Monday, January 7, 2013

The unluckiest man in baseball

BABIP is without a doubt one of my favorite statistics. Whenever someone is having an unprecedented hot or cold streak you can almost always find a spike or dip in BABIP to accompany it and help explain the bad or good luck that player is experiencing. Today I thought it would be fun to explore some of the unluckier players in baseball this year. First off the man with lowest batting average on balls in play and therefore our unluckiest player of the year is... Cleveland Indian Justin Smoak.

The Smoak monster had a paltry .242 BABIP and an accompanying batting average of .217. His career BABIP over three seasons is actually quite low at .255 so one has to wonder if Smoak is super unlucky or is actually batting in a way that causes a greater percent of his balls in play to be successfully fielded. He doesn't hit many line drives (18% career) favoring grounders and fly balls (82% career) which probably has a lot to do with his low BABIP.

The second unluckiest man in baseball was our old favorite, the hard partying, Ike Davis. Ike had a .246 BABIP that led to a .227 BA. In his other full season Ike went the opposite direction and had a lucky bat (.321 BABIP) and a higher but not great BA of .264. Frankly we haven't seen what Ike will do when he his BABIP averages out closer to the baseline but logic would dictate he would be somewhere between .230 and .260. Ike is young however and his swing can change. It will have to frankly, he will either need to become a better average hitter to couple with his decent power numbers or become a better power hitter to go with his low average.

Number three on the list is Adam Dunn, who just fascinates me. Dunn just kind of looks like a high school bully, if someone were to make a movie of his life, he would almost certainly be played by 80's character actor Donald Gibb (he of Ray Jackson and Ogre fame). Dunn was regarded by many to have had a comeback year this year posting a .204 batting average (he has a BABIP of .246 and a K% of 34.2, the highest in baseball) which was in fact a huge improvement of his 2011 average of .159. Pretty much all Dunn did this year was hit 41 home runs. Now I would never sneeze at 41 home runs, that is an elite power hitting season by any standard but you have to question how valuable those 41 homers are when you pretty much only hit a homer or don't reach base at all. The real question is how Dunn even got this second chance after 2011 when batted .159 and shockingly hit just 11 homers.

This is perfect casting.
Conversely Dunn could play Ogre in a Revenge of the Nerds remake.

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