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Identifying SP improvements using BABIP abnormalities

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Identifying SP improvements using BABIP abnormalities

Postby flbtank » Tue Mar 13, 2007 12:17 pm

Guys,
Working on a way of identifying SP's that will improve based on 2006 being unusually high BABIP. I'm defining 'unusually high' as a)over the .310 league norm or b)unusually high based on that SP's past performance.

What I am having trouble finding is a listing of 2004 - 2006 BABIP's to find the abnormal based on past performance. Finding greater than .310 for 2006 is easy enough...

So,
1) Does the collective wisdom of the Cafe think this is a valid strategy to find improvements (ie BABIP correlates to lower ERA's & WHIP's)?
2) Any ideas on where to find easy to use 2004-2006 data?
and 3) Has anybody already done this?

Thanks in advance.
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Postby Big Pimpin » Tue Mar 13, 2007 12:25 pm

1) Yes, it's certainly valid. It's never a bad idea to figure out who was "unlucky" last year.

2) You can do it with ESPN's sortable stats, which go back to 2000.

Good luck. ;-D
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Postby mrobinson » Tue Mar 13, 2007 1:26 pm

Please explain what exactly the stat is and why/how a player is "unlucky" based on this and how you can project a better year, etc.

thanks.
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Postby Big Pimpin » Tue Mar 13, 2007 1:51 pm

mrobinson wrote:Please explain what exactly the stat is and why/how a player is "unlucky" based on this and how you can project a better year, etc.

thanks.


The stat is Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP usually, BIPA on ESPN). It's the batting average allowed on the balls put into play (essentially it takes Strikeouts and Home Runs out of the mix). Anyway, there's a league average number, but some pitchers do have their own norms, usually based on Ground Ball/Fly Ball tendencies and the defense behind them. For instance, Felix Hernandez, with his groundball tendencies and a great IF defense, should have a lower number.

Anyway, you can look at pitchers who had a higher than normal (for them or against the average) BABIP and consider them "unlucky." More balls just dropped in than normal, if you will. More hits means more runs, worse ratios, etc. If you can pick out some pitchers who were just unlucky, then you can find guys who are likely to be undervalued based on last year's numbers. Targeting these guys will pay dividends if they move back towards the norm this year.

Hope that makes sense.
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Postby bellybrother » Tue Mar 13, 2007 1:57 pm

mrobinson wrote:Please explain what exactly the stat is and why/how a player is "unlucky" based on this and how you can project a better year, etc.

thanks.


BABIP is Batting Average on Balls In Play. About .310 is league average for a starting pitcher. That is too say that the mean on all major league starting pitchers is about .310 batting average against on balls that the hitters put into play.

That being said, if a pitchers BABIP is say .333, that means balls hitters hit ended up being hits at a higher rate than that of the mean(.333 to .310) that pitcher was "unlucky". Unlucky in that a higher percentage of balls put into play against him resulted in hits. Statistics say that said pitcher could see an improvement in his numbers because averages would dictate that his "luck" would move toward the mean...or league average.

But some pitchers are just "unluckier" than others, so a higher BABIP last year does not mean an improvement. Compare his last year with previous years to see if he's gonna improve, or if he's just "unlucky".
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Postby Pokey » Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:07 pm

I'm not sure where this .310 is coming from. Baseball Prospectus has the typical pitcher's BABIP at .290. Personally I find that it's more like .295-.300, but .310 is pretty high.
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Postby Chrisy Moltisanti » Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:27 pm

I know some pitchers have been identified as being able to control BABIP. I'm interested in the hitters who seem to do so, such as Manny or Ryan Howard. People say Howard should drop of because of his high BABIP last year, but why haven't I heard that about Manny, just about every year? And what about MCab? His BABIP was much higher than Howard's. Todd Helton, Larry Walker, Vlad, Hafner, Berkman, MCab and others seem to consistently defy the odds more often than not. It would seem that players who hit the ball harder and in the air more often have some control over this BABIP.
Last edited by Chrisy Moltisanti on Wed Mar 14, 2007 12:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby flbtank » Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:30 pm

[quote="Pokey"]I'm not sure where this .310 is coming from. Baseball Prospectus has the typical pitcher's BABIP at .290. Personally I find that it's more like .295-.300, but .310 is pretty high.[/quote]

I picked .310 to give some wiggle room around the league average of .290-.300. I would consider .300-.309 to be not enough deviation to count.
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Postby josebach » Tue Mar 13, 2007 2:34 pm

Chrisy Moltisanti wrote:I know some pitchers have been identified as being able to control BABIP. I'm interested in the hitters who seem to do so, such as Manny or Ryan Howard. People say Howard should drop of because of his high BABIP last year, but why haven't I heard that about Manny, just about every year? And what about MCab? His BABIP was much higher than Howard's. Todd Helton, Larry Walker, Vlad, Hafner, Berkman, MCab and others seem to consistently defy the odds more often than not. It would seem that player who hit the ball harder and in the air more often have some control over this BABIP.


Which is exactly why BABIP shouldn't me given too much weight (at least for hitters). All balls that are put into play do not have the same chance of becoming hits. If a player consistantly gets the meat of the bat on the ball, they're going to consistantly hit the ball harder and have a higher BAPIP than someone who hits the ball off the handle or end of the bat. In other words, the better the hitter, the less likely they are to be fooled by a pitch and the more likely they are to get the meat of the bat on the ball. Swing plane also has a lot to do with it. A player who is more prone to hitting ground balls than line drives will probably have a lower BABIP.

This is why I think the BABIP argument being used to predict Howard's decline this season is flawed. His numbers may very well regress this year, but I don't think you can make that determination by simply looking at BABIP.
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Postby GotowarMissAgnes » Wed Mar 14, 2007 12:01 am

Chrisy Moltisanti wrote:I know some pitchers have been identified as being able to control BABIP. I'm interested in the hitters who seem to do so, such as Manny or Ryan Howard. People say Howard should drop of because of his high BABIP last year, but why haven't I heard that about Manny, just about every year? And what about MCab? His BABIP was much higher than Howard's. Todd Helton, Larry Walker, Vlad, Hafner, Berkman, MCab and others seem to consistently defy the odds more often than not. It would seem that player who hit the ball harder and in the air more often have some control over this BABIP.


Actually, most pitchers have little control over BABIP. On the other hands, most hitters DO have quite a bit of control over BABIP. So, while, as with most baseball stats, you can expect a player to regress to the mean if they had a very high BABIP, the regression towards the mean is much less for hitters than it is for pitchers.
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