Adjusting the Marlins with xBABIP
By Michael Jong
Recently, the guys at The Hardball Times released a simple xBABIP calculator that could be used to predict BABIP based on batted ball data. Thinking that some Marlins hitters may be overvalued/undervalued, I converted each of the starters’ batted ball profiles into an xBABIP and compared them to both their current BABIP and their ZiPS updated projected end BABIP. Here’s your tally:
(Note: Numbers calculated from FanGraphs from prior to today’s game)
Using the naked eye test, my feeling tells me there’s a bit of an overestimation of groundballs in the calculation; the total for John Baker’s xBABIP seems absurd. That being said, I took it at face value and saw some interesting observations:
– As expected, Dan Uggla is getting really unlucky. I don’t buy that a .300 xBABIP is what I should be seeing, as I feel like it could be more in the neighborhood of .280, but I’m using nothing but speculation, and the fantasy guys at THT are much smarter at what they do than I probably am at what they do. I’ll take the word for it and expect better.
– Hanley Ramirez is getting more lucky than he should be. He’s on the entire other end of the spectrum, some .05 points better than what he should be. Hanley’s declining walk rate was troubling before, but as you’ll see, it might not actually hurt him in the end.
– Cody Ross is great because for the most part, what he’s done is what you would expect him to do. The difference between his xBABIP and his actual BABIP is insignificant and pretty damn cool.
Taking those xBABIP’s and using them as the player’s actual BABIP’s, I came up with an xSlash Line for each regular. I took into account doubles for the purposes of this translation, calculating a doubles rate (doubles/hit) and adding or subtracting an appropriate amount of doubles from the adjusted number of hits. For most players, this was irrelavant and unchanged, meaning I only handed out extra hits as singles to them, but for Hanley, Uggla, and Coghlan some doubles were added and subtracted. The greatest difference was the three doubles taken away from Hanley. xOBP was calculated as OBP would be using the new hits total, and xSLG was calculated by maintaining the same ISO for each player except for those who added or lost doubles in the translation.
The translations showed a few things.
– Uggla with a .300 BABIP would be very good. A .63/.369/.470 line rivals that of last season’s iteration, and last season’s Uggla was very, very good. Even a modest BABIP increase should add enough to make his strong walk rate and ISO stick out.
– If you adjust Hanley’s BABIP to a total similar to last season, he’d look very close to last season’s iteration as well. Not that a .302/.371/.514 line would be unacceptable, but his lower walk rate this year would have combined, with the type of batted ball profile he was providing, to give a lower production rate. Since singles % is one of the most volatile statistics involved in hitting, Hanley’s continued approach could bring down his production this year if he regresses a bit.
– Bonifacio had a luck factor of about -.02, which seemed extremely significant. After translating his numbers including a large .344 BABIP, his slash line of .272/.316/.339 still doesn’t impress. In fact, it reminds me of Yuniesky Betancourt, which is never a favorable comp for a player.
With xBABIP as the BABIP for the team, the Marlins overall would be in much better shape. While Hanley would have produced less, a solid increase in production for Uggla and a few other starters offensively would have provided something of a sizable increase in runs. Unfortunately, the Marlins’ bats still seem to be finding gloves. Saturday night’s Diamondbacks game was a prime example, with many Marlins smacking hard line drives and fly ball for outs right to players. It was good to see those hard hit balls go places in this afternoon’s game, in particular for Jeremy Hermida, who had been robbed of a few hits the previous night. The foul post home run today was a good sign that Hermida could turn it around slugging-wise in the second half.