Aaron Hill suffered from a horrible BABIP in 2010. Well, most of that isn’t his fault. It’s funny because a hitter who strikes out as many times the Cubs have won a World Series over the past 100 years can have his end of season stats look really bad when it was not.

BABIP takes a look at your batting average only on balls put in play (obviously). A hitter such as Aaron Hill could just be hitting into the wrong spots on the diamond thus just being such a good hitter that he hits the ball into the wrong place time after time.


Ed. Note: Dave brings up a point about BABIP for hitters with which I don’t necessarily agree.  While major differences in BABIP from year to year should be looked at carefully before jumping to conclusions about a player’s performance at the plate, I believe you have to look at several other numbers before suggesting that a player was lucky or unlucky.  For a different take on what BABIP means for hitters, check out Jon Hale’s thoughts on the issue.

Dave Gershman is a writer for Beyond the Box Score as well as Penn League Report. You can find him on twitter @Dave_Gershman

Comments (12)

  1. So every hitter should be expected to maintain a .300 BABIP? Ichiro might have something to say about that.

  2. Ditto on the editor’s note — BABIP doesn’t work the same way for hitters as it does for pitchers.

    A good example of this is, ironically, Aaron Hill. His low BABIP in 2010 was definitely not just bad luck — his line drive % went down and he hit way more fly balls than usual, and the low BABIP was (at least partially) a direct result of that.

  3. I sadly watched about 70-80 percent of Hill’s at bats..

    His low BABIP is a result of falling for pitchers traps and having crap at bats.. It wasn’t luck..

    Keep in mind a pitch like the changeup is designed to get hitters off balance and make poor contact… Granted you can make poor contact and still get lucky, however, poor contact in play is more likely to produce an out than hard contact in play.. If you watch guys who are hitting .370 half way into the season, it seems like they never hit a softy…

    To simply look at BABIP and make a conclusion of luck is incredibly superficial and is a misuse of the concept. It can be an indicator, but over 600 plate appearances you are getting near a sample size where the luck should play out..

    I’m not saying Hill is doomed to have a bad 2011, just that he was in a mad mental place in 2010, and was having poor at bats…

  4. Another interesting note, re: Hill… Farrell mentioned last week that everybody in the league knew Hill was playing hurt and had expanded his strike zone as a result, and pitchers attacked him accordingly. So on the bright side, as long as he’s healthy this year, his struggles in 2010 shouldn’t carry over. But that’s also further evidence that he wasn’t “unlucky” in 2010 — he was just bad.

  5. This quote from Hale makes a lot of sense to me:

    “It would be like saying that a spike or fall in batting average has to be luck, because for hitters, BABIP is just the same damn thing with K’s and HR’s removed from the equation (really two of the last things you want to exclude when trying to decode if a streak or slump or bad year is due to something tangible).”

  6. If you look at a hitter’s career BABIP and there’s a large discrepancy, that’s a decent indicator of luck, but you’re right, there are a lot of other factors that go into it. It still acts as a GENERAL statement of luck even if it’s not perfect. Other things like HR/FB ratio do that too.

  7. I don’t have numbers on hand, but I’d say line drive percentage plays a bigger role than luck in hitter BABIP. And fluctuating BABIP could mean simple slumps and hot streaks hitters go through as well as luck. You can see home run numbers fluctuate wildly as well season to season, and no one is going to suggest there’s a whole lot of luck involved with hitting home runs.

    Speaking of which, if HR/FB ratio is mostly luck for hitters, then I think we’ve proven once and for all steroids didn’t do anything.

    • I think that you can look at a ton of things to indicate luck. What Hale is saying is that you can’t just pick BABIP, and say oh, it was high this year so he was lucky or it was low that year, so he was unlucky. At least not like you can do that for a pitcher.

  8. Wow… this is such an inaccurate and misleading graphic. I can’ t believe you let this get posted. My respect for this site just when down a few notches :(

    BABIP is related to luck only as much as batting average is related to luck. A poor BABIP means a hitter sucked, not that he was unlucky (as was so eloquently pointed out at the mockingbird). A more valid stat to use to measure a hitter’s luck would be xBABIP-BABIP, although it has faults as well.

  9. @Travis, doesn’t your statement work if you replace BABIP with AVG:

    “If you look at a hitter’s career AVG and there’s a large discrepancy, that’s a decent indicator of luck, but you’re right, there are a lot of other factors that go into it. It still acts as a GENERAL statement of luck even if it’s not perfect. Other things like HR/FB ratio do that too.”

  10. The drop shadow should be turned up a bit more. I can almost make out the title.

  11. This article is another one of the most stupidest articles I’ve read. BABIP doesn’t measure anything for hitters. High BABIP means one of high BA, high k’s, low hr. Low BABIP means one of low BA, low k’s, high hr. There is no such thing as “bad luck”. By definition you can’t be consistently unlucky otherwise that would then be the norm. Hitting is a skill based endeavor. If you can’t hit, it’s because you suck, not because of bad luck. There is no fixed probability of anyone getting a hit. Aaron Hill’s skills have eroded. That IS his fault.

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