RedsZone.com - Cincinnati Reds Fans' Home for Baseball Discussion A different look at BABIP (Hardball Times)

06-13-2007, 12:55 PM   #1
RedsManRick
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A different look at BABIP (Hardball Times)

I won't post the article in it's entirety (though it is available for free above). However, I posted in another thread that BABIP has taken on a life of it's own. I think this point deserves it's own thread as we try to analyze whether certain Reds pitchers have just been unlucky (Mike Stanton?) or truly are doing something which makes them get hit harder (Gary Majewski?)

Many of us, stat-heads and non, have started to run with the idea that BABIP is truly random and that any variation is due to luck. We look at a .350 BABIP and say that the pitcher will necessarily improve and say that the guy with a .260 is bound to regress. This simply isn't true. Yes, there are unsustainable extremities. However, that doesn't mean all variation is random.

It's VERY important to understand that unexplained variance can be random, but is not random by definition. Random is a property of the event which is completely free from control. The outcome of a coin flip is random because we cannot exert any control over it. BABIP has an observed mean and variance, but that variance is due only in part to luck. We simply haven't had access to the data which explains the variation. It may be difficult to prove control, particularly with aggregate data which suggests outliers even in a truly random distribution. However, that doesn't mean real, controllable variation doesn't exist.

Below is the basic premise of the article.

Quote:
 If major league pitchers are skillful at controlling whether batters make hard contact, and BABIP becomes less random in a data-rich world that includes batted ball velocities, then it follows that pitchers have more control over batted ball outcomes than previously thought. BABIP is a lucky number only to the extent that hits occur more or less frequently than predicted by the 0.59 and 0.19 hit conversion rates for well-hit and other batted balls. The pitcher controls his rate of well-hit in-park balls in the same manner as he controls strikeouts, walks, and home runs.
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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.

 06-13-2007, 01:05 PM #2 flyer85 He has the Evil Eye!     Join Date: Jul 2004 Location: south of the border Posts: 23,858 Re: A different look at BABIP (Hardball Times) I have read that GBs turn into hits at a slightly higher percentage than FBs. Thus you can expect higher BABIPs from GB pitchers. LD% also has an effect and that data has also begun to be tracked as well. __________________ What are you, people? On dope? - Mr Hand
 06-13-2007, 01:22 PM #3 VR Member     Join Date: Apr 2000 Location: Vancouver, Wa Posts: 8,389 Re: A different look at BABIP (Hardball Times) BABIP is a great trend indicator, but by no means the end all of a pitcher's success. If a pitcher 1 is throwing 70 mile an hour straight fastballs, and pitcher 2 is throwing 95 mile an hours cutters with movement....should we expect BABIP to be equal for balls put in play against those two? Pitching at this level is all about deception. There's a reason HOF pitchers have lower babip's...and it's not luck. It's because their velocity, control, deceptive pitching, or a combination of the three....cause the hitters to not hit the ball squarely, be off balance, or not get a good swing on their pitches on a consistent basis. The result is weak grounders and lazy fly balls. Don't get me wrong, I like the stat...but it certainly is not the end-all be-all of evaluating a pitcher's success. __________________ “Our team is a team full of fighters. They never panic. We don't necessarily get all the hits we want all the time, but we find a way to win.” – Dusty Baker
06-13-2007, 01:27 PM   #4
flyer85
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Re: A different look at BABIP (Hardball Times)

Quote:
 Originally Posted by VR BABIP is a great trend indicator, but by no means the end all of a pitcher's success.
I have always paid attention to the extremes because that is where the information is most valuable. If you see a very low (<25) or very high(>35) BABIP there is a good chance a regression to the mean is coming.

Cormier's BABIP, K rate and BB/K rate were the three indicators that said "stay very far away" when the Reds dealt for him last year. I did not care what his ERA was at that point, his PERA(projected ERA) was over 4 at that point. He had simply been a product of good luck and limited usage patterns to that point in the season. Instead the Reds traded for him with a complete misunderstanding of what they had just acquired and how to correctly use him.
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 06-13-2007, 01:28 PM #5 VR Member     Join Date: Apr 2000 Location: Vancouver, Wa Posts: 8,389 Re: A different look at BABIP (Hardball Times) Nicely stated flyer. __________________ “Our team is a team full of fighters. They never panic. We don't necessarily get all the hits we want all the time, but we find a way to win.” – Dusty Baker
 06-13-2007, 01:43 PM #6 IslandRed Charlie Brown All-Star     Join Date: May 2001 Location: Melbourne, FL Posts: 4,765 Re: A different look at BABIP (Hardball Times) Good posts. I'd read some followups to McCracken's work that said, essentially, there *is* a difference in BABIPs between good and not-so-good pitchers; it's just not as big as you'd expect and can be completely masked by the year-to-year variances attributable to luck. Another pointed out that baseball talent follows a steep curve, and pitchers not capable of putting up a "true" BABIP close to the mean never reach the majors or don't stay there long. Obviously, you couldn't take the average guy off the street and expect him to have a .300 BABIP. __________________ Not all who wander are lost
06-13-2007, 02:00 PM   #7
RedEye
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Re: A different look at BABIP (Hardball Times)

Quote:
 Originally Posted by flyer85 I have read that GBs turn into hits at a slightly higher percentage than FBs. Thus you can expect higher BABIPs from GB pitchers. LD% also has an effect and that data has also begun to be tracked as well.
Am I right to think that even though BABIP is higher for GB pitchers, FB pitchers are still less desirable because there is larger possible damage done by the extra-base hits and HR caused by continual flyballs?
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 06-13-2007, 02:01 PM #8 RedsManRick Stat Wanker Hodiernus     Join Date: Dec 2004 Location: Chicago, IL Posts: 15,447 Re: A different look at BABIP (Hardball Times) I haven't done much homework on luck statistics, but I'm sure there's one based on BABIP-exBABIP and adjusted for defense & ballpark. I wonder if BP has something along those lines that's easily accessible. __________________ 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.
06-13-2007, 02:39 PM   #9
TOBTTReds
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Re: A different look at BABIP (Hardball Times)

Quote:
 Originally Posted by RedEye Am I right to think that even though BABIP is higher for GB pitchers, FB pitchers are still less desirable because there is larger possible damage done by the extra-base hits and HR caused by continual flyballs?
I think it might depend on the park. Not sure though. There are some great FB pitchers.

06-13-2007, 02:39 PM   #10
PuffyPig
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Re: A different look at BABIP (Hardball Times)

Quote:
 Originally Posted by VR There's a reason HOF pitchers have lower babip's...and it's not luck. It's because their velocity, control, deceptive pitching, or a combination of the three....cause the hitters to not hit the ball squarely, be off balance, or not get a good swing on their pitches on a consistent basis. The result is weak grounders and lazy fly balls.
Is this true?

Becuase I've always heard that no pitcher has consitently been able to control his BABIP.

If your 2nd sentence is correct (that pitchers with "cheesy stuff" can control their BABIP why forcing hitters to hit weak grond balls and laxy fly balls), then the whole theory of BABIP is flawed.

06-13-2007, 02:43 PM   #11
flyer85
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Re: A different look at BABIP (Hardball Times)

Quote:
 Originally Posted by RedEye Am I right to think that even though BABIP is higher for GB pitchers, FB pitchers are still less desirable because there is larger possible damage done by the extra-base hits and HR caused by continual flyballs?
correct, FBs have a better chance of ending up as an extra base hit. In addition the HR rate is a product of FB rate, generally around 10% of FBs will end up as HRs. I would think that the each park probably has a native HR to FB rate as well.
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06-13-2007, 03:08 PM   #12
RedsManRick
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Re: A different look at BABIP (Hardball Times)

Quote:
 Originally Posted by PuffyPig Is this true? Becuase I've always heard that no pitcher has consitently been able to control his BABIP. If your 2nd sentence is correct (that pitchers with "cheesy stuff" can control their BABIP why forcing hitters to hit weak grond balls and laxy fly balls), then the whole theory of BABIP is flawed.
And this right here is the fallacy that seems to be making the rounds.

Think of BABIP more like batting average with less spread. Ichiro Suzuki hit .372 in 2004 and .303 in 05. Was he really a much better hitter in 2004? Probably not by that much. Look at Adam Dunn. He hit .215 one year and .266 the next. Same deal. It's not that either of them changed their ability significantly.

The real point is that over the course of a huge sample, no major league pitcher can sustain a BABIP that is more than about 30 points lower than the league average. Mariano Rivera, a poster boy for inducing bad contact, has a career BABIP of .276. He's had single seasons as high as .309 and as low as .223.

By comparison, Eric Milton has a career BABIP of .294, with a low of .241 and high of .329. In 2003, when Milton had a .241 BABIP, Rivera was at .299. And that's the bugger. Within a given year, the ranges of two very different pitchers overlaps quite a bit. Over the long haul Rivera was better at allowing fewer hits on balls in play, by about 25 points of batting average. But in any given season's BABIP doesn't tell you very much about that pitcher's true ability to prevent hits on batted balls.

So where the difference between a career batting champ like Tony Gwynn and a bottom rung BA guy like Rob Deer is about 100 points (.230 to .330), and their averages aren't likely to "cross" in most seasons, with pitchers its somewhere around 50 points (.265 to .315), such that it takes a lot more evidence to confirm the ability and the ability itself is less influential than other skills such as avoiding contact all together while keeping the ball in the zone.
__________________
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.

06-13-2007, 08:23 PM   #13
mth123
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Re: A different look at BABIP (Hardball Times)

Quote:
 Originally Posted by flyer85 I have always paid attention to the extremes because that is where the information is most valuable. If you see a very low (<25) or very high(>35) BABIP there is a good chance a regression to the mean is coming.
That is kind of my take too with a little twist. I really don't think that a bad pitcher has an upper limit to BABIP. A pitcher who has bad stats with a BABIP of say .375 may very well simply be a bad pitcher.

OTOH a pitcher putting up good stats based on an extremely low BABIP (say less than .240) is probably the beneficiary of luck and great defense.

I also tend to look at the other peripheral stats like K/9, BB/9 and HR/9 in conjunction with BABIP to get my bearings a little. You have to look at the entire picture IMO.
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 06-14-2007, 12:30 AM #14 coachw513 Reds 5:11     Join Date: Jul 2006 Posts: 640 Re: A different look at BABIP (Hardball Times) thanks for a very interesting article and topic __________________ You cannot defeat an ignorant man in an argument! -William Gibbs McAdoo Though many of us here are sure trying
06-14-2007, 12:37 AM   #15
Patrick Bateman
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Re: A different look at BABIP (Hardball Times)

Quote:
 Originally Posted by RedsManRick Over the long haul Rivera was better at allowing fewer hits on balls in play, by about 25 points of batting average. But in any given season's BABIP doesn't tell you very much about that pitcher's true ability to prevent hits on batted balls.
Couldn't this be widely attributable to the fact that Rivera has played on the Yankees his entire life with great defenses supporting him? If he was playing on the Reds his enitre life, I would bet his BAPIP would be approaching .300.

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