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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: FALL IN LOVE WITH BABIP

For those of you who have been longtime readers, you know how much I preach the extreme importance of using advanced stats in order to better judge a player's worth and also as a tool to stay ahead of the direction hitters and pitchers will move towards in the future.  No other tool has helped me win leagues over the years more than the use of advanced stats, in particular through the use of BABIP or batting average on balls in play.  For a pitcher, the average BABIP is around .300.  Any BABIP number above .300 shows a pitcher who is benefitting from some good luck on the batted ball while those who fall below it are dealing with bad luck.  A lot of times pitchers who have a surprisingly good ERA given their historical track records can usually be found to have BABIP's in the lucky range.  Those pitchers whose ERA is lower than what they historically have done is dealing with bad luck.  The same thing is in play for hitters.  Anyone above the .300 mark is getting luck and those below it are getting unlucky.  When I refer to talk when it comes to BABIP, I am talking about how numbers that go above .300 usually means the team defense is strong and balls fall into defenders gloves more often.  The BABIP's below .300 oftentimes have team defenses that are weaker and are found to let more balls into play.  And than the luck factor is in play on both ends as far as seeing a high or low amount of dribblers that go for hits or bloopers that drop into the outfield.  Got all that????? 

I know the above might be confusing to newer fantasy baseball players but really it is not as tough as it sounds.  Sites like fangraphs details BABIP's on all pitchers and hitters all season long and I strongly advise you to follow these trends so that you can buy low or sell high on players based on their numbers in that regard.  I always love identifying proven pitchers or hitters who are off to a rough start to the season which causes their owners to panic.  As long as the health checks out all right and these players are not above the age of 35, your best course of action is to BUY LOW.  Such a scenario unfolded last season with Cole Hamels who had a tough first half stats-wise (4.05 ERA) which got him into the trade market in many leagues.  Hamels in fact was dealing with a BABIP well below the .300 mark by the All Star Break and those who were readers last season know I screamed to the rafters to all of you to swing a trade which I did myself in one of the Experts leagues.  Well Hamels turned around his season like he was destined to do (2.97 ERA) as his BABIP moved back toward the mean number and he pitched more like his old self.  On the flip side you want to sell high on those pitchers and hitters who are shockingly off to big starts due to lucky BABIP's and are due for a fall.  We see this every season and such players who did this last season included Dexter Fowler, Chris Johnson, Travis Wood, and Chris Tillman.  They were all sell high guys which goes into this season as well since all of these guys are not going to go near their numbers from last season.  It is situations such as this that lead to tremendous fantasy baseball success.  That goes for pitchers and hitters equally.  So stay on top of these numbers all season and buy and sell based on what the BABIP trends are screaming out to us.

In the next few days I will be posting features on some pitchers and hitters who are going to either regress or improve their numbers in 2014 based on their BABIP's from last season.  This is a very crucial thing to be aware of as you go into your draft so that you can adequately project numbers and value players properly.  Stay tuned.

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