The following is an excerpt from the Fantasy Alarm Fantasy Baseball Guide Powered By Baseball Guys which is on sale now:

Hitter Targets

By Ray Flowers

Can we break a player down solely by numbers? Of course we can’t.

We have to take into account a player’s talent.

We have to take into account a player’s development.

We have to take into account a player’s age.

We have to take into account a player’s health.

We have to take into account a player’s home ballpark.

We have to take into account a player’s team (how is the batting order).

We have to take into account a player’s spot in the batting order.

Etc.

The bottom line is that players aren’t robots, and they certainly aren’t all the same. However, don’t take this to mean that numbers can’t aid us with player analysis, of course they can be useful. If you know my work, you also know that I like numbers, sometimes lean on them in fact to prove a point (not that I’ve ever bent the numbers to my liking... I sincerely try to let the data lead me to the proper conclusion). So given that preamble, let’s talk some numbers. When I write .300 you know what I’m talking about batting average and that the mark is one of excellence. When I write 30, 100 or 20 you probably know what I’m referring to as well (homers, RBI/Runs, wins). Numbers are part of the fabric of the game of baseball – they have been since Henry Chadwick basically invented the box score for the game of baseball and basically helped to standardize the rules of the game. We all know about the walk, the strikeout or the hit, but let’s dig a little bit deeper. In what follows I’ll give the baseline numbers for a handful of categories that I often lean on when I’m trying to discern what is going on with hitters. I’m opening up, allowing you to look into the mind of Ray Flowers for a moment, don’t stay too long it’s a scary place, to get some insight as to how The Oracle formulates his opinions on players.

A note. Just because the league average BABIP mark is almost always in the .290-.300 range does not mean that all hitters have an inherent average of .295 in BABIP. In fact, players often times set their own baselines outside of the norm. The following example should illustrate this issue.

Austin Jackson is a career .278 hitter.

Freddie Freeman is a career .285 hitter.

Given those two data points it makes all the sense in the world that the two players would have very similar BABIP, right? They actually don’t.

 

Jackson has a career BABIP mark of .361

Freeman has a career BABIP mark of .334

How can there be a .027 point difference in BABIP given that there are only seven points separating them in batting average? Remember what BABIP records – all balls in play.

Since homers technically aren’t in the field of play, those 25 hits (i.e. homers) that Freeman has each year aren’t counted in his BABIP mark, hence the lower mark than

Jackson who is more apt to slaps the ball around the field. So again, just because the “average” is X does not mean that all players will regress to X over time. Therefore, it’s oftenmore important to see how a player is performing basedon his personal career norms than it is against the leagueaverage.

Example: If Jackson has a BABIP of .317 through July in 2014 I’m more concerned that he is .044 points off his “norm” than I am that he’s posting a mark that .017 points clear of the league average.

Bottom line: Don’t take these numbers as the gospel truth for any one player in particular.

These are league average numbers that need to be placed into the context of the player you are reviewing though they are solid baselines to use when you start your analysis:

 

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To read more of this article and 199 more pages of Fantasy Baseball Bliss, get the 2014 Fantasy Alarm Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide Powered by Baseball Guys and the great Ray Flowers. 




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