The Rosin Bag 4/19: Buy Lows and BABIP
Welcome back to The Rosin Bag, our weekly Pitcher List mailbag!
This has been a fun week for fantasy baseball. Sample sizes are continuing to grow, as are our opinions about players. We have more data with each passing day, and it’s our job as fantasy players to use it wisely. I’m still of the mind that it’s too early to make any rash decisions, but I’d be lying if I said worry wasn’t starting to creep in regarding some players who have yet to resemble even close to what we’d hoped for during draft season.
All questions are either submitted via our Discord channel or through email to [email protected]
From Matt Nielsen: We have xBA, xwOBA, BABIP and all these other stats that attempt to give us an idea of what to expect going forward. Which of these should be considered the most in predicting future performance? I see guys like Domingo Santana with stellar Statcast numbers in the 90+ percentile but also with a .431 BABIP, and I’m not sure what to think of that. Thanks!
From Mike Bourg: How much stock should we put into BABIP when looking at over/underperforming guys. I.e. if a guy has a low BABIP and the other numbers reflect as such, should we expect a rebound/breakout? And vice versa?
I got a couple questions this week about a similar topic, so this first response will try to tackle both!
It feels like each year there are more advanced stat-driven metrics that are created with the intention of helping owners predict performance. I’m sure for a lot of fantasy players this can be a little overwhelming at times, particularly if you are newer to them in general. I touched on this a little in last week’s mailbag as it pertains to BABIP, and to be quite honest, I really could use the entire column to unpack each metric and how they are valuable.
Typically, when you see a guy with a high BABIP, it’s predictive that he is due for regression down for him with his batting average. In other words, he is overachieving—some would say he is getting lucky. However, this isn’t always the case. There are players who just seem to historically maintain higher BABIPs than the league average. This could be due to insane sprint speed or even an ability to hit the ball into gaps in the defense at a higher rate than most other players. Byron Buxton and Adalberto Mondesi are good examples of fast players with high BABIPs. Domingo Santana is actually not a fast player…like, at all, according to sprint-speed numbers. So, for players like that, there has been more thought around a high BABIP as a skill rather than just purely a luck-based thing for every player.
I appreciate a lot of the other measurements you mentioned, but one I particularly like looking at as an indicator for future performance based on current performance is how hard they are hitting the ball. I especially like this for a guy who seems to just inexplicably and frustratingly be underperforming. If you have a guy like this on your team, go back and look at his hard-hit rates from previous years and see how they stack up to his current production. If he is still hitting the crap out of the ball, it’s likely he is just getting unlucky. Maybe the wind was blowing in causing a fly ball or two to stay in the yard? Maybe he smoked a liner right into a shifted player?
These advanced metrics are great, but don’t forget to watch with your own eyes as well. Does a guy look overmatched at the plate? Is he chasing stuff out of the zone, or is he just not aggressive at all? (Yes, I know there are also advanced stats for these aspects of plate discipline too!)
For me, context is everything. It is unfair to only take the data we have so far this year as an evaluation of a player. Look back at previous years and compare their historical numbers. This will always help you paint a better picture of a player’s growth, decline, under/overperformace, etc. BABIP could be an indication of positive or negative regression, but I would always compare it to the player’s previous median BABIP before making too strong of an assertion.
From Alex Tran: Who are some guys that you think may be overvalued based on their names? Some that come to mind are Votto, Schwarber, etc. Would you sell them now while they still have name value? Are you hoping for a turnaround?
This is a great question! Name value is absolutely a thing in fantasy sports, and it can work for or against you when it comes to trades. I like to keep notes on the owners in my league, even if they are pretty basic likes and dislikes. What teams are they a fan of, what players do they like/dislike, are they an active trader? Do your homework on if a team you want to trade with even needs the player you might be shopping or maybe doesn’t need the player you are after. I know this is pretty general trade advice for some, but I’m always surprised at the level of laziness with some owners around initial trade offers. If a team has a thin rotation, you might have a hard time trading for their underperforming stud pitcher unless you give them back a good pitcher.
This goes back to the previous mailbag question, but context is everything when it comes to future performance. Are guys like Joey Votto or Miguel Cabrera tailing off due to age, or are they just slumping? We have seen countless examples of players the baseball community have written off as afterthoughts only to rebound in a big way (Justin Verlander and David Ortiz jump to mind). Of course, the other side of this is true as well. There have been plenty of guys who go off that statistical cliff and crash into the murky water below never to be seen again.
So back to the question at hand, would I sell a player? Sure. I am always looking to buy/sell a player if I think it will make my team better in the long run, but I won’t trade just for the sake of trading. Some guys not mentioned yet who I like as big=name guys to buy would be: Jose Ramirez, Giancarlo Stanton, Starling Marte, Andrew Benintendi, Charlie Blackmon, Corey Seager, Chris Sale, Noah Syndergaard, Jack Flaherty.
From David S: How [do we] talk about the Rockies as a whole and how the lineup may shake out with all these guys coming back and if they heat up. Who will miss playing time? Is Blackmon washed? Etc.
This question looked so different to me before Ryan McMahon came back and hit two home runs last night. Trying to predict what the Rockies are going to do with that lineup has proved maddening. There are injury concerns up and down that lineup, so it really could just come down to who stays healthy. I’m at the point where I am betting against David Dahl (aka Mr. Glass), and I’ve been off the Ian Desmond train for a while. I’ve got to believe that McMahon and Garrett Hampson are both going to find themselves as fixtures in that lineup as the season wears on ,and they are both guys I’m buying.
Blackmon is the real question mark. My TGFBI team is hoping he turns it around, but I am starting to grow mildly concerned. His BABIP is a little lower than usual, which could signal some bounceback here, but he’s also not hitting the ball as hard as in years past, as his dismal 0.078 ISO shows. If you own him, he is a hold for sure. I’d be interested in buying, too, depending on the price. Could you get him for 75 cents on the dollar?
From Austin Bristow II: Rank these Lays for the rest of the season:
Sour Cream and Onion
Salt and Vinegar
Finally, a serious question! Here are my ranks and explanations for said ranks and an MLB comp:
- Barbecue – The clear winner for me. A well-balanced and tasty chip I could eat every day with my lunch. Has some spice but doesn’t overwhelm the taste buds. Perpetually underrated. (MLB Comp: Christian Yelich)
- Original – Classic. You always know what you’re going to get. May not be the flashiest chip, but I’m never disappointed. (MLB Comp: Paul Goldschmidt)
- Dill Pickle – The chip that I originally thought would be nasty but surprised me. I wouldn’t want to have it all the time, but it’s a nice change. (MLB Comp: Tommy Pham)
- Sour Cream and Onion – If I’m planning on talking to anyone, like at all, the rest of the day…then I probably won’t eat these. They taste great, but they make your breath smell like death. (MLB Comp: Yasiel Puig)
- Salt and Vinegar – I just don’t think I’ve ever acquired the taste for these chips. They aren’t bad, but I’m not sure I’d ever choose them if I had another option. (MLB Comp: Carlos Correa)
Another week and another mailbag in the books! I’ve loved watching this community grow. If I didn’t get to your question, feel free to hit me up on twitter: @gabezammit
Don’t forget to send in questions via our Discord channel for next week’s mailbag. You can also submit questions by sending an email to: [email protected]
Good luck in your fantasy leagues and I’ll see you back here next week!
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)