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A Trip To Baseball-Reference.com: Blue Jays And Their Low BABIPs

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The Blue Jays' defense has contributed to low BABIPs for their pitchers this year. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
The Blue Jays' defense has contributed to low BABIPs for their pitchers this year. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
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Last night I took a trip over to the great Baseball-Reference.com and poked around sort of aimlessly as I often do. I found that the Blue Jays' team statistics show that the are at the extreme low end of BABIP. Of course, it's only April 18 so I have to make the obligatory warning about small sample sizes, I would be intrigued to see what becomes of these numbers over the next month and I will probably follow up this post with another around May 18.

First, a quick primer to the newfangled statistic BABIP for those who are unfamiliar with it. BABIP stands for Batting Average on Balls In Play. In a nutshell, it is a quick determanent of "luck" for batters, even though there are other factors that go into that stat. Generally, Major League players have a BABIP between .290 and .310 and that is fairly consistent assuming that defense is fairly consistent across the league over the long run. The Fangraphs glossary states that most players who deviate far from that 20-point range is due to regress back to the mean. Our friend benk wrote a more detailed introduction to BABIP if you are interested in the details.

  • Jays batters have a .250 BABIP, 3rd lowest in MLB (average .285).
  • Jays batters in the bottom 50 of the league in terms of BABIP (amongst qualified batters): Yunel Escobar (.220), Jose Bautista (.200), Colby Rasmus (.200), J.P. Arencibia (.056). JPA's number is the absolute lowest in the Majors. It is a number that cannot possibly be sustained much longer, much less over the course of a whole season, especially if he follows up with his voodoo plans
  • I had to hop to Fangraphs for this one, but the batted ball statistics for the above players show something troubling with JPA--he has been grounding out a lot and not hard line drives like the other three (plus he has a big strike out rate of 37.1%):

Name

BABIP

GB/FB

LD%

GB%

FB%

IFFB%

J.P. Arencibia

.056

2.00

5.3 %

63.2 %

31.6 %

0.0 %

Jose Bautista

.200

0.92

21.9 %

37.5 %

40.6 %

23.1 %

Colby Rasmus

.200

0.83

29.0 %

32.3 %

38.7 %

0.0 %

Yunel Escobar

.220

2.09

19.0 %

54.8 %

26.2 %

0.0 %

GB/FB: groundball to flyball ratio; LD: line drive; GB: ground ball; FB: fly ball; IFFB: infield fly ball (popup)

  • On the flip side, Jays pitchers are enjoying a BABIP of .220 so far this season.
  • The Jays have had some good defense, earning a .770 defensive efficiency rating (it is calculated slightly differently than BABIP but there is a luck factor in there too), good for 1st in MLB. The league average is .700 (which make sense, as BABIP average is .300).
  • Sort of unrelated to BABIP, but also cool: Jays starting pitchers are averaging 6.5 innings per start, good for 2nd in the Majors (Phillies are 1st with 6.6 IP). The league average is 5.9 IP.

I don't have the time to writer interpretations, so I'll throw it out to the community--what do you think of these ridiculous BABIP numbers?