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How will BABIP treat J.D. Martinez in 2015?

BABIP Files: Fantasy Busts in the Outfield


BaseballMLB

Welcome back to The BABIP Files. Hopefully you’ve stayed with me in my journey around the infield. For a more in-depth explanation of how I’m using BABIP, check out my BABIP Files for Catcher, First Base, Second Base, Third Base, and Shortstop.

The basic idea is that I take each batter’s 2014 Batting Average on Balls in Play and subtract their BABIP numbers from any playing time they had in the previous five years. It’s a good starting point to at least begin to identify sleeper and bust candidates. Of course BABIP is not just about luck. You also need to look at other peripheral data to hopefully put the BABIP numbers into context. For the other positions I’ve covered both positive and negative BABIP Differential. Since outfield is so big we’ll just cover positive BABIP, which indicates a bust potential and leave the sleepers for another column. I’ve commented on some of the more interesting players/situations below the table.

Name
2014 AVG
2014 BABIP
5-Year BABIP
BABIP Diff
Scott Van Slyke
.297
.394
.248
.146
J.D. Martinez
.315
.389
.307
.082
Drew Stubbs
.289
.404
.322
.082
Josh Harrison
.315
.353
.275
.078
Brock Holt
.281
.349
.282
.067
Adam Eaton
.300
.359
.294
.065
Justin Ruggiano
.281
.375
.313
.062
Lorenzo Cain
.301
.380
.324
.056
Corey Dickerson
.312
.356
.307
.049
Delmon Young
.302
.359
.310
.049
Steve Pearce
.293
.322
.275
.047
Jason Kubel
.224
.354
.307
.047
Alex Rios
.280
.335
.291
.044
Bryce Harper
.273
.352
.308
.044
Michael Saunders
.273
.327
.284
.043
A.J. Pollock
.302
.344
.304
.040
Matt Joyce
.254
.316
.279
.037
Jordan Danks
.222
.343
.307
.036
Michael Cuddyer
.332
.351
.315
.036
Carlos Gomez
.284
.339
.308
.031
Juan Lagares
.281
.341
.310
.031
Michael Brantley
.327
.333
.304
.029
Jose Bautista
.286
.287
.259
.028
Giancarlo Stanton
.288
.353
.325
.028
Michael Morse
.279
.348
.321
.027

 

Positive BABIP Differential = Bust Potential

 

  • J.D. Martinez – Martinez’s .389 BABIP is way out of line with anything he’s done previously, so it is likely unsustainable. Don’t mark his 2014 down to sheer luck though. Martinez made huge changes in his swing last offseason, and he maintained his production throughout the entire 2014 season. His batting average is likely to be closer to .280 than .320, but I’m buying in on J.D. as the real deal.
  • Josh Harrison – I wrote more in-depth about Harrison in my Third Base BABIP Files, but it’s safe to say I don’t see a repeat of his 2014 season. Harrison is a marginal starter in the Major Leagues and IMO one of the more obvious Fantasy busts for 2015.
  • Adam Eaton – I was a bit surprised to see Eaton so high on this list. He’s one of my favorite players and I think there’s some upside here. The .065 BABIP Differential seems to be more about disappointing BABIPs over his first two years. Eaton has good speed and a .359 BABIP is not too far out of line. Eaton hit for a career-best 20.2 LD% and cut down on his fly balls. Eaton does have more pop than he’s shown, so if he stays healthy, a .300/10/25 season is possible.
  • Lorenzo Cain – I’ve always liked Cain as a sleeper, but I think the hype will probably have him overvalued in 2015 drafts. With that said, like Eaton Cain has more power than he’s shown. I like Cain as a mid-level hitter who will give you solid numbers across the board. Just don’t get wrapped up in paying for postseason hype.
  • Corey Dickerson – Listen, it’s Coors Field. Dickerson is a left-handed hitter with decent speed. The altitude outweighs any effect a fortunate BABIP might have had. As long as Dickerson stays in Colorado and has a starting job, I’m interested.
  • Steve Pearce – Pearce was once on par with David Wright as a Major League prospect, but most fantasy owners (and a few MLB teams) had given up on him. Pearce got a little more playing time early in 2014 and he took advantage. While his .047 BABIP differential does signal a likely batting average regression, Pearce’s LD% and HR/FB% say that a lot of the production will remain. Factor in likely full-time play in the coming season and I’m still on board with him as long as his price is right.
  • Alex Rios – If anyone understands the career trends of Alex Rios I haven’t met them. His BABIPs are all over the place, his batting averages are all over the place. His SBs… you get the idea.Rios’ 23.5 LD% was actually a career-best, so it’s not like he forgot to hit. It was just an absurdly low 2.9% HR/FB rate that was the main culprit of his demise. I’m going to pretend 2014 didn’t happen for Rios and hopefully take advantage of his lowered expectations (FantasyPros Consensus ADP of 172.5). Rios could be a huge bargain… but then again.
  • Bryce Harper – I have been a loud critic of how early Harper has gone in drafts over the last few years. The BABIP seems a bit high and it helped cover up for a 26.3 strikeout percentage last year. Health probably played a role in that and there’s no denying his potential. Harper is going in the late third round according to FantasyPros. I think Harper is still a bit of a risk, but at least now there’s some room for profit.
  • A.J. Polloock – Pollock has the speed to support a .344 BABIP. My concern however is with his 14.2 LD%. He did some nice things in the second half of 2014, so he’s getting some sleeper love. I just don’t see him hitting over .260 though, unless he hits more line drives. Long term he looks like a fourth outfielder to me.
  • Michael Brantley – Finally we get to last year’s breakout hitter. Was he a fluke of BABIP or do his peripherals back it up? Brantley did produce a career-high 25.7 LD% last year and he cut down on his trikeouts almost 3.0 percent, so there is some truth to the breakout. My question is whether he can maintain a 12.7 HF/FB% that was almost double his previous best. A slight regression in LD% and a return to his previous power levels could sap much of his value. I like the all-round player, but I’m not sure he’s gonna live up to his draft slot in 2015.
  • Michael Cuddyer – Let’s see, Coors to Citi Field? Think that BABIP is gonna stand. Cuddyer is due for a fall, but everyone knows that. You might be able to squeeze a bit of value out of him at your corner slot.
  • Carlos Gomez – He swings wildly and doesn’t look like a .280 hitter, but Gomez’s BABIP has been in the .340 neighborhood in each of the last two years. A small drop in batting average wouldn’t be a surprise, but his power/speed combo still makes him a first round player.
  • Juan Lagares – Lagares showed some promise last year, but the strikeouts and BABIP paint him as more of a .250 –  .260 hitter. Enjoy the steals if you draft him late. Just don’t get caught up in the sleeper hype. Lagares is a great defensive player who has limited value in Fantasy.
  • Giancarlo Stanton – He hits the ball as hard as anyone in baseball, but his peripherals really aren’t that different from previous seasons. He’s probably not a .288 hitter. But then, you’re not buying him for his batting average are you. The only concern for me is his health, as he’s always been plagued by nagging injuries. I’m not a fan of drafting Stanton in the Top 5 like many are, but he’s certainly Top 10.


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