X
Lost password?

Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

X

Receive free daily analysis

NFL
NBA
NHL
NASCAR
CFB
MLB
MMA
PGA
ESPORTS
BETTING

Already have an account? Log In

X

Forgot Password


LINEUP RESOURCES

Articles & Tools
Import Your Leagues
Daily Stats & Leaders
All Pitcher Matchups
Compare Any Players
Pickups & Streamers
Rookies & Call-Ups
24x7 News and Alerts

Pitcher BABIP: Using Sabermetrics for Fantasy Baseball

While FIP is a useful tool to predict a pitcher's future ERA performance, fantasy managers should remember that ERA, not FIP, is what matters in most formats. This means that we are interested in the "luck" that separates the two statistics.

While some of this luck is unpredictable, we can and should predict some of what goes into a pitcher's bottom line. BABIP plays a big role in the variation of a pitcher's perceived luck, but it may not be as clear-cut as it seems.

A pitcher's BABIP appears on the first graph of their player page on FanGraphs, so it's easy to locate. Let's get to it!

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including Best MLB Series, NFL Series, NBA Writer, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!

 

How to Interpret BABIP for Pitchers

When calculating BABIP for hitters, we assume a neutral defense because they figure to see a balance of poor and skilled defenders as they travel around the league. This is not true for pitchers, as they always pitch in front of their own club's defenders. A team with Kansas City's Nicky Lopez and his 25 Outs Above Average in 2021 figures to provide better defense to its pitchers than a team that lacks a premium fielder, helping pitchers sustainably outperform their FIP.

Outs Above Average is a Statcast metric that makes it easier to look at the quality of a team's defense. Outs Above Average, or OAA, measures each player's defensive contributions using Catch Probability. If a batted ball is caught by a player, the player receives OAA credit equal to 1 – the ball's Catch Probability. For example, a successful catch on a ball with a 40% Catch Probability is worth 0.6 OAA (1 - 0.4 = 0.6).

Players also lose points equal to the batted ball's Catch Probability if they flub the catch. Missing the ball in the example above would subtract 0.4 from the player's OAA. One of the best features of OAA is that you can sort the leaderboard by team and even the pitcher on the mound, removing the guesswork from the equation.

For example, the St. Louis Cardinals led baseball with 47 OAA last season and Adam Wainwright was on the mound for 25 of them. The Cards are likely to field a strong defensive club again in 2022, but expecting one pitcher to again benefit from more than half of their total OAA would be unwise. Framber Valdez of Houston received the second-most OAA with nine. As such, Wainwright should be projected to pitch in front of a strong defense but not to the same extent that he did last year.

Lopez led all infielders in OAA last season, while Tampa's Manuel Margot took the top spot among outfielders with 16. There are other defensive metrics, but they are much more abstract than OAA while also leaving out important pieces of the puzzle. Ultimate Zone Rating (or UZR) makes no effort to account for the shifts in today's game, rendering it completely obsolete in this author's estimation. Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) has one fantasy purpose: measuring the value of a pitcher's defensive contributions to his own cause.

For example, Dallas Keuchel led pitchers in DRS in 2021 with 12 over 162 IP. Max Fried took second place with just six over a comparable workload. This is nothing new for Keuchel, who has over 60 DRS over his career. Fantasy managers have known for years that Keuchel posts lower than average BABIPs when he's on despite being a ground ball pitcher, but the reason isn't some magical contact suppression ability. It's the fact that Keuchel rates as roughly double the defender of any position player if you prorate his seasonal DRS over a position player's number of innings.

He helps himself with a repeatable skill, but his actual pitching was subpar last year with a 5.28 ERA. Statcast says that he deserved an ERA of 6.20 based on the batted balls he allowed and a complete lack of strikeout stuff, so his glove shaved a run off his ERA. You still shouldn't draft him this year.

 

What else impacts a pitcher's ERA?

BABIP is also partially determined by a pitcher's style. An extreme ground ball pitcher may have a higher BABIP against because grounders have higher BABIPs than fly balls (.236 to .115 in 2021.) This stylistic difference also changes how much a given pitcher will benefit from (or be hindered by) a particular defender on his team. For instance, a ground ball specialist would love to pitch in front of Lopez while a fly ball guy would benefit more from an elite outfielder like Margot instead.

While defense is largely out of a pitcher's control, some pitchers can control their BABIP to a degree. For example, you would probably be tempted to say that the .247 BABIP Max Scherzer allowed in 2021 was a fluke, and you would be partially right. However, Scherzer combined a strong fly ball tendency (48.3 FB%) with an above-average IFFB% (9.7%). The combination would be expected to produce a low BABIP allowed.

Every pitcher allows a few hits, and the sequencing of these events may also cause a difference between a pitcher's FIP and ERA. Allowing three base hits over three innings is probably harmless while allowing three hits in one inning and then nothing in the next two frames likely puts a run on the board.

Sequencing luck is measured by strand rate, or LOB%, and research shows that it is largely an unstable, luck-driven stat. In 2021, the league average LOB% was 72.1%, with higher numbers generally forecasting a higher ERA moving forward. Elite strikeout guys tend to be the best at getting the K "when they need it," and as such may sustain slightly elevated strand rates.

 

Conclusion

To conclude, a pitcher's BABIP includes some unknown variables but also some predictable inputs. The quality of his defense can help or hurt him. Sequencing does not affect BABIP but can impact a pitcher's ERA substantially. A given pitcher's style, as a ground ball or fly ball specialist, may also impact his performance. If you would like to learn more about other advanced stats, stay tuned.




LINEUP RESOURCES

Articles & Tools
Import Your Leagues
Daily Stats & Leaders
All Pitcher Matchups
Compare Any Players
Pickups & Streamers
Rookies & Call-Ups
24x7 News and Alerts

ROTOBALLER PLAYER NEWS

Treylon Burks1 hour ago

Ruled Out Sunday
Trae Young1 hour ago

Practices On Sunday
James Harden1 hour ago

On Pace To Play Monday
Brandon Bolden2 hours ago

Josh Jacobs, Brandon Bolden Officially Active In Week 13
Alex Caruso2 hours ago

Questionable For Sunday
Mikal Bridges2 hours ago

Available On Sunday
Joe Mixon2 hours ago

Not Cleared In Time For Week 13
NFL2 hours ago

Ja’Marr Chase Officially Active Sunday
Doug McDermott2 hours ago

Josh Richardson Out On Sunday
Courtland Sutton2 hours ago

Questionable To Return In Week 13
Lamar Jackson2 hours ago

Officially Ruled Out Sunday
Deebo Samuel2 hours ago

Trent Williams Officially Active Sunday
Aaron Jones2 hours ago

Returns Versus Bears
Aaron Jones3 hours ago

Questionable To Return In Week 13
Treylon Burks3 hours ago

Evaluated After Scary Hit
Lamar Jackson3 hours ago

Questionable To Return Sunday
Josh Jacobs4 hours ago

Will Play In Week 13
Zay Jones5 hours ago

Travis Etienne Jr., Zay Jones Active In Week 13
Darius Slayton5 hours ago

Active For Week 13
Michael Carter5 hours ago

Officially Out Against Vikings
Antonio Gibson5 hours ago

To Play In Week 13
Courtland Sutton5 hours ago

Jerry Jeudy Active Against Baltimore
Deebo Samuel5 hours ago

Will Play Against Dolphins
Bryan Reynolds5 hours ago

Pirates Offered Bryan Reynolds Franchise-Record Deal
Joe Mixon5 hours ago

Unlikely To Play In Week 13
Dansby Swanson5 hours ago

Cubs, Phillies Showing Interest In Dansby Swanson
Ja'Marr Chase7 hours ago

Won't Have Snap Limit
Michael Carter7 hours ago

Not Expected To Play In Week 13
Mitchell Marner7 hours ago

Sets New Record With 19-Game Point Streak
Kasperi Kapanen7 hours ago

Hits His Second Career Hat Trick
Connor McDavid7 hours ago

Tallies Two Goals, Two Assists Saturday
Radko Gudas7 hours ago

Lasts For Just Two Minutes Saturday
Darcy Kuemper8 hours ago

Forced Off Early
Petr Mrazek8 hours ago

Suffers Another Groin Injury
Artturi Lehkonen8 hours ago

Sustains An Upper-Body Injury
Anfernee Simons8 hours ago

Explodes For Career-High 45 Points
Andrew Wiggins8 hours ago

Scores Season-High 36 Points
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander8 hours ago

Returns With A 33-Point Effort
Pascal Siakam8 hours ago

Gets A Double-Double With Assists
Terry Rozier9 hours ago

Delivers 26 Points Saturday
Bobby Portis9 hours ago

Leads Bucks To Victory Saturday
Tim Hardaway9 hours ago

Jr. Hits Knicks With Eight Treys
Juancho Hernangomez9 hours ago

Exits With An Ankle Sprain
Jeremy Sochan16 hours ago

Out Versus The Suns On Sunday
Jakob Poeltl16 hours ago

Remains Out Versus Phoenix
Torrey Craig16 hours ago

Sidelined For Meeting With The Spurs
Mikal Bridges16 hours ago

Probable Against San Antonio
Chris Paul17 hours ago

Won't Be Back On Sunday
Herbert Jones18 hours ago

Sitting Again Versus The Nuggets
Brandon Ingram18 hours ago

Out Against Denver
Jeff Green18 hours ago

Questionable Against The Pelicans
Anthony Cirelli23 hours ago

Will Play Saturday
Brayden Schenn23 hours ago

Good To Go Saturday
Josh Manson23 hours ago

Considered Week-To-Week
Anton Lundell23 hours ago

Unavailable Saturday
Thatcher Demko23 hours ago

Out For Six Weeks
Lawson Crouse23 hours ago

Returns For Coyotes
Brock Boeser23 hours ago

Out As A Healthy Scratch
Bryan Reynolds1 day ago

Requesting A Trade
Kyle Gibson1 day ago

Orioles Agree With Kyle Gibson
Eddy Alvarez1 day ago

Brewers Sign Eddy Alvarez
Brandon Nimmo1 day ago

Yankees Have Met With Brandon Nimmo
Justin Verlander1 day ago

Mets, Yankees Interested In Justin Verlander, Carlos Rodon
Jameson Taillon1 day ago

Mets, Rangers In On Jameson Taillon
Noah Syndergaard1 day ago

Orioles Meet With Noah Syndergaard
Justin Verlander1 day ago

Mets Now Looking At Justin Verlander
Trea Turner1 day ago

Padres Have Met With Trea Turner Twice
Kevin Holland1 day ago

Hoping To Rebound With Main-Event Victory
Stephen Thompson1 day ago

Set To Headline Main Event
Bryan Barberena1 day ago

Will Highlight Co-Main-Event Matchup
Rafael Dos Anjos1 day ago

Rafael dos Anjos In Saturday's Co-Main Event
Johnny Gaudreau1 day ago

Has Another Multi-Point Performance
Patrik Laine1 day ago

Returns With A Two-Goal Effort
Mathew Barzal1 day ago

Pots A Power-Play Goal
Roman Josi1 day ago

Bags Two Power-Play Points
Matt Duchene1 day ago

Logs Three Points In Friday's Win
Mika Zibanejad1 day ago

Stays Hot With 12th Goal
Brady Tkachuk1 day ago

Notches Three Points Versus Rangers
Matt Schnell2 days ago

Matthew Christopher Schnell Hoping To Be A Tough Out
Matheus Nicolau2 days ago

Can Continue To Make Strides In The Division
Jacob deGrom2 days ago

Signs Five-Year Deal With Rangers
Jason Castro2 days ago

Announces His Retirement
Lewin Díaz2 days ago

Lewin Diaz Claimed By Orioles
Andrew Cave2 days ago

Phillies Claim Jake Cave Off Waivers From Orioles
Sergei Pavlovich2 days ago

Can Secure Fifth Straight Win Saturday
Justin Verlander2 days ago

Yankees In On Justin Verlander, Carlos Rodon
Chris Martin2 days ago

Agrees With Red Sox
Jesse Winker2 days ago

Abraham Toro Heading To Brewers
Kolten Wong2 days ago

Mariners Acquire Kolten Wong From The Brewers
Tai Tuivasa2 days ago

Facing Off Against Dangerous Heavyweight
Jack Hermansson2 days ago

Looking For Victory Over Rising Star
Roman Dolidze2 days ago

Set For Huge Test Saturday
Kyle Daukaus2 days ago

Looking For Big Finish Saturday
Zack Britton2 days ago

Should Be Full-Go For Spring Training
Salvador Perez2 days ago

White Sox Looking To Trade For Salvador Perez?
Eryk Anders2 days ago

Hoping To Prevent Losing Skid On Saturday

RANKINGS

QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF
RANKINGS
C
1B
2B
3B
SS
OF
SP
RP