2021 Review – xBABIP Overachievers Hitter

Yesterday I used my newest hitter xBABIP equation to discuss which batters whose actual BABIP ratings underperformed their xBABIP ratings the most. Now let’s look at the outperformers, or those whose actual BABIP outperformed their xBABIP marks the most.

xBABIP Overachievers

Player BABIP xBABIP Difference Statcast xBABIP Sprint speed PSIFAGB R%* PSIFAGB L%* Opposite GB %
Tyler Wade 0.378 0.293 0.084 0.274 29.1 0.0% 4.4% 13.3%
Randy Arozarena 0.363 0.295 0.068 0.280 28.8 0.6% 0.0% 6.4%
Tucker Barnhart 0.324 0.256 0.068 0.261 24.3 0.0% 11.1% 5.3%
Frank Schwindel 0.348 0.284 0.063 0.275 26.2 3.7% 0.0% 8.6%
Brandon Belt 0.309 0.249 0.060 0.258 25.6 0.0% 16.0% 4.6%
JD Davis 0.426 0.366 0.060 0.365 26.9 0.9% 0.0% 2.8%
Bryan De LaCruz 0.380 0.324 0.057 0.321 28.2 6.3% 0.0% 4.9%
Nicki Lopez 0.347 0.292 0.055 0.275 28.2 0.0% 1.4% 9.0%
Brett Phillips 0.302 0.248 0.054 0.250 28.5 0.0% 13.2% 2.3%
Raphael Ortega 0.349 0.296 0.052 0.294 27.5 0.0% 8.8% 6.0%
Brandon Crawford 0.334 0.282 0.052 0.282 25.8 0.0% 9.5% 7.2%
Wil Myers 0.333 0.282 0.051 0.276 28.3 5.6% 0.0% 4.9%
Luis Robert 0.394 0.345 0.049 0.338 28.0 1.0% 0.0% 3.9%
Mean of full data set 0.293 0.295 0.291 27.0 2.2% 4.4% 6.1%

*Pull Shift IF GB Alignment As R%/L%
**Averages for my entire data set, consisting of 555 players in 2021

Tyler Wade sits atop the Angels depth chart at shortstop and it could have a lot to do with that inflated .378 BABIP, leading an acceptable .304 wOBA. For one, his stolen base potential and potential playing time could make him a deep-league sleeper. By contrast, his 2021 results were a mirage and the Angels should soon realize that. I don’t expect Wade to be the starting shortstop for long, even if he opens the season with this job. I much prefer to speculate on Luis Rengifo.

From the incredible fireworks of 2020 to simply solid offensive performances in 2021, Randy Arozarena may have disappointed some fantasy owners, but he still delivered a very strong fantasy season. That said, either he’s going to be the luckiest player in history, or he’s doing something (or a lot of things) that Statcast, and my xBABIP equation, are oblivious to. His full work remains a small sample, but it should be noted that he has greatly surpassed his xBABIP in 2020, and has also surpassed his xwOBA every season since his debut in 2019. He is tricky though because the power is real and there is likely has an edge over his 2021 HR/FB rate, while his minor league record suggests he’ll make better contact and improve his strikeout rate. So I’m hesitant to advise avoiding it because, as always, it depends on its price. I think the bottom line is that it will be a nice source of power and speed again, but exactly how it will get there is a bit more difficult with all the moving parts.

After struggling in the minors for many years, Frank Schwindel, 29, returns to the majors like gangbusters, surprising us all by posting a .403 wOBA and .264 ISO. This earned him a starting spot ahead of the 2022 season. And while I like his low strikeout rate/power profile, this BABIP is about to go down. It’s not that bad because he hit .326, so a significant drop in BABIP would still leave him with a slightly positive average in fantasy circles and keep him a decently productive performer for the Cubs. It’s still a mystery which older guys get their first shot at the big league level, so I’m really curious to see what he does this season.

Between his HR/FB rate luck and now his BABIP good fortune, Belt’s second highest wOBA was built on everything going well. I doubt that will happen again for the 33-year-old, so he’s likely to go back to being a substitute-level corner guy in shallow mixed leagues.

After two terrible first seasons in the Majors, Nicky Lopez finally translated his minor league success into MLB success. However, this was mainly due to a surge in BABIP, although it also maintained its walk rate peak in 2020 and combined it with a rebound in the withdrawal rate. xBABIP doesn’t buy the BABIP, which is scary considering the vast majority of his value is due to his thefts, which forces him to lay low. If his BABIP drops, his OBP likely will too, giving him fewer opportunities to contribute the one count stat he’s supposed to.

Man, the Cubs really found some stragglers, huh? ! Rafael Ortega actually made his MLB debut in 2012! He then only returned to the Majors in 2016 and gained sporadic playing time over the years until 2019 before rocking in 2021 for around half a season. Skills seem reasonable all around except for that BABIP sticking out like a sore thumb. Like Schwindel, Ortega’s surprise performance will earn him a starting role, maybe even the front row. Much like Schwindel, I like Ortega’s all-around skills and think that even if his BABIP returns to Earth, he could still be a decent fantasy contributor and a proper baseball player. It will again depend on how much it costs in your league, but I definitely wouldn’t pay for a repeat.

Luck at its best: Last year in my mixed LABR league, my shortstop got injured in April, so I had to replace him with someone from the free agent pool. Generally, I prefer a guy who has gained the most playing time, because someone who I have strong projection for is unlikely to stand out. So I went with Brandon Crawford just because he plays every day. Little did I know he would set new offensive career highs like in every category. Tried to swap it at the start of a hot streak and failed, then got lazy and just held on. I scored the vast majority of his career year due to dumb luck. Either way, this BABIP will not happen again. It’s rare for a hitter to post a career-low LD% and second-highest FB% while posting a career-best BABIP. It’s not a combination that usually goes together. At 35, are fantasy owners paying for Crawford this season? I’m curious how much this career year has increased in cost.

This was the lowest xBABIP that Wil Myers has posted since 2015, but his BABIP has remained fairly consistent since 2018. A loss in line driving rate didn’t affect him at all, but I wouldn’t expect necessarily for its BABIP to crater in 2022, as you have to factor in its significantly better historical xBABIP ratings. LD% is pretty random from year to year, so while I would bet on BABIP falling below 0.330, I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to project a mark below 0.300. With the DH likely an NL thing again and less of the outfield glut in San Diego, he could record his highest PA count since 2017.

Man, what a mid-season for 23-year-old Luis Robert. I think it was pretty obvious that he needed a little luck to finish with a .394 BABIP, but the good news here is that a .345 xBABIP is still elite. Oh, and he’s got a lot more HR/FB rates on the upside, since he severely underperformed last year. Withdrawal rate is going to be key here, but I can’t imagine he could maintain a mark around 20% while posting a SwStk% of 16%.

Comments are closed.