Good or bad, luck is always a factor — and a nearly impossible to predict factor at that.
Batting average on balls in play tries. BABIP is a Sabermetric that eliminates some variables from batting average to determine which side of luck a player is currently on.
The statistic works for both hitters and pitchers and a “normal” BABIP should be around .300 for both. Since 2005, no hitter has finished with a .400 BABIP and in 2005 Miguel Cabrera led the league with .358.
A word of caution: Line drive hitters have naturally higher BABIPs because the balls they put in play are less likely to be popouts/flyouts or groundouts. Like any statistical analysis, use with caution.
The statistical formula for calculating BABIP is (H-HR)/(AB-K-HR+SF).
Following is a list of the league leading hitters in BABIP through May 5, 2010:
1. Austin Jackson — Leading the league with a juicy .524 BABIP. That means Jackson has been very lucky, line drives or not. He’s hitting .376. Even if he regresses to a league-leading BABIP in the .390s by the end of the season, that’s still more than a 130-point drop.
2. David Freese — Looked at his stats in the preseason and just couldn’t recommend Freese. He’s been pretty good of late, but his .438 BABIP should be cause for concern. That number was in the .350-.360 range for most of his minor-league career. He’s batting .360 now, but attribute that to luck more than anything else.
3. Evan Longoria — He’s having an MVP-caliber season — figures, I stayed away from him in all my leagues — but BABIP should have his owners concerned. Longoria’s BABIPing .426 and hitting .364. He’s not going to be terrible, but he probably won’t keep this pace either.
4. Michael Bourn — Red flag: Has the same BABIP as Longoria. Longoria we can expect to be good. Bourn, a career .266 hitter, is hitting .326. Everybody was shocked when he hit .285 last year. He won’t keep this up.
5. Franklin Gutierrez — One of my preseason late-round recommendations is BABIPing .421. That’s a lot, especially for him. The good fortune has translated into an early .337 average. As much rooting interest as I have in him, he’s a .280 hitter.
6. Ryan Theriot — He’s been smashing the ball, but with a .418 BABIP he’s had a little luck, too. Theriot is hitting .357 this season.
7. Jayson Werth — Werth, a .260-.270 hitter has been a great fantasy talent for a couple years now. He might have a .300 season in him, but he can’t keep this .348 pace and his .412 BABIP backs up that statement.
8. Colby Rasmus — With a .409 BABIP you’d expect a hitter to have a better batting average than .312. He has the power, but he couldn’t hit for average in the minors, and won’t keep this pace now.
9. Chase Headley — Backed Headley a couple times in our daily updates, but his .400 BABIP shows he’s been pretty lucky so far this season. His .327 average is a little high by about 30 points.
10. Shin-Soo Choo — The first realistic BABIP on the list (.394) goes to Choo. He’s hitting .309 on the season. His BABIP has been well above average throughout his career and he’s got a .297 career average in the majors, so believe the .309.