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2017 Fantasy Lookout: Positive Regression Alert; BABIP Spike Coming!

BABIP
Photo Credit: Keith Allison

In this week’s Fantasy Lookout, we will look into three hitters who have been unlucky so far in 2017. I am a firm believer that you create your own luck, and as you will see, these hitters are doing the same thing that they have been doing over their careers. Yet they each own a puzzling low 2017 BABIP.

It is easy to call for regression whenever you see a low BABIP; however, the key is to see if the unfortunate hitter has the underlying metrics to support an imminent rebound. As we discussed in a previous Fantasy Lookout, a hitter’s BABIP is driven by a few certain statistics.

All three of the unlucky hitters share a few common traits. First, all three rank within the bottom 30 amongst qualified hitters with respect to BABIP. In fact, they all own a BABIP of .266 or less and that compares with a league average mark of .299. Second, they all own a line drive rate of at least 22-percent and that compares favorably with the league average of 20-percent.

Third, they all have a 2017 BABIP that is at least 65 points less than their career figure, which is surprising given their 2017 batted ball profiles do not significantly differ from their career numbers. Finally, all three hitters are Fantasy relevant, evidenced by all of them owning a preseason NFBC ADP within the Top 200.

Now, let’s see unveil the three most unlucky BABIP hitters so far in 2017.

Positive Regression Alert; BABIP Spike Coming!

Matt Carpenter, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals

 

Absent his batting average, Matt Carpenter is on pace for one of his best seasons ever. He has a great shot to reach the 30-home run plateau for the first time in his career, and 90 runs and RBI are also a distinct possibility.

Carpenter’s batting average has been anchored by a shockingly low BABIP of .256, a far cry from his career mark of .324. This has occurred despite a solid line drive rate of 22.3-percent and a new career best hard hit rate of 44.1-percent. Part of the BABIP decline is probably explained by his new desire to put the ball in the air, evidenced by his career high fly ball rate of 51.1-percent. Despite the new change in approach at the dish, Carpenter’s BABIP should still be hovering around the .300 mark, which would likely result in a batting average closer to .270.

Despite the new change in approach at the dish, Carpenter’s BABIP should still be hovering around the .300 mark, which would likely result in a batting average closer to .270.

If there is a Fantasy owner in your league disappointed by Carpenter’s near Mendoza Line batting average, take advantage and throw them a trade offer with the comfort that he will be turning it around at any time.

 

Brandon Belt, 1B, San Francisco Giants

 

With the second-worst record in the majors, not many things have gone right for the Giants in 2017, including Brandon Belt’s batting average. Belt’s surprisingly low BABIP of .264, compared to a career figure of .334, has been the main culprit, despite having a batted ball profile that basically mirrors his career marks.

Belt has continued hitting line drives with regularity with a 23.3-percent mark so far this year. He has also posted a ground ball rate, fly ball rate, popup rate, pull rate, and hard-hit rate all essentially in line with his career numbers. Despite his batting average woes, Belt has already nearly passed his career high in home runs and he looks poised to set a new career high in runs too.

Make sure that you are buying Belt before his batting average and BABIP head north, as he looks primed to have a solid second half.

 

Dexter Fowler, OF, St. Louis Cardinals

 

Dexter Fowler has fit in quite well since leaving Chicago and landing with the division rival Cardinals. He has definitely found his power stroke, as his 13 long balls are just four shy of his career high despite there being over three months remaining in the regular season. Fowler’s 35 RBI also put him in play to surpass his previous career high mark of 53 set back in 2012. However, not everything has been pretty, especially when you consider his sub-.250 batting average, thanks in large part to his incredibly low BABIP of .266.

Fowler owns a career BABIP of .338, yet his figure this year is over 70 points lower, despite his 2017 batting ball profile looking nearly exactly like his career one. Fowler has successfully found a way to post a new career best hard hit rate of over 37-percent, while still maintaining a strikeout to walk rate equal to his career mark. His Fantasy owners have to be happy with his power increase, while not sacrificing other parts of his game.

Fowler’s batting average will turn around as his BABIP trends towards and through the .300 plateau. With news that he will spend some time on the DL, Fowler should not cost too much. Go out and grab him and enjoy the second half surge.

 

A hitter’s low BABIP can only be considered unlucky if the underlying statistics tell a different story. All three of our mentioned hitters clearly possess this quality, and therefore the lows are in for their 2017 BABIPs. Until the next Fantasy Lookout, enjoy the games!

 

Data courtesy of www.fangraphs.com

 

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Fabian Taylor
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Fabian Taylor

Fabian Taylor lives in Vancouver, BC. In his previous life, he traded natural gas for a couple firms in Calgary. He now trades stocks, bonds, and commodities out of a float home office. Family, finance and Fantasy Sports -- Is there anything else?
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