Red Sox

Nation Station: What is BABIP?

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Nation Station: What is BABIP?

By Bill Chuck
Special to CSNNE.com

I want to briefly share with you some information about one of my favorite stats: BABIP. To start with, this should not be confused with one of my favorite Korean dishes, Bibimbap, which a bowl of warm white rice topped with all sorts of delicious goodies and spices.

BABIP is an acronym for Batting Average on Balls In Play and, like the name suggests, it tracks what happens when a ball is hit and can or cannot be fielded. I like the fact that it can be used both to see what is going from the hitters perspective and the pitchers, as it measures what happens when the batter hits the ball and what happens after the pitcher delivers the ball. It also takes into account, to a degree, fielding expertise, but lets not muddy the water too much.

Heres the simple BABIP formula:

-- Hits minus homers (remember it's balls in play; a homer most of the time is not playable)

-- Divided by At Bats minus strikeouts (not in play), minus homers, plus Sacrifice Flies (sac flies are playable balls but dont count as At Bats which is why they need to be added back into the equation).

The average BABIP is between .290 and .310, which means that about 30 percent of all balls that are hit, fall for base hits. There are certain variables that you should be aware of when looking at how far above or below a BABIP average might be.

Lets look at Adrian Gonzalez, who through Tuesday is a lifetime .284 hitter with a career .310 BABIP. This season, his batting average is about the same as his career average but his BABIP is .329, considerably higher. Why is that? Well, for one thing, thus far Adrian has yet to find the power stroke that he had in San Diego, so he has more hits in play.

Now, lets look at Carl Crawford, who through Tuesday is a lifetime .294 hitter with a career .329 BABIP. Why is his BABIP so much higher than A-Gons? Because speed is a BABIP variable. CC will beat out hits, while Gonzalez will barely edge out tortoises in a race. Crawford is not even hitting .170 on the season and his BABIP is just .188. It was .342 each of the last two seasons. We should expect things to level out as the season progresses.

If speed is a variable, so is luck. I still find it incredible that any pitcher can throw a no-hitter. How many times have you seen a batter hit a ball on the screws only to see it nestle itself comfortably in a fielders glove? Probably the same amount of times youve seen a batter get totally fooled on a pitch, or a break a bat, and watch as a dribbler sneaks through the infield or a pop falls safely for a hit. Dont discount the goodbad luck factor in hitting and that does have an influence on BABIP.

Chances are though that over the course of a season a batters BABIP will settle in between .290 and .310 and that is why it becomes an interesting way to see where a player is now and basically, the likelihood that player will return to what is normal. Recently numbers were released that showed run scoring is down this season. When you look at the chart blow, you will also see that the AL average BABIP is down as well and it remains to be seen if that is a first month quirk or a season pattern.

Here are the Sox batting BABIP stats through Tuesday:

BAbip BA lgBA MikeCameron .188 .136 .254 CarlCrawford .188 .163 .254 J.D.Drew .375 .276 .254 JacobyEllsbury .250 .221 .254 AdrianGonzalez .329 .281 .254 JedLowrie .413 .400 .255 DarnellMcDonald .111 .133 .255 DavidOrtiz .267 .261 .254 DustinPedroia .323 .284 .254 JarrodSaltalamacchia .286 .186 .255 MarcoScutaro .222 .208 .254 JasonVaritek .158 .100 .254 KevinYoukilis .244 .212 .254 League Average .283 .248 .248 Team Total .277 .237 .254

BABIP averages that stood out to me are Kevin Youkilis (lifetime BABIP of .332), Jed Lowrie (lifetime BABIP of .308), and J.D. Drew (lifetime BABIP of .314).

Lets look at the other side of the ball: The Red Sox pitchers. Lets start by understanding that Sox have superior defense. They have committed the fewest errors in the American League, just seven through Tuesday, and just think about the outfield where Crawford and Ellsbury have speed to burn and you never ever see Drew out of position or mis-read a fly ball. Good defense will help every pitcher lower their BABIP.

Here are the Sox pitching BABIP stats through Tuesday:

BA BAbip HidekiOkajima .400 .500 BobbyJenks .290 .409 DennysReyes .333 .400 DanWheeler .333 .360 JonathanPapelbon .226 .350 FelixDoubront .364 .333 DanielBard .229 .320 ClayBuchholz .312 .308 JohnLackey .284 .308 JonLester .230 .288 League Average .248 .283 DaisukeMatsuzaka .198 .210 MattAlbers .143 .200 JoshBeckett .138 .182 TimWakefield .231 .182 AlfredoAceves .179 .143 Team Total .241 .274
(Tables courtesy of baseball-reference.com.)

Pitchers that standout for me are Jonathan Papelbon (.275 lifetime BABIP), Josh Beckett (.297 lifetime BABIP), and Bobby Jenks (.302 lifetime BABIP).

You can see that Clay Buchholz and John Lackey are both 25 points higher than the rest of the league for BABIP. Of greater concern is that Buchholz is 45 points higher than his 2010 performance, his only full year in the majors.

Im always contending that Lackey is your prototypical WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) pitcher and he is proving it again this season: his 2011 BABIP and his career BABIP are both .308.

Delicious BABIP Stats:

-- Wade Boggs had a career BABIP of .344, Ted Williams was .328, Carl Yastrzemski was .290, and Pedro Martinez pitching had a .288 BABIP.

-- BTW: Ichiro has a lifetime .356 BABIP.

Now go out to your favorite Korean restaurant and try some bibimbap and then, when you're watching the Sox, try some BABIP. I think youll find them both very satisfying.

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

For the glass-is-half-full folks, there are those back-to-back Eastern Division titles. For the glass-is-half-empty folks, well, there are those two first-round playoff ousters (though both their conquerers made it to the World Series, and one of them won it). But, here on Thanksgiving night, there's plenty for Red Sox Nation to be thankful for, starting with . . . 


YOUR GOOD HEALTH

We know you don’t need the Red Sox to know you how important the most basic elements of life are. But sometimes, the typical fantasy land of baseball can grab our attention. The death of 17-year-old Sox prospect Daniel Flores (above) this month from complications because of cancer didn’t take away only a potentially great baseball career. It took away a beloved, hard-working young person from the people who loved him. He had just made millions of dollars in July for his talent on the field, but what does such a windfall matter compared to one’s health? His cancer was both rare and fast-moving, per the Boston Globe.

MOOKIE, JACKIE, XANDER, BENINTENDI, DEVERS

The kids deserve some love. They probably won’t be together on the Red Sox forever. Heck, the group could get broken up this winter. But while any of the Killer B’s (plus a D) remain on the Sox, there should be a sense of optimism. Two straight 93-win seasons may have resulted in a first-round exit, and 2017 didn’t meet expectations for some individual performances. But you know what? The youths are still damn good, and there’s time for them to show us they can be even better.

INSANELY GOOD PITCHERS IN CHRIS SALE AND CRAIG KIMBREL

Neither hogs the spotlight once the game ends or says too much. Sale doesn’t even have Twitter. But the righty closer and lefty starter both do two things exceedingly well: make batters swing and miss, and prevent runs. When both pitch, your seat at the park may well be worth the price of admission. (But we won’t ask what you paid for those seats.) Sale didn’t take down Pedro Martinez’s Sox single-season strikeout record this year, finishing with five fewer than Martinez’s 313 in 1999. But he could have done it. And with a little more rest next year, one can envision him plowing his way through playoff opponents too.

ALEX CORA'S NEW DIRECTION

A first-time manager’s not a sure thing, but as Sox owner John Henry noted, there was a feeling it was time for a change. It’s a little early to be thinking ahead to a New Year’s resolution, but a manager who better connects with his players and brings a different vibe to the day-to-day scene is reason to feel the Sox are following the right road map. Plus, if nothing else, Cora took that awesome picture walking toward Fenway.

A CHRISTMAS SHOPPING SPREE MAY BE AROUND THE CORNER

We don’t want to be too materialistic. But Uncle Dave Dombrowski couldn’t let you buy everything you wanted last year. The credit card companies needed him to step back for a year. Now he’s ready to spend. He might not close down Bloomingdale’s for the day for you to do your private shopping, but if you need a couple great jackets to complete your look, it sounds like he’s ready to get you some designer threads. He probably feels there won’t be too many chances to have a moment like this with you, at this stage of your life, and he wants to make the most of it.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 

Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

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Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

BOSTON — There is a world outside of Giancarlo Stanton. 

Stanton, at this point, simply doesn’t appear likely to end up in Boston. That should feel obvious to those following along, and so should this: it can change. 

But there are other pursuits. Besides their search for a bat or two, the Red Sox have been actively pursuing left-handed relief options. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is a fast mover, but this year’s market has not been.

MORE RED SOX:

Robbie Ross Jr. and Fernando Abad are both free agents, leaving Robby Scott as the lone incumbent southpaw from last season's primary group. Brian Johnson is bound for the pen, with Roenis Elias as a depth option too.  Still, even if Johnson’s transition pans out, the Sox still have an opening for a late-inning reliever with the departure of free agent Addison Reed. 

Reed is a righty, but between Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, Carson Smith, and Craig Kimbrel, the Sox have more right-handed choices than left. Coming back from surgery, Tyler Thornburg, should be in the mix eventually too, but it's difficult to expect too much from him.

What the Red Sox should do: sign one of each for the bullpen, one righty, and one lefty. And then trade a righty or two. Turn some of that mishmash into an addition elsewhere. Be creative. 

Because inevitably, come midseason, the Sox will want to add another bullpen arm if they sign just one now. Why wait until you have to give up prospect capital when you can just add the piece you want now?

Go get a near-sure thing such as Pat Neshek, a veteran who walks no one and still strikeouts a bunch. At 37 with an outgoing personality, Neshek also brings leadership to a team that is looking for some. He walked just six guys in 62 innings last season. Entering his 12th season in the majors, he’s looking for his first ring.

All these top of the market relievers may be handsomely paid. But relievers are still something of a bargain compared to position players and starting pitchers. One of the key words for this winter should be creativity. If there’s value to be had in the reliever market, capitalize on it. 

Comeback kid Mike Minor, Jake McGee and Tony Watson headline the crop of free agent lefties available. Brad Hand of the Padres could also be had by trade but his market isn’t moving too quickly (and he won’t come cheaply).

Minor, 29, who posted a 2.55 ERA in 2017 after health issues kept him out of the majors in 2015-16, is expected to be paid handsomely. He is also open to the idea of potentially starting if a team is interested in him doing so. The Royals reportedly could give him that shot.

McGee’s American League East experience could be appealing.

He's 31 and had a 3.61 ERA with the Rockies in 2017 and has a 3.15 ERA lifetime. He’s not quite the strikeout pitcher he was earlier in his career — he had an 11.6 K/9 in 2015 — but a 9.1 K/9 is still very strong, particularly when coupled with just 0.6 homers allowed per nine.

For what it’s worth: McGee has also dominated the Red Sox, who have a .125 average, .190 on-base percentage and .192 slugging against him in 117 regular-season plate appearances. 

McGee throws a mid-90s fastball with a low-80s slider. He can operate up in the zone, and he actually has been even more effective against righties than lefties in his career, including in 2017. McGee’s been a closer, too, with 44 career saves.

The Sox had the second-best bullpen in the majors by ERA in 2017, at 3.07. Yet, come the postseason, there wasn’t a sense of great confidence or even a clear shape to the pecking order behind one of the absolute best relievers in the game, Kimbrel.