We’ve already discussed how Batting Average on Balls In Play can reflect luck for baseball players.
We looked at lucky hitters May 5, but today we’re going to look at the less fortunate batters. For several of these players expect an eventual uptick in numbers, making them viable buy low candidates at this time.
The top 10 unluckiest hitters in baseball (statistics through May 17):
1. Carlos Quentin — He’s missed three games in a row with stomach issues, probably brought on by his .180 BABIP and matching .180 average. He’s made a point to hit it where they is a lot so far this season. He starts hitting it where they ain’t at a normal .300 clip — he had a .221 BABIP last season, and a .249 in his career, so no guarantees — he could produce like he did during that breakout 2008 campaign.
2. Akinora Iwamura — His .184 BABIP is well below his .332 career number. He doesn’t produce enough counting stats to be a huge fantasy play, but when the BABIP corrects he’s going to rap out a few hits. As of this writing he has a minor hamstring strain and will miss a couple games.
3. Aramis Ramirez — His .190 BABIP has cost a lot of fantasy owners this season. He’s got a .167 average. With a career BABIP almost .100 higher than what he’s shown in 2010, Ramirez is one of the best buy-low candidates on this list. However, his injury plagued 2009 might be a sign that the 32-year-old is on the decline so don’t overpay.
4. Casey Kotchman — He’s not someone you’ll own for your mixed league fantasy team unless he’s on a hot streak, but with a .192 BABIP, .080 under his career mark, we can expect a hot streak in the future.
5. A.J. Pierzynski — Usually logs in right around the .300 mark in BABIP, but is BABIPing .196 as I type and you read. Again, he’s nobody you’re going to go out and acquire, but it’s worth knowing he’ll heat up, especially for those of us with a revolving door at catcher.
6. Paul Konerko — The single most surprising name on this list because Konerko’s been good. Despite his unlucky .198 BABIP, Konerko is hitting .263 with 13 homers and 28 RBI. So, let’s say his luck changes (he’s a career .288 BABIPer, so that’s a safe assumption). What is he capable of? Acquire Konerko if you can.
7. Carlos Lee — We go from the most surprising batters to one of the least surprising. Lee has been horrendous and his .211 BABIP — almost .080 off his career mark — has him hitting .199 with just three homers. He’s a career .289 hitter, but has hit over .300 for four consecutive seasons and has at least 24 homers in 10 straight. It’s a gamble, just like any buy-low candidate, but it’s worth shopping for Lee.
8. Brendan Ryan — Spent the spring recovering from a wrist injury and now he’s losing playing time to Tyler Greene and will lose more to Felipe Lopez when he returns from the DL. Ryan is BABIPing .215 and hitting just .162. He might not get a chance to turn his luck around.
9. Carlos Pena — If any batter can’t afford to be unlucky, it’s one that’s already on pace for another 160-K season. Pena’s .218 BABIP is about .070 off his career mark. He’s hitting just .180.
10. Melky Cabrera — Another player who is not on any fantasy rosters and likely won’t be on many even if his .223 BABIP improves. Still, a hot streak is likely considering his career BABIP is .287 and his career average is nearly 70 points higher than his current average.
Since quite a few of the players on this list are unsavory fantasy plays, here are a couple other noteable players with BABIPs 50 points or more below the average .300 mark:
Victor Martinez — 2010 BABIP: .227, career: .310
Mark Teixeira — 2010 BABIP: .234, career: .306
Gordon Beckham — 2010 BABIP: .235, last season: .290 (He was a rookie in 2009)
Chone Figgins — 2010 BABIP: .240, career: .338
Hunter Pence — 2010 BABIP: .243, career: .318