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NC State Outfielder Makes A Great Catch

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NC State Outfielder Makes A Great Catch

Posted on 28 February 2013 by Bill Ivie

The one thing that Full Spectrum Baseball will always bring you is baseball.

Not always Major League Baseball.  Not always American Baseball.  Not always Professional Baseball.  But we will always strive to bring you baseball in every way possible.

Today, I stumbled onto a video of an amazing catch by NC State center fielder Brett Williams.  The video is below:


Video courtesy of the ACC Digital Network on YouTube

Now that’s baseball.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at Full Spectrum Baseball
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Mets Asking To Avoid The Rules

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Mets Asking To Avoid The Rules

Posted on 25 January 2013 by Bill Ivie

It has become very apparent that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement in Major League Baseball is going to impact free agency, just ask Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse.

NewYorkMets

In a strange twist, however, rumor has it that the New York Mets are asking for an exemption to the draft pick compensation rule in order to pursue Bourn.  The team controls a pick within the top 10 picks of the 2013 first-year player draft, which it would have to sacrifice to sign a player that has the compensation tag attached to them.  A sacrifice that the team does not want to make.  The team has filed a request with the Commissioner’s Office to have that requirement waved for them in the interest of signing the speedy outfielder.

The question here is raised: what makes the Mets so special?

Sure, the team has been playing poorly and Bourn would drastically improve a floundering franchise.  The team could help themselves a lot by signing Bourn and securing a pick high in the draft.  So could a lot of other teams in baseball.  The draft pick compensation clause was developed for this specific reason.  Teams have a choice, develop their own talent and grow towards the future or delve into free agency and bring home a proven commodity.

The New York Mets want to have their cake and eat it too.  This is not high school anymore and a letter from Mommy is not going to get you out of gym class.  The rules are in place for this exact reason.

If Major League Baseball approves a move of this nature, it is opening a Pandora’s Box that would allow many teams to seek protection from rules that they feel are not applicable to them.

Then again, I guess the Brewers and Ryan Braun have already established that precedent.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at Full Spectrum Baseball
Follow me on Twitter by clicking here.

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Bud Norris Is My Home Boy

Posted on 12 September 2012 by Will Emerson

If you are an avid reader of Field of Streams here at Full Spectrum, and you really should be, you have probably read just how ridiculously good Bud Norris has been at the Juice Box this year. You may also know that I adore pitchers with high Ks/9. The K/9 is why I have always liked Buddy Boy Norris. His career K/9 of 8.83 is quite tantalizing and that is why I have stuck by him, sort of, waiting for a breakout season. The long and short of it is, I am still waiting. His 3.77 ERA last season made it seem like he was turning the corner a bit, but this season has looked, well, not so hot. He is 5-12, but with the Astros and the light hitting lineup they have been trotting out onto the field for a large portion of the season, I would not hold too much stock in the win-loss record anyways. Let’s look at some other numbers, like his less than impressive 4.93 ERA and his subpar 1.42 WHIP. Not so good Al. The Ks are still flowing like wine, but he has not looked so good overall…..except when he pitches at home.

At home this year, Bud has been virtually lights out! His ERA is 1.90, his WHIP is 1.04, his K/9 is 10.18 and his K/BB ratio is 4.41. And this is not all smoke and mirrors, although he does have a BABIP of .280 and an 85.9 LOB %, his xFIP at home is 2.96. These are some extremely good numbers, but many pitchers are generally better at home, right? Right. But Bud is pitching in Houston, a somewhat notorious hitter’s park and look at how he stacks up against other starters at home. Here are the top five ERAs at home by starting pitchers whom have thrown more than 50 innings at home this season:

David Price (TB)- 1.66

Justin Verlander (DET)- 1.70

Chris Sale (CWS)- 1.72

Kris Medlen (ATL)- 1.75

Bud Norris (HOU)- 1.90

That is some pretty good company for Bud, but these guys generally also pitching fairly decently elsewhere as well. Below is the difference between home and road ERAs for these same pitchers:

Price: -1.70

Verlander: -2.32

Sale: -2.29

Medlen: .23

Norris: -5.44

5.44! That is an eye-popping difference! No need to do the comparisons for WHIP, but let’s just say there are probably not a ton of starters that have a WHIP that is .68 lower at home than it is on the road. Also, his K/9 is 2.4 higher at home than on the road, and hitters are hitting at a .210 clip, which is .84 points lower than it is on the road. The comparisons can go on and on, I’ve got plenty of statistics available, but I think you get the point. It is not just that he is dominating at home, but the fact that he is pitching so much better at home. So how in the heck is he doing it?

Well, Norris is walking half as many batters at home and somehow his strand rate at home is almost 25% higher. It also helps that at home he is indcuing more ground balls by an eight percent margin. So more walks, less strikeouts and fewer groundballs would tend to lead to more runners and more runs. His HR/FB ratio is twice as high on the road. With less grounders and more flyballs, but a similar line drive rate we can pretty much make the leap that more hard hit balls are getting hit in the air on the road leading to the uptick in the homers. So you can see how the numbers are happening, but it does not explain why. No starter in the majors has such drastically better numbers at home this season, so what is up with Bud?!  Is he changing his approach on the road? Well let us look at his pitch breakdown for home and road starts.

On the road Bud seems to be mixing his pitches less and relying more on his fastball. On average he is throwing the heater 58.93% of the time on the road, as opposed to 53.07% at home. In fact, in over two-thirds of his road starts he has used his fastball more than 59% of the time, while doing that in only 10% of his home starts. At home Bud is using his slider about four percent more and his changeup around two percent more. The more steady diet of fastballs he is feeding hitters could certainly be the reason for more flyballs and the much higher HR/ FB rate on the road. Hitters are certainly not chasing as much on the road that is for darned sure. At home, on average, throwing less fastballs and a better mix of pitches, batters are chasing balls out of the zone about 34% of the time as opposed to about 28% on the road. That is a somewhat significant difference. It would make it seem that he is not mixing his pitches as much on the road and thus fooling batters less, right? While I do not have a home-road breakdown of his pitch movement, considering that when batters are chasing these pitches they are making contact 10% more on the road it would appear that either he is not mixing his pitches as well or he is not getting as much movement or perhaps a combination of both. Whatever you may think, Norris is clearly not fooling hitters as much on the road and the pitch selection and movement could be the biggest difference. So what does this mean for Bud Norris in the future?

Well, his home-road splits have not been this drastic in previous seasons, so there is a chance this is a big anomaly or fluke this season. In all likelihood Norris will still be better at home next season, but I would guess you would not see this large of a difference in the numbers. Look for a bit of regression in the home numbers next season as well as the road numbers improving a bit. However, if the start of next season resembles this year’s ridiculous splits, then the Astros may want to possibly hire a hypnotist to trick Bud into thinking he is pitching in Minute Maid Park every time out. They may want to avoid the one from the Simpson’s that made Roger Clemens think he was a chicken however.

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fake stats

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Starting Pitching Valuation (SPv) Leaderboard

Posted on 16 August 2012 by Dylan Cain

Loyal Full Spectrum Baseball readers may remember an article I wrote a while back about an innovative new stat, one I call Starting Pitcher Valuation (SPv).  For a brief introduction to the statistic for those who have not read the article, SPv is a stat that encompasses 1) the number of base runners a starting pitcher has allowed, 2) how many earned runs he’s allowed, 3) how many batters he strikes out as opposed to how few batters he walks 4) and how well he can lead his team to a victory.

I have taken all these stats and “blended” them together, creating a pitching stat that ranks starters (not relievers) on a scale of 100%-0%. This gives analytically-minded  fans like you the chance to see one stat that is “easy-to-digest” as opposed to reading a long line of the 10-15 most commonly used statistics.  I wrote this article in hopes of providing a weekly “leaderboard” of SPv and to also give my opinions and some notes about how they (starting pitchers) have done of late.  Here are your season-to-date SPv leaders (as of  August 12th). Enjoy!

1) Jered Weaver (84.87%)- The Angels’ ace has been dealing this year, even in an offensive powerhouse division like the AL West. He’s only lost one game this year and with the offensive production of the Halo’s lineup, he doesn’t seem to have that much pressure on him.  With guys like Mike Trout (.340 AVG) and Albert Pujols (Did you hear about his 24 homeruns?? Talk about coming back after a slow start…), any pitcher would feel relaxed on the hill.  His fastball isn’t Aroldis Chapman caliber but it’s enough to get the job done.

2) R.A. Dickey (81.19%)- The Tim Wakefield impersonator has looked slightly more human of late, with his ERA going up .74 points since his second consecutive one-hitter.  Remember, he still has the best SPv in the senior circut, meaning he is on track to have the best season a knuckleballer has ever had, statistically. His 15 wins are tied for the most in the the bigs, he still makes batters look silly, and he is still very likely in line to win the NL Cy Young Award.

3) Chris Sale (80.96%)- The lanky southpaw for the Chicago White Sox has given his rotation a big boost, even with his young, inexperienced arm.  He puts on a show with the radar gun and can shutdown powerful lineups.  He does have an advantage of facing some weaker offensive teams in the AL Central, however.  Six of his 13 wins have come against the Royals, Indians and Twins.  He is a great pitcher but needs a little more experience to convinced me. The addition of Jake Peavy helped him greatly and Francisco Liriano will give him more of an advantage.

4) David Price (79.77%)- The three-time All-Star is on pace to get the most wins of his career and as far as the AL Cy Young Award voting is concerned, he is breathing down the neck of Sale and Weaver.  The only thing he actually lacks is a big bat to support him offensively.  Evan Longoria coming back will hopefully help with that problem.  If any pitcher can help Tampa Bay get a playoff spot from the A’s it will be Price.  He WILL have a Cy Young Award on the wall before his career is done.

5) Justin Verlander (78.62%)- Finally on the list, Verlander comes in at fourth place in the junior circuit, quite surprising for the Detroit Tigers ace. In my opinion, he is the most overrated pitcher in baseball.  Sure, he has a blazing fastball. Sure, his ERA is under two and a half.  But, he has been inconsistent at moments and is on pace to have the most losses in his career since 2008.  I will give him credit, however, because he tends to dominate one of my favorite statistics (WHIP).

6) Stephen Strasburg (77.71%)- The Strikeout king is now on the list and he is very deserving.  In seven of his twenty three games this year, he has struck out nine batters or more!  That is 30.4% of the time.  Looking for a whiff?  He’s the guy you have to call.  His innings limit has been in the news lately and I think if the Nationals want to keep winning he must be in the rotation. We’ll have to wait and see how this all plays out.

7) Matt Cain (76.7%)- “Mr. Perfect”, “Cain-O Insane-O”, “The San Fran Man”…regardless of what you call him, he is still a dominant force on the hill out on the west coast.  His ERA is under 3 for only the second time in his career but he’s currently regarded as the best pitcher in the Giants’ stacked rotation.  This is due mostly to Tim Lincecum‘s recent struggles, and the fact that most of the rotation is considerably “young talent”.  One of his statistics which catches my eye the most is the fact that his walks per 9 is the lowest in his career.

8) Felix Hernandez (76.44%)- “King Felix” is one of my favorite pitchers and I feel he is very underrated.  Although he may only have 10 wins, he already has 3 shutouts, leading the league.  He continues to strikeout batters (he is nearing his 1,500th strikeout) and his ERA is staying low.  His division rivals include the Texas Rangers and the LA Angels, two huge offensive teams.  Hernandez continually gets the job done, though.

9) Madison Bumgarner (76.4%)- When looking at the ERA leaders, you could easily think his fellow teammate Ryan Vogelsong has the edge. However, Bumgarner has a higher SPv for a couple of reasons.  One, he strikes out more batters and walks less, as opposed to Vogelsong.  And secondly, Bumgarner has a better WHIP.  Walks plus Hits divided by Innings Pitched is a crucial statistic in the makeup of SPv.  The first round pick in the 2007 draft is off to a good start in his career and he makes a good #2 behind Matt Cain.

10) Kyle Lohse (76.27%)- I was very surprised when I realized Lohse had made the Top 10. When we look at his stats, he has the second most wins on the St. Louis Cardinals staff (12, just behind Lance Lynn‘s 13) against only has 2 losses.  He hasn’t had much popularity since 2008 when he had 15 wins but the baseball community should know that Kyle still has his stuff.  His WHIP and ERA are at career bests and along with Jake Westbrook and Lance Lynn, they are filling the hole left by the Chris Carpenter injury quite nicely.

11) Johnny Cueto (76.18%)- I can truly say that in my mind, Cueto is the best pitcher in the packed NL Central.  I say this because he doesn’t allow many base runners, keeps batters guessing and even when things do get out of hand, he can still often get the win.  This is because of an offense led by Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, and Brandon Phillips.  These athletes, led by Cueto, will help the Reds gain an even larger lead over Andrew McCutchen and the Pittsburgh Pirates as the season winds down.

12) Jordan Zimmermann (76.14%)- I know I say the word underrated too often, but it’s one of the few words that describes Zimmermann accurately.  The reason I feel he hasn’t had instant stardom is due to the fact that, earlier in the year, he lacked run support.  At one point he had a losing record with an ERA under two and a half.  He doesn’t strikeout very many batters but he doesn’t walk many either. This keeps men off the base, keeping his WHIP low.  If anyone on this list will win the NL Cy Young Award in dramatic fashion, it’s Zimmermann.

13) Cole Hamels (75.75%)- This southpaw has been the talk of trade rumors year in and year out, but he remains in Philly, being the only pitcher to have double-digit wins for the Phillies.  He also has the most strikeouts, most innings pitched, leads in ERA+ and the lowest hits per nine innings.  Once the #2 pitcher to Roy Halladay, he is now the ace of the struggling team.  He just signed a huge, $153 million contract, so expect him to stick around for a while.

14) Clayton Kershaw (75.17%)- “The Claw” is the same man as he has been his whole career but isn’t quite as dominant as he was last year.  He is in the very pitching dominant NL, hurting his chances of winning back-to-back Cy Young Awards.  He strikes out a whole batter less per 9 inning than he did last year but he still has a WHIP of 1.027.  He leads the league in shutouts (2), is still the ace for the NL West leading (tied) Los Angeles Dodgers and no longer has to face Melky Cabrera due to a 50 game suspension.

15) CC Sabathia (75.06%)- CC has been on the DL for an extended period of time.  I think the Yankees are in a good enough position to where they can retain first place in the AL East without him.  If you asked me a year earlier, I would’ve told you that New York couldn’t have competed without Mariano Rivera and with Sabathia out, however, that’s exactly what they are doing.  Yankees’ fans just need to hope that C.C. can bounce back from the injuries, and continue on the pace where he left off.

16) A.J. Burnett (74.81%)- I would’ve expected the Pirate’s righty to be higher on this list, with 14 wins and a new beginning in Pittsburgh, however, he is not.  Like many of the pitchers ranked above him, he doesn’t possess a high number of K’s.  Through 21 starts, he already has the most wins in his career since 2008 in Toronto.  Not only does he have a career low WHIP (with 21+ games started), but he has a one-hitter under his belt.

17) Ryan Vogelsong (74.64%)- The reason this guy may not quite be a household name is because he hasn’t performed in the past, as he is just showing signs of greatness.  The last season that he had 25 or more starts before San Fransisco, he had an ERA of 6.50 with a 6-13 W-L record. He has redeemed himself, however, in his second stint for the Giants.  His two years back have been astounding, posting 249 strikeouts and a 23-13 record.  He does walk a few too many, but nothing to worry about. Expect him to have more than one all star selection in his career.

18) Scott Diamond (74.35%)- I consider this young man the only “stud” in the Minnesota Twin’s rotation.  He isnt like many of the guys on this list as far as strikeouts are concerned (5.0 strikeouts per 9 innings), but he makes up for it because he doesn’t walk many either (1.3 walks per 9 innings, a league lead).  He’s only pitched 18 games, and I really don’t expect the trend to continue, as he allows almost a home run a game.  That’s low enough to be a quality pitcher, but not to consistently be on this list.

19) Gio Gonzalez (74.15%)- Gio is one of the best parts of the Washington Nationals “Big 3″ (Strasburg and  Zimmerman included).  He has the most wins out of all of them (15, 2 away from a career high), he has the league lead in home runs per 9 innings (0.4), and the league lead in hits per 9 innings (6.9).  His wicked curveball is similar to those of fellow teamate Stephen Strasburg and Barry Zito.  With Strasburg supposedly being out of postseason play, Gio is the man who needs to step up even further, if possible.  This would be by walking less and staying consistent.

20) Ryan Dempster (73.62%)- The Texas new-comer is lucky to even be on this list.  His ERA has gone up 79 points in 4 games, but I think he still has some success in him.  He is aging, however, and is struggling to get wins.  He is a great #3 or #4 in the Rangers rotation, and run support won’t be an issue anymore, as it was with the Cubs.

Think one of your favorite pitchers deserved to be on the list or would you like to just discuss Starting Pitching Valuation, contact me on Twitter @pitchingstats or use the comments section below. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have about about this list, how to calculate SPv and/or how to apply its usage to fantasy baseball. Thanks for reading and be sure to check back next week.

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Top And Bottom 5 BABIPs In The MLB

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Top And Bottom 5 BABIPs In The MLB

Posted on 05 August 2012 by John Unity

This is my first post as a contributor for Full Spectrum Baseball, so what better way to start off my weekly column than to write about my favorite topic, BABIP.  For those of you unfamiliar with BABIP, it is short for Batting Average on Balls In Play.  Simply put, BABIP equals a player’s batting average when the player makes contact with the ball minus home runs.  To a point, it is a measure of luck, since a player has no control of the ball once they make contact.  The league average floats around 0.300.  Players with a BABIP much higher that 0.300 tend to be considered lucky and the players with a much lower BABIP tend to be considered unlucky.  With that being said, there are a lot of factors that could affect the BABIP for the positive and negative.   Line drive, ground ball, and fly ball rates, opponent’s defensive skills, hard/weak hit balls, etc.

BABIP greatly affects a player’s batting average.  A great example of a player who had incredible luck, but eventually came back down to Earth is Bryan LaHair.  In the first month of the season, LaHair had a batting average of 0.390 in 59 at-bats. However, he also had a BABIP of 0.600, twice the average of the MLB… meaning that LaHair got a hit 60% of the time that he connected with the ball.  So, how is LaHair doing now?  He now has batting average of 0.267 with a 0.370 BABIP.  His BABIP is still rather high, but that is mostly due to the fact that he had such an incredible April. As you can see, as his luck diminished, his batting average came down to a normal level for a player of his caliber.

In this article, I am going to take a look at both the top 5 highest and lowest BABIPs in the current season.  I will discuss if the BABIP is the real deal, if the layer is victim to good or bad luck, or if there are other factors playing a role.


Top 5 BABIPs in the MLB

#5 - Melky Cabrera – 0.386 BABIP

I will be the first to admit that I said that Melky will be a bust this year.  I will also admit that because of it, I believe he has waged a personal vendetta against me to prove me wrong.  Melky has been on an absolute tear this season, especially in the months of May and July where he hit for 0.429 and 0.355 averages, respectively.  This season Melky has had high line drive and ground ball rates, and a low fly ball rate.  Combine that with his low strikeout rate and this is what you get.  At 27 years old, Melky is showing everyone that he is the real deal and that last season was no fluke.  Melky won’t be able to keep up at this pace every season that follows, but don’t be surprised to see him fall somewhere between this season’s and last season’s numbers.

Verdict: Pure skill, with a pinch of luck


#4
 - Austin Jackson – 0.396 BABIP

 

Austin Jackson is turning into something really special for the Detroit Tigers.  In fact, Jackson has a 4.5 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), higher than both Price Fielder (2.4) and Miguel Cabrera (4.3).  Last season, Jackson posted a 0.249 AVG with a BABIP of 0.340.  A few big changes have occurred between this season and last season.  This season, Jackson is walking more and striking out less.  Not only has he made changes to his swing, he has also become more patient at the plate and is swinging at better pitches.  This has led to a nice increase in his line drive rate and a slight decrease in both his ground ball and fly ball rates. At only 25 years old, this kid could get better in the years to come.  He could end up becoming one of the best leadoff hitters in the game.  In his three seasons, Jackson has a career BABIP of 0.375 and a batting average of 0.281.  He probably won’t be able to maintain the 0.375 BABIP, but with his skills he could end up somewhere in the 0.350 – 0.360 range.  However, don’t let the lower BABIP scare you… as he matures he should begin to lower his strikeout rate, which will raise his batting average.  He could easily become a career 0.300 – 0.310 hitter.

Verdict: Great skill, with a pinch of luck, and great potential to get better


#3
Mike Trout – 0.397 BABIP

 

I love me some Trout, and who doesn’t?  Mike Trout is arguably the most exciting player in baseball.  Not only is he batting 0.342, but he also has 19 HRs and 33 stolen bases in 387 plate appearances.   At only 20 years old and only 522 plate appearances in his career, it is hard to get a truly accurate reading on him.  However, the one thing I can say about Trout is that this kid is a beast… and the scary thing is that he could end up getting better.

Trout’s 0.397 BABIP, which recently dipped below 0.400, is extremely high.  In the past 75 years, only 4 players finished a season of a BABIP over 0.400 (with a minimum of 500 PAs):

Rod Carew (1977) – 0.408
Jose Hernandez (2002) – 0.404
Manny Ramirez (2000) – 0.403
Roberto Clemente (1967) – 0.403

It would be truly amazing if Trout could finish the season with a BABIP above 0.400, considering his age and the fact that he is a rookie.  I personally don’t see him doing it, but Mike Trout will be a force for years to come.  Trout could put up several seasons with a BABIP close to 0.400, but he should find himself hovering around 0.360 for most of his career, especially if he cuts down on the strikeouts (2012: 20%).

Verdict: He might be a T-800 – Cyborg with human flesh, AKA The Terminator


#2
Joey Votto – 0.398 BABIP

Prior to getting injured, Joey Votto was on pace to rival his 2010 MVP season.  He had posted his highest BABIP (0.398) and batting average (0.342) of his career.  He had also posted the 2nd highest line drive, rate of 30.2%, in the MLB (also highest of his career).  There is little or no luck involved in his BABIP, Votto was just simply seeing the ball well and hitting it hard.  Will Votto do this every season?  No… but he could easily do this again and do it often.  It will be interesting to see how he does when he comes back from his knee surgery, but as for now we are calling him the real deal.

Verdict: Part human, part machine


#1
Andrew McCutchen – 0.423 BABIP

 

With all the attention Mike Trout has received, Andrew McCutchen has been somewhat overlooked.  McCutchen has been having the most impressive hitting season since Larry Walker’s batting average of 0.379 in 1999.  McCutchen is hitting 0.373 this season, and there is no doubt luck has a lot to do with it.  The greatest BABIP in history was in 1923 when Babe Ruth had a 0.423 BABIP (same as McCutchen’s current BABIP).

This season Andrew McCutchen has a slightly high strikeout rate (18.5%) and a slightly low walk rate (9.5 %).  He does have nice line drive, ground ball, and fly ball rates, but not good enough to explain his BABIP.  Not to slam McCutchen’s amazing season, but luck is playing a big part of it.  He will most likely see his BABIP and AVG drop a bit before the end of the season.  However, while Trout’s BABIP has been dropping over the last few weeks, McCutchen’s hasn’t and could easily find himself becoming the 5th player in the last 75 years to post a BABIP over 0.400.

Verdict: Pure talent with a ton of luck


Bottom 5 BABIPs in the MLB

#5Ike Davis – 0.230 BABIP

Throughout Ike’s career in both the majors and minors, he has never posted a BABIP under 0.318.  This season he has posted a BABIP of 0.230 and a batting average of 0.209. So what happened?  Last season ended very early for Ike due to injury and he hasn’t been the same man since he has come back.  Ike is walking less (8.6%) and striking out more (26.3%) than he has ever in his career.  However, Ike is hitting more line drives and ground balls, and less fly balls, which is all good.  You have to wonder if last season’s ankle injury is still causing problems for Ike, both physically and mentally.

Ike Davis is too good of a player for this season to define him.  He has shown flashes of improvement, like his 9 HRs in the month of July, but I don’t expect him to save this season.  I do, however, expect him to make a nice return, in 2013, to the man he really is.

Verdict:  Good player who is experiencing a bit of bad luck, mixed in with physical and mental struggles.


#3 (tied)
Brian McCann – 0.227 BABIP

Brian McCann is having an abnormal season based on his standards.  He is a career 0.282 hitter and is batting 0.242 this season.  He is floating around his career average in walk, strike out, line drive, ground ball, and fly ball rates.  McCann seems like the perfect example of a player that is flat out having bad luck.  Expect to see him recover a bit and hopefully salvage this forgettable season.

Verdict:  Great offensive catcher with a truck load of bad luck


#3
(tied) – Casey Kotchman – 0.227 BABIP

Casey Kotchman has never really been known for his offense.  In fact, his career BABIP is a low 0.275.  In his nine seasons in the MLB, Casey has posted a BABIP under 0.250 four times.  He has a career isolated power rating of 0.130, so he rarely hits the ball very hard.  He doesn’t walk much, but he doesn’t strikeout much either.  Almost 60% of his batted balls are ground balls.  When you hit a lot of soft ground balls, you’re going to find yourself getting out a lot.

Casey is a great defensive first baseman, although he’s had some issues this season.  He will never be the normal power hitting first basemen that most of us are so used to.

Verdict:  Let’s just say, he’s not in the MLB for his offense, and leave it at that 


#2
Jose Bautista – 0.217 BABIP

Yes… the 2010 and 2011 homerun leader finds himself with the 2nd lowest BABIP in the league.  Why and how, you ask?  Simply put, he has fallen in love with the homerun ball. 50% of his batted balls are fly balls and only 14% of his batted balls are line drives.  He is literally trying to hit a homerun every time he comes up to bat.  The 0.217 BABIP doesn’t come as much as a surprise as you would think.  In 2010, when he hit 54 homeruns, he had a BABIP of 0.233.  In fact, last season’s BABIP of 0.309 and 0.302 average could be considered “lucky”.  Bautista will more than likely post a BABIP in the 0.220 – 0.240 range for the rest of his career.  And why not? “Chicks love the long ball”.

The interesting thing with Bautista is that his career could end up being cut short.  He is turning 32 years old in October.  If and when his strength starts to fade, he will see the homerun totals start to fall.  At that point he could be in trouble, because all he knows how to do is skyrocket a ball into the seats.  When his strength does diminish, we’ll probably see the pre-2010 Bautista that we all knew before.

Verdict:  No bad luck, just a man who loves his homeruns


#1 Justin Smoak – 0.211 BABIP

With a BABIP of 0.211 and a batting average of 0.189, it’s easy to understand why the Mariners sent Justin Smoak back down to AAA.  He has posted his lowest walk rate (7.7%) in his professional career, including in the minors.  He has also posted his 2nd highest strikeout rate (22.7%) and lowest isolated power (0.131).  He has a pathetically low line drive rate of 15% and a high fly ball rate of 43.8%.  Combine all this together and you can see that back luck has little to do with his struggles.  He is impatient at the plate, swings at bad pitches, and is not making good contact with the ball. In 2010, MLB listed Smoak as the #9 in their top prospects list.  He has yet to live up to his potential, so hopefully he will be able to figure things out with a little more conditioning in the minors.

Verdict: Not MLB material right now, but could be at some point


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