As we near the All-Star break, there are some genuine concerns with the Rays offense. But like everything in baseball, a player’s actual numbers may not accurately portray how well a player has performed. Sometimes a player a gets lucky and finds holes in the defense and sometimes a ball is hit hard and finds a glove.
So let’s look at who has been lucky and who needs to adjust their superstitious routines.
To do this, we are going to look at each player’s Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP), which just asks “how often does a player get a basehit on a ball he hits fair.” But some players hit the ball harder more often, and those players should have higher BABIPs. So we will compare each player’s BABIP to their expected BABIP (xBABIP).
If a player’s xBABIP is significantly higher 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, but maybe his linedrives are finding gloves more often than they should (check this link for an explanation of xBABIP).
Notes on the table are below…
We defined a player as “lucky” or “unlucky” if their BABIP differed from their xBABIP by more than 40 points. And what we see is that almost every player on the team (minimm 40 PAs) has a BABIP lower than what it should be. And no player has been excedingly “lucky.”
On the other hand, several key players have been very unlucky so far, including Hideki Matsui, Luke Scott, Ben Zobrist, and *gulp* Jose Molina. It should be noted that speed is not factored here. So a player that is VERY slow *cough*Molina*cough* he will likely have fewer actual basehits than would be expected.
Still, this does give us some hope moving forward. If these players continue to hit the ball the same way, we may start to see more basehits. And at the same time, there aren’t any players that we would expect to significantly regress.
All data via Fangraphs.com