Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Luck Police

April 28, 2010
By Bret Sayre

I do understand the concept of small sample size, so let me just start with that. And with that said, let’s look at three weeks of BABIP stats! Obviously this early in the season, there are going to be huge swings in both directions as you’ll easily notice – but what we’ll go over today is more or less format of future “Luck Police” columns and a reminder that you should not overreact to terrible starts.

Let’s start with some hitters who will rebound based on their 5-yr Rolling BABIP (or Career BABIP if they’ve been in the show less than 5 years). Notice I said the word “will”. All stats are through yesterday’s games:

Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez will be fine – maybe not 30/100 fine, but they’ll be pretty close to the guys you thought you were drafting. This may not be Hunter Pence’s breakout season, but he’ll be better than this. However, there are definitely some names high on this list that you can target – whether it’s on the waiver wire or through a trade.

The first name that jumps out to me here is Chris Coghlan. It is true; he’s been really scuffling so far this season, but you can take advantage of his lack of a track record and get him really cheap right now. In fact, I just participated in my final draft last night – a relatively shallow 10-team league with 23-man active roster and 6-man bench – and Coghlan was not even drafted with active players. Seriously. That’s 230 players deep. I snagged him with my first pick in the reserve portion of the draft because all of the statistical evidence you can find says he’s not going to struggle like this for much longer (all this despite the fact that last season’s .362 BABIP is probably not sustainable).

The other guys who are great targets at this point are Julio Borbon, Nick Johnson, Travis Snider, Yunel Escobar and Seth Smith. Borbon’s got too much speed to stay at a BABIP this low, even if he performed below his ability. Nick Johnson needs a few more hits to fall, and you’ll see a huge bump in runs/RBIs in the vaunted Yankee lineup. Escobar has a K-rate of 11% this year, which is below his career average (which has provided him with a .296 average) – so it doesn’t take a genius to figure out where he’s going. And then you’ve got great AL-only and NL-only targets in Snider and Smith. Travis Snider is both above his career BB% rate and below his career K% rate, which means his approach at the plate is improving. This will translate into more success – see Rasmus, Colby. Seth Smith should be a nice pickup as well, but he’s trickier since he may only see regular playing time for the next two weeks or so.

Now let’s move onto the guys who, for the most part, are hotter than a baked potato flying out of a volcano:

This is really a much less helpful list. You’re not going to rush out to sell high on Tulowitski, Morneau or Longoria. And no one’s going to buy Kearns, Rosales or Juan Castro. So what you’ve got left are a handful of guys who will regress to the mean and may have some added value now before that happens. Scott Podsednik is one – although his speed will keep him valuable enough (the Royals are running a LOT). Gutierrez and Gonzalez are two guys; however, that you could spin into a more valuable player at this point. Both of them were sleepers going into the season and they’ve clearly both delivered so far – but they may never have higher trade values if your team has other needs. Same goes for anyone who can be convinced that Geovany Soto will be a top-5 catcher this season.

Now we’ll move onto pitchers – and since these numbers REALLY should be taken with a grain of salt since most starters have picked up 4 starts so far this year, I’m not even going to worry about the color commentary. We’ll save that for when it’s more meaningful.

Top 20 Future Risers:

Top 20 Future Fallers:

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