Joey Bats and EE: Grip it and Rip it…?
I was conducting a thought experiment with the advanced batting metric of Batting Average of Balls In Play (BAbip), which is effectively the batting average less homeruns (which cannot be fielded by the opposition’s defense), strikeouts (which doesn’t rely on the defense) and adds in sacrifice flies.
Typically, once the ball is put in play the advantage goes to the batter, as this stat includes only those plays where a defense can get involved. It’s not uncommon to see a 20-50 point increase over the regular batting average.
In reviewing the Blue Jays line-up in terms of BAbip, there were a few surprises.
The highest BAbip on the team belongs to Colby Rasmus, who has an 80 point increase (.276 to .356). Adam Lind is second on the team with the required at-bats (2 AB/G, .288 to .322). Colby struck out a lot, so in order to maintain a high average, he needed to be very efficient with the stick when he did put the ball in play.
The lowest BAbip on the team belongs to J.P. Arencibia, who doesn’t seem to be doing particularly well in just about any offensive metric. While hitting a mere .194, his ball in play average improved to .231. This makes sense, because he also led the team in strikeouts, but this isn’t anywhere close to Colby’s 80 point improvement.
The second lowest BAbip on the team belongs to Edwin Encarnacion at .247. — wait… what? This guy had a monster season! How is this even possible? Edwin hit .272/.370/.534 with 36 homers on the season, striking out only 62 times while drawing 82 walks (7 intentional) in 621 plate appearances.
It seems that while Edwin drastically improved his plate discipline, he was either extremely unlucky (hitting the ball at fielders), or he tends to make weak contact, when he’s not pounding the ball over the outfield fence. Bautista is in a similar boat, breaking even (BAbip=BA=0.259), with no improvement on his BAbip over the regular metric.
While all the production numbers are there, if I’m fishing for a base-hit, I would probably go elsewhere than these two guys to get the job done. Perhaps Mr. Seitzer will adjust their approach to be more versatile, and hit the ball where the fielders aren’t.