In this week’s Fantasy Lookout, we will uncover a few hitters that have been unlucky with respect to their BABIP in the second half. All of these hitters have been stinging the ball with authority and have outstanding peripherals, yet their BABIP are all below the league average.
I expect a strong finish to the season for all of these players as their counting stats and batting average catch up to their strong under-the-hood metrics.
If you hit the ball hard and hit plenty of line drives, it makes sense that the balls you put into play should land for hits more often than the league average.
The following four players have done everything they can, except the baseball is just not finding the holes. Their fortunes should change, as regression becomes their friend. For context, consider that the league average in the second half for BABIP has been .301, while the line drive rate has been 21%, and the hard hit rate has been 29%.
Now, let’s see who these unlucky players are.
The Fantasy Lookout: BABIP Edition
Nick Castellanos, 3B, Detroit Tigers
|2015 2nd Half||.280||27.7%||38.6%||0.76||23.5%||13.7%||.254||0.50|
Nick Castellanos has been a line drive hitting machine since he broke into the majors. He has been on fire since the All-Star Break, but his numbers should actually be even better. The spike in his home run rate seems supported by his batted ball profile. Given both his line drive and hard hit rates, his BABIP feels about 60 points too low. He also appears to be seeing the ball much better since his second half walk to strikeout ratio has been nearly double his career mark. A batting average surge seems to be on the horizon if he keeps this up. With a Yahoo ownership percentage of less than 20%, there does not seem to be many believers out there. Buck the trend and snag Mr. Castellanos off the wire.
Jonathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers
|2015 2nd Half||.271||24.2%||35.0%||2.13||12.5%||6.5%||.242||0.57|
Jonathan Lucroy has had a disappointing 2015, partly due to a toe injury that he suffered in April which caused him to miss about six weeks. His numbers have been slightly better in the second half and I expect that to continue as the bad luck becomes a distant memory. It is puzzling that Lucroy’s line drive and hard hit rates in the second half both exceed his career marks, yet his BABIP and batting average are well below his career averages. Expect the Brew Crew’s catcher to heat up and produce more like the backstop that we are accustomed to.
Kyle Seager, 3B, Seattle Mariners
|2015 2nd Half||.254||26.8%||34.7%||1.07||11.1%||8.9%||.234||0.39|
Kyle Seager has to be frustrated, much like his Fantasy owners, given his second half numbers. How playing everyday with a line drive rate of nearly 27% and a hard hit rate of almost 35% results in a measly five home runs, nine RBIs, a BABIP of .254, and a batting average of .234 over 154 plate appearances is a mystery to say the least. A slightly higher swinging strike rate and a moderately low walk to strikeout ratio explains part of the weak batting average. That being said, with the way Seager is hitting the ball, the numbers will come and frustration will turn to elation for all those patient Fantasy owners.
Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas Rangers
|2015 2nd Half||.289||27.2%||36.8%||1.33||10.3%||7.7%||.287||1.00|
Adrian Beltre appears to be going through a transition at this point in his career. The 36 year old is in the midst of his worst power season over the past seven years. His slugging percentage and HR/FB ratio are both the lowest of his great career absent his disastrous 2009 campaign with the Mariners. As his power starts to wane, Beltre has improved his batting eye, evidenced by both his walk to strikeout ratio and his swinging strike rate. He has also been locked in since the Midsummer Classic. His batted ball profile is materially better than his career marks, yet his batting average and BABIP fall right around his career figures. As the Rangers battle for a Wild Card spot, Beltre should stay hot and his production will look like it did in years past.
A high or low BABIP is not the result of merely good or bad luck. However, when the underlying fundamentals do not support the resulting BABIP, luck can be part of the explanation. Until next week’s Fantasy Lookout, enjoy the games!
Unless otherwise stated, data courtesy of www.fangraphs.com
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