Of all of the stats that are used in rotisserie leagues, batting average is the one that is most able to be fluctuated by good luck or bad luck. As a fantasy baseball owner, it is extremely valuable to be able to highlight those times were luck played a key role in a player’s stats. One of the tools that helps us identify the lucky players is a player’s batting average on balls in play (BABIP). But, we can take steps beyond that by looking at a player’s expected BABIP (xBABIP) and then use that to create an expected AVG (xAVG) for a player. I lay this out in greater detail in my post on evaluating batting averages. In this post, we’re going to take a look at players who had batting averages in 2012 that were way higher than their xAVG and thus should have red flags associated with them on your draft days.
Good Years That Should Have Been Bad
When trying to identify some of the players who had unsustainable batting averages and are due for a regression, I decided to not only compare xAVG to AVG but also look at the player’s career batting average prior to last year. Though Miguel Montero had a .286 AVG versus a .237 xAVG, he had a .271 career AVG prior to last year so a drop all the way down to .237 seems a bit less likely. So, here are some of the players who had the biggest differences between AVG and xAVG in addition to a lower career AVG:
- Justin Ruggiano, .313 AVG, .248 xAVG (.226 career AVG prior to 2012)
- Jayson Werth, .300 AVG, .244 xAVG (.264 career AVG prior)
- Torii Hunter, .313 AVG, .256 xAVG (.273 career AVG prior)
- Alex Gordon, .294 AVG, .258 xAVG (.262 career AVG prior)
- Austin Jackson, .300 AVG, .265 xAVG (.271 career AVG prior)
- Ian Desmond, .292 AVG, .257 xAVG (.262 career AVG prior)
- Chase Headley, .286 AVG, .253 xAVG (.269 career AVG prior)
While I’m fairly high on Justin Ruggiano this year (full profile here), the disparity between his AVG and xAVG is certanly offputting. His minor league numbers indicate a likelihood to hit better than .248 but .313 is definitely a bit of stretch to repeat.
The remaining names on the list all are being drafted within the top 150 players overall. And much of the reason for their high draft slots is because of their AVGs from last season. As you can see, these were all players who had averages over .300 or close to it in 2012 but the highest xAVG among them was a mere .265. Meanwhile, all of their career AVG’s are fairly pedestrian as well. They are all players who I would expect to see some regression for and would thus move down on your rankings a bit.
Great Years That Should Have Been Less Great
While sometimes a player can have an above average xAVG, he can still be due for a regression due to getting some additional luck that made his AVG superhuman.
- Melky Cabrera, .346 AVG, .295 xAVG (.275 career AVG prior to 2012)
- Andrew McCutchen, .327 AVG, .282 xAVG (.276 career AVG prior)
- Jonathon Lucroy, .320 AVG, .286 xAVG (.260 career AVG prior)
- Mike Trout, .326 AVG, .290 xAVG (.220 career AVG prior)
- David Murphy, .304 AVG, .276 xAVG (.280 career AVG prior)
Melky Cabrera wasn’t only aided by some performance-enhancing drugs last season. He also had some performance-enhancing luck on his side. He hit a ridiculous .346 despite his career average being 71 points lower than that. While his xAVG was still a very nice .295, it was far below his performance level from last year. He’s being drafted quite high this year and I don’t see him repeating last year’s success so I’d avoid him in drafts unless he falls far in your league.
McCutchen and Trout are among the top players being taken in the entire league and they should still hit for high AVG but hitting above .325 again does not seem likely for the both of them. That adjustment alone should cause a drop in their value to take them out of the elite tier. For your first picks in the draft, minimizing risk is highly important and the fact that there’s even a slight red flag causes me some hesitation with the both of them.
Lucroy and Murphy aren’t necessarily high draft picks but there will come a point in your draft where you will consider drafting them and might see that high AVG from last year and think you might be getting a steal. Consider this a word of warning to not be drawn in by that.
For the full list of AVG and xAVG data from the 2012 season, check out this spreadsheet here.