When looking at stats stemming from the sprint that was 2020 we all know that numbers will be skewed. We are dealing with short sample sizes, so there are going to be some extreme marks both for the good and the bad. That doesn’t mean they are meaningless, it just means that we need to try and value them appropriately. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the ten lowest BABIP from ’20 (pitchers with at least 30.0 IP) and try to determine who we are buying and who we are selling high on:
Trevor Bauer / Walker Buehler
We all know that these are two of the elite starters in the game, and while they may have benefited from some luck their outlook is not about to change. Maybe they take a step backwards in 2021, but no one is about to ignore them.
It would be easy to get excited about Javier, coming off an impressive rookie season (3.48 ERA). However there are two key issues, on top of the luck metrics, that can’t go overlooked:
- 8.7% SwStr%
- 29.0% Groundball Rate
Home runs were already an issue (1.82 HR/9), and that type of SwStr% could lead to a regression in his K/9 (8.94). Couple those risks with his BABIP and it’s easy to declare him a sell high candidate.
Hudson obviously isn’t as good as his 2.77 ERA in ’20, and it’s easy to envision a significant drop-off. Just look at the “skills”:
- Strikeouts – 7.15 K/9 (9.5% SwStr%)
- Control – 3.46 BB/9
- Groundballs – 56.7%
While he carries an elite groundball rate, the other skills are pedestrian. That creates more of a streaming option, as opposed to someone to trust.
Means was a sell high candidate heading into 2020, so it shouldn’t have been surprising to see him post a 4.53 ERA. The scary thing is that things may not improve, even though he should allow fewer home runs (2.47 HR/9), as the luck metrics should also step back (82.8% strand rate).
Once a hyped pitching prospect, his 4.34 ERA would make it seem like there was at least potential. However his luck metrics (82.0% strand rate) and “skills” all tell another story:
- Strikeouts – 7.49 K/9 (8.2% SwStr%)
- Control – 6.11 BB/9
- Groundballs – 32.3%
Nothing about that sounds promising, meaning he’s a completely hands off proposition.
Source – Fangraphs