Hey we’re back! Time for another BABIP leaders list. There is only one repeat offender, as the others have returned to somewhat normal variance. The hitters on this list are some of the best in baseball, so it is not surprising to see them mentioned here. BABIP is defined as how many batted balls by a hitter result as base hits (excluding home runs as there is no luck involved in hitting it over the fence). All stats are through 6/26/12.
5. Melky Cabrera (2012: 0.389, career: 0.307)
Pacing all of baseball with 105 hits, Cabrera has been an extremely pleasant surprise for the punchless Giants. Most may not remember that Cabrera is only two seasons removed from being absolutely awful for the Braves and being subsequently cut. His peripherals mirror his 2011 season, and should continue to put lots of balls into play. Cabrera’s BABIP may be a product of a below average FB%, although he has upped his LD% as well. His BABIP will surely decline somewhat, but it is hard to argue with his current production. Even with a precipitous drop in BABIP, Cabrera is still primed to have an excellent season.
4. Mike Trout (2012: 0.390, career: 0.340)
Trout has been on both sides of the BABIP coin. During his stint in 2011, Trout struggled mightily and had a 0.247 BABIP. This season, Trout has been spectacular, and his speed has certainly helped raise his BABIP. The lowest BABIP he hit for in the minors was 0.346, so we should expect Trout to be in the mix for highest BABIP every season. His incredible speed makes even the simplest groundball a daunting task. As major league pitchers adjust to him, the BABIP may slide, but a baseline of 0.340+ for Trout is reasonable, and the debate over Trout vs. Bryce Harper has only just begun.
3. Andrew McCutchen (2012: 0.392, career (0.320)
It will probably take a season like the one McCutchen is currently having for people to finally notice him. The Pirates star is similar to the two previous members of this list: he hits a large amount of groundballs, has great speed, and hits enough line drives. That being said, this BABIP value is not sustainable. McCutchen has never had a BABIP over 0.330, and his stats are further padded since his BB% is the lowest of his career, meaning that even more balls have been put into play than usual for McCutchen. He is only 25, so his baseline BABIP could be on the rise with an increase in skills. He is an exciting player, and is finally getting some attention partly due to the Pirates being successful thus far in 2012. McCutchen’s BABIP will drop, but he will still arrive at career bests in many categories.
2. David Wright (2012: 0.393, career: 0.343)
The only player remaining from the BABIP list we did earlier in the year, Wright continues to hit well. He is striking out only 13.0% of the time after three consecutive seasons of over 20%. His BB rate has improved, which may be a result of him hitting everything this year. He is hitting more line drives in lieu of flyballs and has re-cemented himself as one of the best players in the game. As with everyone else thus far on this list, the combination of speed and hitting mostly grounders and line drives leads to an excellent BABIP. With a career level so high already, it is feasible that Wright can stay around this figure for most of the season.
1. Joey Votto (2012: 0.417, career: 0.358)
After his MVP 2010 season, Votto “regressed” to a 0.309/29/103 line. This season, Votto is threatening for his second MVP title, hitting 0.353 and on pace for his usual power numbers. Votto is hitting an absurd amount of line drives currently (32.0% vs 24.7% career), and this number should come down. With a BABIP so high in the end of June, even if Votto’s batted balls start finding every glove, he would be hard pressed to end the season with under a 0.370 BABIP. Votto is obviously an excellent player, who some forgot about after he was outshined by Ryan Braun and Matt Kemp last year. As great as he is, however, Votto simply cannot keep up this BABIP, and is due for a decline. However, that “decline” is probably going to lead him to a 0.330 BA and a chance at another MVP.
cover picture: blog.eastbay.com