Archive for BABIP

The Beginner’s Guide To Single-Season BABIP

Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) is one of the most commonly cited statistics in sabermetric analysis, and it’s role in mainstream coverage of the sport is growing as well. BABIP is a measure of how often “balls in play,” or non-home run batted balls, fall for hits. It’s an easy statistic to understand, but it’s not always the easiest statistic to use properly.

The problem occurs when people focus too heavily on one of the three main drivers of BABIP, which are player quality, defense, and luck. Most of the discussion surrounding BABIP is on the amount of luck that is involved. For some people, BABIP is simply a measure of how lucky or unlucky a player is getting over a period of time. But in reality, that is only part of the equation. Certain hitters consistently produce higher BABIP than others, and the presence of a good defense behind a pitcher can absolutely suppress their BABIP even before we consider the role of luck in the process.

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Why We Care About BABIP

Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) is actually a pretty tried and true part of the baseball vernacular. Sabermetricians may have given it a long name with a fun-sounding acronym, but the principle goes back as far as presidential first pitches and wooden bats. Everyone knows that bloop hits and seeing eye ground balls go for hits quite regularly and that screaming rockets get snatched out of the air by leaping defenders pretty often. You couldn’t find a baseball fan alive who would argue with you on that simple fact.

BABIP is really just the amalgamation of all of those screaming rockets and bouncing grounders. When a batter puts the ball in play, it either goes for a hit or it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s a clean single, sometimes the defender can’t quite reach it. It’s a game of inches and these things happen.

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