(Ryan Cothran has joined the Walk-Off Walk team and I want to thank him for his contributions – both with this article and in the future. Be sure to follow Ryan on Twitter.)
It was a few days back when I dropped a tweet and, for a lack of a better term, received what seemed at the time, some scorn from someone I respect quite a bit.
First off, let’s get this out of the way. Alan and I are former colleagues, respect each other, and message quite often about Braves news and such. He’s a big part of why I still want to write Braves material. Furthermore, it turns out that Alan and I agree on many points regarding BABIP. His rant made quite a lot of sense and I suggest reading it over at Tomahawk Take to educate oneself on the matter.
One thing Alan and I might not agree on in regards to BABIP is that it’s a valuable statistic that the Braves have overlooked for YEARS and has caused many a headache for both fans and GMs alike.
What is BABIP? I’m glad you asked, and it’s quite simple really. From Fangraphs:
Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) measures how often a ball in play goes for a hit. A ball is “in play” when the plate appearance ends in something other than a strikeout, walk, hit batter, catcher’s interference, sacrifice bunt, or home run.
Important Piece of BABIP: The basic MLB average of BABIP is .290-.300, but it’s more complicated than that as players that use all parts of the field, top-tier speed guys, or even guys with a high hard contact rate can defy BABIP on a regular basis. On the contrary, heavy LHH pull-power hitters such as Brian McCann and Anthony Rizzo will carry BABIPs below the norm pretty regularly due to their hard contact being hit into the teeth of a shift and due to HRs not factored into BABIP. Now let’s get back to the lecture at hand.
Chris Johnson, Jose Constanza, Jeff Francoeur, Emilio Bonifacio, Danny Santana, Chase d’Arnaud, and Pedro Ciriaco…some of these guys stories are quite different, some seem like clones, but all have a common denominator that’s earned them quite a chunk of change (over 30 million dollars collectively, but more importantly, roster spots over better players) from the Braves: a BABIP fluke.
To start this study off, we will take a look at Chris Johnson, who makes up most of the money in this study and his extension is one of the most notorious in Braves history. In this exercise, we will evaluate Chris Johnson and his 2012 without the Braves and his next 2 years with the Braves.
First, we all knew that CJ was a sub-optimal defender at 3rd and that any value he held was going to be held in his bat, but let’s get the baseball cliches out of the way on CJ: He’s a good line-drive hitter that uses all parts of the field and keeps fielders honest. He’s also slow as molasses and needs this skill to stay relevant in baseball.
|By Sgt. Anthony Hewitt [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
Nick Markakis: career: .317 current: .368 Conclusion: Nick’s power stroke hasn’t shown up yet, but he’s squaring up balls on the regular. I’d expect the BABIP to drop down into the .330s but come close to maintaining his overall slash-line.