ESPN on BABIP

ESPN’s Boog Sciambi led the discussion on BABIP on “Stat Your Case” with Rick Sutcliffe, Aaron Boone, and Karl Ravech. Pretty interesting discussion, and it’s great to see Sabermetrics getting more and more into the mainstream.

Embedding is disabled on the video, so click here to watch it.

(Tip of the cap to TangoTiger.)

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13 comments

  1. hk

    September 10, 2011 07:49 AM

    It’s good to see that both Boone and Sutcliffe not only understand the concept, but even seem to embrace it. I would have thought that both of them to be more from the Joe Morgan School than the Bill James School.

  2. dbick

    September 10, 2011 09:13 AM

    I think BABIP (I prounounce it ba-beep, am I doing it wrong?) is a great introduction stat to sabermetrics because it’s easy to understand and figure out and, in my opinion, is a very effective and good stat.

  3. Bill Baer

    September 10, 2011 10:31 AM

    They pronounced it bah-bip, you pronounce it ba-beep, and I pronounce it buh-bip. Guess acronym pronunciation are like ice cream flavors.

  4. Josh G

    September 10, 2011 10:39 AM

    I would really like to hear what Justin Verlander has to say about his year to year BABIP. ESPN, get on that interview!

  5. Scott G

    September 10, 2011 02:26 PM

    Do you really call it buh-bip, or were you just trying to make a point?

    Either way, I like that video a lot. Maybe too much haha.

  6. Jeff P

    September 10, 2011 06:36 PM

    Good stuff in that clip, thanks for sharing. Wish they spent a bit more time explaining what it is. I like how they said Lee and Burnett, the difference is bb, k, hr, but explain why that’s significant (pitcher control and how babip is mostly defense and chance). No need to get into the details of batted ball types and regression to 300 and all that, but a bit more of a primer would have been nice for the novice. Either way, I’m not going to complain much that ESPN is talking about this stuff, even if it is only for a couple minutes.

    Also, I pronounce it the way the ESPN guys do. Not sure I like that…

  7. Max

    September 10, 2011 11:22 PM

    Boog is awesome, one of the few sabermetric-friendly announcers in baseball. He also led an interesting discussion on WAR the other day, too. Really great to see ESPN try to get advanced stats out to the masses on TV more, now that there are plenty of articles that use them online.

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBRyNE8so0c

  8. John Moore

    September 11, 2011 04:26 AM

    I’m new to sabermetrics, but tell me how BABIP relates to how hard a pitcher is hit. For instance, If very few people get good wood on Mariano Rivera’s cutter, and they all break their bats, shouldn’t we expect his defense to turn most balls in play into outs? So if he has a low BABIP, should we credit his defense? Should we expect it to regress and for his ERA to rise? This is an extreme example, but there are plenty of pitchers that get hit hard, and plenty of others that aren’t. What am I missing?

  9. Bill Baer

    September 11, 2011 06:15 AM

    BABIP applies to most pitchers. Mariano Rivera is wayyyyyyyy at the right end of the Bell curve. Matt Cain is somewhere near there, as is Nolan Ryan.

    But for the other 99% of pitchers, their BABIP tends to regress towards .300 in later years.

    TangoTiger has a post on this here.

    For example, the average pitcher in the .260 BABIP bucket (.255-.265) has a nearly 50% chance of falling between .285 and .315 in the next year and only a 10% chance of falling back into the same bucket.

  10. hk

    September 11, 2011 07:37 AM

    Bill,

    With the reduction in offense over the past few years, have the league average pitching BABIP come down? If not, can we attribute the fewer runs being scored to some combination of fewer HR’s, fewer BB’s and more K’s?

  11. Bill Baer

    September 11, 2011 08:50 AM

    Year: K/9, BB/9, HR/9, BABIP

    2011: 7.3, 3.1, 0.91, .296
    2010: 7.4, 3.3, 0.93, .300
    2009: 7.1, 3.5, 0.99, .298
    2008: 7.0, 3.4, 1.02, .300
    2007: 6.7, 3.3, 1.05, .302

    Strikeouts are up, walks are down, home runs are down, and BABIP is down.

    I wonder how much of the improvement in pitching is specifically due to Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay coming to the NL.

    I do know that more and more teams have been focusing on pitching and defense, as opposed to just offense as was the case throughout much of the 1990′s and early 2000′s.

    There’s no one overriding factor, but the combination of it all has led to a pretty substantial drop in offense.

  12. John Moore

    September 11, 2011 09:35 PM

    Thanks, Bill.

    Where can I find a list of pitchers sorted by career BABIP? Baseball Reference doesn’t have it, or if it does, I can’t find it.

    The way I figure it, if only 10% of pitchers that can get their BABIP all the way down to .260 can repeat it the next year, then the number to do it three times in a row must be very, very low (Rivera, Cain, Ryan). But these pitchers might teach us something. Rivera gets a lot of weak ground balls because he jams people and breaks bats, which might explain his low BABIP. But what of Cain and Ryan, and whoever else? Is there something to be learned by looking at what kinds of pitchers can consistently have low BABIPs? I mean, I’d really love Rivera, Cain, and Ryan on my staff, but I’d also love Halladay, who has an average BABIP (I think). So I definitely don’t buy into the anti-DIPS crowd, and I wouldn’t try to defy BABIP, but I’m still curious to see if there is something to be learned by looking at the outliers.

  13. Bill Baer

    September 11, 2011 11:05 PM

    Here’s a link to the career BABIP leaderboard: bbref.com/pi/shareit/DSbIX

    Research by Matt Swartz found that pitchers with higher strikeout rates also have lower BABIP. He explains this a bit in his five-part series on SIERA at FanGraphs:

    www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/new-siera-part-one-of-five-pitchers-with-high-strikeouts-have-low-babips/

    As for Matt Cain, I found that three factors contribute to his lower BABIP:

    - His spacious home ballpark
    - Significantly above-average infield defense, especially in the range department
    - A legitimate ability to induce weak pop ups and opposite-field outfield fly balls due to his fastball

    www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=13014

    Additionally, BABIP will be sensitive to environmental factors, such as the elevation of the pitcher’s mound, quality of league offense, park factors, etc.

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