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Advanced Stats Leaderboard: Hitter BABIP (2022 Fantasy Baseball)

by Josh Shepardson | @BChad50 | Featured Writer
Feb 19, 2022
Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada isn’t a stranger to having a high BABIP.

The fantasy baseball ranking season is in full swing. For me, that typically starts with searching advanced stats leaderboards. Advanced statistics are often more predictive than traditional box score statistics. Thus, they’re an excellent jumping-off point. This series will dive into a variety of my favorite advanced metrics. However, I must caution that no statistic in isolation is the secret sauce for unearthing a hidden gem or burgeoning stud. Instead, they are a piece of the puzzle and best viewed through that lens, using other statistics in conjunction with them to formulate a well-rounded opinion of the fantasy value of players.

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Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP)

I’ve previously discussed Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) related to pitchers. As I noted in that piece, it’s optimal to look at a larger sample than a single season for determining if a player is likely to hit above or below the league average for BABIP.

According to FanGraphs, in 2021, the league average BABIP was .292. Further, out of 132 qualified hitters, the highest BABIP was .372, and the lowest was .224. The players most likely to exceed the league average hit the ball hard, are above-average runners or blend both. Thus, if a hitter has a high BABIP and doesn’t have either of those tools in their tool belt, a red flag flies about their ability to continue exceeding an average BABIP.

2021 Qualified Hitters BABIP

Tim Anderson and Starling Marte were tied for the MLB-high among qualified hitters with a .372 BABIP in 2021. According to Baseball Savant, out of 237 players with at least 100 opportunities, Anderson was tied for 69th in Sprint Speed (28.0 ft/sec, better than the average of 27.0 ft/sec), and Marte was tied for 43rd (28.4 ft/sec). So, they check the box of having above-average wheels. Nevertheless, they're BABIP regression candidates. According to FanGraphs, from 2018 through 2020, Anderson had a .349 BABIP, and Marte had a .316 BABIP. So, while it's wise to expect their BABIP to dip in 2020, it's unwise to regress it to the league average.

Including Anderson, 10 players had a BABIP above .330 from 2018 (or since debuting in 2019 for a few players) among the leaders above, including Yoan Moncada (.365), Bo Bichette (.361 since debuting in 2019), Bryan Reynolds (.347), Chris Taylor (.345), J.D. Martinez (.343), Nick Castellanos (.337), Nathaniel Lowe (.333 since debuting in 2019), Javier Baez (.333), and Trea Turner (.333).

Only five players from this section had a BABIP below .300 from 2018 through 2020. Those players were Bryce Harper (.298), Adam Frazier (.295), Austin Riley (.287 since debuting in 2019), Josh Rojas (.275 since debuting in 2019), and Nicky Lopez (.269 since debuting in 2019). Riley had a career-high maxEV (114.2 MPH) and Barrel% (13.3%) last year. Therefore, he might stave off a fall down to his pre-2021 BABIP level. Also, Lopez's pre-2021 BABIP might not represent his actual talent level from now on after spending the last offseason changing his approach and swing.

Noteworthy Non-Qualified Hitters in 2021

The sample was even smaller for this group than the top collection of players, making the BABIPs even less reliable. Luis Robert and Ketel Marte are the most interesting fantasy options in this section. So, let's look under the hood for them. Robert reached The Show in 2020, totaling a .300 BABIP. Meanwhile, Marte had a .313 BABIP from 2018 through 2020.

Robert can scald the ball and is a speedster. The young outfielder has had a 12.6 Barrel% in his career, which would have tied for 30th among qualified hitters last year. Further, Robert had a 28.0 ft/sec Sprint Speed.

Marte had a down year in 2020, sandwiched by an excellent 2019 and 2021. Oddly, he had a pinch below-average Sprint Speed in 2021, but he was an above-average runner in 2019 and 2020. I expect Marte's BABIP to drop this year. Still, he had a .339 BABIP from 2019 through 2021 and has had a .318 BABIP for his career. So, he's an excellent bet to best the league average for BABIP in 2022.

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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.


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