by Dave De Wit
Everybody knows about the “three true outcome” hitters in baseball; the guys who either walk, strikeout or hit a home run. They are called true outcomes because they are the three stats a batter has the most control over. Meanwhile, the “zero true outcome” hitter gets very little attention. These are hitters who make a great deal of contact, walk sparingly and have little to no power. Often they are speedsters who hit near the top of the order, providing fantasy value by scoring runs, stealing bases and hitting for a high average—all of which depend greatly on their ability to get on base.
Unfortunately for these players, getting on base takes some luck since they do not draw walks, making their value heavily dependent on their batting average on balls in play. A poor BABIP can drag their average down, taking much of their fantasy value with it. However, a good BABIP can propel their average up to .300 and above, making them profitable assets that can be had late in drafts. The nice thing about these players is that they usually float around the waiver wire all season long, so grab them if they’re hot, dump them if they’re not and see if you can use their good luck to help yours.
Revere has the highest pre-draft value of these players, thanks to an impressive 2012 season. The new Phillies centerfielder maintained a .294 average last season while swiping 40 bags and scoring 70 runs in his second full season in the majors, which was more than serviceable in most fantasy formats. However, in his rookie season he lived on the waiver wire thanks to a .267 average that dragged his runs scored total down with it. He still managed 37 steals in 2011, but a one-category player is nothing special in most leagues.
Everything comes down to his BABIP, as it will with all zero true outcome players. In 2011, the 25-year-old managed a mere .293 BABIP. That may not sound very low, but given Revere’s extreme speed, it needs to be higher. Since he’s not going to hit any home runs and he makes great contact, striking out less than 10% of the time, his BABIP fluctuation drives his average. When his BABIP rose to .325 in 2012, his average shot up to .294.
Unfortunately his increased average on balls in play wasn’t due to any big change on his part. His line drive rate actually dropped from 19.9% in 2011 to 18.6% in 2012. Instead his BABIP flourished thanks to an increase in infield hits and bunt singles. You shouldn’t draft Ben Revere expecting an average near .300, rather you should treat him as a cheap speed guy who will get you 30+ steals and if his BABIP roulette lands on the high side, consider yourself lucky.
If it weren’t for the 10 years separating them, you would think Juan Pierre and Ben Revere were twins. In 2012 Pierre posted a .307 batting average thanks to a .327 BABIP and stole 37 bases for the Phillies. In 2013, the 35 year-old outfielder returns to Florida (Miami actually) and looks to hit leadoff for the Marlins, which should boost his run scoring production a little after he mainly hit second in Philadelphia.
Despite his advanced age, Pierre has been a consistent source of speed in the past few years having stolen 27 and 68 bases with the White Sox in 2011 and 2010, respectively. However in both of those years a sub-.300 BABIP sucked his average down into the .270s. Pierre rebounded nicely last year with his high average and also stole bases at a career high 84% success rate, up from his pre-2012 average of 72.5%.
Pierre’s average is much more trustworthy than Revere’s given his line drive rate. Pierre belted the ball last year, putting up a 24.2% line drive rate, up from 21.1% in 2011 and 18.6% in 2010. He also cut his fly ball rate down from 25.8% in 2011 to 19.9% last year. Because of his complete lack of power, Pierre has a .137 career batting average on fly balls, so if he can continue to limit how many balls he puts in the air and maintain his good line drive rate he’ll be looking at another high average season. Thanks to his age and the dismal Miami Marlins line-up, Juan Pierre will be undrafted in most mixed leagues yet he will likely out-produce Ben Revere who is going around the 14th round of 12-team drafts.
Darwin Barney is much different from the first two “zero true outcome” hitters, because he doesn’t steal many bases and therefore has less fantasy value. In the last two years, his first two full seasons, he stole just 15 total bases. The reason I included him on this list is because he has the most room to grow with a lucky season. He cut down on his strikeouts last year as he was able to keep his strikeout rate just under 10%. He also brought his walk rate up from a terrible 3.9% in 2011 to a not-as-terrible-but-still-bad 5.6%. He also hits for far more power than Pierre & Revere (which doesn’t take much), as he showed with his seven home runs last year. However, the luck monsters destroyed his batting average.
After hitting for a .276 average in his first full season in 2011, Barney should have seen an improvement on that number after cutting down his strikeouts and increasing his home run to fly ball rate (1.5% in 2011 to 4.8% in 2012), but as luck would have it that didn’t happen. His BABIP dropped from .310 in 2011 down to .273 in 2012 taking his average down to a miserable .254. Amazingly, his line drive rate stayed above average at 22.2% (only down 1% from the previous year). With his newly improved skills and normal luck, Barney should see his average bump back up into the .280 range with a shot at an even higher mark with good luck. Pair that with 5-10 homers and 70+ runs (he averaged 69.5 runs his first two years), and Barney is a decent option for a middle infield position in mixed leagues.
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