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BABIP Explained

Finding Bargains With Batting Average of Balls in Play
By Adam of

Sabermetrics may scare some people, but there is a reason advanced statistics are becoming so prominent: it is because they work, and they are good predictors of future performance.

One of my favorite baseball statistics is batting average of balls in play (BABIP). The calculation is fairly simple:

(Hits MINUS Homeruns) DIVIDED BY (At Bats MINUS Strikeouts MINUS Homeruns PLUS Sacrifice Flies)

In a nutshell, what this calculation does is determine a hitter's average when he puts the bat on the ball. However, homeruns do not count. And sacrifice flies do not count as an out, persay. Luckily, we never have to calculate it anyway as it is widely available on almost every baseball web statistics website.

The concept of batting average of balls in play is also relatively straight forward. A player's career batting average of balls in play should remain relatively constant throughout his career. When his current batting average of balls in play deviates from his career BABIP, we can expect it to regress to his career number. Thus, a player with a .320 career BABIP who is currently hitting at a .250 batting average of balls in play (will most likely have a very low average this year) but we can confidently expect him to start getting more hits.

The reasoning behind this is that hitter's have no control over their batted balls. A high batting average of balls in play means the hitter is getting lucky. A low batting average of balls in play means a hitter is getting unlucky. But remember, the frame of reference is always relative to that same player's normal batting average of balls in play.

If this seems confusing, do not worry. The important thing is knowing how to use BABIP to find bargains as well as overpriced players in daily fantasy sports. Draftkings posts the day's salaries of all players early so you can easily do this research that follows.


On any site that allows you to sort batting average of balls in play for this year's players, sort it from lowest to highest, using only players who have qualified for enough at bats. These players will most definitely be having "bad" years and will be cheap at your DFS site.

Next, simply click on each player and see what their career batting average of balls in play is. If it is a large discrepancy, we now know the player is getting unlucky and he is primed for a regression to the mean - he will start getting hits.

When you find all of those players who are getting unlucky and having their batted balls hit to fielders who make the play, check out their salaries on Draftkings. Chances are, the salaries are very low if their current batting average of balls in play is low because that will lead to a low average.

Now, what we want to do is not necessarily load up on all of these players. We want to use them as fillers, as I like to call them. If you want a stud, choose him, then even it out with one of our bargains who has a low batting average of balls in play (compared to his career BABIP).

If you are intuitive, you may be thinking that the reverse may be true. And you are correct. Sort that batting average of balls in play from highest to lowest. Compare these players' BABIP numbers to their career. I assure you all of these players are having monster years, but they may be flukes if their BABIP has spiked.

These high BABIP players may be ones to avoid. They have been getting lucky. Their duck snorts are falling, their grounders have seeing eyes and are finding holes, and their texas leaguer pop ups are finding grass. Do not fall into the hype of these players. You are smarter than that now that you know about batting average of balls in play.

To the advanced user, it is very easy to make a spreadsheet of this data. You can export to Microsoft Excel statistics from many web sites. Export this year's bottom of the heap batting average of balls in play laggards, export career batting average of balls in play, then automate the calculation of the difference. We will eventually strive to use those whose career batting averages of balls in play are far greater than their current year's batting average of balls in play.

But most importantly, this all depends on Draftkings's salary. If it is low for one of our BABIP guys, let's take a chance and pick him.

Good luck and as always, thanks for reading!

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