I’ve often stated that I was going to run a fantasy baseball team simply by rotating players in my lineup coming off of terrible offensive weeks. I’ve never spent enough time to actually formulate a plan (and frankly, when I spend any time on it at all, the whole thing blows up in my face) but you know where I’m going with this. The idea is simply to play the regression game, for better or for worse.
Would it work? Probably not, because as a dedicated reader, you know there’s a lot more behind a BABIP than whether a ball happened to be a frozen rope right at the third baseman or if a ball Texas-leagued itself in the Bermuda triangle between the 5, 6, and 7. Or if you get your hits like this.
But aside from our lineup stalwarts — the guys you play day in and day out without ever having to think about it — this is the game we play. Who is hot, who is not, and when the twain might meet.
You know who had the three highest BABIP’s in April? Ryan Sweeney, Jason Kubel, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis at .472, .457, .453, respectively. Raise your hand if you thought that was going to last. It doesn’t mean they can’t ever do it again (Kubel, cough, cough…) or be productive, but you take what we know to be generally reliable about this game, you pat yourself on the back for starting Kirk Nieuwenhuis for a month, and you move on.
And here we are, fantasy nerds, getting into the third week of August. If your squads are anything like mine, with the exception of a couple, you’re needing a little lightning in a bottle — and many trade deadlines are this weekend. In March, you can mine the prospects and sleepers all you want for lightning in a bottle. In late August, you need simplicity. So in taking a terrifyingly parsimonious look at who we might generally expect to start performing better, let’s take a gander at the worst of the worst BABIP’s over the last 30 days:
Before you attack me in suggesting you start Marwin Gonzalez, I’m not saying everyone on this list is a “bounce back” candidate. But let’s just take the xBABIP and BABIP disparity and juxtapose that with what we know about a few given players here.
Jimmy Rollins is unlikely to be on any waiver wires, but I did notice a couple rosters benching him in lieu of newly-anointed shortstop Ben Zobrist, for purposes almost entirely due to his recent batting average. But Rollins is not only typically a second half kind of guy, he’s also been getting rather taken out back behind the shed on batted balls recently. He’s had a nice little power surge though, so if you can manage to convince an owner that Rollins is cooked for the last seven weeks of the season, I think he’s a nice little acquisition.
Kelly Johnson is only owned in 45% of Yahoo leagues, so there’s a chance he could be free to you. For anyone who has lost Neil Walker for a bit due to the pinky finger incident, he’s an excellent replacement idea. Johnson’s career is like a study in batted ball ups and downs. He’s gone from .247 to .346 and absolutely everywhere in between. When it’s high, he’s a glorious producer and when it’s low he just struggles so mightily — largely due to his issue with contact. But on the season, his BABIP is .292, which is damned near his career average and based on his xBABIP of .325 and the .224 he’s been cursed with by the bouncing ball Gods the last month, it would seem he’s in line for better results.
I like both Dunn and Beltre here too, should you be able to acquire them. It’s possible Dunn owners are in panic mode over the .176 August batting average but he’s also been quite plagued by the scorn of the luck dragon. If it’s home runs you need in your bottle of lightning, I’d look to Dunn and probably low ball to boot. Beltre might be dinged up and we just don’t know it — but he’s hitting .300/.337/.482 on the season, which is right about what you would expect from Beltre. If he’s not hurt, there’s no reason to expect that his production would fall off like this, and he’s historically been an excellent bat in August and September. It’s not likely that he’d be easily available, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask.
Be entirely suspicious of Gordon Beckham, Casper Wells, Carlos Pena but you might want to float some last-minute feelers out there on one or two of these guys should they fit your needs, and should they fit your plans for a final drive towards your inevitable title!
Be Machiavellian if you have to. Win at all cost.
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