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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Aaron Judge: does .413 BA on balls in play (BAbip) suggest dominance or coming adjustment?

163 batters in 2017 have enough plate appearances (PA) to qualify for leading in average stats at the half way point of the season.

BA on balls in play (BAbip) is a somewhat odd stat: (Hits - Home Runs) / (AB - SO - HR + SF). It makes more sense for batters than applying what batters did against particular pitchers.

For batters BAbip can bounce between a couple of interpretations. Its conventional wisdom is that a player with a too high BAbip is lucky and doomed to an equal and opposite performance. The other is that it reflects the type of batter: maybe slow, maybe often making soft contact, maybe often hitting the crap out of the ball.

Here are the top and bottom batters with a league average of about .298.

RkPlayerBAbipYearAgeTmLgGPAABRH2B3BHRRBIBBIBBSOHBPSHSFGDPSBCSBAOBPSLGOPSPos
1Ben Gamel.459201725SEAAL57248221417715242722061113320.348.405.489.894*97/3
2Aaron Judge.413201725NYYAL7633427370891232762584963001062.326.449.6891.138*9/DH
3Miguel Sano.385201724MINAL7230125946701121854425106000600.270.372.537.909*5D/3H
4Avisail Garcia.384201726CHWAL753092894092173115113267700822.318.362.512.875*9/DH
5Tim Beckham.383201727TBRAL72289267287453103118091211653.277.326.431.757*6/4H
6Corey Dickerson.374201728TBRAL7734031660103203173919370301523.326.369.570.938*D7/H
7Xander Bogaerts.372201724BOSAL76326299499420453623356301991.314.368.458.826*6
8Zack Cozart.371201731CINNL59259223407216593332047103320.323.405.561.966*6/D
9Keon Broxton.364201727MILNL77275248456112413322211044012145.246.316.484.800*8/H
10Matt Kemp.363201732ATLNL6627926331812001238162610001402.308.348.521.869*7/DH

151Albert Pujols.250201737LAAAL753233002470901152203560031210.233.279.373.652*D/3H
152Anthony Rizzo.243201727CHCNL7935429148751511850487401302752.258.384.502.886*3/4H7
153Josh Bell.242201724PITNL8030226839621321537322601011021.231.315.463.777*3/HD
154Carlos Santana.241201731CLEAL78346298466718194145449201730.225.329.383.712*3/D9
155Alex Gordon.236201733KCRAL70274238234610132025255812312.193.289.282.571*7/8H9
156Rougned Odor.231201723TEXAL803363193866112133412178401594.207.244.376.620*4/D
157Joey Gallo.228201723TEXAL7427924247471122141340107300150.194.301.517.818*53/H7
158Manny Machado.226201724BALAL743252913363150153830267103741.216.289.423.712*5
159Mike Napoli.225201735TEXAL65254225284360143222384402801.191.273.404.677*3D/H
160Maikel Franco.224201724PHINL7431028326621301038232441031500.219.277.371.648*5/DH
161Todd Frazier.216201731CHWAL702892443452110153941161103243.213.325.443.768*5D/3H
162Jose Reyes.214201734NYMNL762962633353104626281390322101.202.276.338.615*65/H8
163Kyle Schwarber.193201724CHCNL642612223138100122836175300300.171.295.378.673*7/HD23

Only Ben Gamel and Aaron Judge have BAbip at least .400. They were teammates on the Yankee AAA 2016 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Maybe GM Brian Cashman was paying too much attention to Clint Frazier when he sent Gamel to Seattle for Juan De Paula (minors) and Jio Orozco (minors).

Gamel seems more like a lucky candidate than Judge, who has been hitting the crap out of the ball when he does hit it (number 8 in SO with 96) and leads in exit velocity.

Among the bottom batters in BAbip are: Pujols (sixth worst in 2016) and Machado. Pujols is rated the slowest runner in the league. Machado is likely hitting in bad luck and maybe more soft contact than usual. Gallo has 21 HR and a "league" leading 107 SO but neither counts in BAbip. See, it's odd, especially if used for pitchers. Frazier is third worst in 2017 and was worst in 2016, so serious problems.

Bryce Harper is number 17 in 2017 with .356 but was number 138 of 146 in 2016 with .264. Harper might have hit in bad luck in 2016.

DJ LeMahieu led in 2016 with .388 and also led in BA with .348.

2016:
RkPlayerBAbipYearAgeTmLgGPAABRH2B3BHRRBIBBIBBSOHBPSHSFGDPSBCSBAOBPSLGOPSPos
1DJ LeMahieu.388201627COLNL14663555210419232811666628038619117.348.416.495.911*4/H
2Starling Marte.380201627PITNL12952948971152345946235104161084712.311.362.456.818*78/H
3J.D. Martinez.378201628DETAL1205174606914135222684921283051312.307.373.535.908*9/HD
4Jonathan Villar.373201625MILNL15667958992168383196379417425476218.285.369.457.826*654/H
5Mike Trout.371201624LAAAL159681549123173325291001161213711055307.315.441.550.991*8D/H
6Freddie Freeman.370201626ATLNL1586935891021784363491891817110051261.302.400.569.968*3
7Joey Votto.366201632CINNL1586775561011813422997108151205081681.326.434.550.985*3/HD
8Cesar Hernandez.363201626PHINL15562254767161141163966411625261713.294.371.393.764*4/H6
9Paul Goldschmidt.358201628ARINL15870557910617233324951101515070814325.297.411.489.899*3/D
10J.T. Realmuto.357201625MIANL13754550960154310114828110050312124.303.343.428.771*2H/D

2017 so far for them:
25. LeMahieu .346
Marte: suspended 80 games for using PED; may return July 18, 2017
Martinez: not enough PA
105. Villar .287
Trout: not enough PA
Freeman: not enough PA
104. Votto .288
Hernandez: not enough PA
12. Goldschmidt .360
47. Realmuto .328

So what about Judge? Can he sustain his .413 BAbip for the second half of 2017 and have a rookie season for the ages? Can he keep it above .388, the 2016 high, which would give Judge about .400 BAbip for the entire 2017 season? It's been done only 16 times since 1913:

RkPlayerBAbipYearAgeTmLgGPAABRH2B3BHRRBIBBIBBSOHBPSHSFGDPSBCSBAOBPSLGOPSPos
1Babe Ruth.423192328NYYAL15269752215120545134113017093431721.393.545.7641.30997/83
2Rogers Hornsby.422192428STLNL143642536121227431425948932213512.424.507.6961.203*4
3George Sisler.422192229SLBAL1426555861342464218810549143165119.420.467.5941.061*3/H
4Ty Cobb.416192235DETAL1376135269921142164995524427913.401.462.5651.026*8/H
5Ty Cobb.415191326DETAL122504428701671816467583141151.390.467.5351.002*8/94
6Harry Heilmann.414192328DETAL144627524121211441118115744052397.403.481.6321.113*93/H
7Rogers Hornsby.409192125STLNL15467459213123544182112660487151313.397.458.6391.097*4/7653
8Rod Carew.408197731MINAL15569461612823938161410069155531562313.388.449.5701.019*3/H4D
9Jose Hernandez.404200232MILNL1525825257215124224735251884011935.288.356.478.834*6/H
10Manny Ramirez.403200028CLEAL1185324399215434238122869117304911.351.457.6971.154*9D
11Roberto Clemente.403196732PITNL14763258510320926102311041171033031591.357.400.554.954*9/H8
12George Sisler.401192027SLBAL15469263113725749181912246192134217.407.449.6321.082*3/1
13Ty Cobb.401191932DETAL12454849792191361316738221928.384.429.515.944*8/H
14Luke Appling.400193629CHWAL1386185261112043176128852516106.388.474.508.981*6/H
15Bill Terry.400193031NYGNL15470863313925439152312957331198.401.452.6191.071*3
16Ty Cobb.400191730DETAL15267258810722544246106613441655.383.444.5701.014*89/H

Jose Hernandez is the most recent and the one who least fits with the others. Hernandez and Manny Ramirez are only ones not in the Hall of Fame. Hernandez led in SO with 188. Remember, SO don't count in BAbip. Aaron Judge might lead in SO in 2017. And HR, which also don't count in BAbip.

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