Bob on babip, average hitters and average pitchers (with some help from Shinsplint)

Days ago I made a list of 40 or so pitchers and batters who had played in the most games or had the most innings pitched since WWII and charted their BABIP. shins suggested looking at poorer players. I said I’d give it a try, but I quickly found out that there just aren’t that many poor pitchers who pitch enough innings to offset random chance. There are quite a few poor hitters, but they all tend to be middle infielders or back-up catchers. So what I did instead was make a list of all the hitters who played in 1500 games and had an OPS+ ranging from 95 to 105 since 1946; and all the pitchers who had 2100 innings and had anRA+ ranging from 95 to 105 since the war. I relize that OPS+ and ERA+ are not the same, but it was the best I could do with the data I have. Anyway, here are the 57 hitters. I’ll post the pitchers separately.

324.48 Matty Alou
306.94 Jay Bell
297.19 Juan Beniquez
324.52 Dante Bichette
274.10 Paul Blair
299.69 Bret Boone
302.70 Hubie Brooks
263.30 Tom Brunansky
301.22 Bill Bruton
294.90 Jose Cardenal
269.32 Joe Carter
290.75 Al Cowens
251.03 Del Crandall
299.28 Al Dark
316.52 Delino DeShields
310.25 Tony Fernandez
313.61 Curt Flood
317.65 Travis Fryman
274.72 Gary Gaetti
286.40 Phil Garner
315.71 Billy Goodman
305.62 Greg Gross
290.11 Tommy Harper
308.52 Larry Herndon
300.19 Tommy Herr
274.56 Deron Johnson
290.25 Jay Johnstone
257.51 Willie Jones
269.64 Mike Jorgensen
274.44 Ed Kranepool
283.67 Whitey Lockman
265.65 Sherman Lollar
310.14 Garry Maddox
313.45 Dave Martinez
280.24 Tim McCarver
343.49 Willie McGee
268.51 Ken McMullen
283.94 Denis Menke
295.78 Willie Montanez
293.73 Lloyd Moseby
295.17 Ken Oberkfell
266.10 Pete O’Brien
279.52 Lance Parrish
280.27 Vic Power
295.79 Willie Randolph
274.58 Brooks Robinson
271.03 Johnny Roseboro
316.44 Juan Samuel
300.70 Steve Sax
281.51 Roy Smalley
258.61 Jim Spencer
302.41 Terry Steinback
294.64 BJ Surhoff
279.39 Tim Wallach
307.66 Devon White
290.23 Todd Zeile

The average for these 57 men is 291.71

I think it is rather obvious that fast guys have a higher BABIP than slow guys.

Top 7 BABIP
343.49 Willie McGee
324.52 Dante Bichette
324.48 Matty Alou
317.65 Travis Fryman
316.52 Delino DeShields
316.44 Juan Samuel
315.71 Billy Goodman
Altho I never thought of Bichette and Fryman as speed demons.

Bottom 7 BABIP
251.03 Del Crandall
257.51 Willie Jones
258.61 Jim Spencer
263.30 Tom Brunansky
265.65 Sherman Lollar
266.10 Pete O’Brien
268.51 Ken McMullen
It sure looks like if you played in the ’50s and were a catcher, you couldn’t outrun my baby sister.

Willie McGee kind of looks out of place. There is one pitcher who fits that too. Any guesses which pitcher might have a ridiculously low BABIP?

Here are the 57 pitchers since WWII that pitched 2100 innings and have a ERA+ between 95 and 105.

275.80 Doyle Alexander
270.22 Joaquin Andujar
277.58 Stan Bahnsen
283.90 Floyd Bannister
288.69 Nellie Briles
268.52 Bob Buhl
275.43 Lew Burdette
288.24 Mike Caldwell
270.26 Don Cardwell
284.86 Jim Clancy
283.67 Joe Coleman
283.59 Ron Darling
286.22 John Denny
274.39 Larry Dierker
282.78 Pat Dobson
281.81 Dock Ellis
295.75 Dick Ellsworth
289.52 Mike Flanagan
275.91 Bob Forsch
295.55 Woodie Fryman
260.01 Jim Grant
301.38 Kevin Gross
284.77 Bill Gullickson
279.02 Ken Holtzman
283.85 Rick Honeycutt
248.03 Jim Hunter
300.12 Bruce Hurst
289.19 Bob Knepper
295.72 Mike Krukow
283.71 Vern Law
287.30 Mickey Lolich
273.04 Rudy May
270.35 Mike McCormick
281.20 Scott McGregor
289.11 Mike Moore
274.49 Jack Morris
275.52 Joe Niekro
290.43 Joe Nuxhall
284.33 Claude Osteen
282.17 Camilio Pascual
280.81 Fritz Peterson
285.98 Johnny Podres
275.38 Bob Purkey
274.96 Pedro Ramos
280.19 Steve Renko
292.02 Jerry Reuss
291.10 Rick Rhoden
289.37 Ray Sadeki
288.61 Scott Sanderson
291.24 Chris Short
280.13 Bill Singer
280.67 Dave Stewart
292.04 Rick Sutcliffe
284.56 Mike Torrez
287.39 Fernando Valenzuela
285.94 Ed Whitson
291.01 Rick Wise

The average BABIP for these 57 pitchers is 282.77, about 10 points lower than the hitters.

There is not a much variance among the pitchers as there is among the hitters, which was to be expected. Whether that’s true because it is, in fact, true or because I’ve not set up the parameters correctly; that I don’t know.

I hazzard a guess that there are 3 things which causes the difference between pitchers: ball park affect, team defense and pitcher skill. And I have no clue which is the most important.

Only 2 pitchers had BABIP above 300.00, Kevin Gross at 301.38 and Bruce Hurst at 300.12.

Only three pitchers had BABIP below 270.00, Bob Buhl at 268.52, Jim Grant at 260.01 and…

Jim Hunter, all the way down at 248.03!!!

One does wonder if AstroTurf plays a part. But Matty Alou didn’t (or at least not much) play on the stuff. I think it would be interesting to see if BABIP tended to be higher in turf parks, but how would you go about taking into account that they were generally bigger parks and they generally tailored their roster with speedier guys? And then again, how does one measure team defense? I’ve never seen a measurement that I’m overly confident in. My guess is that individual speed is the largest factor, followed by the size of the ballpark.

Rivers OPS+ was 106, so he wasn’t included. Willie McGee had no power and rarely took a walk, so his OPS+ was 101.

As far as pitchers go, I’m not so sure that there isn’t more skill involved than I would have been led to believe. I did a half-hearted look at the guys who weren’t near the norm. Grant and Gross played basically in park-neutral fields. Hunter and Buhl played in pitcher-friendly parks, but neither was overly friendly. Hurst played for the most part in hitter-friendly parks. How their defenses stack up, I’m not confident that I really know. Looking at team defense Linear Weights (which is a BAD measurement) Grant and Hurst played with average defenses. Gross a little worse than average, and Hunter and Buhl with better than average defenses, but not top level either. I’m taking a stab in the dark, but it seems likely that the 30 point difference between the average and Hunter is 15 points ballpark and defense and 15 points some sort of “skill” that Hunter had to control BABIP, whatever skill that might have been.

Shinsplint

I found Bob’s original list of pitchers and players and their BABIP and combined it with his new one. Their were some duplicates, so of course I eliminated them. This list has 90 pitchers and 94 hitters.

The standard deviation on this list is 10.4 for pitchers and 20.3 for hitters. My theory was that if great and not-so-great hitters and pitchers were used in the list (rather than just great) the gap between hitters and pitchers would increase, but actually the difference with this list is about the same. Perhaps my theory would be true if worse hitters and pitchers were included, but as Bob says the problem becomes that those players don’t usually play long enough to avoid small-sample variations. Or at least I think I’m paraphrasing him correctly.

Here they are in descending order of BABIP for hitters and ascending order of BABIP for pitchers.

361.22 Rod Carew
343.49 Willie McGee
340.00 Lou Brock
329.70 Paul Molitor
324.52 Dante Bichette
324.48 Matty Alou
321.25 Pete Rose
317.65 Travis Fryman
317.16 Dave Parker
316.52 Delino DeShields
316.44 Juan Samuel
315.71 Billy Goodman
314.76 Tim Raines
313.61 Curt Flood
313.45 Dave Martinez
312.40 Tony Perez
310.94 George Brett
310.25 Tony Fernandez
310.14 Garry Maddox
308.52 Larry Herndon
307.66 Devon White
307.47 Rickey Henderson
307.32 Robin Yount
307.06 Harold Baines
306.94 Jay Bell
305.62 Greg Gross
305.26 Vada Pinson
302.70 Hubie Brooks
302.41 Terry Steinback
301.67 Willie Mays
301.46 Reggie Jackson
301.22 Bill Bruton
300.70 Steve Sax
300.19 Tommy Herr
299.87 Al Kaline
299.69 Bret Boone
299.28 Al Dark
299.22 Dave Concepcion
298.81 Frank Robinson
298.80 Dave Winfield
298.09 Dwight Evans
297.19 Juan Beniquez
295.79 Willie Randolph
295.78 Willie Montanez
295.30 Eddie Murray
295.17 Ken Oberkfell
294.93 Hank Aaron
294.90 Jose Cardenal
294.64 BJ Surhoff
293.73 Lloyd Moseby
292.73 Andre Dawson
292.52 Carl Yastrzemski
290.75 Al Cowens
290.25 Jay Johnstone
290.23 Todd Zeile
290.11 Tommy Harper
290.05 Billy Williams
289.97 Barry Bonds
289.74 Bill Buckner
289.42 Rafael Palmeiro
287.41 Ted Simmons
286.40 Phil Garner
283.94 Denis Menke
283.84 Rusty Staub
283.67 Whitey Lockman
283.10 Carlton Fisk
281.51 Roy Smalley
281.33 Joe Morgan
280.49 Cal Ripken
280.27 Vic Power
280.24 Tim McCarver
279.52 Lance Parrish
279.39 Tim Wallach
277.02 Ozzie Smith
275.87 Willie McCovey
275.81 Luis Apricio
274.72 Gary Gaetti
274.58 Brooks Robinson
274.56 Deron Johnson
274.44 Ed Kranepool
274.10 Paul Blair
271.03 Johnny Roseboro
269.91 Ernie Banks
269.64 Mike Jorgensen
269.32 Joe Carter
268.51 Ken McMullen
266.10 Pete O’Brien
265.65 Sherman Lollar
263.30 Tom Brunansky
258.61 Jim Spencer
257.51 Willie Jones
253.04 Darrell Evans
251.03 Del Crandall
248.41 Graig Nettles

248.03 Jim Hunter
253.18 Jim Palmer
255.84 Charlie Hough
260.01 Jim Grant
262.26 Warren Spahn
264.34 Tom Seaver
265.41 Juan Marichal
265.45 Whitey Ford
266.09 Luis Tiant
266.27 Billy Pierce
266.67 Don Sutton
267.69 Jim Perry
268.52 Bob Buhl
269.19 Vida Blue
270.09 Robin Roberts
270.22 Joaquin Andujar
270.26 Don Cardwell
270.35 Mike McCormick
270.77 Early Wynn
272.14 Nolan Ryan
273.04 Rudy May
273.22 Milt Pappas
274.15 Fergie Jenkins
274.39 Larry Dierker
274.49 Jack Morris
274.82 Phil Niekro
274.96 Pedro Ramos
275.38 Bob Purkey
275.43 Lew Burdette
275.52 Joe Niekro
275.73 Dennis Martinez
275.80 Doyle Alexander
275.91 Bob Forsch
276.49 Bob Gibson
276.53 Don Drysdale
277.58 Stan Bahnsen
278.88 Jim Bunning
278.91 Dennis Eckersley
279.02 Ken Holtzman
279.36 Larry Jackson
280.10 Gaylord Perry
280.13 Bill Singer
280.19 Steve Renko
280.67 Dave Stewart
280.81 Fritz Peterson
281.20 Scott McGregor
281.81 Dock Ellis
282.17 Camilio Pascual
282.23 Curt Simmons
282.78 Pat Dobson
283.44 Frank Tanananananana
283.59 Ron Darling
283.67 Joe Coleman
283.71 Vern Law
283.85 Rick Honeycutt
283.90 Floyd Bannister
284.33 Claude Osteen
284.56 Mike Torrez
284.77 Bill Gullickson
284.86 Jim Clancy
285.94 Ed Whitson
285.96 Steve Carlton
285.98 Johnny Podres
286.22 John Denny
287.30 Mickey Lolich
287.39 Fernando Valenzuela
288.12 Bert Blyleven
288.24 Mike Caldwell
288.47 Jim Kaat
288.61 Scott Sanderson
288.69 Nellie Briles
288.96 Jerry Koosman
289.11 Mike Moore
289.17 Tommy John
289.19 Bob Knepper
289.37 Ray Sadeki
289.52 Mike Flanagan
290.43 Joe Nuxhall
290.45 Bob Friend
291.01 Rick Wise
291.10 Rick Rhoden
291.24 Chris Short
292.02 Jerry Reuss
292.04 Rick Sutcliffe
295.55 Woodie Fryman
295.72 Mike Krukow
295.75 Dick Ellsworth
296.86 Rick Reuschel
300.12 Bruce Hurst
301.38 Kevin Gross

Bob

Thanks for doing something with the data, shins.

I remember vaguely something that Bill did years ago, where he made a bunch of lists, and Roy Thomas was always at one end of the specturm and (I think it was) Dave Kingman at the other. Hunter always seems to be tht way too. Whenver I make lists, Hunter is almost always at one extreme or the other. For example: this list. For another ERA+ vs CERA+. His CERA is about as far away from his ERA as anyone in recent history (relievers not included). Another: his ball park factor is one of the lowest in recent history (for a long-time pitcuer). One more example: Win Shares minus Actual Wins. Hunter and Sutton are the only post-WWII HOFers with more wins than WS. And it’s not even really close with Hunter at -18 and Sutton at -5. The next lowest should come as no real suprise, Nolan Ryan at +10. I think that Hunter belongs in the Hall, but I sure do get why a lot of sabermetric types don’t.

Shinsplint

Hunter certainly benefited from pitching-friendly ballparks and hitter-friendly lineups. As you might guess, I wouldn’t have voted him in the HOF, but he certainly had the fame and chose his teams well. Given that Hunter’s Wins are more than his Win Shares, I assume that implies that his Wins were higher than his contribution would suggest.

Judging from their BABIP values, Catfish Hunter pitching to Graig Nettles would be a combination likely to result in a batted ball being an out.

An idle thought—I wonder if pitchers with low BABIPs give up a lot of homers. Any other hit raises your pitching BABIP, but homers do not. So given two pitchers with everything the same, but one gives up more homers in his hits, he has a lower BABIP.

It was quite interesting to see the speed guys get high BABIPs. I mean–it makes sense of course, but at baseballprospectus it seems they focus on the line drive rates as indicators of a hitter’s high BABIP. But certainly speed and ability to place the ball have a huge effect.

 

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