I’m a big believer in the utility of batting average on balls put in play, or BA/BIP, as a means of determining which players are likely to improve or decline over the rest of the season. The theory is that pitchers can only consistently control four things – home runs allowed, walks allowed, strikeouts recorded, and ground ball to flyball ratio. These four statistics show a strong correlation from year to year.

While pitchers can control the number of balls that are put into play (by striking out a lot of guys, or not), what pitchers cannot control is the batting average they allow on balls that are put into play. Similarly, hitters can only control how often they put the ball into play (by not striking out), as well as how many homers, walks, and flyballs vs. groundballs they hit, but not the batting average on those balls they put into play.

Unlucky so far?This makes sense intuitively, as we often suggest that it was not a pitcher’s fault if ground balls happen to find holes or little flares happen to drop in, just as we sympathize with a hitter who hits laser beams but they just happen to be hit right at a fielder.

Thus using BA/BIP, we can quickly decide which players have been extraordinarily lucky or unlucky with balls falling in or happening to be hit straight at someone. This was how we could tell last year that even though Andre Ethier was leading all major leaguers with a .393 batting average last July, he was not exactly the second coming of Ted Williams, because his batting average on balls put into play was the second best in baseball at the time, which suggested that he was getting extraordinarily luckly with balls dropping in for hits.

Conversely, if a player is doing extremely well or extremely poorly but his BA/BIP is not extra ordinarily high or low, we can assume that he is actually just that good or just that bad.

Looking at some of this year’s performances so far, we can see that Daisuke Matsuzaka has been extremely unlucky. Not only did he come into last night’s game with his team putting up a league low 1.2 runs of support behind him, but he also is in the bottom 10 pitchers in the batting average on balls put in play against him, yielding a .333 average any time an opponent doesn’t strikeout or hit a home run (.290 is about average). It is fortunate that Daisuke gets as many strikeouts as he does or his bad luck so far would have translated into an extremely high ERA.

Similarly, looking at batters, we can see that Gary Sheffield (currently batting .119) is very likely to improve in the near future as he has a second-worst in-the-AL .140 batting average on balls put into play, whereas BJ Upton (.340 avg)  has been extremely lucky, with a staggering, major-league-leading BA/BIP of .536, which means his performance is very likely to decline in the near future.

13 Responses to “Matsuzaka has been unlucky so far…”

  1. Paul Moro says:

    Nick, a .220 BA/BIP average seems low to me. Unless I’m screwing this up, a starting pitcher with average strikeout numbers can easily attain 140Ks over 200 IPs (a little over 5.7K/9). Within those 200 IPs, let’s say he faced 850 batters, and walked 80 (including HBPs) for a BB/9 ratio of 3.6, and allowed 30HRs. I think these are plausible numbers, and would come out to 600 batted balls in play (eliminating walks, Ks, and HRs). If this same pitcher had a .220 BA/BIP, he would have allowed 162 hits (132 non-homeruns). That’s a .210 batting average against, which would probably put him among the top of the league.

    Am I screwing this up?

  2. Paul Moro says:

    Either way, though, your point still stands. Matsuzaka has still been unlucky. I’d be interested to see what his BA/BIP splits are with men on base. Is he really ineffective out of the set position? Probably won’t know until he makes a bunch more starts, I guess. Sample size is too small.

  3. Nick Kapur says:

    Ack, that was a typo. You are totally right – average BA/BIP is about .290.

  4. Mauricio says:

    unacceptable he is so hot and she looks like a body builder. my girl wants to marry that guy and she is so not hot.

  5. suzanne says:

    She is buff! ARod seems to have a bit of a rebellious streak eh?

    I think pregnant or not she should drop him! Hes acting like a high school jerkoff.

  6. Why I ask, Why does the media have no moral concious than to publicise people’s marital infidelities if that’s what they are in this case? Why should any one care about Lindsey Lohan, or Paris Hilton, or in this case A-Rod’s on the road companion?
    This is precisely why this country won’t see the next terrorist attack that comes our nation, because the media, and the media addicted feed upon the lives of those who have no way to ensure our safety. Why don’t we focus on the lives of the first responders to desaster, and the way our national security works, and or is not working, and focus on these issues? Cause when it comes down to it, sports stars, and other celebrities can’t do jack about most of our relevent problems!!

  7. Paul Moro says:

    Dude, are you blaming US Weekly for terrorist attacks?

  8. Maybe a-rod likes men thats why the women looking men he likes.

  9. baseballnutz says:

    So A-rod is cheatin’ on his old lady, big deal, who cares as long as he plays well. In face all my hispanic married male friends are cheatin’ on their old ladies and they don’t get a mention at all in the papers

  10. heather Wood says:

    I fucked him several times and he has super curved dick and has an obsession about blonde women getting it on with each other. The mans personality is that of wallpaper peeling.

  11. HoJo's Beard says:

    I must respectfully disagree. Her body is fit as hell, but her face is more busted than A-Rod’s psyche last year.

  12. well, i must say that i dont really like cynthia rodriguez. not only because im crazy jelous of her, but also because of what she did. she went to a yankee game and caused a huge commotion by wearing an f-you shirt in regards to alex rodriguez’ “cheating.” to that, i have to say, was very, very rude. i do not know cynthia rodriguez personally, but what she did was wrong. then again, what a-rod did was wrong, too, but nobody really knows EXACTLY what a-rod was thinking.

  13. shes hott i dont know why everybogy is hating? i think their all jealous of him cuz hes got fame fortune…….and a hooooooooootttttttttttttttt babe

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