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.

New MLB labor deal: All-Star Game no longer determines home field in World Series

New MLB labor deal: All-Star Game no longer determines home field in World Series

IRVING, Texas -- Baseball players and owners reached a tentative agreement on a five-year labor contract Wednesday night, a deal that will extend the sport's industrial peace to 26 years since the ruinous fights in the first two decades of free agency.

After days of near round-the-clock talks, negotiators reached a verbal agreement about 3 1/2 hours before the expiration of the current pact. Then they worked to draft a memorandum of understanding, which must be ratified by both sides.

"It's great! Another five years of uninterrupted baseball," Oakland catcher Stephen Vogt said in a text message.

In announcing the agreement, Major League Baseball and the players' association said they will make specific terms available when drafting is complete.

"Happy it's done, and baseball is back on," Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Brandon McCarthy said.

As part of the deal, the experiment of having the All-Star Game determine which league gets home-field advantage in the World Series will end after 14 years, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been signed.

Instead, the pennant winner with the better regular-season record will open the Series at home.

Another important change: The minimum time for a stint on the disabled list will be reduced from 15 days to 10.

The luxury tax threshold rises from $189 million to $195 million next year, $197 million in 2018, $206 million in 2019, $209 million in 2020 and $210 million in 2021.

Tax rates increase from 17.5 percent to 20 percent for first offenders, remain at 30 percent for second offenders and rise from 40 percent to 50 percent for third offenders. There is a new surtax of 12 percent for teams $20 million to $40 million above the threshold, 42.5 percent for first offenders more than $40 million above the threshold and 45 percent for subsequent offenders more than $40 million above.

Union head Tony Clark, presiding over a negotiation for the first time, said in a statement the deal "will benefit all involved in the game and leaves the game better for those who follow."

Key changes involve the qualifying offers clubs can make to their former players after they become free agents - the figure was $17.2 million this year. If a player turns down the offer and signs elsewhere, his new team forfeits an amateur draft pick, which usually had been in the first round under the old deal.

Under the new rules, a player can receive a qualifying offer only once in his career and will have 10 days to consider it instead of seven. A club signing a player who declined a qualifying offer would lose its third-highest amateur draft pick if it is a revenue-sharing receiver, its second- and fifth-highest picks (plus a loss of $1 million in its international draft pool) if it pays luxury tax for the just-ended season, and its second-highest pick (plus $500,000 in the international draft pool) if it is any other team.

A club losing a free agent who passed up a qualifying offer would receive an extra selection after the first round of the next draft if the player signed a contract for $50 million or more and after competitive balance round B if under $50 million. However, if that team pays luxury tax, the extra draft pick would drop to after the fourth round.

Among other details:

-For a team $40 million or more in excess of the luxury tax threshold, its highest selection in the next amateur draft will drop 10 places.

-While management failed to obtain an international draft of amateurs residing outside the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada, it did get a hard cap on each team's annual bonus pool for those players starting at $4.75 million for the signing period that begins next July 2.

-There is no change to limits on active rosters, which remain at 25 for most of the season and 40 from Sept. 1 on.

-Smokeless tobacco will be banned for all new players, those who currently do not have at least one day of major league service.

-The regular season will expand from 183 days to 187 starting in 2018, creating four more scheduled off days. There are additional limitations on the start times of night games on getaway days.

-The minimum salary rises from $507,500 to $535,000 next year, $545,000 in 2018 and $555,000 in 2019, with cost-of-living increases the following two years; the minor league minimum for a player appearing on the 40-man roster for at least the second time goes up from $82,700 to $86,500 next year, $88,000 in 2018 and $89,500 in 2019, followed by cost-of-living raises.

-The drop-off in slot values in the first round of the amateur draft will be lessened.

-Oakland's revenue-sharing funds will be cut to 75 percent next year, 50 percent in 2018, 25 percent in 2019 and then phased out.

-As part of the drug agreement, there will be increased testing, players will not be credited with major league service time during suspensions, and biomarker testing for HGH will begin next year.

Negotiators met through most of Tuesday night in an effort to increase momentum in the talks, which began during spring training. This is the third straight time the sides reached a new agreement before the old contract expired, but a deal was struck eight weeks in advance in 2006 and three weeks ahead of expiration in 2011.

Talks took place at a hotel outside Dallas where the players' association held its annual executive board meeting.

Clark, the first former player to serve as executive director of the union, and others set up in a meeting room within earshot of a children's choir practicing Christmas carols. A man dressed as Santa Claus waited nearby.

Baseball had eight work stoppages from 1972-95, the last a 7 1/2-month strike in 1994-95 that led to the first cancellation of the World Series in 90 years. The 2002 agreement was reached after players authorized a strike and about 3 1/2 hours before the first game that would have been impacted by a walkout.

The peace in baseball is in contrast to the recent labor histories of other major sports. The NFL had a preseason lockout in 2011, the NBA lost 240 games to a lockout that same year and the NHL lost 510 games to a lockout in 2012-13.