Friday, June 1, 2012

June Swoons and Stars or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love BABiP and K/BB Rates

It's June 1st, and that can mean many things. for one: regression. Below are a couple of arrangements of players, as squads, whose April/May performances stand out from the norm.

Potential June Swoons
C: Carlos Ruiz, Phillies
We like Chooch, but batting 106 points above what his career batting average was entering the season cannot be sustained.

1b: Chris Davis, Orioles
A career low 4.5 BB% is not a good sign, as this 3 true outcome batter looks more like a 2 true outcome player.

2b: Robert Andino, Orioles
The wheels are coming off the Orioles' bandwagon, and the right side of the infield will likely be a reason why. Much like their 1st baseman, Andino's BABIP is too high and his walk rate is too low.

SS: Starlin Castro, Cubs
The Cubs have spent lifetimes perfecting the June Swoon. Call it a hunch, but I don't think the emotional, 22-year old Castro will respond well to rumors that he's not "untouchable".

3b: Chris Johnson, Astros
CJ seems like a bright guy. So, why is he so averse to being a patient hitter and taking walks? He's been able to sustain decent line-drive rates, with some power, over his career, but walking just 4% of the time isn't helping the ball club.

LF: Melky Cabrera, Giants
The Melkman will have to hit the way he hit in May for another 3 years before we become true believers.

CF: Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mets
29.8 K% and a league high .425 BABiP are a bad combination.

RF: Mark Trumbo, Angels
Coming into this season, with 589 MLB plate appearances, he had a Career .287 OBP. During his Minor League career, across 3,069 PA's, his OBP was .330. His OBP this season is .396, fueled by an equally unsustainable .396 BABiP.

SP: Jeremy Hellickson, Rays
The Rays are an excellent defensive club, but Hellickson doesn't strike enough guys out to keep his ERA under 3.00, especially as he has stranded 83% of baserunners so far this season.

RP: Jim Johnson, Orioles
Oh, to be an Orioles fan in April. Look at a few numbers for the O's closer: 5.91 K/9, 100% LOB%, 0.84 ERA, 3.77 FIP

Angels fans should hope Howie Kendrick's hot
streak coincides with Trumbo's inevitable drop.

The flip-side of this coin features refreshing optimism.

Potential June Stars
C: Brian McCann, Braves
He walks more than he strikes out. So, unless he's more injured than he's letting on, he won't be struggling for much longer.

1b: Eric Hosmer, Royals
Easy choice: Hosmer has cut down his strikeouts and increased his walks from last season, and his BABiP is a measly .208.

2b: Ben Zobrist, Rays
Another victim of BABiP irregularities (.218), Zobrist is still hitting line drives and taking walks. The Rays will be rewarded for their patience.

SS: Jose Reyes, Marlins
Had Troy Tulowitzki not injured his groin last night, we probably would have selected him to go on one of his incredible hot streaks. Alas, Jose Reyes has many indicators pointing in his favor. He is walking more than he strikes out, with career high walk and line drive rates, accompanying his career low fly ball and IFFB rates.

3b: Trevor Plouffe, Twins
The answer to the trivia question "Which Major League player with at least 110 plate appearances has the lowest BABiP?" is Trevor Plouffe, and it's not even close. His .155 BABiP is a far cry from Ryan RAburn's .193 in 2nd place. Every cloud has a silver lining. Why can't the Twins? Plouffe has hit too few line drives and too many fly balls, but they are off his career norms. With a little luck, he'll approach the performance level that allowed him to post a fantastic .437 wOBA in AAA last season.

LF: Coco Crisp, Athletics
Coco just has too much speed to post a .205 BABiP for much longer. His stats have struggled from returning too soon off a DL stint. He refused a minor league rehab assignment and reached base just once in his first 21 plate appearances.

CF: Shane Victorino, Phillies
It should just be a matter of time until the Flyin' Hawaiian gets a contract season hot streak going. His peripherals are strong, the motivation is there, and he still plays more than half of his game in hitters' parks.

RF: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
At first glance, I considered that Bautista's .210 BABiP could be due to a high number of fly balls. To the contrary, he's hitting fewer fly balls than he has since 2009. His line drive rate is currently the highest since a 9-game cup of coffee with the Pirates in 2005.

SP: Zack Greinke, Brewers
With an ERA hovering around 3.5 and a FIP near 2.00, Zack Greinke should ride his 9.6 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 to a nice June. That is, if the Brewers defense could support him a bit better than a .368 BABiP, and he's not too badly affected when his 0.28 HR/9 regresses to the mean (Career: 0.89 HR/9)

RP: Esmil Rogers, Rockies
The Rockies relief pitcher walks too many guys (6.7 BB/9), but he also has 11K/9 and a 51% GB%. There are rumblings that Rogers could replace Jamie Moyer in the Rockies' rotation. If he can stay with the big league club, we should expect his 7.83 ERA to tumble through a solid month.

Esmil Rogers is ready to pounce this Summer and improve his results.

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