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Players with Low BABIP in 2022 (Fantasy Baseball 2023)

Players with Low BABIP in 2022 (Fantasy Baseball 2023)

It’s that time of year again. Leagues are firing back up, drafts are getting underway, and those who haven’t started their player analysis yet are starting to fall behind. Even if you have, it’s hard to do a deep dive into every stat and know which ones can be beneficial while drafting. Some are obvious. Home runs and RBI are always going to be positive indicators of a player’s success that you can project into this season. Others, like BABIP, often get overlooked or under-analyzed because they aren’t something that shows up in the box score.

Last season, I did a series called “Death By BABIP” where I broke down players from the month prior who were on the unlucky end of the BABIP spectrum. One thing I quickly learned was that there are two types of low BABIPs. The guys who are getting consistently unlucky and those who have a swing conducive to a lower BABIP. When pinpointing guys with an unlucky BABIP you want to find guys with a good line drive rate, lower fly ball rate, decent speed, and the ability to barrel up the ball. Although flares and burners do excellently when it comes to boosting the BABIP numbers as well.

When it comes to guys with the anti-BABIP swings, those are the guys with high launch angles, big fly ball rates, and a very low line drive rate. These guys tend to focus more on going yard than getting to first base. Thus, the lower BABIP numbers. A low BABIP isn’t always a bad thing, though. There are plenty of guys who’ve embraced the low BABIP and focused on the home run ball because they have that otherworldly power. The big red flags come when a player has a low BABIP, high fly ball rate, and middle-of-the-road power. These guys tend to get stuck in that low BABIP purgatory which dings both their real-life and fantasy value.

With that in mind, let’s dive into the lowest BABIP numbers of 2022 and see what they mean for the 2023 season.

Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit

Players with Low BABIP in 2022 

Carlos Santana (1B – PIT)

(2022: .209 BABIP)

I think we should come up with an award for the player with the lowest BABIP at the end of a given season. Football has “Mr. Irrelevant” for the last player picked in the draft. Maybe we go with something like “Mr. Unlucky” for baseball?

Anyways…

Santana ended the 2022 season with the lowest BABIP in baseball, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t productive. His .209 BABIP was a result of a few things. Part of it had to do with the shift. He is one of the more prominent switch-hitters in the league. He does tend to lean more towards batting lefty, though. He had 362 PA as a lefty and only 142 as a righty.

With that being said, while batting as a lefty, Santana was shifted an absurd 98.1% of the time. This isn’t the end all, be all of why his BABIP was so low, but it certainly has a part in it. As a right-handed hitter with no shift, Santana had a wOBA of .357, and as a lefty against the shift, he had a wOBA of just .285. He doesn’t have enough of a sample size as a lefty with no shift to use that number.

It also comes from the fact that he started elevating the ball more in 2022. His 15.4-degree launch angle was tied for the highest of his career. Makes sense why his 43.9% flyball rate was the highest of his career as well. Santana was, unfortunately, a victim of the “I’m swinging for the fences every at bat” mindset. The power is still there, though. He ended the year with a 9.3% barrel rate, 90.7 MPH average exit velocity, and a career-high 44.9% hard-hit rate.

He’s going to continue being a victim of the low BABIP bug, but with the shift going away in 2023, look for Santana’s average to jump. Especially when you consider that his xBA (.253) was 51 points higher than his end-of-the-year average (.202).

Rowdy Tellez (1B – MIL)

(2022 BABIP: .215)

Ohhhhh Rowdy. The big man falls into the category of players who are exactly who we think they are. While Carlos Santana is one of those guys with a swing who could see a BABIP jump in 2023, Rowdy Tellez is not.

After a few seasons in the majors, Tellez decided that 2022 was the year he was going to fully give in to being a pull-hitting flyball hitter. And it worked. His 35 home runs ended up being seventh-best in the league and nearly doubled his previous career total. Rowdy also saw his barrel rate jump to 12.9%, his average exit velocity hit 91.1 MPH, and his .479 xSLG was in the 90th percentile.

All of this power surge didn’t come without consequences, though. The good that it did for his power came at the expense of his batting average and OBP. Tellez saw his launch angle jump to 15.3 degrees. In turn, his flyball rate jumped a whopping 7% to 45.5%, his line drive rate fell to just 15.6%, and his 41.1% pull rate was the highest it’s been since the 2019 season.

Do I think Rowdy will make adjustments this season and see his BABIP increase? No. He seems to finally found his path to true success at the major league level, and it’s likely that won’t be changing. Kind of along the lines of Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber.

Anthony Rizzo (1B – NYY)

(2022 BABIP: .216)

Just a tick higher than Rowdy in the BABIP department, and it’s for essentially all of the same reasons. Except Rowdy has a way cooler name. There is one main difference between their games, though. Rowdy is still early on in his career and has finally found his path to success. Rizzo, on the other hand, is someone who has already had all the previous success in the world. At this point in his career, he’s supposed to be on the downturn and heading into the twilight of his career. I think someone told him, and he’s now doing his best to fight it.

We previously mentioned spikes in launch angle and flyball rates as a common denominator in a lot of guys with low BABIP numbers. None of them seem to have quite as drastic of a spike as Rizzo, though. In 2022, he saw his launch angle spike just shy of five degrees to 19.3 degrees. With that, his flyball rate jumped to a career-high 49.3%. Almost five degrees higher than his previous career average. Rizzo essentially figured out that it doesn’t take much for a lefty to pull the ball out and leaned into it. In fact, 26 of his 32 home runs were pulled in 2022.

The 2022 version of Rizzo is likely the version you can come to expect moving forward. He’s done what many veterans aspire to do and changed his game to continue being successful. Much like aging shooters do in the NBA when they lean into being a three-point specialist, Rizzo has become a pull-hitting flyball specialist.

Max Muncy (2B, 3B, DH – LAD)

(2022 BABIP: .227)

So in 2022, Max Muncy’s numbers across the board were a bit odd. He suffered an elbow injury in 2021 that he decided against surgery on. Essentially playing the entire 2022 season with a bum arm. Because of that, many of his stats did take a hit. His power, batting average, BABIP, and xBA all took a major hit.

As was mentioned with the others, his swing did change in 2022. His launch angle made that same jump up to 20.9 degrees, and his flyball rate increased to just shy of 50%, as did his pull rate. He was still seeing the ball well and making good contact, though. He rarely chased pitches, leaving him in the 100th percentile in chase rate. Because of that, he ended the year with an impressive 15.8% walk rate. Pair that with his 13.4% barrel rate and 45.6% hard-hit rate, and you should have the makings of a player putting together quite the offensive show.

The thing many people seem to be missing, though, is the fact that as the year went on, Muncy got healthier. With his increase in the health of his elbow came an increase in his production. In the first half of the season, Muncy had a BABIP of just .188 through 73 games. In the second half, that BABIP jumped to .270 in 63 games. Much more in line with Muncy’s career numbers. He also saw his hard hit rate increase to 48.8% and his average exit velocity increase to 92.1 MPH, almost four MPH higher than the first half.

So while Muncy may have been towards the bottom of the season-long BABIP list, he is one of the ones who’s BABIP was built a bit differently. Coming into 2023, it is very likely that Muncy is completely healed from that elbow injury and back to his old ways. With a career BABIP of .256, it’s highly likely we see him meet or exceed that this season and his counting stats are likely to follow.

Rounding Out The Top Ten Lowest 2022 BABIPs

Beyond our fantasy baseball content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – which optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball draft season.


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