BABIP and Player Styles

Often times, the analysis on this, and many sabermetrics inclined sites, rely heavily  on batting average on balls in play (BABIP) to indicate luck in a hitters profile. Peter has done extensive work on BABIP and batted balls, but I wanted to take a different look at the concept. My focus was not on what components weighed heavily in BABIP, but rather what player types, if any, conveyed unnatural BABIPs. Generalizations about styles like three true outcome hitters and speedsters are usually made in the context of a conversation about BABIP, are those stereotypes true, or simply misconceived?

The only overall qualifications were: active post-1980 and 5,000+ plate appearances. Here are the player styles tested:

Three True Outcomes (Top 50 were tested)
Essentially 3TO types are the players who either walk, strikeout, or hit a homerun in a disproportional amount of plate appearances. Think Jim Thome, Mark McGwire, Pat Burrell, or even Jay Buhner. These players are bulkier, slower, defenseless, and possess what Bill James labeled "Old player skills", although they're not always old.

Speedsters (Top 50 were tested)
This category is exactly what you're thinking it consists of. These guys don't hit homeruns, but do steal bases, and generally make good usage of their speed in the field. Rickey Henderson, Vince Coleman, Kenny Lofton, and Trot  Otis Nixon are grouped here.

The Non-Three True Outcomes (Top 50 were tested)
Exact opposite of 3TO. Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco, Lance Johnson, and Rey Sanchez don't tend to homer, walk, or strikeout.

Now, on to the results.

playerID BABIP 3TO
abreubo01 0.3473 36.2345
ramirma02 0.339 37.8276
vaughmo01 0.3382 38.7207
galaran01 0.3362 33.4829
lankfra01 0.3298 39.2557
edmonji01 0.3241 39.2959
hernajo01 0.3237 38.4752
leede02 0.3228 35.5438
rodrial01 0.3222 35.0331
thomeji01 0.3219 47.4191
berkmla01 0.3219 36.6776
jenkige01 0.3219 34.7553
tartada01 0.3218 40.9589
posadjo01 0.3197 37.2552
salmoti01 0.3166 37.3491
bagweje01 0.3165 36.1476
sandere02 0.3118 36.89
luzingr01 0.3112 35.2323
daviser01 0.311 39.388
mcgrifr01 0.3095 36.1777
varitja01 0.3058 34.1298
ortizda01 0.3042 36.5463
thomafr04 0.3041 35.5867
camermi01 0.3033 38.8463
delgaca01 0.303 38.5138
clarkto02 0.3023 38.6355
sosasa01 0.301 38.9108
gibsoki01 0.3009 34.0419
giambja01 0.3008 37.4196
burrepa01 0.2997 42.8545
cansejo01 0.2989 40.7234
jacksre01 0.2984 39.7702
barfije01 0.2948 37.672
sexsori01 0.293 39.3826
buhneja01 0.2874 42.4007
stairma01 0.2874 34.4495
palmede01 0.2851 38.2828
bondsba01 0.2845 38.5574
cruzjo02 0.2823 37.0323
strawda01 0.2817 39.5731
glaustr01 0.2814 40.4281
burnije01 0.2787 36.9863
fieldce01 0.2786 39.1985
gantro01 0.2786 34.2365
jonesan01 0.2779 34.4299
tettlmi01 0.2778 43.6932
valenjo03 0.2717 34.7847
johnsho01 0.2694 34.5776
vaughgr01 0.2611 38.7165
mcgwima01 0.2553 45.6576

3TO% BABIP R2: 0.232
3TO% BABIP standard deviation: 0.02
3T0% AVG BABIP: 0.302
---

 

playerID BABIP SB
henderi01 0.3052 1406
colemvi01 0.3145 752
wilsowi02 0.3291 668
loftoke01 0.3265 622
nixonot01 0.3082 620
smithoz01 0.2751 580
butlebr01 0.3193 558
lopesda01 0.281 557
bondsba01 0.2845 514
molitpa01 0.3259 504
alomaro01 0.3215 474
younger01 0.2938 465
deshide01 0.3137 463
saxst01 0.2989 444
pierrju01 0.3165 429
grissma02 0.2946 429
biggicr01 0.3107 414
knoblch01 0.3112 407
samueju01 0.3135 396
collida02 0.3069 395
vizquom01 0.2941 385
larkiba01 0.3065 379
smithlo01 0.3256 370
womacto01 0.3055 363
damonjo01 0.3074 362
mcgeewi01 0.341 352
daviser01 0.311 349
whitede03 0.3051 346
sandbry01 0.3043 344
castilu01 0.3313 342
otisam01 0.2946 341
wilsomo01 0.3181 327
johnsla03 0.3069 327
polonlu01 0.3215 321
finlest01 0.2852 320
gwynnto01 0.3414 319
abreubo01 0.3473 318
cruzjo01 0.3066 317
suzukic01 0.3543 315
anderbr01 0.2818 315
sandere02 0.3118 304
rolliji01 0.2982 295
camermi01 0.3033 289
dykstle01 0.3041 285
baylodo01 0.2602 285
gibsoki01 0.3009 284
rodrial01 0.3222 283
francju01 0.3331 281
renteed01 0.3198 280
mosebll01 0.2908 280

SPD BABIP R2: 0.0017
SPD BABIP standard deviation: 0.018
SPD AVG BABIP: 0.309
---

 

playerID BABIP 3TO
foliti01 0.2623 10.7589
bucknbi01 0.2866 10.7851
guilloz01 0.2797 11.127
pierrju01 0.3165 11.4843
rayjo01 0.298 13.1039
polanpl01 0.3146 13.3346
gwynnto01 0.3414 13.3405
johnsla03 0.3069 13.3565
gantnji01 0.2897 13.9455
sanchre01 0.2986 14.5934
perezne01 0.2835 14.7477
jeffegr01 0.2878 15.59
saxst01 0.2989 15.7999
smithoz01 0.2751 15.9883
ramirra01 0.284 16.1335
mattido01 0.3002 16.2688
suzukic01 0.3543 16.5736
burleri01 0.29 16.8116
kendaja01 0.31 16.8907
oberkke01 0.2924 16.9736
cabreor01 0.2849 16.9852
baergca01 0.3024 17.1239
boonebo01 0.2622 17.1871
reynoha01 0.2769 17.2492
younger01 0.2938 17.3756
fernato01 0.3076 17.9693
polonlu01 0.3215 18.0262
lansfca01 0.3021 18.1228
surhobj01 0.2915 18.4505
greenmi01 0.3046 18.4776
fletcsc01 0.2844 18.5678
simmote01 0.2837 18.5756
womacto01 0.3055 18.6234
vizquom01 0.2941 18.648
grudzma01 0.3227 18.6728
templga01 0.3067 18.8566
reedjo01 0.2899 18.9184
loretma01 0.3169 18.9743
knighra01 0.2903 19.0928
whitefr01 0.2743 19.2087
garcino01 0.3117 19.3033
beniqju01 0.2948 19.3364
trillma01 0.2889 19.3524
wilsowi02 0.3291 19.5081
vizcajo01 0.3046 19.6696
brettge01 0.3069 20.0121
penato01 0.2835 20.0999
hamilda02 0.3155 20.2814
kotsama01 0.3 20.3067
gracema01 0.3092 20.3818

N3T BABIP R2: 0.0173
N3T BABIP standard deviation: 0.017
N3T AVG BABIP: 0.299

Through all of that, there's not much of a trend here. Generally, hitter BABIP falls between .290-.310, as each of the averages, and most of the ranges do. Each style has its own outliers, like Ichiro, Bobby Abreu, Greg Vaughn, and Don Baylor, but there's not enough here for us to estimate who or what makes for those kind of breaks. This hardly the definitive post on BABIP and player styles, and you could make the case that speed scores should've been used rather than stolen bases, however I'm just attempting to provide a general idea, and at this point it seems to be that there is no BABIP specialization.

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