What is BABIP? I addressed that in a previous piece. As to how it's impacting players in 2014, that's what this article will be speaking to. Which players may be having success based on an artificially high BABIP? Which players are struggling and part of the blame must be placed on an artificially low BABIP? So glad you asked.
NOTE: Though the league average is .290-300, players do tend to establish their own baseline. Also worth mentioning. Numbers over .350 put you on the major league leaderboard. Numbers over .380 give you a chance to lead the league.
All three of these numbers are comically high. None will finish the year in the .400's. Period. Check out their career marks: Byrd (.327), Kubel (.306), Choo (.353). Note how much higher Choo is than the others which likely portends a softer landing than the other two over the remainder of the season (not to mention that he's simply a better hitter).
Speedsters can have high numbers with their ability to beat out grounders. Still Emilio's career mark, while healthy, is “only” .336. Tulowitzki's career mark is .319. He's been under .336 every season of his career.
Smith has a career mark of .308 and has never been above .324 in a season. Gardner has a strong .328 career mark but he's never been over .340 in a season.
Mauer owns a career .349 which is huge. He did finish last year at .383 but that's a massive number to repeat in back-to-back seasons Mauer has never had back-to-back season of .365). Adams not only has a massive BABIP but his line drive rate is insanely high at 27.2 percent (the league average is in the 19-20 percent range). Doom is in the future in terms of his batting average. On the other end of things Puig somehow has a .372 mark with a line drive rate of 12 percent. That makes no sense at all. He needs to start hitting more liners, but even if he does it's hard to buy the .380 BABIP he has in 138 career games – that would be the greatest mark in baseball history if I'm not mistaken if he kept it up over 1,000 career games.
EVERY MAN MENTIONED ABOVE IS VERY LIKELY TO SEE THEIR BABIP DECREASE, PERHAPS SUBSTANTIALLY, AND WITH THAT ALL OF THEIR BATTING AVERAGES ARE LIKELY TO FALL.
The following batters are currently saddled with an impossible to comprehend BABIP on the downside. All of them should see substantial improvement as the season progresses – even Moustakas.
All of those guys could see a .100 percent increase and no one would bat an eye.
Some others on the low end.
McCann has struggled, and he really needs to start working some walks, but it's also pretty hard to believe he'll finish the year that much below his .287 career mark though it should be noted the last two seasons that he's failed to post a mark of .265. Lawrie owns a career mark of .293, right on the big league average. Sandoval has a .312 career mark and has been over .300 each of the past three years. Pujols is an interesting case. He's never been a big BABIP guy. His career mark is .305 but get this – the last time he reached .300 was back in 2008. If things normalize the number is likely to be about .280 this year, so there's not as much to gain as you would expect. Be very, very nervous with Dozier. As a rookie his mark was .267. Last year it was .278. His BABIP could rise a bit, but not that he's not, simply put, a very refined hitter.