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BABIP Bounce Back

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Earlier this week, I covered Andy Sonnanstine and how he was due for a pretty massive BABIP regression. While that was not to excuse him from some other pitching issues, the .371 BABIP certainly created some exaggerated results. We saw some regression in Tuesday's game. Today, we will look at the Rays pitching staff's BABIP from 2008 versus their expected BABIP based on the league BABIP per batted ball type. We will take a look at the same thing for 2009 and try to forecast where we should be seeing some corrections. Below is the table for the American league BABIPs per batted ball type in 2008 and 2009:

AL BABIP

LD%

GB%

FB%

2008

0.720

0.242

0.139

2009

0.739

0.239

0.139

So we will utilize each pitcher's batted ball data as weights for each batted ball league BABIP. For example below is Andy Sonnanstine's 2008 batted ball data:

LD%

GB%

FB%

17.00%

42.10%

40.90%

 

So the calculation would be: (.170*.720)+(.421*.242)+(.409*.139)=.281 Ex BABIP

We can compare this to his true 2008 BABIP of .312 to see that Sonnanstine had approximately .031 of bad BABIP luck. We should expect most Rays pitchers' BABIPs to be a bit below their expected BABIP as there is no adjustment made for their outstanding defense. 

Onward with the 2008 table of BABIP vs. Expected BABIP

Name

BABIP

ExBABIP

BABIP-ExBABIP

Dan Wheeler

0.202

0.270

-0.068

Grant Balfour

0.233

0.280

-0.047

Troy Percival

0.181

0.223

-0.042

David Price

0.225

0.263

-0.038

J.P. Howell

0.259

0.291

-0.032

Scott Kazmir

0.275

0.289

-0.014

Matt Garza

0.278

0.290

-0.012

James Shields

0.292

0.281

0.011

Andy Sonnanstine

0.312

0.281

0.031

Jeff Niemann

0.325

0.266

0.059

Last year the Rays were silly fortunate when it came to BABIP. Only 3 returning pitchers Shields, Sonny, and Niemann under performed their expected BABIPs. It was truly a blessed year for the bullpen which led to some unrealistic 2009 expectations.

Now let's take a look at 2009 year to date:

Name

BABIP

EX BABIP

BABIP - ExBABIP

Lance Cormier

0.243

0.279

-0.036

Matt Garza

0.245

0.274

-0.029

Dan Wheeler

0.24

0.263

-0.023

James Shields

0.306

0.313

-0.007

J.P. Howell

0.31

0.305

0.005

Troy Percival

0.306

0.301

0.005

Jeff Niemann

0.279

0.274

0.006

Grant Balfour

0.314

0.308

0.006

Brian Shouse

0.323

0.310

0.013

Joe Nelson

0.321

0.304

0.017

Andy Sonnanstine

0.354

0.303

0.051

David Price

0.488

0.423

0.065

Scott Kazmir

0.361

0.290

0.072

Sonny and Kaz in particular have been victimized by bad BABIP luck, compounding their existing issues. Price has a 40+% line drive rate mostly due to so few balls actually being put into play at this point. On the other hand this season's heroes Cormier and Garza are due for a bit of BABIP regression.  The good news is overall we only have 4 pitchers who have outperformed their expected BABIP. With our solid defense, we only had 3 do that for all of 2008. The Rays should expect to start getting some bounces and breaks. Notice last year the only regular who underperformed his  expected BABIP to any real degree was Sonny, and that was .031. We currently have 3 pitchers underperforming by at least .51. Remember with the Rays defense it should be expected for most to outperform their expected BABIP based on league averages.

One last table, this one comparing year over year BABIP - Expected BABIP for each returning pitcher side by side:

 

Name

2008

2009

Dan Wheeler

-0.068

-0.023

Grant Balfour

-0.047

0.006

Troy Percival

-0.042

0.005

David Price

-0.038

0.065

J.P. Howell

-0.032

0.005

Scott Kazmir

-0.014

0.072

Matt Garza

-0.012

-0.029

James Shields

0.011

-0.007

Andy Sonnanstine

0.031

0.051

Jeff Niemann

0.059

0.006

 

This is just another exercise to see the danger in letting short-term emotions get the best of you when watching games with the naked eye. I am becoming extremely optimistic about this season based on expected regressions and our new and improved offensive lineup upon Longo, Burrell, and Bartlett's returns. Zobrist, Joyce and Burrell are big upgrades from 2008.