP. Some also seem to overrate the degree to which LD rate is determinative, especially in casual conversation.

    Every time I read somebody say “well, his BABIP is .350, so he’s due to regress” about a very good hitter with a good BABIP history, I think “sure, a little, since his true talent is likely .325 (or whatever), but why does the implication always seem to be that this guy will eventually be just another .290-.300 BABIP guy?”

    Hitters aren’t pitchers. MLB pitchers all regress around the same 10-20 point spread (in part) because they face the full spectrum of hitters (eventually) and thus the full 80-100 point (plus) spectrum of true hitting BABIP talent (including replacement level hitters). Take a look at “league leaders” for BABIP over 2007-2011 – 2000 PAs for most of them – and it’s pretty obvious hitting BABIP has a massive skill component and a spread of 90 points or so among mlb hitters that were in the end successful enough to garner 2000 PAs in that time. That’s a big spread: just not as wide as raw BA due to the wide true talent array for Ks being removed.

    Recent work has shown that the LD rate + 120 formula is VERY rough. The relationship stabilizes somewhat with several seasons of data, but it’s never close to perfect, even excluding the small handful of obvious infield-hit burners like Ichiro. Since LD rate can shift about almost as much as BABIP, it’s impossible to know mid-stream in a season that a BABIP is lucky/unlucky based on LD rate unless you have a large historical sample size of LD rate/BABIP and are confident the player isn’t age-diminished, in which case you’re probably going to project more from history than this season, anyway.

    And while yes, high LD rates and low LD rates tend to produce higher and lower BABIPs, if you hit the ball hard but tend to SMACK groundballs (e.g. Jeter, pre-decline) in such a manner that they get to holes faster, you’re going to do better than LD rate says you should. Another key (correlated but not identical with LD rate) is Don’t Pop Up. Mauer, Jeter, Abreu, Howard, Kemp, Chipper, Michael Young, Derek Lee, Youkilis, Ethier, Span… all very good to great BABIPs since 2005, all tiny IFFB rates. This is a repeatable skill, and well worth checking in addition to LD rate when looking for possible extremes of luck.

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    • donnie baseball says:

      Good points, but for #1, how do we just assume they are hitting the ball just as hard as usual.

      I agree using LD% with BABIP isn’t perfect, but it is a step in the right direction.

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  17. Jim says:

    “1. To me, the easiest way to explain to a non-SABR person that a hitter is likely getting some extreme BABIP luck or un-luck is to say: “He’s striking out at about the same rate as he usually does, so that part of his batting average is the same. Assuming he’s otherwise hitting the ball about as hard as he usually does, he probably won’t end up with his batting average this high (or as the case may be: will end up with with a higher batting average a lot higher than this).”

    No, this is a terribly, terribly convoluted way of explaining it, and if I didn’t already fully understand the concept, this paragraph would give me an ice cream headache. No offense.

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  18. fang2415 says:

    I’ve started saying “fall for hits” as much as possible in conversations with non-saberists. You use that wording in your example, but I think it’s worth drawing attention to it explicitly. The concept of balls falling for hits is exactly what BABIP is really getting at: anybody can understand that there’s a lot of luck involved and why it’s important, and you don’t get muddled up with LD% and such as discussed above.

    Heck, I’d like to see the stat just plain renamed as FFH%. But in written analyses at least, the “falling for hits” language is the clearest I think you’l get.

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  19. donnie baseball says:

    Where the balls fall is luck, how hard you hit them is the skill.

    So for me at least, that’s why BABIP is pretty much useless.

    Now expected BABIP based on LD% correlated with BABIP would be a whole ohter story.

    Great article by the way.

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    • Eric says:

      I think people are taking the “no control of where the ball goes once they hit it” too literally. A player can hit 4 line drives in a game and go 0-4. The skill is hitting the line drive, the “luck” part is not hitting it right at someone.

      You also have to look at what type of hitter the player is. Is he fast and hit a lot of ground balls like Ichiro, if so, he will have a higher BABIP because ground balls find holes and fast players can get more hits by beating a ball out.

      We also have to keep in mind that batting average is a skill. There is a reason why most of the best players have a high BA. They make better contact. The top players are not just the luckiest players to ever play baseball.

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  20. bonestock94 says:

    I don’t think the oldschool/mainstream is completely unaware of BABIP. They may not acknowledge it statistically, but we’ve all heard the phrases “the ball will start falling in” or “he’s been unlucky” a billion times.

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  21. daddymag says:

    I like BABIP. And I agree with the analysis that BABIP needs to be combined with something else, like LD%… BABIP doesn’t tell the whole story.

    But I also think that part of the problem is that people try to use BABIP like other stats. BABIP is real, it’s definable, and it’s observable. It’s a measurement of events that have already happened. What it is NOT, is not necessarily predictive. You can always say that an extreme BABIP is “likely” to moderate. It’s also entirely possible that a player with an extremely high or low BABIP could see it become even more extreme over a short term. And that short term could possibly extend to a full season or more.

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  22. Scott says:

    I think most hitters in baseball would disagree that the hitter has no control over where the ball is put in play. I think that a large chunk of it is luck, but for example a pitcher throws a ball away I can control if it goes up the middle, away or to pull, depending on when I swing at it. And someone who pulls a ball that’s away I think is more likely to make an out than someone who takes it up the middle or goes the other way because of the much higher probability of being able to do something with the sweet spot of the bat.

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    • Mike Fast says:

      Yes. This. I don’t believe that sabermetrics has proven the idea that the hitter has little or no control over where the batted ball goes. Examining the April 2009 HITf/x data for the things that Scott mentions would be a good place to start looking at that. There is a lot less luck in baseball than many analysts seem to think.

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    • jonts26 says:

      “I think most hitters in baseball would disagree that the hitter has no control over where the ball is put in play.”

      I don’t think anyone is arguing that hitters have absolutely no control over where a hitter puts a ball in play in the general sense. A good hitter will be able to hit the ball the other way on an outside fastball. But a hitter has much less control over whether the ball goes directly to the first baseman or 10 feet to the left.

      “And someone who pulls a ball that’s away I think is more likely to make an out than someone who takes it up the middle or goes the other way because of the much higher probability of being able to do something with the sweet spot of the bat.”

      I totally agree. But I would argue that this would manifest itself in LD%. A good hitter that goes the other way would see an increase in LD% than someone constantly trying to pull the ball. So like has been said several times earlier in these comments, BABIP is not useful in a vacuum, but gives you an idea of luckiness when combined with other stats.

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  23. JASON says:

    Any stat for BABIP + home runs included. Just would be interesting to see home runs and balls in play combined, cause we all consider a a home run a hit. So my basic stat would basically be include everything as ball in play except strikeout, hit by pitch, catcher interference (what is that scored as as, a hit), and obviously walks.

    Yea I’m a noob at this sorry.

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  24. Lee Panas says:

    Steve, I like the idea of separating BABIP from BA by expressing it as a percentage of balls in play falling for hits. Most people in the mainstream who have heard of BABIP think that a very high BABIP says something positive about a batter. I think you are right that they make the connection with BA and see it as a skill.

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  25. jts5 says:

    does fangraphs have xbabip?

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    • Herbstr8t says:

      No, but I think they should strongly consider adding xBABIP to player pages.

      If you look at the projection systems they definitely give certain players credit for generating higher or lower BABIP than league average. That is to say the projection systems kind of treat BABIP as a skill. Since there are so many words written about BABIP everyday on Fangraphs there would be great value added by distilling the Batted Ball data by proividing xBABIP. Comparing BABIP to xBABIP gives more information about whether a player has been lucky or unlucky than comparing BABIP to league average BABIP.

      One more point, based on anecdotal evidence only it seems to me that minor league players that are “tearing it up” are more often than not posting BABIP’s north of .360, but since they are crushing AAA pitching almost no one thinks they would regress and stop murdering said meatballs. Point is Brett Lawrie has the skills to post ridiculous BABIPs in AAA on a consistent basis. Would anyone argue that?

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  26. Neuter Your Dogma says:

    If HRs arent counted as part of BABIP, why are balls hit 15 feet high off the Green Monster (or any other outfield wall where the ball is unreachable)counted?

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    • Barkey Walker says:

      The whole “home runs are not in play” is a little nuts. If you don’t have control over where you line drives inside the park go, why do you have control when it goes outside the park. The walls are not all equidistant from the plate, or this would be irrelevant.

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  27. Tedseye says:

    Appreciating the cogent points made that LD% and BABIP will explain much about most hitters’ performance, still it would seem allowance must be made for certain exceptional hitters – presently Adrian Gonzalez or Ichiro, formerly ?Wee (“Hit ‘em where they ain’t”) Willie Keeler – who may be observed deliberately hitting into or through open space, sometimes vacated by defensive overshifts. Curious what BABIP/LD% data have to say about such players; I would concede that such players are rare, but their existence is part of the reason non-saber traditionalists bridle at the notion of utter randomness that appears to underlie an unsophisticated grasp of BABIP. The discussion of the spread of BABIP begins to capture such players’ characteristics, but does it do so fully?

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