What is BABIP in Baseball? While the question is simple, the answer is complex enough that you would have to go over the explanation many times before understanding it. Luckily for you, this article is all about explaining and simplifying the concept, how it is used in baseball, and what is its value in pro leagues.
So, without further ado, let’s answer the question. BABIP in baseball stands for Batting Average on Balls in Play. It is the average number of pitched balls hit by a hitter, excluding home runs and strikeouts.
If a hitter smacks three pitches out of five totals, two of them are a home run, and one is a simple base run, the hitter would have only 1 out of 5, or 0.20 BABIP. Now that we know what BABIP is, let’s find out why it is important and how it is used in baseball.
Importance of BABIP
Unlike other measures used to evaluate a hitter’s performance, the BABIP is usually a standard setpoint of the value 0.300. This means any value higher than this, and the hitter is said to have a higher average of hits per game than others. A value lower than this means the hitter was not so lucky.
Yes, surprising as it may sound, luck has a lot to do with an individual’s BABIP value. A hard hitter could have a lot of those smacked balls caught or dropped or even flown into a homerun that excludes it from the BABIP measure. This, of course, doesn’t mean the slugger isn’t an amazing player. It just means luck can be tricky at times, especially in baseball.
An inside play almost always has a chance of the hitter being lucked out and the hit being caught. In comparison, a hit that supposedly looks weak could be missed by the fielder and grant a score to the hitter. This is why BABIP is important, as it reminds us that not every stat we see in baseball is 100% true.
It also shows that almost every hitter only hits 30% of the balls played. Some can hit up to 35, but that still counts as more luck than talent.
How Is BABPIP Used in Baseball Leagues?
As confusing as it can get, BABIP is more than just the luck of a hitter. Originally, it was designed to measure the ability of the pitcher to prevent balls from being hit. More recently, however, it has become more of a measure of the batter’s abilities, not to score a high BABIP but to maintain a consistently good BABIP over the years, season after season.
Even bad luck tends to have an expiry date. One season of low BABIP cannot label a hitter as a bad player. However, consistently low, or worse, progressively decreasing BABIP stats can be considered part of poor performance by the player.
Similarly, a hitter who maintains a BABIP greater than 0.300 for a track record of many years is considered a smart player, at least. MLB teams can use these records of hitters to decide which ones to hire among a pool of fresh high school or college grads.
It can also be used by coaches to draft the offense lineup per the pitcher lineup of the opposing team. If their pitcher with a history of bringing about low BABIPs is coming first, it would be wise to send in your best BABIP-scoring hitter first. Fantasy football teams also have a major use of BABIP.
Fans across the world go into the depth of a player’s record, including their BABIP, to add them to their lineup. It is obvious what being drafted more in a season in Fantasy Football means for any player in baseball: success.
Conclusion of What Is BABIP In Baseball
Now that we have talked about the BABIP in detail let’s summarize it. It is the average number of balls hit by the batter that results in a score. Homeruns and strikeouts or flyouts are excluded from this estimate.
It usually is around 30% for all hitters, but a higher or lower number does not necessarily mean the hitter is better or worse than others, respectively. It is largely based on the luck of the game, so BABIP values of a single season are not enough to evaluate a player. Rather, their ability to maintain a value across seasons is important.
This statistic is used by teams to hire players and by coaches to decide the lineup of batters. It can also be used in fantasy football for making a dream lineup that wins each season, and fans get rewards from it.
The formula for BABIP is (H – HR) / (AB – K – HR + SF), where H is the number of hits, HR is the number of home runs, AB is the number of at-bats, K is the number of strikeouts, and SF is the number of sacrifice flies.
BABIP is useful in assessing current performance and can be an indicator of potential regression or improvement. However, it’s just one piece of the puzzle and should be considered alongside other statistics.
Various factors can influence BABIP, including luck, defense, ballpark dimensions, hitting skills, and pitching skills. For instance, hitting a line drive is more likely to result in a hit than hitting a ground ball.