A Potent Odor: Rougned’s Return

About a week ago, I compared rankings with some actual ADP. One player which stood out was Rougned Odor. He ranked 47th overall (AVG vs OBP league) and it’s tough to rank a person so high who hit only .204 last season. Steamer projections currently have him back up to a .255 AVG. Acceptable but not great.

Additionally, Odor comes to the plate hacking and rarely walks (4.2% for his career) so almost all of his value comes from his BABIP. If his batted balls don’t fall for hits, he’s not getting on base. Since his value is so BABIP driven, I decided to see what the BABIP bounce-back chances were for low-walk hitters.

For my first test, I wanted to find these low-walk hitters expected BABIP ranges. I took all the hitters with 100 PA in back-to-back seasons (2002 to 2017) who had a walk rate under 5% in their first season. Then, I found season two’s possible range by using standard deviations (SD).

Possible BABIP Outcomes for Low-Walk Hitters
Min Y1 Max Y1 Min Y2 -2 SD -1 SD AVG +1 SD +2 SD Max Y2
0.146 0.259 0.194 0.200 0.238 0.277 0.315 0.354 0.381
0.260 0.280 0.172 0.211 0.244 0.277 0.310 0.343 0.365
0.280 0.300 0.185 0.220 0.256 0.292 0.328 0.364 0.401
0.300 0.320 0.171 0.226 0.262 0.298 0.334 0.370 0.389
0.320 0.339 0.226 0.235 0.270 0.306 0.341 0.377 0.399
0.340 0.423 0.183 0.233 0.270 0.307 0.345 0.382 0.387

In the case Odor, he has a .297 BABIP in 2016, so owners should have been expecting a similar value for 2017. Instead, his .224 BABIP was almost exactly 2 SD below the average. It was within a reasonable outcome range but definitely on the extreme worse end.

For 2018, some bounce back is likely with low BABIPs bouncing up to around .277. Surprisingly, his Steamer projection has his BABIP exactly at .277. His BABIP and the projected .255 AVG are reasonable estimates.

Besides the range of possible outcomes, I wanted to see if any trait was more common for those who bounced back. To find these traits, I ranked the players by BABIP in year one, grouped them into five groups, and then compared traits for those who improved and those who dropped.

Two items stuck out, Speed Score and groundball rate (GB%). If a hitter was fast and could use this speed legging out some groundball hits, he was more likely to see his BABIP improve. Those hitters who are slow and hit flyballs aren’t likely to see improved results.

Speed Scores & GB% For Changes In BABIP
BABIP (min) BABIP (max) Speed (improve BABIP) Speed (BABIP drop) Diff GB% (BABIP improve) GB% (BABIP drop) Diff
Group 1 0.146 0.273 3.8 3.1 0.8 44.9% 40.4% 4.5%
Group 2 0.273 0.291 4.1 3.0 1.1 45.5% 43.3% 2.2%
Group 3 0.291 0.310 4.6 4.1 0.5 46.8% 46.0% 0.8%
Group 4 0.310 0.330 5.0 4.6 0.4 48.3% 46.6% 1.7%
Group 5 0.330 0.423 5.7 4.7 1.0 50.0% 47.0% 3.0%

Going back to 2016 with Odor (.297 BABIP), his 5.5 Speed Score pointed to an improved BABIP while his 40% GB% pointed to a lower BABIP. Last year (.224 BABIP), his 5.6 Speed Score was similar while his 42% GB% is between the two GB% averages. Overall, Odor has the speed to beat out some ground balls for hits but just doesn’t put the ball on the ground enough to utilize his speed. Odor’s fantasy value is heavily tied to his BABIP and it should bounce back some. The only item holding back a large increase is the low rate of groundballs he posts.

Odor is not the only hitter living off his BABIP. Here are all the hitters (min 200 PA) who posted a BB% under 5% last season.

2017 Low-Walk Hitters With GB% & Speed Score
Name PA BB% GB% Spd BABIP
Tim Anderson 606 2.1% 52.7% 6.2 .328
Alcides Escobar 629 2.4% 40.8% 4.3 .291
Kevan Smith 294 3.1% 57.1% 0.9 .323
Martin Maldonado 471 3.2% 48.5% 2.3 .273
Joey Rickard 277 3.2% 35.4% 5.0 .303
Ronald Torreyes 336 3.3% 52.4% 3.5 .326
Salvador Perez 499 3.4% 33.3% 2.4 .280
Brandon Phillips 604 3.5% 49.5% 4.1 .308
Adam Rosales 312 3.5% 35.4% 1.9 .312
Dee Gordon 695 3.6% 57.6% 8.5 .354
Eduardo Nunez 491 3.7% 53.4% 4.8 .333
Adeiny Hechavarria 348 3.7% 48.7% 5.7 .304
Ryon Healy 605 3.8% 42.8% 1.4 .319
Caleb Joseph 266 3.8% 46.2% 2.4 .328
Yulieski Gurriel 564 3.9% 46.2% 2.8 .308
T.J. Rivera 231 3.9% 35.3% 3.6 .318
Jose Peraza 518 3.9% 47.1% 5.8 .293
Leury Garcia 326 4.0% 55.3% 5.4 .321
Jose Osuna 227 4.0% 52.8% 4.9 .254
Nick Hundley 303 4.0% 42.3% 1.1 .307
Adam Jones 635 4.3% 44.8% 2.7 .312
Matt Davidson 443 4.3% 36.2% 1.8 .285
Aledmys Diaz 301 4.3% 45.6% 3.5 .282
Jose Iglesias 489 4.3% 50.4% 4.2 .285
Didi Gregorius 570 4.4% 36.2% 2.7 .287
Chris Owings 386 4.4% 42.5% 4.9 .318
Hernan Perez 458 4.4% 48.3% 5.3 .286
Wilson Ramos 224 4.5% 52.0% 0.5 .262
J.J. Hardy 268 4.5% 45.4% 2.6 .252
Whit Merrifield 630 4.6% 37.7% 6.7 .308
Paul DeJong 443 4.7% 33.7% 2.5 .349
Gerardo Parra 425 4.7% 46.8% 3.0 .343
Wilmer Flores 362 4.7% 35.8% 2.4 .270
Johan Camargo 256 4.7% 47.6% 3.0 .364
Starlin Castro 473 4.9% 51.8% 3.5 .347
Christian Vazquez 345 4.9% 47.1% 5.1 .348
Ben Revere 308 4.9% 55.8% 6.5 .296
Tyler Moore 203 4.9% 36.3% 1.0 .287
Rougned Odor 651 4.9% 41.5% 5.6 .224
J.T. Riddle 247 4.9% 53.3% 2.4 .300
Darwin Barney 362 5.0% 46.7% 3.9 .270

A couple players stick out as heavy BABIP regression candidates.

  • Paul DeJong: He’s slow (2.5 Speed score) and hits a ton of balls in the air (only 34% GB%). I could see his .349 BABIP come crashing down hard.
  • Jose Osuna: With decent speed and a good groundball rate, his BABIP should have been quite a bit higher. He’s always posted good minor league BABIPs so I would expect his .254 BABIP to jump.

In conclusion, having a low walk rate isn’t a death sentence for a hitter with a low BABIP like Rougned Odor. These hackers should expect some decent bounce back, especially if they are fast and keep the ball on the ground so the speedy legs can be put to work. For 2018, I’m not going to personally adjust Odor’s Steamer projection and if he’s next on my draft list, I don’t have a problem rostering him.



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Jeff writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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steve8818
Member
steve8818

Interesting post. Would be interested to see how Odors popup % factors into this. It seemed to the biggest reason for his low BAPIP last year.

MaxFreeze7
Member

You’re partially right. His IFFB% in the 2nd half was only 9.4% down from a crazy high 20.6% in the first half yet his BABIP was actually LOWER in the 2nd half. .198 in the 2nd half compared to a still low .244 in the 1st half.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1AF0oGIL97V82vxK5gBQjq9EMtM_GjRJOtccscmQKSKI/edit#gid=1217921479

The other part is, the LD% that went from 18.3% (1st half) to 13.4% (2nd half). A line drive is a hit almost 70% of the time (on average) which in theory would lower his average by .025 over the course of an entire season. So while he suffered from high IFFB% in the first half, he struggled with a lack of line drives in the 2nd half.