Figgins Got Lucky?

Continuing our series on how luck effected a player’s season, today I will look at Chone Figgins. I will once again refer you to Chris Dutton and Peter Bendix’s great work on xBABIP which will be referenced. Additionally, BABIP in these posts is defined (H-HR)/(PA-HR-K-BB-HBP).

In my league last year, Chone Figgins had 2B, 3B, and OF eligibility. He also racked up 34 stolen bases to go along with a decent .276 average and 72 runs. While none of these numbers are eye-popping he still was pretty valuable as a guy with a lot of flexibility in a down year. He only played 116 games, and a lot of his numbers were lower than the year before; but a fantasy owner still got pretty good value for him. They were lucky in a sense, as well, because even though his numbers were down he still benefited from pretty good luck on balls in play.

Figgins sported a robust .332 BABIP. Lower than his .389 BABIP the year before, he still outperformed what we’d expect his BABIP to be based on other factors. His xBABIP was a less seemly .295. Had he performed at the level that would be expected in a luck-neutral environment his slash line would have dropped from a paltry .276/.365/.318 to a ghastly .246/.339/.284. With the loss of 14 trips on base, he would lose a couple steals and RBIs coupled with a loss of 5 runs. He already only hit 16 XBH and the loss of two more totally kills his SLG (and as a result his OPS). He essentially becomes Wily Taveras. While that’s decent value it is not what you expect from a guy you take in the 5th round or so. This output seems to be what you would expect from Figgins going forward (maybe a little more but not much). Below is the full stat-line for his 2008 season and what it would have been with a neutral BABIP:

figgins-table

What say ye?




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72 Responses to “Figgins Got Lucky?”

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  1. Joel says:

    Should Figgins BABIP be higher than his xBABIP because of his speed and how he can reach on ground balls?

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    • Sam says:

      xBABIP accounts for speed, so no.

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      • Michael says:

        “Speed Score A comprehensive measure of speed, developed by Bill James. The speed score is the average of five individual formulas based on stolen base percentage, stolen base attempts, triples, runs per time on base and double plays.”

        I’m not too familiar with this, but I don’t think he takes infield hits into consideration.

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  2. Jim says:

    Chone Figgins has a career BABIP of .340, and is a career .290 hitter. To assume that he will hit .250 or .260 the rest of his career because of that adjusted line seems unwise to me.

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  3. Jim says:

    A couple other things: Figgins had 72 runs, not 72 RBI. His BABIP was .399 in 2007, not .389.

    And

    “This out put seems to be what you would expect from Figgins going forward, maybe a little more but not much.”

    Not that I really care much about grammar, but that is one monstrosity of a sentence. That’s not even the real problem I have with it though….it seems that the whole basis of this article is to prove that Figgins will be much worse than his career averages going forward because he outperformed his expected BABIP in 2008. Like I said before, that just doesn’t seem like enough to go on to say his stats will decline sharply next year. Plus, out of the 4 projection methods on Fangraphs, the lowest projection for his average is .279, which is an improvement over last year. Also, the lowest BABIP projection is .329, which is well above the norm for your average hitter, but it seems about right for a slightly older Figgins with a .342 career BABIP.

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    • Ryan Glass says:

      “His BABIP was .399 in 2007, not .389.”

      The BABIP used in this series is calculated differently then on the site. I didn’t change the author of the articles use of BABIP because it would throw off the relationship with xBABIP. So while he posted a .399 BABIP last year per the calculation used here (excludes sacrifices), the calculation used in the post gives him a .389. In turn, his BABIP for his career in this method is .334.

      I also fixed my mistakes. Thanks for the help, it was long week in the real world.

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  4. Jim says:

    I am curious….I looked around and didn’t see any sights providing xBABIPS. What were his xBABIPS in all those other years when his BABIPS easily topped .330?

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  5. Ewan Brown says:

    Jim – In ’05 his xBABIP was .306 compared to his real life .324, in ’06 his xBABIP was .316, RL .299. ’07 his xBABIP was .356 while his RL was .389

    You can find the last 4 years of data in the spreadsheet at the bottom of this article (plus the full explanation of xBABIP.

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/batters-and-babip

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  6. Clayton says:

    Statistics: dangerous in the hands of the ignorant.

    What say ye?

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  7. Jim says:

    Statistics: dangerous in the hands of the arrogant.

    I was looking at the fangraphs BABIP numbers, completely missed the redefinition of BABIP. However, Figgins has greatly outperformed his xBABIP in 3 out of 4 seasons since 2005. Yes, last time he had such a low xBABIP, his numbers dropped off sharply the next season, but his 2006 xBABIP of .316 never saw 2007 coming. I do understand the predictive value of xBABIP, but it cannot be used in a vacuum. Looking at his 2008 xBABIP vs. actual BABIP would make me think that his stats will go down considerably, but looking at the big picture would tell me otherwise. Clayton, if that nice little post was directed my way, are you also calling the people behind the Bill James, Marcel, Chone and Oliver projections ignorant?

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  8. Geez says:

    What is happening to this site? Ryan Glass has no clue what he’s talking about. Totally clueless. Anyone with half a brain can tell you the major shortcomings of Bendix’s version of “xBABIP”. This guy…Ryan…treats this version of xBABIP as if it’s the definitive piece of information. Let me suggest you get a brain. It will help you think for yourself.

    Let’s just skip the highly questionable (and a little absurd, might I add) methods in determining this version of xBABIP.

    Do you realize that we don’t know the difference between hard hit grounders and slow dribblers right now? Hard hit line drives and slow hit line drives? Hard hit fly balls and slow hit fly balls? Etc. Are all swings the same? Are all balls hit by the same part of the bat (edge of the bat, middle, near the hands, etc). Do all batted balls travel at the same speed? Are all batted balls equal in terms of trajectory and angle? Once the batted ball velocity and trajectory and angle information comes out, Bendix’s version of xBABIP will be totally forgotten. It’ll be even more useless than it is now.

    Then, there’s the question of infield pop outs in fair territory. Pop outs in foul territory. Pop outs beyond the infield caught by an infielder. Some players just don’t pop out at all. Kendrick and Jeter rarely ever do. Foul outs. Infield hits. Etc etc. Are these things taken into account?

    I’m sorry, but this version of xBABIP reeks. Ryan Glass is a damn fool.

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    • Michael says:

      I think it is common sense that well-struck groundballs will find a lot more holes than weakly-struck groundballs. The same can be said for flyballs.

      It is wrong to treat them all the same, when clearly they aren’t.

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  9. Michael says:

    Great post, geez. I agree wholeheartedly, but I think you’re being a little harsh.

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  10. Jim says:

    I also agree that too much weight is put on stats like that on this site, but I also agree with Michael that that’s a little harsh….

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  11. Josh says:

    Instead of being critical and calling people damn fools, why don’t you go look at the formula for xbabip and also look at the comparison to other babip presidyors before you start sounding like a damn fool. Oh too late.

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  12. Josh says:

    Predictors****

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  13. Geez says:

    I already know the formula. This version of xBABIP is useless, considering the lack of information we have. All of them are.

    …and you’re right, Josh. Bendix’s xBABIP is the definitive piece. It just can’t be wrong. It’s perfect. It takes into account everything I mentioned and more. Oops.

    Look, I apologize for being rude, but this article is ridiculous. Someone had to say it.

    The author is relying on a single piece of information to predict doom. This version of xBABIP has so many shortcomings. I already mentioned some of them. It also uses highly questionable (and a little absurd) methods in determining what a player’s BABIP “should” be. Not only that, but the author is completely ignoring what Figgins has done throughout his career. That’s silly. As if one years worth of flawed data is more telling than Figgins’ CAREER BABIP and real life BABIP in 08.

    This is what’s wrong with some baseball “analysts” these days. This is how these things get spread around. Some people decide to take things at face value. Some people aren’t willing (or are unable) to use their brains. Bendix’s version of xBABIP has so many shortcomings and flaws, but people who blindly take things at face value wouldn’t know that. I’m willing to bet that a good portion of them don’t even know what they’re writing about. They just look at the information handed to them (say, a player’s UZR) and go off about it. But when it comes to critical thinking, forget it. Then, when something newer comes out, that suddenly becomes the definitive piece…until something better comes out, that is.

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  14. Jim says:

    it really is

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  15. Jer says:

    Just out of curiousity are there any examples of players’ expected BABIP changing? Say in a case of a player learning to go the other way?

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  16. Josh says:

    I didn’t say it wasn’t always correct. I didn’t say it was perfect. But it is the best with the current information we have available and unless you have something better, then why not use this? No one said it is the end all be all of BABIP predictors, but right now it sure seems to be.

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/fantasy/article/whats-the-best-babip-estimator/

    Check this out. Obviously with more information we will be able to make better systems, but does that mean not to use the best we have available right now? I don’t think so.

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  17. Josh says:

    HR/FB, IF/FB, LD%, FB/GB, Speed score, Lefty*(FB/GB%), Contact rate, Spray

    I’m not really sure what your point was about infield flies. Speed score is supposed to take into account infield hits as well. So I was wondering if you could elaborate more on your questions surrounding pop outs and infield hits?

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    • Geez says:

      THT article 1/26/09

      “First, he has changed the model a bit since the original article. Here are the exact changes and his explanation of them:”

      “Old formula: Hitter eye, Pitches per extra-base hit, LD%, FB/GB, Speed score, Contact rate, Spray, Pitches per
      New formula: HR/FB, IF/FB, LD%, FB/GB, Speed score, Lefty*(FB/GB%), Contact rate, Spray”

      “The differences are basically that I used hr/fb as a measure of power rather than pitches per extra base hit, added popups/FB to measure poorly hit balls, and included an interaction variable of lefty*(fb/gb%) to adjust for the fact that lefty ground ball hitters tend to often hit balls to the right side of the field (which rarely become hits). I also removed pitches_per_AB, which seemed to be potentially correlated with other variables, and removed hitter_eye since contact rate seemed to be capturing a very similar effect.”

      “Chris also says that he’s isn’t done improving the model. He is constantly looking for ways to improve it even further, and is specifically hoping to incorporate some PITCHf/x data as soon as possible.”

      This should be noted before I respond. I was going with his previous model. If he made changes recently, good….but that still doesn’t help as much as it should, given the lack of information we have. Like I said, we still don’t know the difference between slow dribblers and hard-hit grounders. They’re not all created equal.

      Casey Kotchman is the king at hitting slow dribblers to the first baseman. Howie Kendrick is the king at hitting hard grounders. I know this since I watch(ed) them play. Any Angels fan can say the same thing. A Kendrick grounder isn’t the same as a Kotchman grounder. BUT, until we get this important data (batted ball velocity), how can anyone differentiate them?

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  18. Mike says:

    Geez,

    Stop me if I’m reading this wrong, but it seems you’re saying no one should attempt to do anything using BABIP data because the system isn’t perfect. Doesn’t that seem a little over the top?

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    • Grant says:

      Of course it does, but that won’t stop people from trying to feel important over the internet. You know, the whole “Look at me, I’m challenging dogma! That makes me different and cool!” crowd.

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      • Jim says:

        I don’t think it’s that at all.

        “No one said it is the end all be all of BABIP”

        but this article uses it that way. It uses one xBABIP number to predict that Figgins will sharply decline next year and the rest of his career. Everyone is always pretty quick to say that someone who contradicts an “expert” on fangraphs is just looking for attention, but you need to look at the validity of the contradiction before saying that they are just looking for attention. Geez was obviously not talking about what Josh S said when he made that point, he was talking about the logic of the article.

        And Josh, even if Geez takes this to the extreme, he has a point that people lean way too much on a very flawed system when making predictions, whether or not it is the best system we have currently. Until the new xBABIP, people were using LD% + .120, and God knows how many wrong (but confident) predictions were made with the old method. Instead of using the system for what it is (a useful tool that should be one of many points of evaluation), people tend to take it as the only thing that matters.

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      • Grant says:

        This has nothing to do with xBABIP. This has to do with people like Geez feeling the need to act tough over the internet to make up for their shortcomings in real life. They have to tear others down to build themselves up and that saddens me.

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    • Geez says:

      Well, I didn’t mean it like that. I just think it would’ve been better to wait until hit f/x data comes out before attempting something like this.

      I just don’t see the point, given the lack of information we currently have. I mean, how can anyone with a straight face say Bendix’s version of xBABIP should be someone’s BABIP? When it’s pretty clear that…

      1) He uses highly questionable methods.
      2) He forgot to include some important data, though his newer (recent) model corrected that a bit.
      3) We lack information. Plain and simple. Are all grounders the same? How about fly balls? Infield hits. Etc etc. Until we get batted ball velocity & trajectory information, what is the point of this? Are all swings the same? Are all balls hit by the same part of the bat? Etc etc. I can go on.

      What Jim said is spot on. It’s OK to use xBABIP, but to use it like this? As if it’s the only thing that matters? As if it’s the only way to predict future performance (given the info we currently have, that is)? To use it so confidently to predict doom, like nothing else matters? I’m sorry, but that is ridiculous.

      That is the biggest problem with some analysts these days.

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      • Ryan Glass says:

        You apparently don’t read well and prefer to nit-pick. The POINT of this series is to take a look at departures from the norm (xBABIP) and see how it changed a player’s batting line. In turn if I see a decline in a player’s abilities (Figgins) that seem to support a drop in xBABIP, then I expect that he won’t return to his .389 BABIP ways. Nowhere did I predict doom. I actually said “While that’s decent value it is not what you expect from a guy you take in the 5th round or so. This output seems to be what you would expect from Figgins going forward (maybe a little more but not much).”

        Here is a link to a graph of the biggest outliers from 2007 with their 2007 xBABIP and 2008 BABIP. In all but a few, they saw huge regressions.

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  19. Jim says:

    I should add to that….”is just looking for attention, or is a complete idiot”

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  20. Josh says:

    Jim,

    I agree with what you are saying. And if that is what Geez was saying, I agree too, but you were more eloquent and came across in a less demeaning way which helps too.

    I just think you guys are reading into this too much. Obviously it shouldn’t be used alone to predict next season. Baseball stats are a lot like Financial information. One value like Return on Equity can’t predict future performance, but it can help to get there, and I think xBABIP should be viewed that way too. But I think you guys are being too critical.

    Anyway, maybe in future articles, there are other things you could bring into your articles Ryan, besides just xBABIP.

    But if you don’t I will still continue to read your articles and take it with a grain of salt like I do all baseball stats.

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    • Ryan Glass says:

      “Anyway, maybe in future articles, there are other things you could bring into your articles Ryan, besides just xBABIP. ”

      This is just a particular series I wanted to do. There are a few more players who seemed to be particularly lucky/unlucky in the BABIP/xBABIP department.

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  21. Geez says:

    Jim is 100% correct. That’s what I meant.

    Anyway, I admit I was rude. I apologized.

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  22. Ryan Glass says:

    Wow. Step away for a couple of days and suddenly I am Satan incarnate of the fantasy baseball blogging realm. I have no idea where I said that using xBABIP is a sure-fire way to guarantee production.

    This post (and the series for that matter) is about luck as it relates to xBABIP. In my opinion, xBABIP is the best tool we have RIGHT NOW in analyzing how a players actual ball in play data relates to what it would have been in the “spread-sheet world” of a vacuum. If you want to ignore data when drafting your fantasy team that’s fine, but I’ll be the one holding the trophy at the end of the year. I obviously don’t just look at xBABIP and how it relates to players luck because that would be an incomplete picture.

    Geez,
    I have a question: what data do you trust? This is the crux of statistical analysis in a world of real out comes; sometimes they will be wrong, sometimes they will be right, and sometimes they will be way wrong. On the macro level, though, they do rather well. In fact, xBABIP is one of the more reliable tools I’ve seen. If you choose to ignore it and wait for HitFX that’s fine, but to belittle a rather useful tool as inane is a bit short-sighted in my opinion.

    In the future I will put a disclaimer that reads “This analysis is a guess, a hypothesis, in no way is it definitive measure of future success. It is, however, a rather telling in the future. A crystal ball it is not, but a decent predictor it is.”

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    • BBall says:

      It might currently be the best BABIP estimator, but that doesn’t make it good. It’s still fairly wrong for many players. Some more, some less. It’s also new and untested over long periods. We need a much bigger sample size before we proclaim something as the “best” BABIP estimator. mBABIP (Marcels) is still more reliable (to me) until proven otherwise.

      It’s like looking at some of the many computer projection systems. One year, CHONE’s system could have the best results. The next, it could be ZIPS or PECOTA. Sample sizes need be applied. Even so, having the best results doesn’t necessarily make your system good. It shouldn’t be treated like a God just because it had the best results out of a certain group.

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  23. MattS says:

    I posted an article today on predicting BABIP and I get a much higher correlation with true BABIP than Dutton’s model. Mine is a forward looking model, predicting future BABIP from the three previous years of data, so it’s more useful for fantasy purposes. Here’s the link:

    http://www.thegoodphight.com/2009/2/2/743228/improving-babip-estimation

    For 2009, Figgins would come in at .311 for my model’s prediction for his BABIP.

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  24. Red Sox Fan says:

    Geez is right. Can’t dispute any of that.

    Next time, though, try to be a little nicer. It’s nice to see that your attitude changed once you apologized.

    I’m also curious to know what data you trust. Unless you’re waiting for HIT FX?

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  25. Jim says:

    “I have no idea where I said that using xBABIP is a sure-fire way to guarantee production.”

    “I obviously don’t just look at xBABIP and how it relates to players luck because that would be an incomplete picture.”

    Well, that’s what it looks like from this article. If the series being about xBABIP means you have to leave out all the other factors that would go into a Chone Figgins projection, that seems kind of silly.

    “If you want to ignore data when drafting your fantasy team that’s fine, but I’ll be the one holding the trophy at the end of the year. ”

    Not if I was in your league ; )….I don’t chose to ignore xBABIP, I just chose to paint a more complete picture before I condemn a player to poor production, or claim that a player is a breakout/comeback candidate. Even if you do that in real life, this article doesn’t. Even if more went into making that projection than is on the page, we have no way of knowing that, so it just looks like someone saw that Figgins’ xBABIP and BABIP didn’t match and wrote an article about it.

    Also, xBABIP just doesn’t work for some players. Like you said, it is very good for projecting what certain groups of players will do, but there are always outliers. Matt Kemp is a good example of someone who outperforms xBABIP consistently (he has the past 2 years). Figgins has outperformed his 3 out of the past 4 seasons. I’m sure there are others as well, and those who consist

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    • Ryan Glass says:

      This is how the post begins:
      “Continuing our series on how luck effected a player’s season, today I will look at Chone Figgins.”

      The post looks at how luck (read as the difference between what balls in play fell vs what didn’t fall) seemed to have a huge effect on a player’s season. In a fantasy draft/auction people generally value last year’s data pretty highly. If it seems that those numbers may not have been quite as good as they looked, then it seems this data is useful.

      If I had written this piece last year about Figgins and said he would surely under-perform this year I’d be right, even if he still out-performed his xBABIP. If I had written one last year about Kemp, it would have been right because his BABIP dropped. BABIPs generally regress to the mean– whether that mean is their career BABIP or xBABIP. I like this version of xBABIP as a tool and think it’s valuable when analyzing a player’s BIP data.

      I have written a couple of other posts that don’t look at xBABIP at all, but that’s what this series is about. Hopefully, you’ll drudge through this series if for nothing else then to attempt to discredit it with an eye toward future non-xBABIP pieces. Thanks for being constructive with your points without resorting to Ad Hominems and gross exaggeration.

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  26. Jim says:

    ently underperform.

    not sure what I hit, but the post posted while I was typing….

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  27. Fox says:

    I’m not impressed with xBABIP. It had a slightly higher correlation than some of the other models, but that isn’t saying much because of the small sample.
    There is way too much room for error and the results aren’t really that good. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a useful tool, but I don’t think it’s quite as useful as made out to be. It doesn’t explain everything. It can be way off for some players because of how the model is designed.

    For the rest of the argument, agreed. The holy grail will be when we stop using these silly bins (“line drive”, “fly ball”, etc.) and can calculate struck ball velocity and trajectory. Then, we could have a frequency plot of velocity and trajectory outcomes.

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  28. Geez says:

    I just want to make something clear again…

    I never intended to insult the author. As Jim pointed out, and I’ll quote him, “Geez was obviously not talking about what Josh S said when he made that point, he was talking about the logic of the article.”

    That’s all I meant. The author made it sound like he was predicting doom for Figgins’ future ….. all by relying on something so flawed … based on only what this flawed system had to say for 2008! If you look at some of Figgins’ batted balls, you will see
    A) His LD rate last year was 23.8 % (23.6 career).
    B) His GB rate was 46.4 % (42.7 career)
    C) His FB rate was 29.8 % (33.7 career)
    D) His IFFB% was 7.4 % (8.1 career)
    E) His IFH% was 4.8 % (7.2 career)

    His 2008 BABIP was .333, compared to .342 for his career.

    OK, when you look at that, what do you see?

    What is more telling? What some flawed data full of shortcomings says (questionable methods and major shortcomings, as explained) or what Figgins has done throughout his career and 2008? What changed in his batted balls? Almost nothing. What changed in his BABIP (when compared to his career)? Almost nothing.

    Again, it is just perplexing how some choose to rely on something so flawed, while completely ignoring or not knowing the flaws of the system they’re using. It also uses highly questionable (some absurd, IMO) methods in determining what a player’s BABIP “should” be. To use it like this, like nothing else matters, is just unbelievable. This is the problem. Some people blindly take things at face value. Like when people used the absolutely ridiculous LD% + .120. Then they look at the information handed to them. Write about it. That’s all. Anyone can do that. How about some critical thinking or common sense? Some of you guys treat these things as if they can’t go wrong. As if they’re not full of flaws. I got news for those people….they can and they are. This thing is going to be obsolete and totally useless once hit f/x data comes out.

    Not only that, but the author is clearly ignoring Figgins’ career and recent BABIP, as if it doesn’t matter. The author was clearly predicting what Figgins was going to do going forward using what this flawed system had to say about Figgins’ 2008 performance. One year. We’re talking about one year of flawed data. Using it to predict doom for a player’s future. Where’s the logic in that? Career BABIP and recent real life BABIP be damned.

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    • Ryan Glass says:

      Give me a break, “I never intended to insult the author.” Whatever dude, I don’t care about your intentions or your personal attacks, but don’t lie. Trust me, nothing you could write will ever change how I feel about myself an ounce, so there’s no point in personal attacks. If you want to attack what I say do it in a constructive way. You’re on the right path, but the anonymity the internet offers breeds an equal amount of animosity in the way some choose to discuss things. Moving on…

      The facts are thus:
      Chone Figgins 2008 was less the outlier than his 2007. Chone hit 1 HR in 2008 (yet somehow he supposedly strikes the ball harder than everyone else). Chone was hampered by a leg injury which would seemingly sap some of his speed. At 31, he isn’t old but he’s not getting any younger.

      The issues at hand:
      You grossly exaggerate what I say about Chone’s “impending doom” when I state that this is what his statline would look like given neutral luck. Seeing as we don’t have HitFX, what would you have me use to hypothesize about “neutral luck?” This tool isn’t a crystal ball, but it does a pretty good job at guessing what their BABIP should have been. Of course, HitFX would do a better job but that’s not an option.

      The point of the post was to show just how bad Chone’s 2008 could have been (hence the “?” in the title). After a huge 2007, he was going pretty high in drafts; and my point was that isn’t good value. As a 10-15th rounder he has value. I know as well as you or as well as my dog what Chone will do in 2009 (even if we had HitFX), but where’s the fun in that? He had a down year, sorry if I see more of them coming.

      His career .342 BABIP that you love to quote has been surpassed in one season by Chone, but you ignore that data because it doesn’t fit your worldview.

      BTW, Mrs. Figgins (AKA Geez) you shouldn’t go around defending your son on every blog that thinks he isn’t a great player.

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  29. Geez says:

    I’m not lying. I never did. I worded it wrong. It maybe looked like I was trying to insult you, but that wasn’t my intention. I was merely responding to the logic of your article.

    Yes, Figgins had a down year at the plate (mainly power wise) but that isn’t the argument or point of this thread.

    Well, that sounds like doom to me. .246/.339/.284, compared to his career and recent numbers. Not doom? Well, then what do you call it? Those are some terrible offensive numbers.

    Could’ve been if the flawed data was accurate. It wasn’t because it wasn’t accurate. You’re putting too much stock in ONE YEAR’S worth of flawed data from a flawed system, while ignoring the big picture. You choose to put more stock in one year of flawed data than Figgins’ career and real life (recent) performance. You’re predicting some terrible numbers going forward by looking at just ONE YEAR of flawed data. Where’s the logic in that? One year? Of flawed data? From a flawed system? That uses questionable methods? And has many shortcomings? Really? You’re also ignoring that almost nothing changed in Figgins’ batted balls. I mean, I don’t put much stock in these batted balls since they obviously aren’t all the same (not until hit f/x comes out) but the facts are facts. Nothing seems to have changed. I’m sorry if some people decide to use common sense and a little critical thinking around these parts, instead of just looking at the information handed to them and write about it.

    I don’t think Figgins is a great player. I don’t defend him at all. I wouldn’t be defending him if I didn’t have a reason. I would be defending Gary Matthews Jr. if I had a reason, but not because I like him as a player. The logic displayed in this article made me defend Figgins.

    Figgins’ BABIP since 2003:

    2003: .351 BABIP
    2004: .347 BABIP
    2005: .334 BABIP
    2006: .307 BABIP
    2007: .399 BABIP
    2008: .333 BABIP

    Career: .342 BABIP

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    • Ryan Glass says:

      Like I said “Whatever dude,” but “Let me suggest you get a brain.” and “Ryan Glass is a damn fool.” are worded pretty straight forward.

      I get that you don’t like xBABIP. You’ve said it a thousand times. You are bringing the same tired arguments, and I understand them. I disagree that it is a useless tool. You allow that he had a down year in the power department, but argue that his BB data wasn’t that much different. Doesn’t it seem to follow that when someone isn’t hitting XBH they aren’t hitting the ball as hard? Maybe that’s why OPSed .682 last year. That’s pretty “doomy” in itself.

      If Chone’s OPS is over .710 next year, then I’ll eat my hat. How about that?

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  30. Dicky Schaef says:

    Good piece Glass! Really enjoyed the in depth analysis. I better stay away from Figgins in my fantasy baseball draft! Talk to you when I win it all!!!! Can’t wait for next post Glass!

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  31. Geez says:

    I apologized. That was uncalled for and rude. I admit it.

    Well, I can tell you from my own subjective opinion (from watching him play) that Figgins hit the ball hard last year, despite not hitting HRs or a lot of XBHs. But, we can’t say for sure, since we don’t have this data (batted ball velocity). But, if you want to put stock in the current system that judges what a line drive is, then go right ahead. His batted balls haven’t changed. What does that say? Should we ignore that? He had one of the highest LD rate in all of baseball.

    Well, I don’t know what Figgins will do next year. Nobody does. Do I think he’ll bounce back? Absolutely. I think he just had a fluke, down year, when comparing it with his previous numbers. He still hit a ton of line drives and his batted balls haven’t changed.

    Well, he suffered some injuries last year. If he’s healthy, there is no doubt in my mind he will produce. He’s also entering his contract year. I think he’ll be extra motivated.

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    • Ryan Glass says:

      It’s cool.

      I see where you’re coming from in looking at the data with a skeptical eye. Baseball wouldn’t be nearly as much fun to me without all these interesting creatures that help clarify (and muddy) what we see happen in the games. This is a new tool that I find somewhat enlightening that I may renounce completely in a week or 10 years, but in the meantime I think it is definitely something worth reading/writing a few hundred words if it puts a players performance in a better context.

      Keep reading with a fine-tooth comb looking for criticisms. It fleshes out a blogpost a lot more to get good discussion on it then to merely leave it at 300 words.Anyways, I think it’s a let-down if I write something and no one disagrees.

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  32. Jim says:

    “If Chone’s OPS is over .710 next year, I’ll eat my hat.”

    That sounds fair….if I were you, I’d start practicing by eating small bits of fabric and cardboard, and then working up, because going straight to eating a whole hat could be dangerous.

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  33. Josh says:

    “He still hit a ton of line drives and his batted balls haven’t changed.” Geez weren’t you just talking about how we don’t really know what a line drive is and all of that? Why use it in your argument to defend Figgins then? I mean you are right he did hit a ton, and I think that means something, but I didn’t think you did.

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  34. Geez says:

    I even pointed that out before I posted that.

    “I mean, I don’t put much stock in these batted balls since they obviously aren’t all the same (not until hit f/x comes out) but the facts are facts. Nothing seems to have changed.”

    See? Nothing seems to have changed if we go by what we have now. That doesn’t mean I put stock in it.

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  35. thumble says:

    All in all that was a interesting discussion, but it kind of misses the point with Figgins. Fantasy-wise he derives most of his value from his ability to steal bases while retaining eligibility at several positions. On that front he has regressed back to his 2004 peripherals, 19% SBO and 72% success rate. Add that to the steep decline in 2B and 3B and it sounds like the speed factor has started to erode.

    He’s not going to be terrible, but at 31 he isn’t the same elite fantasy player he was 2 years ago. Still one of my favorite players though.

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    • Ryan Glass says:

      Yes. This point was glazed over:

      “He essentially becomes Wily Taveras. While that’s decent value it is not what you expect from a guy you take in the 5th round or so.”

      Except Wily steals more bags, but plays only OF.

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    • Jim says:

      Try sprinting with anything other than a fully functioning hamstring. Aside from being extremely painful, it just doesn’t work. If he can stay healthy next year, I expect his speed to rebound.

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      • thumble says:

        His speed peripherals are in a multi-year decline, it isn’t just isolated to his recovery from leg issues. Of course there is no reason to worry about his health when he has a hamstring injury in May and it effects the entire season.

        Playing hard takes its toll on the speed players, unless your name is Ricky Henderson, and very few players retain their speed game into their 30′s. He will rebound, but it won’t be a full return to his former prowess.

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      • Jim says:

        Oh I don’t expect him to steal 60 bases, but I definitely don’t expect his SB numbers to drop further. And I added the “if he stays healthy” condition because obviously his health is something to worry about.

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  36. Matt B. says:

    This is a huge thread for a guy like Figgins! Love it…

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  37. AA says:

    “There are a few more players who seemed to be particularly lucky/unlucky in the BABIP/xBABIP department.”

    The issue with BABIP is that “luck” isn’t the only factor. Some players will always have a higher BABIP because of the way they hit and also their speed. While BABIP is generally a good metric for pitchers, it isn’t a great one for batters. Guys like Figgins and Kemp will have higher BABIPs because they hit hard line drives and have the speed to run out balls others can’t.

    One thing that isn’t hard to predict is what the general tone of this thread would be. Figgins is almost as divisive a subject as Adam Dunn. Those who are blindly reliant on numbers will crap on Figgins, while those who are blindly “old school” will crap on Dunn. Still, if you are writing for a rather influential baseball site, you really can’t take a one-size fits all approach to these articles, because guys like Figgins will never fit the mold.

    “Chone hit 1 HR in 2008 (yet somehow he supposedly strikes the ball harder than everyone else).”

    Have you ever seen the way Figgins is built? There is plenty of strength there and he has even flashed some power as an MLB player, hitting as many as 9 HR in a season. He hits the ball hard, he just tends to hit hard ground balls and line drives, as opposed to generating the lift needed to hit HR.

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    • Ryan Glass says:

      I actually really like Figgins the player. I love watching these speed guys play, but I am weary of over-valuing them.

      The HR comment was in response to his hitting the ball hard with the idea that his power o/p was down.

      I will concede that certain players “on the tails” of the regression analysis of BABIP could seem to consistently outperform their xBABIP, but to what extent?

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  38. RedRobot says:

    Ryan Glass,

    Interesting thread (I generally like/use xBABIP). However, something confuses me:

    [1] In 2008, Figgins had a .683 OPS.
    [2] You claim that his skills only supported a .623 OPS.
    [3] You are so confident in your claim that you are willing to bet he won’t reach a .710 OPS in 2009.

    See the problem there? Seems like even if the “haters” are right (i.e., Figgins continues his 2008 production into the future), you still win your little wager.

    One other question: are xBABIP numbers available anywhere publicly, or do I have to resurrect my old DB to calculate them?

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  39. Big Oil says:

    I’ve developed a recent interest in his performance thusfar, and I think revisiting these threads when we have some data in front of us for the current season (especially when said season is the one in question) can be valuable. Basically, the two lines of evidence seem to be: 1). xBABIP sees Chone as performing above his head; 2). 3.5 seasons out of 4.5, he has outperformed xBABIP, notably when healthy. I understand it takes in speed score, etc., but what about the actual batting approach with a sore hammy/legs? No question that affects certain aspects of contact velocity, trajectory, even swing speed/execution.

    In any event, I appreciated the analysis, but thought that the xBABIP numbers could have been tempered with a little more evidence that he would maintain a high BABIP through a more detailed look into why he consistently outperformed it. Doubt this will garner much response, but perhaps others can offer their thoughts.

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  40. RedRobot8 says:

    Cross-posted from Dave Cameron’s August 17 Figgins article:

    I recall a particularly contentious comment thread this winter after Ryan Glass called out Figgins as lucky and forecasted a sub-.650 OPS going forward. Ryan, if you are still around, how would you approach a revised BABIP analysis of Figgins?

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