Surprising BABIP Thrivers: Is A Second Half Regression Coming (Matt Adams & More)?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

While it’s easy to look at an inflated BABIP and scream “regression”, we all know that not all are created equal. Yes, Paul Goldschmidt could see a regression (he owns a league high .378 BABIP), but that doesn’t mean that you are selling him off or that he is going to hit .150 the rest of the season. Let’s take a look at some of the more surprising BABIP leaders to try and help determine their ultimate value:

 

Matt Adams – St. Louis Cardinals
Current BABIP – .376 (2nd highest)

Adams is a bit of a curious case study, as he is carrying a bloated BABIP courtesy of an inflated line drive rate (24.9%). At the same time his walks (2.8%), strikeouts (19.3%) and power (11.7% HR/FB) are all down overall. Considering we were buying him based on his power, it’s a little bit hard to figure out.

He did see his power spike back up in June, with 6 HR in 58 AB. With 2 HR in 49 AB in July, that’s 8 HR over his past 107 AB, so no one is about to complain about that and it no longer appears to be a concern.

Obviously an improvement in his strikeout rate is going to be viewed as a positive and even with the power surge he has managed to maintain an elevated line drive rate (20.4% in June, 30.8% in July).  The walks are a concern, but it’s hardly enough of a red flag to avoid him.

While his BABIP should regress, the increased power will help him hit for a solid average as well. There’s an awful lot to like and he is worth owning in all formats.

Note: While he was left off our initial rest of season first base rankings, we’ve updated them to include him.

 

Casey McGehee – Florida Marlins
Current BABIP – .369 (4th highest)

It’s been a fantastic return to the Majors for McGehee, who comes into the break hitting .319 with 53 RBI.  Of course he’s hit just 1 HR on the season and also hasn’t offered an impressive line drive rate (19.4%).  Does anyone really believe that either of his key numbers can be replicated in the second half?

Maybe he hits for a little bit more power, but a 49.7% groundball rate (47.5% for his career) and an unfriendly home ballpark are going to limit him in that regard.  Considering he’s hitting .385 with runners in scoring position, thanks to an even more unbelievable .440 BABIP, there’s a good chance the RBI quickly dry up as well.

As for the average, the BABIP and line drive rate speak for themselves.  While it’s unlikely that you can get a lot for him, now is going to be the best opportunity to try and sell him.

 

Lonnie Chisenhall – Cleveland Indians
Current BABIP – .367 (tied for 6th highest)

This isn’t the first time he’s carried an inflated line drive rate (25.3% thus far in ’14, having posted a 25.2% mark back in 2012), and when coupled with a solid strikeout rate (15.1%) there’s a good chance that he continues to produce solid numbers.  Is he going to maintain this type of BABIP?  Probably not, but that doesn’t mean he falls off a cliff.

He continues to show power, with a 10.7% HR/FB (11.1% for his career), just adding to his potential appeal.  While he may not hit .328 with 9 HR, as he did in the first half, there is a lot to like.

The biggest question could be his playing time, though if he continues to hit the Indians will continue to find a spot for him in the lineup.  Maybe he regresses a little bit, but there’s enough to like to continue to utilize him in all formats.

 

Source – Fangraphs

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4 comments

  1. Marky Mark says:

    Stephen Vogt’s .376 BABIP is up there with Adams, but Vogt’s history of posting a higher-than-average BABIP in the minors should mean less chance for regression the rest of the way, right?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Possibly, though I’m not about to say that I’m a Vogt believer. His line drive rate certainly doesn’t justify this type of mark (22.7%) and we can’t say with any certainty that he’s going to see regular playing time once everyone is healthy.

      He’s worth owning, but I wouldn’t consider him a lock to produce the rest of the way.

  2. Ty says:

    Early in the season I traded Shelby Miller for Michael Brantley and was told I could have gotten more, or we still down on Brantley? He is the #9 overall player in 5 x 5 through the first half…

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I’m still not the biggest believer in Brantley, but considering how bad Miller has been it’s hard to consider the deal anything but an absolute steal. Brantley isn’t going to remain the #9 player, but he’s going to be a good option.

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