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Thread: The Myth of BABIP

  1. #46
    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: The Myth of BABIP

    Quote Originally Posted by TC81190
    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....

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  3. #47
    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: The Myth of BABIP

    Quote Originally Posted by TC81190
    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.
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  4. #48
    Mon chou Choo vaticanplum's Avatar
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    Re: The Myth of BABIP

    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.
    There is no such thing as a pitching prospect.

  5. #49
    Member SteelSD's Avatar
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    Re: The Myth of BABIP

    Quote Originally Posted by vaticanplum
    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/gl...p?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.
    "The problem with strikeouts isn't that they hurt your team, it's that they hurt your feelings..." --Rob Neyer

    "The single most important thing for a hitter is to get a good pitch to hit. A good hitter can hit a pitch that’s over the plate three times better than a great hitter with a ball in a tough spot.”
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  6. #50
    Mon chou Choo vaticanplum's Avatar
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    Re: The Myth of BABIP

    Quote Originally Posted by SteelSD
    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/gl...p?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.
    There is no such thing as a pitching prospect.

  7. #51
    One and a half men Patrick Bateman's Avatar
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    Re: The Myth of BABIP

    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.

  8. #52
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    Re: The Myth of BABIP

    Quote Originally Posted by vaticanplum
    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.
    "The problem with strikeouts isn't that they hurt your team, it's that they hurt your feelings..." --Rob Neyer

    "The single most important thing for a hitter is to get a good pitch to hit. A good hitter can hit a pitch that’s over the plate three times better than a great hitter with a ball in a tough spot.”
    --Ted Williams

  9. #53
    One and a half men Patrick Bateman's Avatar
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    Re: The Myth of BABIP

    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigLebowski
    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.

  10. #54
    Mon chou Choo vaticanplum's Avatar
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    Re: The Myth of BABIP

    Quote Originally Posted by SteelSD
    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

    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.
    There is no such thing as a pitching prospect.

  11. #55
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: The Myth of BABIP

    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).
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

  12. #56
    One and a half men Patrick Bateman's Avatar
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    Re: The Myth of BABIP

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick
    - 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.

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    Re: The Myth of BABIP

    Quote Originally Posted by vaticanplum
    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...





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  14. #58
    Winning the Human Race TheBigLebowski's Avatar
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    Re: The Myth of BABIP

    Quote Originally Posted by Slider
    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...





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  15. #59
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    Re: The Myth of BABIP

    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?

  16. #60
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: The Myth of BABIP

    Quote Originally Posted by Austin Kearns
    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.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.


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