Earlier today we took a look at which Rays are hitting well and who isn’t. Now let’s look at who has been lucky and who could use an adjustment to their superstitious routines.

To do this, we are going to compare BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) to each player’s expected BABIP (xBABIP). Basically, xBABIP looks at things like contact rate, speed, line drive rate, groundballs and flyballs and tries to determine how often a player should be getting base hits when they hit the ball fair. If a players xBABIP is significantly lower than their actual BABIP, that is a good indication that the player has been unlucky. In other words, he is hitting better than his stats might indicate. For example, maybe more line drives are being caught by fielders than would be expected (check this link for an explanation of xBABIP).

Notes on the table are below…

Notes on the table…

  • “Luck” in this case is defined as the difference between a player’s actual BABIP and their expected BABIP (xBABIP).
  • We divided the players into three groups using arbitrary boundaries. Basically, anybody with a BABIP 40 points higher than expected has been lucky and anybody with a BABIP 40 points lower than expected has been unlucky.
  • We can ignore Kelly Shoppach’s numbers due to such a small sample size.
  • The Rays three best hitters (Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, Ben Zobrist) have all been a little lucky. That makes it hard not to wonder if good players have the ability to create their own “luck.”
  • Sean Rodriguez has actually been lucky, despite relatively poor numbers so far this season. This tells us, a demotion could be coming soon.
  • Carlos Pena has the worst BABIP and the worst luck on the team. This is probably due in part to all the shifts that he faces.
  • Dioner Navarro has been a bit unlucky, but he also has the second-lowest expected BABIP on the team. This might surprise you, but Navi is not a very good hitter.
 
 

4 Comments

  1. ramedy says:

    Zobrist, Longo and Brignac are all hitting line drives over 20% of the time (on batted balls, that is), which I’d imagine has a lot to do with those high BABIPs.

    I’m a little surprised with Longo’s xBABIP. His ground-ball percentage is second-lowest on the team (Shoppach is lowest) at 36.8; if he can stay close to that rate, along with his 21.3 line-drive percentage, and that BABIP may not be all that wild. At the risk of comparing him to Pujols: in 2008, Pujols’ BABIP was .340; his line-drive rate was 22.4%, and his ground-ball rate was 40.2%. Again, I’m not saying Longoria is Pujols (he’d have to start walking a whole heck of a lot more to get close) – I’m just pointing out that a high BABIP like that is doable, assuming you keep the ball off the ground and keep hitting frozen ropes.

  2. ramedy says:

    Also, Crawford’s career BABIP is .331, and that includes his injury-plagued 2008. Only in 2008 and his rookie year was his BABIP lower than .312. His ground-ball rate is a little higher than career, but not by much – 52.0% this year versus 50% career. In 2009 he had a nearly identical ground-ball rate (52.1%) and his BABIP was .342. He’s probably getting a little lucky, but I’m starting to think xBABIP can’t quite handle Crawford’s speed.

  3. Kevin says:

    Agreed on Pena. If you hit to the same spot all the time and teams put fielders in those areas you will have a harder time getting a hit. And that’s not getting unlucky that’s good defense. Pena should take some of those bunt singles down the 3rd base line in non run producing situations…a softly hit single is better then a hard hit out.

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