Pitcher xBABIP Values

A couple of weeks ago, I released an updated list of hitters and their xBABIP values. After it was released I got a request for the pitcher xBABIP values. The xBABIP values are generated by using the hard hit batted ball data from Inside Edge. I have gone ahead and run the values and listed them below with some comments on a couple starting pitchers.

A few notes on the data. First, I have not tested it with pitchers to see if the data correlates better season-to-season than regular BABIP. I just applied the hitter’s formula to pitchers. Additionally, I used the league average Speed Score in the equation instead of adjusting it for each batter.

Yu Darvish (.321 BABIP, .320 xBABIP) – His xBABIP is the second highest among all pitchers with over 100 IP. Even though both values are high, it just doesn’t matter since Darvish is so good other wise. He is still striking out more than one batter per inning (11.2 K/9) and has dropped his walk rate to a career low (2.9 BB/9).

Alex Cobb (.288 BABIP, .264 xBABIP) – Cobb as the lowest xBABIP among all starters (min 100 IP). Being 2nd in GB% (58%) is probably the leading cause for the low value. Other high groundball pitchers have low xBABIP values like Dallas Keuchel, Sonny Gray and Clayton Kershaw.




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Jeff writes for FanGraphs, The Hardball Times and Royals Review, as well as his own website, Baseball Heat Maps with his brother Darrell. In tandem with Bill Petti, he won the 2013 SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.


18 Responses to “Pitcher xBABIP Values”

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  1. Dolemite says:

    I love this series of articles for finding value in fantasy leagues.

    These xBABIP figures are team defense independent right?
    So not only does Cobb have the lowest xBABIP, but he also plays for a team with a very good infield defense. Shouldn’t that skew his xBABIP even lower theoretically?

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    • Jeff Zimmerman says:

      Did you you mean BABIP at the end, not xBABIP when you said:

      “Shouldn’t that skew his xBABIP even lower theoretically?”

      Just making sure before I answer the question.

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      • Dolemite says:

        “Cobb as the lowest xBABIP among all starters (min 100 IP).”

        I am asking that since BABIP is defensively independent, Though we expect him to have a BABIP of .264 (his xBABIP), couldn’t we “expect” his true BABIP to be even lower than his xBABIP (sort of a x(xBabip) if you will)….

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      • Dolemite says:

        “Shouldn’t that skew his xBABIP even lower theoretically?”
        Yes, I meant BABIP not xBABIP you are correct, sorry

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      • Jeff Zimmerman says:

        You are right with your assumption that a good defensive team should be able to turn more batted balls into outs lowering his BABIP even more.

        Let me think on this one.

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      • Dolemite says:

        Thanks a lot
        I am almost looking at it like a UZR adjusted BABIP…
        Like compute BABIP then skew it to reflect the teams defensive prowess.

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  2. Kaline's Ghost says:

    Who the hell is “Jumbo Diaz”????

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  3. phil says:

    You really should publish this stuff regularly. This is great!!!

    This BABIP-xBABIP differential seems to work for pitchers too. Go down the list and give your lucky-or-unlucky-this-year opinion before looking at the differential. I bet the differential will confirm your opinion a high percentage of the time. It would be fun to see how the differential correlates with things such as ERA-FIP differential.

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    • zaneman89 says:

      I second this, ideally xBABIP would be available on the leaderboard but I’m not sure if that’s possible.

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      • Jeff Zimmerman says:

        I agree with both comments. Hopefully, I will be able to publish the xBABIP values regularly once I get more time with my kids school starting back up.

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  4. Slacker George says:

    I thought that ground balls were more likely to be hits than fly balls. Wouldn’t that mean that GB%, correlates positively to xBABIP rather than the other way around? What am i missing?

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    • zaneman89 says:

      That was my understanding as well. But it looks like from the hard hit data I’ve seen is that Cobb is one of the leaders in fewest % of hard hit balls given up, so maybe that is driving his low xBABIP more than the groundball factor.

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      • Jeff Zimmerman says:

        The number of groundballs is not relevant. All that matters is how hard hit they are.

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    • Andrew says:

      LD > GB > FB. So yes, this is true. But more groundballs will most likely mean fewer line drives. I don’t know what the average is there, but the 14.8% line drive rate that Cobb currently holds is very low, and is obviously contributing to that xBABIP.

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    • AB says:

      I believe errors on fly balls are less likely to be called, therefore, leading to higher likelihood of a hit. Believe you got it reversed. Anyone can confirm this?

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  5. Fish says:

    I don’t see Adam Dunn on this list…

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  6. Andrew says:

    The Unluckiest List (min. 100 innings)
    Justin Masterson
    Colby Lewis
    Ricky Nolasco
    Phil Hughes
    Brandon McCarthy
    Dallas Keuchel
    Clay Buchholz
    Stephen Strasburg
    Edwin Jackson
    Ervin Santana

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  7. novaether says:

    Great stuff, Jeff. Two (and a half) questions:

    1) Is the inside edge data you used publicly available? If so, where?

    2) Do you use 2014 batted ball rates, or do you regress it / blend it with previous seasons?

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