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TheBigLebowski
08-06-2006, 09:39 PM
Our resident stat mongers here at RZ frequently refer to a pitcher's BABIP during discussions about his effectiveness.

Until about 2 weeks ago, I had no idea what BABIP even was.

For those of you in the dark like I was, BABIP = Batting Average of Balls hit In Play.

Those that explained it to me were also quick to point out that a pitcher has no control whatsoever of his BABIP.

I respectfully and calmly disagree.

Consider:

Theoretically, a batting tee and Johan Santana both have measurable BABIP.

I do not think anyone here will disagree when I assert that it is obvious on its face that a batting tee will have a higher BABIP than Santana should all other variables be constant. The degree of difficulty in hitting a Santana changeup is quite bit higher than that of hitting a stationary baseball off a waist-high tee.

Taking that line of thinking a step further, it is then logical to believe that Johan Santana will have a lower BABIP than Dave Williams as Johan is 100x the pitcher Williams is and, it is therefore more diffucult to hit his pitches well.

I do acknowledge that BABIP does not consider walks and strikeouts, and I do know that most pitcher's ultimate goal is to miss bats. However, accepting the tack that a pitcher does not have any control over his BABIP means that one has to accept that a pitcher who pitches to contact using good location and changing speeds cannot ultimately succeed. Greg Maddux is a perfect example.

Can it not be logically inferred that well-pitched balls are more difficult to hit than poorly pitched balls? Many here are actually using Majewski's high BABIP as a mitigating factor towards his performance to date a Red. "Hell, he's been unlucky! Check his BABIP! It's bound to come down!"

While I do agree that his ERA & BABIP are both likely to come down, I assert that (warning, overused RZ phrase following) it would be due to GM "regressing to the mean." The guy simply will not maintain this 19.00 ERA (or whatever the hell it is). He will eventually get more guys out, and his ERA and BABIP will see a resultant drop. I fear many are confusing the effect for the cause.

That's my thought on the matter. It seems too obvious to me, which tells me there might be something else used to calculate BABIP of which I am unaware. However, if I am understanding it correctly, it seems to be a bit of a Straw Man.

edabbs44
08-06-2006, 09:45 PM
Good post...but let the flood of negative rep points begin. :D

TheBigLebowski
08-06-2006, 09:53 PM
I don't know why I'd be negged...I didn't call anyone out or state that anyone that disagrees with me is stupid for doing so...I actually want more posts from those who disagree b/c I fear there's a lot about this stat that I may not know.

TOBTTReds
08-06-2006, 09:57 PM
TBL - I agree with you and I use that stat a bit too. Like Ramon Ortiz, his BABIP seems to be relatively higher because he just doesn't miss bats well (off the top of my head, haven't look this up). Then guys like Harang, with the same fielders last year would have a lower number because he strikes out guys, and odds are, someone who strikes out a lot of guys doesn't give up a lot of solid shots. So when contact is made, it is weaker.

Again, that was just off the top of my head, so that is more of a guess and opinion than anything.

flyer85
08-06-2006, 10:01 PM
Taking that line of thinking a step further, it is then logical to believe that Johan Santana will have a lower BABIP than Dave Williams as Johan is 100x the pitcher Williams is and, it is therefore more diffucult to hit his pitches well.
intuitively it would seem to but the data and the research doesn't support it. His better stuff results in less walks, fewer HRs and a lot more Ks (those things not subject to BABIP) and that is what makes him a great pitcher. The data certainly suggest that there is a randomness to BABIP that is not subject to talent. Both Johnson and Schilling had a season that was "bad" while in Arizona almost entirely due to a very high BABIP even though they had some of the best "stuff" in all of baseball.

flyer85
08-06-2006, 10:04 PM
BABIP is what allowed people to predict that what the Reds were getting in Majewski and Cormier were not the pitchers their ERA suggested the Reds were getting. That was because they both had been BABIP lucky up to the point of their trades.

Could their luck have continued? Sure but the odds very heavily against and much more in favor of a coming correction.

SteelSD
08-06-2006, 10:16 PM
TBL - I agree with you and I use that stat a bit too. Like Ramon Ortiz, his BABIP seems to be relatively higher because he just doesn't miss bats well (off the top of my head, haven't look this up). Then guys like Harang, with the same fielders last year would have a lower number because he strikes out guys, and odds are, someone who strikes out a lot of guys doesn't give up a lot of solid shots. So when contact is made, it is weaker.

Again, that was just off the top of my head, so that is more of a guess and opinion than anything.

That's not how it works. BABIP is independent of K rate.

TheBigLebowski
08-06-2006, 10:21 PM
BABIP is what allowed people to predict that what the Reds were getting in Majewski and Cormier were not the pitchers their ERA suggested the Reds were getting. That was because they both had been BABIP lucky up to the point of their trades.

Could their luck have continued? Sure but the odds very heavily against and much more in favor of a coming correction.


First of all, thank you for your constructive reply. I was worried that this thread may become a bit intractable.

It just seems to me that BABIP is statistically insignificant. It can be argued that a high BABIP can forgive a bad ERA or be the nexus of it. It appears that people who pay a lot of attention to the stat are using it to defend positions both ways. My take is that bad stuff gets hit hard and good stuff doesn't. BABIP does not explain away the bad seasons for Schilling and Johnson you referenced. You can have good stuff and still pitch poorly. Conversely, you can have bad stuff and still put together a nice season (see: Haynes, Jimmy).

To sum, BABIP is the result, not the cause and, therefore an insignificant statistic.

Falls City Beer
08-06-2006, 10:22 PM
BABIP is what allowed people to predict that what the Reds were getting in Majewski and Cormier were not the pitchers their ERA suggested the Reds were getting.

Well, that and several other peripherals.

TheBigLebowski
08-06-2006, 10:24 PM
Well, that and several other peripherals.

Yeah..I don't think Krivsky made those moves based on Majewski's BABIP.

flyer85
08-06-2006, 10:46 PM
BABIP does not explain away the bad seasons for Schilling and Johnson you referenced.You're missing the point. In essence it is in a simplistic form a measure of "luck". So when someone has a bad year, a bad stretch(or a good stretch), etc, it helps to assess if it was due to talent or did luck(BABIP) play a part in their success/failure.

It allows one to assess whether success/failure is likely to continue or if their is a likely correction coming. Someone can have a "bad or good" year due to their BABIP and in contrast to their talent level.

When deciding who to target and acquire I would say trying to assess whether luck has played a part would be a big factor.

flyer85
08-06-2006, 10:48 PM
Well, that and several other peripherals.those other peripherals pointed to the fact that the ERA was not a true reflection of their level of performance and if their luck(BABIP) turned bad then a correction was coming.

Falls City Beer
08-06-2006, 10:51 PM
those other peripherals pointed to the fact that the ERA was not a true reflection of their level of performance and if their luck(BABIP) turned bad then a correction was coming.

Right, but one could look at his entire career course, and if one understands what each stat means, where said pitcher is pitching his home games, etc. I try to follow several metrics over the course of his career as well as other amorphous factors, like age.

TOBTTReds
08-06-2006, 10:53 PM
That's not how it works. BABIP is independent of K rate.

I understand that. Please read it a bit more carefully.


because he strikes out guys, and odds are, someone who strikes out a lot of guys doesn't give up a lot of solid shots. So when contact is made, it is weaker

What I'm saying is that weaker contact is usually made off of a strikeout pitcher because he misses bats in the first place. So unless it is an awful mistake, chances are it isn't hit that hard.

flyer85
08-06-2006, 10:55 PM
in general,

K rate, BB rate and HR rate tell most of what you need to know about a pitcher.

When assessing talent I pay little attention to stats like ERA and WHIP.

flyer85
08-06-2006, 10:58 PM
The mere idea that BABIP is random is counter-intuitive.

If the assumption about pitchers with better stuff having weaker hit balls in play were true than how does one explain the anomaly of Rheal Cormier? Who has one of the lowest BABIPs in the league while simotaneously having one of the lowest K rates and thusly some of the most mediocre "stuff".

Falls City Beer
08-06-2006, 11:03 PM
The mere idea that BABIP is random is counter-intuitive.

If the assumption about pitchers with better stuff having weaker hit balls in play were true than how does one explain the anomaly of Rheal Cormier? Who has one of the lowest BABIPs in the league while simotaneously having one of the lowest K rates and thusly some of the most mediocre "stuff".

Yes, but Cormier's DIPS ERA for 2005 was a solid, very solid, 3.12.

;)

So maybe he's not dog feces.

flyer85
08-06-2006, 11:05 PM
Yes, but Cormier's DIPS ERA for 2005 was a solid, very solid, 3.12.

;)I pointed out at the time of the trade that Cormiers xERA for this season was 4.02

Falls City Beer
08-06-2006, 11:19 PM
I pointed out at the time of the trade that Cormiers xERA for this season was 4.02

I guess I'm just being a smartass--as his age should ALSO be considered because if he's putting up a good 3.12 DIPS ERA last season, he should be counted on to be solid this year right?

Predictive stats like BABIP and DIPS ERA by themselves just make me a bit itchy.

I'm not saying that you're saying that you should use them exclusively.

Slider
08-06-2006, 11:28 PM
Thanks for the explanation of BABIP.

I was confused about BABIP before I began reading this thread.

I am still confused after reading this thread...but now I'm confused at a much higher level.

SteelSD
08-06-2006, 11:32 PM
I understand that. Please read it a bit more carefully.

I did read it carefully. You connected BABIP with K rate.


What I'm saying is that weaker contact is usually made off of a strikeout pitcher because he misses bats in the first place. So unless it is an awful mistake, chances are it isn't hit that hard.

High K rates have a very tiny correlation to low BABIP rates.

Johnny Footstool
08-06-2006, 11:34 PM
There was a Baseball Prospectus article written as a rebuttal to McCracken's initial BABIP research. Essentially, it found that "good" pitchers like Pedro, Randy Johnson, Gred Maddux, etc. tended to have lower BABIP than bad pitchers, but they could also experience wild swings in BABIP from season to season. Whether it was due to bad luck, bad defense, or bad pitching, there were greater variations in BABIP than in other peripherals like K/9 and K/BB.

So basically, pitchers do have some degree of control over balls in play, but not nearly as much as expected.

It does have value, for the reasons flyer85 explained.

TheBigLebowski
08-06-2006, 11:52 PM
Thanks for the explanation of BABIP.

I was confused about BABIP before I began reading this thread.

I am still confused after reading this thread...but now I'm confused at a much higher level.

You're supposed to be, dude..

Cyclone792
08-06-2006, 11:57 PM
Steel made an excellent post in another thread regarding BABIP and one function of BABIP that absolutely should not be ignored: Line Drive Rates.


You might be interested in Line Drive Rate then. About 75% of line drives drop for hits across the board.

From 2004 to current, 266 ERA title qualifying seasons have been pitched (or are being pitched) by MLB starters. From that sample, median Line Drive Rate was 19.6% (0.196).

Here's a list of MLB ERA qualifiers who posted to or more seasons of 90% or less of the median LD% over that span.

Player (#seasons at =<90% of median LD Rate)

Bartolo Colon (2)
Kelvim Escobar (2)
Randy Johnson (2)
John Lackey (2)
Derek Lowe (3)
Jason Marquis (2)
Johan Santana (2)
Tim Wakefield (3)
Jake Westbrook (2)
Brandon Webb (2)

Now let's whittle that list down a bit by excluding pitchers who have, during that time, allowed a higher single-season LD Rate versus the median. That moves out only Santana (0.213 LD%- 2006) and Lackey (0.228 LD%- 2005).

If we're suggesting that pitchers are able to control their rate of pitches being "squared up" against, we need to look at HR rate as well. Median HR rate for that sample is 1.04 per game. The results thusfar have indicated that there may be pitchers who might be able to exert a modicum of control over BIP quality, but that becomes less important if they give up bombs when they do get hit. Here's the new list after excluding anyone who's posted a season above the median HR/G rate from our sample:

Kelvim Escobar (2)
Brandon Webb (2)
Jake Westbrook (2)

Escobar is a suprising inclusion in our final short list of possible low-quality contact pitchers. But he's The other two aren't surprises, considering that they're true ground ball demons. Derek Lowe, another ground ball demon, barely misses the list due to a 1.15 HR/G rate in 2005, but I'd suggest that his pattern is probably solid enough to warrant inclusion. John Lackey is another guy who might be very close to a pitcher who can exert a modicum of low-quality ball control over time. Johan Santana is interesting as well due to what might be a consistent ability to induce pop-ups.

All that being said, the real question is whether or not a low-quality contact skill set actually allows pitchers to outperform their DIPS.

DIPS Rates 2004-2006:

Escobar 2006: 1.02
Escobar 2004: 0.97

Westbrook 2006: 0.93
Westbrook 2005: 0.92
Westbrook 2004: 1.24

Webb 2006: 1.17
Webb 2005: 1.03
Webb 2004: 1.23

High DIPS Rates mean that the player produced a season ERA lower than their DIPS ERA. Escobar and Westbrook haven't consistently done that over time. Webb has and if we're going to look for a guy who might be able to translate a "low contact quality" skill set into meaningful results, I'd suggest he may be taking the mound every fifth day for the D'Backs.

Now, on to BABIP, and I'll try to help clarify a couple things here ...

As a general rule of thumb, the vast majority of pitchers have very little control over their BABIP. Now "very little" does not necessarily mean "zero," but it does mean very little. McCracken's research about five or six years ago proved that, and the people who criticized his work top-to-bottom down to the bare bones eventually came to accept that McCracken was pretty much correct. If McCracken was incorrect, the principles he researched would have been thrown in the garbage and never used by anybody.

However, there are a small handful of freaks of nature who may be exempt from the above. Knuckleballers may qualify. Greg Maddux was another pitcher who qualifies, or at least he qualified in his peak years. As outlined by Steel above, Brandon Webb may in fact be a freak of nature too. Freaks of nature are anomalies, and very hard to come by. Their existence does not automatically render McCracken's research as inaccurate; it just means that every so often we come across a pitcher who may be an outlier to McCracken's research.

I have my own theory that's supported by absolutely zero research other than a gut feeling that high quality Hall of Fame type pitchers may tend to qualifiy as BABIP freaks of nature, ala Greg Maddux. Now, as I said, I have absolutely no research to back that up so it is very likely it may not be true. Additionally, researching that concept may be too laborous for its own worth since at any given time there is very few dominant Hall of Fame caliber pitchers in the game.

There really is a plethora of research out there on DIPS ERA and BABIPs, and I'd encourage people to search around to find it. It is not statistically insignificant by any means, and when used correctly can be a highly valuable tool to help determine future performance. The key there is using it correctly as using it incorrectly can lead to some inaccuracies.

In short, these are some of the tools I use to help determine future performance:

K rate
BB rate
HR rate
K/BB
BABIP
LD%
FB%
GB%
LOB%
Home park factor
Division road park factor (lots of road games in parks of divisional opponents)
Strength of divisional opponents
League factors (AL vs. NL scoring, DH/no DH)
League/Division strength (i.e. AL stronger now than NL)
Past managerial abuse
Injury history
Workload history

As people can see, there's a bit more there than just BABIP, and even the above doesn't necessarily qualify as the total absolute list. As with anything, when utilizing all the above it is crucial to know the importance of each metric, league averages, league trends, etc.

I'll use Joe Mays in 2001 as an example for strength of divisional opponents. Those who look at Mays' season in detail will eventually come to find out that he dominated in starts against lousy teams. We know he had a great BABIP, but it takes some digging to find out that he had a series of starts against weak AL Central opponents, namely the Detroit Tigers.

Cyclone792
08-06-2006, 11:59 PM
There was a Baseball Prospectus article written as a rebuttal to McCracken's initial BABIP research. Essentially, it found that "good" pitchers like Pedro, Randy Johnson, Gred Maddux, etc. tended to have lower BABIP than bad pitchers, but they could also experience wild swings in BABIP from season to season. Whether it was due to bad luck, bad defense, or bad pitching, there were greater variations in BABIP than in other peripherals like K/9 and K/BB.

So basically, pitchers do have some degree of control over balls in play, but not nearly as much as expected.

It does have value, for the reasons flyer85 explained.

It sounds like BP has done some research with some of my gut feeling theory on high quality Hall of Fame caliber pitchers possibly tending to have more control over BABIP than others. It is plausible that slightly more control in this regard in lowering BABIP is what helps separate these top of the line guys from the other 95 percent of pitchers that take the mound.

cincinnati chili
08-07-2006, 12:08 AM
In short, these are some of the tools I use to help determine future performance:
[list]
K/9
BB/9
HR/9




Whenever possible don't divide by nine innings. Divide by plate appearances.

I call this the Glendon Rusch rule.

Pitcher "A" below is better than pitcher "GR" below, even though both will have "excellent" K/IP rates of 1/1.

A - single, walk, groundout, groundout, strikeout

GR - single, walk, double, double, double, double, double, flyout to the warning track, diving catch of a line drive in the gap, striekout

K/PA whenever possible.

Cyclone792
08-07-2006, 12:10 AM
Whenever possible don't divide by nine innings. Divide by plate appearances.

I call this the Glendon Rusch rule.

Pitcher "A" below is better than pitcher "GR" below, even though both will have "excellent" K/IP rates of 1/1.

A - single, walk, groundout, groundout, strikeout

GR - single, walk, double, double, double, double, double, flyout to the warning track, diving catch of a line drive in the gap, striekout

K/PA whenever possible.

Great point, and Majewski in a Reds uniform right now is a great example. His K rate as a Red isn't too bad, but he's faced so many darn hitters over an average inning with all the hits he's allowed that his K rate really hasn't improved, even though his K/9 makes it appear otherwise.

SteelSD
08-07-2006, 12:50 AM
First of all, thank you for your constructive reply. I was worried that this thread may become a bit intractable.

It just seems to me that BABIP is statistically insignificant. It can be argued that a high BABIP can forgive a bad ERA or be the nexus of it. It appears that people who pay a lot of attention to the stat are using it to defend positions both ways. My take is that bad stuff gets hit hard and good stuff doesn't. BABIP does not explain away the bad seasons for Schilling and Johnson you referenced. You can have good stuff and still pitch poorly. Conversely, you can have bad stuff and still put together a nice season (see: Haynes, Jimmy).

To sum, BABIP is the result, not the cause and, therefore an insignificant statistic.

Nope. BABIP is a driver, not a result.

When identifying pitchers who may be "ERA lucky", we look at BABIP and DIPS rates. A DIPS rate above 1.00 means that the pitcher has produced an ERA that's lower than his DIPS rate. BABIP is independent of DIPS ERA, but it isn't ERA-independent. Knowing what a pitcher's DIPS Rate is important because it allows us to drill down for a cause. We can identify that cause by using BABIP. For 2006, here are the correlations for the 2006 MLB ERA title qualifiers:

BABIP to DIPS Percentage: -0.70

That tells us there's a very strong correlation between low BABIP and high DIPS Rate. That's "driver-level" correlation.

Knowing that, how do you get a high BABIP? High Ground Ball rates, contrary to popular belief, won't do it. The correlation is only 0.18 between high GB rates and high BABIP rates this year. High K rates (the "stuff" argument) isn't it either as there's only a 0.17 correlation between high K rates and low BABIP rates. That isn't the answer either.

But here's something interesting:

Line Drive Percentage to BABIP: 0.49

That's a pretty strong correlation. Pitchers who produce high LD% tend to be less "BABIP lucky". Considering that line drives fall in at about a 75% clip, that's about as intuitive as it gets from a "quality contact" perspective. K's, HR, and BB take the defense out of the mix. But low line drive rates also limit the effect defense has on the game because they're so seldom caught.

That being said, do we see a plethora of pitchers who can consistently produce much better than average LD percentages? No. We don't; just as Voros McCracken didn't see a huge sampling of pitchers who could- independent of their defense- produce low BABIP rates. There's no "myth" and it's why McCracken is currently working for the Red Sox.

I questioned McCracken's studies about BABIP randomness a long time ago. Same as you, I mused that there was some counter-intuitiveness to his findings because low-quality balls in play should be able to produce lower-than-average BABIP rates on a consistent basis. McCracken then revised his research (due to no intervention on my part, of course) that he'd found that very rare LHP and Knuckleballers may produce lower BABIP rates as a trend.

I suggest that certain exceptionally rare RHP are capable of doing the same (possibly prime-season Greg Maddux, current Brandon Webb). But for pitchers to actually project high DIPS percentages, I'd also suggest that they also need to produce reasonably high K/9 rates and better-than average HR rates. Those pitchers are, of course, outliers. They simply don't exist in any kind of numbers among the current MLB pitching crop. What we have is maybe one guy per 20 years who can consistently do what you see as intuitive.

BABIP is not a "myth". Does it deserve scrutiny? Sure. And such scrutiny has produced more studies on what drives BABIP- including Defensive Efficiency and LD%. But it's a stone cold indicator telling us we need to look deeper into the numbers to determine how a player actually projects. And, when we do look into the numbers, the one question we're asking ourselves is whether or not the player we're looking at profiles as an historical outlier.

TheBigLebowski
08-07-2006, 08:32 AM
BABIP to DIPS Percentage: -0.70

That tells us there's a very strong correlation between low BABIP and high DIPS Rate. That's "driver-level" correlation.

Knowing that, how do you get a high BABIP? High Ground Ball rates, contrary to popular belief, won't do it. The correlation is only 0.18 between high GB rates and high BABIP rates this year. High K rates (the "stuff" argument) isn't it either as there's only a 0.17 correlation between high K rates and low BABIP rates. That isn't the answer either.

But here's something interesting:

Line Drive Percentage to BABIP: 0.49

That's a pretty strong correlation. Pitchers who produce high LD% tend to be less "BABIP lucky". Considering that line drives fall in at about a 75% clip, that's about as intuitive as it gets from a "quality contact" perspective. K's, HR, and BB take the defense out of the mix. But low line drive rates also limit the effect defense has on the game because they're so seldom caught.



Forgive me if this is over-simplification, but isn't the point then that pitchers who get hit hard have high BABIP?

IslandRed
08-07-2006, 10:35 AM
There was a Baseball Prospectus article written as a rebuttal to McCracken's initial BABIP research. Essentially, it found that "good" pitchers like Pedro, Randy Johnson, Gred Maddux, etc. tended to have lower BABIP than bad pitchers, but they could also experience wild swings in BABIP from season to season. Whether it was due to bad luck, bad defense, or bad pitching, there were greater variations in BABIP than in other peripherals like K/9 and K/BB.

So basically, pitchers do have some degree of control over balls in play, but not nearly as much as expected.

I remember that one.

First, just a note for anyone who hasn't read the BABIP stuff: There's a high degree of randomness in BABIP. If a starting pitcher's "true" BABIP rate is .300 -- which is about MLB average -- then he can have a season with a BABIP up to 30-40 points higher or lower than that explainable entirely by random luck. That's just simple standard deviation figuring, not even bringing defense into it.

Now, what happened in McCracken's initial research was that he was looking at a handful of seasons. A good pitcher will usually have a lower BABIP rate than a bad one, but the difference is not large and it takes many seasons for the evidence to emerge. In the context of a single season or even a few seasons, any real ability to hold hitters to a lower BABIP is completely masked by the randomness factor.

SteelSD
08-07-2006, 10:38 AM
Forgive me if this is over-simplification, but isn't the point then that pitchers who get hit hard have high BABIP?

No. Line drives aren't necessarily the hardest hit balls. The "quality contact" tie is only that line drives are "hit 'em where they ain't" quality contact.

If BABIP were indeed "myth", we should find hordes of pitchers who can consistently replicate low annual LD% and who could translate those low annual LD percentages into ERA luck via lower BABIP rates. But we don't find them. What we find is that the vast majority of pitchers are constantly bunched together a percentage point or two above or below the norm. This year's average LD% variance for era qualifiers versus the norm is 0.0003.

For pretty much everyone, LD% is a random driver of a random driver (BABIP). Pitchers who receive low LD% rates aren't necessarily producing them via skill set. Nor are pitchers who receive high LD% rates always getting "hit harder" than those who aren't.

BABIP, by itself is a good indicator as to which pitchers may be getting ERA-lucky because of it. And, yes, we should drill down from there. But using BABIP is vital to pitcher analysis and isn't the least bit controllable for the vast VAST majority of pitchers. There will be outliers, of course. But we can identify them, understand why they're outliers, and determine whether or not those outliers possess true skill sets that will allow them to make their BABIP skills matter as it pertains to ERA luck. When looking at the past three seasons, I've been able to find one ERA title qualifier who may have a meaningful skill set (Brandon Webb).

Falls City Beer
08-07-2006, 10:45 AM
No. Line drives aren't necessarily the hardest hit balls. The "quality contact" tie is only that line drives are "hit 'em where they ain't" quality contact.

If BABIP were indeed "myth", we should find hordes of pitchers who can consistently replicate low annual LD% and who could translate those low annual LD percentages into ERA luck via lower BABIP rates. But we don't find them. What we find is that the vast majority of pitchers are constantly bunched together a percentage point or two above or below the norm. This year's average LD% variance for era qualifiers versus the norm is 0.0003.

For pretty much everyone, LD% is a random driver of a random driver (BABIP). Pitchers who receive low LD% rates aren't necessarily producing them via skill set. Nor are pitchers who receive high LD% rates always getting "hit harder" than those who aren't.

BABIP, by itself is a good indicator as to which pitchers may be getting ERA-lucky because of it. And, yes, we should drill down from there. But using BABIP is vital to pitcher analysis and isn't the least bit controllable for the vast VAST majority of pitchers. There will be outliers, of course. But we can identify them, understand why they're outliers, and determine whether or not those outliers possess true skill sets that will allow them to make their BABIP skills matter as it pertains to ERA luck. When looking at the past three seasons, I've been able to find one ERA title qualifier who may have a meaningful skill set (Brandon Webb).


Very interesting stuff. BTW, people say that ORG is going down the tubes when a thread like this exists. Please.

I have to say, this has given me new reason to reassess my thinking about BABIP and DIPS ERA. I think it all boils to what you are saying: HOW it is applied.

But I have to ask again because I think it might have gotten lost in the last thread: to what degree is the efficacy of BABIP affected by sample size? Is it a better indicator for career starters than relievers? Why or why not?

IslandRed
08-07-2006, 10:50 AM
But I have to ask again because I think it might have gotten lost in the last thread: to what degree is the efficacy of BABIP affected by sample size? Is it a better indicator for career starters than relievers? Why or why not?

I don't have any numbers on it. But intuitively, in a situation where randomness plays a factor, bigger sample size = lower standard deviation. Which suggests relievers, who face fewer batters, would have a higher range of BABIPs explainable by randomness and would be less likely to regress to the mean over a certain time frame.

Falls City Beer
08-07-2006, 10:51 AM
I don't have any numbers on it. But intuitively, in a situation where randomness plays a factor, bigger sample size = lower standard deviation. Which suggests relievers, who face fewer batters, would have a higher range of BABIPs explainable by randomness and would be less likely to regress to the mean over a certain time frame.

This is where deduction took me as well, but I wasn't sure, by any means.

RedsManRick
08-07-2006, 11:08 AM
For the non statistically inclined, here's a very brief primer on distributions and significance. I'm at work and should be working, so pardon my poor organization. For the stats people, please correct me, it's been a few years -- I know things are slightly different with a variable based on a binomial distribution like BABIP.

Given a normal distribution (bell curve) of a variable (season BABIP in this case), to prove that the difference between a given mean observation (let's say .240 BABIP) and the expected mean (.300 BABIP) is significant (that is, not likely random -- usually <5% chance of being random), we have to look at a few things:

1.) The mean of the distribution (.290)
2.) The difference between the observed and the mean (.050)
3.) The number of observations on which the observed mean is based (IP, PA, etc.)
4.) The overall variance of the distribution (aka standard deviation)

The "true" standard deviation of BABIP is roughly .01. Picture a bell shaped curve centered on .3. As a rule, approximately 68% of all observations fall within 1 standard deviation in either directon of the mean (.280-.300). 95% fall within 2 standard deviations (.270-.310) and 99.7% within 3. However, this assumes infinite sample sizes, which we don't have. Because we're dealing with small sample sizes, the variance expands.

I haven't done the math, so I don't know the exact numbers, but a single season of a .230 BABIP isn't necessarily proof of an ability to control BABIP. In fact, given the hundreds of pitchers, we easily expect a number of pitchers to be outside of the likely range. Remember that a single season has incredible variance, it's only when the total number of observations gets quite high that those ranges mentioned earlier are true.

So if a pitcher is able to put up a .240 BABIP over the course of a career, that's really some good evidence. But a single season or even 2 or 3 seasons doesn't give much statistical evidence.

Steel, perhaps it would be useful to show a handful of guys with the supposed ability to control their BABIP and show the boards what their BABIP has done over their careers, perhaps even cross referenced with ERA for illustrative purposes.

SteelSD
08-07-2006, 12:01 PM
Steel, perhaps it would be useful to show a handful of guys with the supposed ability to control their BABIP and show the boards what their BABIP has done over their careers, perhaps even cross referenced with ERA for illustrative purposes.

Tall order. But let's try Greg Maddux (stats from baseballprospectus.com)

2006: .315 BABIP
2005: .299
2004: .294
2003: .290
2002: .289
2001: .295
2000: .279
1999: .333
1998: .269
1997: .288
1996: .285
1995: .249
1994: .258
1993: .277
1992: .258
1991: .280
1990: .305
1989: .282
1988: .275
1987: .330
1986: .380

AVG: .288
Median: .287

I hope no one minds that I've excluded the 1986 31.0 IP from the rough average. Again, that's a rough average and if anyone wishes to calculate the actual BABIP for his career, be my guest. Average BABIP is around .290.

On the surface, it appears that Greg Maddux may (I repeat, may) have had some modicum of control over his BABIP- particularly from 1992 through 1995. It's no coincidence that those were also Maddux' four lowest ERA seasons. It's also interesting to me that he spent very few seasons above the .300 mark. And yes, between 1988 and 2002, the only season in which Maddux' ERA ranged above 3.50 was in 1999 (3.57, .333 BABIP).

Yet, we also know that Greg Maddux also produced a career DERA (Defense-adjusted ERA) that was higher than his career NRA (Normalized Runs Allowed). This means he played in front of better-than-average defenses consistently throughout his career.

NRA: 3.51
DERA: 3.61

The DERA rate is 1.03 versus NRA. Mutiply that with his career BABIP and you end up with an adjusted rough average BABIP of .297. Take from that what you will.

Could Greg Maddux have had a modicum of control over his BABIP rates at some point? Maybe, and I'd suggest that if such control existed it manifested itself between 1992 and 1995. That's pretty much what I tend to come back to when studying BABIP patterns- if a pitcher does have any control in the first place, I'd suggest that such control is short-term and fleeting.

gonelong
08-07-2006, 12:03 PM
BABIP has its place. It should give you a reasonable indication of how a player might fare into the future, with all things remaining equal. That is a powerful tool to have in your tool box.

A couple of points about BABIP that I think causes people concern.

When you take HRs out of the picture, that inherently closes the gap between a guy like Milton and Pedro. Add HR back in, and you will see that Pedro does control his "BABIP" better than the average starter.

Going a step farther, SLGBIP (inclusive of HR) ... I think it would tell you "more", or at least something different.. When a pitcher gives up contact, what is the result? A weak pitcher would give up more HR & 2Bs than an in-his-prime Maddox would, even if their BABIPs were similar. A guy like Milton would and Pedro would be on different ends of the spectrum again.

I guess what I am trying to say is that we already have plenty of measurements to show that Pedro is a better pitcher than Milton. BABIP isn't striving to show that, but rather tell you if you can expect Milton or Pedro to produce better, the same, or worse ERAs going forward if all things remain equal.

GL

IslandRed
08-07-2006, 03:50 PM
I think the main implication of the BABIP studies is not about the pitchers themselves, but in shedding a little more light on the age-old question about where pitching stops and defense begins. Once the assertion is made that pitchers have little or no control over their BABIP, it gives us the ability to look at the differences in BABIP on the team level and credit (or blame) the defense.

GL, I don't remember seeing a definitive work on the subject, but I've seen it suggested by many that while overall BABIP is largely out of the pitcher's control, the extra-base hit rate is not.

REDREAD
08-07-2006, 04:22 PM
Our resident stat mongers here at RZ frequently refer to a pitcher's BABIP during discussions about his effectiveness.

Until about 2 weeks ago, I had no idea what BABIP even was.

For those of you in the dark like I was, BABIP = Batting Average of Balls hit In Play.

.

BABIP might be useful for comparing the same guy year to year. If he suddenly pitches better one year without any explanation.

I think it's a lot less useful for comparing different players or comparing one player against the mean. Just look at Marianno Rivera. Just about all his outs come from balls in play because he gets so many people to pop up. I don't know how to look up BABIP, but I bet he beats the average BABIP every year.
A surface comparision of BABIP would tell you Rivera was the "luckiest" guy in history, but obviously, that is not true.

Cyclone792
08-07-2006, 04:55 PM
BABIP might be useful for comparing the same guy year to year. If he suddenly pitches better one year without any explanation.

I think it's a lot less useful for comparing different players or comparing one player against the mean. Just look at Marianno Rivera. Just about all his outs come from balls in play because he gets so many people to pop up. I don't know how to look up BABIP, but I bet he beats the average BABIP every year.
A surface comparision of BABIP would tell you Rivera was the "luckiest" guy in history, but obviously, that is not true.

Mariano Rivera - only the greatest closer of all-time - is a relief pitching example of a BABIP outlier. He's a freak of nature, like a peak Maddux, but then again like Maddux he's also one of the game's greatest pitchers we've ever seen. Rivera goes back to what I theorized earlier about the game's elite - namely Hall of Fame caliber pitchers - who may tend to exhibit a slightly greater control over BABIP than 95 percent of their contemporaries.

Here's Rivera's BABIP breakdown season-by-season:

1995: .303
1996: .293
1997: .309
1998: .247
1999: .223
2000: .258
2001: .279
2002: .265
2003: .299
2004: .285
2005: .254
2006: .267

Career: .275

Now before we suddenly credit Rivera's success to a low BABIP, first let's remember a few things ... 1) Rivera's K/9 rate is a solid 8.01, 2) Rivera's BB/9 rate is a stellar 2.33, and 3) Rivera's HR/9 rate is an almost impossible 0.45. Since 2003, in 286.1 innings, Rivera has allowed a grand total of nine home runs. That's a HR/9 of 0.28.

Don't we all wish the Reds had a pitcher like him ...

Anyhow, back to his BABIP. Rivera has shown a pretty strong level of being above average in BABIP, however, his overall career BABIP still isn't much greater than above average as it sits at .275. If an average BABIP is in the .290-.300 range, then Rivera's only got the average beat by maybe only 15 points. We're looking for guys here that could consistently be 30, 40, 50 points lower than average.

While Rivera's had individual seasons - 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2005 - with some stellar BABIPs, but he's also had some other seasons - 1995, 1996, 1997 and 2003 - with some below average BABIPs.

Like Maddux, I think there's some evidence here that Rivera has been an outlier. Also, as I previously mentioned, like Maddux he's also one of the game's greatest pitchers so being an outlier should be less surprising. Now, as also previously mentioned - and this is what's important here - just because there may be a handful of outliers does not render the data moot. We can look at hundreds and hundreds of pitchers and may only find a small handful of guys like a Rivera or a Maddux (FWIW, Trevor Hoffman may be a slight outlier too, though less extreme than Rivera).

Lastly, and this could be an important point regarding Rivera and Hoffman, it could be more likely for a dominant reliever to be an outlier than a dominant starter due to the nature of relief pitching. Rivera pitches to far fewer batters per game, per season and for his career than a starting pitcher will pitch to. The data for him, and any reliever, has a much smaller sample size and could also contribute to more outliers existing.

Johnny Footstool
08-07-2006, 05:54 PM
The thing that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle when discussing BABIP is that it's only about what happens *after* a ball gets put into play. Good pitchers don't necessarily have much influence over balls that get put into play, but they generally DO have the ability to prevent balls from getting into play, i.e. strikeouts.

RedsManRick
08-07-2006, 06:13 PM
double post

RedsManRick
08-07-2006, 06:27 PM
From BP:
"Batting Average on balls put into play. A pitcher's average on batted balls ending a plate appearance, excluding home runs. Based on the research of Voros McCracken and others, BABIP is mostly a function of a pitcher's defense and luck, rather than persistent skill. Thus, pitchers with abnormally high or low BABIPs are good bets to see their performances regress to the mean. A typical BABIP is about .290."

That Rivera, with one of the toughest to square up pitches in recent history, only has a BABIP 1.5 Standard Deviations from the norm suggests that if there is an ability to control BABIP, it's relatively minor. I would love to see SLGBIP -- though it would be hard to interpret immediately with HR removed from the equation, it would be interesting to use as a proxy for being hit hard -- sort of like LD%.

It would also be interesting to see the distribution of career BABIP of "good" pitchers, say those with a 7+ K/9, <2.5 BB/9, <1.25 HR/9. See if they fall below the league average as a group, or if there are any particular people who were otherwise good pitchers that were "unlucky". There could be an interesting followup analysis based on pitch type, defense, etc.

What site are guys using for seasonal BABIP?

Cyclone792
08-07-2006, 06:31 PM
Rick, for BABIP, LD%, FB%, GB% and other assorted goodies, check out ...

http://www.fangraphs.com/

TC81190
08-07-2006, 06:41 PM
The only problem with BABIP is it doesn't account for balls that are actually hit well. You may look at a pitcher and his BABIP may be really high and think "Oh, well he's hit unlucky." That might not be so. He may actually get hit hard. Balls may actually get smoked off the guy.

When coupled with things like his Team's defensive effiency and his own SLG against, then it's very telling.

dougdirt
08-08-2006, 01:49 AM
The only problem with BABIP is it doesn't account for balls that are actually hit well. You may look at a pitcher and his BABIP may be really high and think "Oh, well he's hit unlucky." That might not be so. He may actually get hit hard. Balls may actually get smoked off the guy.

When coupled with things like his Team's defensive effiency and his own SLG against, then it's very telling.

In most cases guys who are both "unlucky" with BABIP and are giving up a ton of line drives arent around long enough for it to truly matter....

Johnny Footstool
08-08-2006, 10:05 AM
The only problem with BABIP is it doesn't account for balls that are actually hit well. You may look at a pitcher and his BABIP may be really high and think "Oh, well he's hit unlucky." That might not be so. He may actually get hit hard. Balls may actually get smoked off the guy.

That's why SteelSD brought up Line Drive percentage.

vaticanplum
08-08-2006, 10:38 AM
You guys are doing a great job, but can someone recommend a website with an extremely basic explanation of BAPIP? I've read this thread about three times and I'm still pretty much befuddled. This is one stat I just cannot get my head around at all.

SteelSD
08-08-2006, 10:44 AM
You guys are doing a great job, but can someone recommend a website with an extremely basic explanation of BAPIP? I've read this thread about three times and I'm still pretty much befuddled. This is one stat I just cannot get my head around at all.

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=BABIP

Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) is a pitcher's Batting Average Against for all balls hit into play against him except Home Runs. The reason Home Runs are excluded is that they cannot possibly result in an Out.

Hope that helps.

vaticanplum
08-08-2006, 11:38 AM
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=BABIP

Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) is a pitcher's Batting Average Against for all balls hit into play against him except Home Runs. The reason Home Runs are excluded is that they cannot possibly result in an Out.

It seems like such a simple sentence, and yet I'm still befuddled.

how does this relate to DIPS? (which is something I understand, for the most part.) I think part of my problem is that what i think of as DIPS is actually DIPS ERA, so is BABIP, well, the other half of the equation? Sorry if this is a very simplistic or confused question.

Patrick Bateman
08-08-2006, 11:59 AM
The fact of the matter is, if Randy Johnson allows a a ball hit into play (not a HR), and Williams does the same, the chance of it being a hit is the same.

That's what is astounding about BABIP.

Pitchers who who miss bats alot (like Johnson) don't have any advantage over guys like Williams once the ball is put into play.Othwise, you would see guys like Johnson consistently have lower BABIPs that guys like Williams, and you don't.What separates the Johnson guys form the Williams is that Johnson doesn't allow you to put as many balls into play, also doesn't give up HR's very often.

If a pitcher is successful for an entire career yets gives up the long ball, you'll fine that he also had great control and lots of K's. Guys like Jenkins, Robin Roberts and Byleven.

Maddux was good because he has an extremely low walk rate and HR rate and good K rate. But if you put the ball in play, he was the same as everyone else.

When pitchers have career years, it's usually attributable to having a particularly good BABIP rate that year, i.e. a lucky year.

Harang is one of the majors best starters this year. He's been unlucky, but still pitches well. If he gets average luck, expect even better results.

SteelSD
08-08-2006, 12:01 PM
It seems like such a simple sentence, and yet I'm still befuddled.

how does this relate to DIPS? (which is something I understand, for the most part.) I think part of my problem is that what i think of as DIPS is actually DIPS ERA, so is BABIP, well, the other half of the equation? Sorry if this is a very simplistic or confused question.

You're fine. Some things take some getting used to. :)

Let me try to break it down further:

BABIP is the rate at which baseballs hit into play do not turn into Outs.

The correlation we find using BABIP is actually a correlation between low BABIP and high DIPS Percentage. DIPS Percentage is DIPS ERA minus actual ERA. You're not going to find much of a correlation between BABIP and DIPS ERA because BABIP is defense-dependent while DIPS ERA is defense-independent. But the difference between DIPS ERA and actual ERA is very valuable because it's where defense actually can impact the results.

DIPS Percentage represents a possible "luck" factor that may be created by low BABIP rates that are, in turn, possible results of other things like low Line Drive Percentage and/or team defensive proficiency. Low Line Drive rates can produce high DIPS Percentages, but low Line Drive rates are very seldom the repeatable product of pitcher proficiency. However, low BABIP rates can be the repeatable product of solid defensive proficiency. Teams who have more range- particularly at the key defensive positions- tend to turn more balls hit into play into Outs.

If you're building a team and want to best help your pitchers produce ERA "luck" (i.e. high DIPS Percentages), field players who exhibit exceptional defensive range, especially up the middle. However, there's a rub- that team may not hit much. If that's the case, a lack of offense can wash away any possible gains you might receive from acquiring more Outs on balls hit into play.

Patrick Bateman
08-08-2006, 12:06 PM
Taking that line of thinking a step further, it is then logical to believe that Johan Santana will have a lower BABIP than Dave Williams as Johan is 100x the pitcher Williams is and, it is therefore more diffucult to hit his pitches well.



It may be logical, but it isn't true.

Guys like Santana don't generally have better BABIPs than guys like Williams. What makes them better pitchers is they that have more K's less walks and less HR's allowed.

Hard to believe, yes. But that stats support it. One would think that if you make contact vs Santana, you would get more week grounders and popups than you would against Williams. But you don't.

vaticanplum
08-08-2006, 02:38 PM
If you're building a team and want to best help your pitchers produce ERA "luck" (i.e. high DIPS Percentages), field players who exhibit exceptional defensive range, especially up the middle. However, there's a rub- that team may not hit much. If that's the case, a lack of offense can wash away any possible gains you might receive from acquiring more Outs on balls hit into play.

So the trick is to build a well-balanced team, is that it? So we are right back where we started :D

Ok, I have processed this to a degree and have read the thread again. I haven't really gotten into the line drive stuff, I'm not ready for that yet, though it will probably help me a great deal when I am.

So here are my utterly random thoughts/questions. It is important to note that sometimes I get more confused by semantics than anything else.

1. (i'm stealing these from a couple of posts by flyer)
BABIP is what allowed people to predict that what the Reds were getting in Majewski and Cormier were not the pitchers their ERA suggested the Reds were getting. That was because they both had been BABIP lucky up to the point of their trades.

You're missing the point. In essence it is in a simplistic form a measure of "luck". So when someone has a bad year, a bad stretch(or a good stretch), etc, it helps to assess if it was due to talent or did luck(BABIP) play a part in their success/failure.

It allows one to assess whether success/failure is likely to continue or if their is a likely correction coming. Someone can have a "bad or good" year due to their BABIP and in contrast to their talent level.

These are good points and they really help me to understand exactly what BABIP signifies and what kind of role it plays. But I think the word "luck" is confusing me. I think we are using it as interchangable with "good defense"? Which is not luck at all, but a well-built defensive (and, as Steel pointed out, possibly poor offensive) team. I mean obviously there are some balls no one's ever going to get to, which is why BAPIP will never be 0. In addition, I consider a good pitcher to be one who can squeak out of his batter a weak, easy grounder to first rather than a shot to the gap in center field (more on that later). But a point made often here is that BAPIP is random. Is this really the case, or does this actually mean that it is random for the pitcher? Has research been done regarding the other side of the coin, ie. of Cornier was "BABIP-lucky", can we figure out why? Can we look at specific plays and find out of the luck was really good defense? Defensive statistics are so ignored because they are so hard to measure. With all the work that's been done on pitching stats in the last few years, surely there's some similar work on the defensive side?

Part of this is my naive and unwavering belief that there must have been SOME logic on Krivsky's part behind such a baffling trade. I mean, he gave up Lopez, which was a hit to the offense but an unload of poor defense, and picked up Clayton, whose only contribution is supposedly defense. Maybe this is his first step toward building a truly pitching/defensive team, which, given the anemic offense of the NL right now, may not be such a bad idea. I'm not saying one can pick up a mediocre pitcher in hopes that a good defense will pick up his slack, not at all, but I'm not convinced that Cornier, for example, is mediocre, especially if he has a good defense behind him. Maybe Krivsky isn't turned on by surface statistics as we have accused him of being; maybe he is actually looking at all of this stuff with a long-term team focus revamp in mind, and he doesn't really care about the cost to get it there. This is probably a long shot. And it's probably stupid on his part if there's any truth to it. But it may be a part of his reasoning.

2. On kind of that note, the Maddux issue. He is the example cited throughout this thread as a pitcher who seems to have a degree of control over his BABIP. This is such a simplistic suggestion as to possibly be ludicrous, but could this be related to the fact that Greg Maddux is an excellent defensive pitcher? Is there any way to look at how these plays have gone down and correlate them to his BABIP, ie. has he had enough of a defensive role as a pitcher to have exerted a degree of control over his BABIP? This too would seem to be less luck than defense.

3. I'd like to hear what everybody thinks about the word "control" as it relates to pitching. Traditionally, I have thought of someone like Pedro Martinez as a pitcher with great control: in the simplest terms, someone who commands and strikes out a lot of batters. But reading all this stuff is shifting my definition a bit. I'm about to ask the most basic question ever: how much control does a pitcher have in terms of anything beyond trying to strike a guy out? Can he ever stand up there and say something as specific as, I want this to be a ground ball to the left side of the infield because I've got good defense over there? If Eric Milton has a game with 12 Ks but four home runs, would you consider him to have good control? Or would you consider him to have more control if he managed to keep the ball down (given the park in which he's pitching), and had only one or two strikeouts but a lot of groundouts etc? And how many pitchers have the ability to adjust this depending on what ballpark they're in or what team they happen to be facing? I'm veering off BABIP a bit but I'm just curious. I forget what on this thread made me think of this.

I have a bit of a defense fetish, I think. It's skewing how I see this. I also may still be totally misunderstanding BABIP which could make a lot of these defense-centric questions unrelated.

RedsManRick
08-08-2006, 03:34 PM
Vatican, you touch on some great points. I'll throw my comments in one at a time...

1.) "Luck". There has to be assumption that there is a baseline of defense which will always field certain balls. Though there is a ton of gray area given actual scoring, think of it as there being 3 possible outcomes of a ball hit in to play: Out, Hit, Error (hit that should have been an out). What BABIP claims is that roughly 30% of all balls hit in to the field of play are hits. Analysis has shown that this 30% doesn't seem to change regardless of the pitcher (Randy Johnson allows .300 BABIP and so does Dave Williams). Thus the "luck" comment is really just a short way of saying, "It's not that he's been pitching particularly well, it's that he's just allows fewer hits when the ball gets put in play." That is, the success the pitcher is experiencing is not due to his own performance. Maybe he's lucky because player's are hitting it right at people. Maybe he's lucky because he has a world class defense. Either way, it's not him. Looking forward, we should not assume he will continue to experience the same BABIP. However, as you suggest, perhaps it's not luck in the conventional, random variation, sense, but an actual controllable cause we simply haven't isolated.

2.) Hence, the defense question is certainly noteworthy. It would be very interesting see team wide BABIP rates and compare those to some sort of team defensive assessment, be it qualitative or quantitative. One would certainly imagine that the BABIP of better defensive teams would be lower.

The thing to consider here is the types of balls in play the pitcher allows. Let's go with the idea of there being 3 types of balls in play, ground balls, line drives, and fly balls. Both ground balls and fly balls tend to become outs. Line Drives tend to become hits. That's the simplest way to look at it. Ground balls are better than fly balls because they are less likely to be home runs and more likely to be double plays. (Perhaps somebody has the numbers on the BABIP broken out by contact type?) A team strategically built to put the defense where the pitchers tend to give up contact (see Arizona and Webb/Hudson), could have a significant effect. We all know Milton isn't helped by an OF containing Dunn and Griffey. But Brandon Webb wouldn't put up the same numbers if Lopez and Aurilia were his middle infielders.

3.) Maddux -- very interesting thought. We could look at his ZR compared to league average and see how many more outs he gets by himself than does the typical pitcher. My guess is that while he certainly helps himself, it's a very minor influence.

4.) Control vs. Command -- this topic has been raised a couple of places recently. Unfortunately I haven't heard the commentary. However, I would define them like this: Control is the ability to have the pitch behave like you want it to in terms of location and break. Command is the ability to actually influence how the outcome of the at bat. Going to back to Greg Maddux, you'll hear stories where he tells his teammates that the next time he faces a guy, he'll get him to 1-2 before inducing a soft fly to RF --- then he'll go do it. Through the use of great control, intelligence, and setup, he is able to limit what the hitter can do with the pitches he's given. Pedro Martinez has amazing command because of his control. Lots of pitchers can throw heat inside. However, Pedro can do it more effectively because of how he sets up that pitch with his other pitches. Another way to think of it is this: walks don't necessarily indicate poor control. When Maddux walks a guy, it's usually because the hitter took four pitches located out of the strike zone -- not because Maddux was unable to keep those pitches in the zone.

5.) Team construction -- it is very interesting how all of this does make one realize the natural intelligence of the old school way of constructing a roster. To that point:

- Ground balls > Fly Balls > Line Drives. Thus, get pitchers who keep the ball down in the zone
- Given a high % of ground balls, up the middle defense is key.
- In the general scheme of things, the difference between a good offense and bad offense is a much bigger gap in terms of success than is the gap between a good defense and a bad one. Thus, given the choice, favor offense.
- In order to observe the above points, and given fixed resources and a small supply of capable talent, one should maximize offensive skills at the positions where there is greater supply (and thus less demand/cost) of capable defenders who can hit well (the corners).

Patrick Bateman
08-08-2006, 04:52 PM
- Ground balls > Fly Balls > Line Drives. Thus, get pitchers who keep the ball down in the zone


That can't be true. The advantage of pitchers who keep the ball down is less HR's but not a lower BABIP.

But if ground balls become less hits than flyballs, then the BABIP of ground ball pitchers would be better.

And I'll accept that line drives result in hits more than ground balls or fly balls,based on personal obsevation.But since the BABIP of all pitchers over time will laregely be the same, we must assume that pitchers aren't adept of preventing line drives with any consistency.

In other words, once a hitter has put the ball into play (ie a non-HR), the pitcher cannot control whether it's a linedrive, vs. a ground ball or flyball. We know that pitchers can control ground balls vs. flyballs, but it must follow that whether a pitcher gives up ground balls or flyballs, the linedrives are (against the pitcher) a random event that will ocur, more or less, as frequently against Santana as Williams.Otherwise Williams would have a higher BABIP.

But it sure seems like Williams gives up more line drives. And he does, because he allows more balls to be put into play.

Slider
08-08-2006, 04:56 PM
You guys are doing a great job, but can someone recommend a website with an extremely basic explanation of BAPIP? I've read this thread about three times and I'm still pretty much befuddled. This is one stat I just cannot get my head around at all.



As best I can tell from this thread...BABIP measures luck and even better...you can apparently interpret it however you like and use it to prove or disprove anything you want. It is the ideal statistic.

From someone in the same canoe...


:D :evil: ;) :laugh: :help: :beerme:


Just having fun boys...simma down...simma down

TheBigLebowski
08-08-2006, 04:59 PM
As best I can tell from this thread...BABIP measures luck and even better...you can apparently interpret it however you like and use it to prove or disprove anything you want. It is the ideal statistic.

From someone in the same canoe...


:D :evil: ;) :laugh: :help: :beerme:


Just having fun boys...simma down...simma down

I know you're being flippant, but that's essentially the same conclusion I've drawn. Seriously.

BCubb2003
08-08-2006, 05:05 PM
Some quick questions:

Are all batters' BABIPs about the same?

Are some pitchers better at pitching to their defensive set-up than others, between the elites like Maddox and the average pitcher?

What were Koufax and Gibson's BABIPs?

RedsManRick
08-08-2006, 05:18 PM
That can't be true. The advantage of pitchers who keep the ball down is less HR's but not a lower BABIP.

But if ground balls become less hits than flyballs, then the BABIP of ground ball pitchers would be better.

And I'll accept that line drives result in hits more than ground balls or fly balls,based on personal obsevation.But since the BABIP of all pitchers over time will laregely be the same, we must assume that pitchers aren't adept of preventing line drives with any consistency.

In other words, once a hitter has put the ball into play (ie a non-HR), the pitcher cannot control whether it's a linedrive, vs. a ground ball or flyball. We know that pitchers can control ground balls vs. flyballs, but it must follow that whether a pitcher gives up ground balls or flyballs, the linedrives are (against the pitcher) a random event that will ocur, more or less, as frequently against Santana as Williams.Otherwise Williams would have a higher BABIP.

But it sure seems like Williams gives up more line drives. And he does, because he allows more balls to be put into play.

Perhaps it's time for another contribution by one of the guys who has looked at the data more than myself. However, I'm going off the (perhaps incorrect) assumption that a pitcher cannot control the percentage of fly balls allowed which turn in to home runs (are HR necessarily coded as fly balls or line drives, or can they be either?). Thus, while I imagine, subjectively, that a smaller % of non HR fly balls become hits than do ground balls, the inability of a ground ball to become a HR and the increased likelihood for in to become a double play, would seem to make ground balls "better". Of course, now we're getting in to not just hit vs. out, but what hits are better hits... Thus it's not only about BABIP, but SLGBIP again...

Show me a team that never hits a ball in the air and I'll show you a team that doesn't score very many runs. Of course, if you play in a place like RFK and have Felipe Lopez as your SS, suddenly that fly ball doesn't seem so dangerous.

Patrick Bateman
08-08-2006, 05:24 PM
Show me a team that never hits a ball in the air and I'll show you a team that doesn't score very many runs.
Because of lack of HR's not because of lack of hits on Balls Hit Into Play.

dabvu2498
08-08-2006, 05:25 PM
What were Koufax and Gibson's BABIPs?
Odd that you mention Gibson and BABIP.

This was posted last Friday: http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/newsstand/discussion/beyond_the_boxscore_morong/

Most fans know that Gibson had an incredibly low ERA of 1.12 in 1968. Even considering that the league ERA was just 2.98 that year, what he did is still great. What explains this performance? Did Gibson have great “stuff” that year? Was he lucky? Or was it a combination of luck and skill? If so, how much of each?

Luck is sometimes a factor in baseball. Some years a guy hits well with runners in scoring position (RISP), some years he doesn’t. In 2004, A.J. Pierzynski, for example, hit .272 overall but .307 with RISP. In 2005, he hit .257 overall but only .236 with RISP. Its not likely he forgot how to hit with RISP all of the sudden. For pitchers, the batting average they allow on balls in play may be out of their hands (as pointed out by Voros McCracken). A pitcher might get lucky on balls in play one year, with more getting caught than normal (or his fielders might be especially good one year). Is this what happened to Gibson?



First comment to that post is quite funny:

1. Traderdave Posted: July 07, 2006 at 06:37 PM (#2091357)

I dare ANYONE to say it was luck to Gibon's face.