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View Full Version : Unlucky or inept? The White Sox offense and BABIP: a longitudinal study


1989
05-05-2011, 01:40 AM
We've all been hearing the same complaints about the offense for awhile now. How our approach sucks, too reliant on the home run, sucks since second half of 2006, Greg Walker is ordering everyone to pull the ball, etc.

So I've taken a look at our team averages at batted balls in play (or BABIP) for this year. As to no one's surprise, we are dead last in the majors in BABIP. But I decided to go back even further, to where our offense's problems originated, 2007 and found this has been a common trend.

2007 - BABIP .278, MLB Rank: 30th; 21.1% K Rate, MLB Rank: 23th
2008 - BABIP .281, MLB Rank: 29th; 18.3% K Rate, MLB Rank: 11th
2009 - BABIP .285, MLB Rank: 28th; 18.7% K Rate, MLB Rank: 7th
2010 - BABIP .292, MLB Rank: 23rd; 16.8% K Rate, MLB Rank: 2nd
2011 - BABIP .257, MLB Rank: 30th; 16.8% K Rate, MLB Rank: 2nd

Composite Totals 2007 - 2011: BABIP .283, MLB Rank: 30th; 18.6% K Rate, MLB Rank: 9th

The weird thing is, with the exception of 2007, we haven't been striking out a lot. We've been putting the ball in play a ton and making contact. Now, I can hear everyone saying it already, "But we pop the ball up all the time"

True. We were the 5th highest team of fly ball percentage from 2007-2011. However, in that same time frame, the Blue Jays and Red Sox both have a higher percentage, 40.6% and 40.9%, of their batted balls being fly balls than the White Sox, 38.9%. And both of those teams are perceived as quality hitting teams with above average offenses yet neither of their teams have been victimized as badly as the White Sox have been in BABIP.

So what is it? Perhaps it's the fact that the Sox play their home games in a ballpark without a whole lot of outfield territory, hence making it harder for batted balls to the outfield to drop in. Is it the philosophy? Personnel? Just ****ty luck?

I'd like to hear other people's thoughts on this

If for nothing else, this data proves that we should see a significant progression to the mean for BABIP. Heck, even our anemic offense full of below average replacement players in 2007 managed to hit more than 20 points higher as a team than ours so far this year. And we have a hell of a lot more talent in the lineup up and down the order.

doublem23
05-05-2011, 01:56 AM
First off, let me compliment you on the depth of this post. It is fantastic. One of the best in the past recent weeks, which seems to be a sea of melancholy horse**** such as:


The Sox not trying in Spring Training
The Sox not showing enough EMOTION!!! or not having the balls, grindiness, Chicago toughness, etc.
Complaining about them "tipping their caps." OK, we get it, it doesn't need to be reposted 80 times each postgame thread.

Anyways, to get to the content, after a while BABIP (IMO) becomes a tell not just a coincidence. If I were to lace up and play MLB baseball tomorrow, my BABIP would be terrible, too, not because I'm unlucky, but because I suck at baseball.

There is definitely something broken with the Sox's approach at the plate, I don't know if its just a coaching thing or if its systematic through the roster, but they do seem to want to crush the ball every AB, and I wonder if that has to do with the close walls at the Cell. You're right, other teams have higher FB% than the Sox, but other parks (especially carnival contraptions like Fenway) have all sorts of crazy angles so there's room to hide them.

That said, OBVIOUSLY the Sox offense is going to have to wake up eventually. There's way too much talent in this lineup to average 10 runs per week for the rest of the season. The question is, are they already too far buried?

Nellie_Fox
05-05-2011, 01:58 AM
First off, let me compliment you on the depth of this post. It is fantastic. One of the best in the past recent weeks, which seems to be a sea of melancholy horse**** such as:


The Sox not trying in Spring Training
The Sox not showing enough EMOTION!!! or not having the balls, grindiness, Chicago toughness, etc.
Complaining about them "tipping their caps." OK, we get it, it doesn't need to be reposted 80 times each postgame thread.

Anyways, to get to the content, after a while BABIP (IMO) becomes a tell not just a coincidence. If I were to lace up and play MLB baseball tomorrow, my BABIP would be terrible, too, not because I'm unlucky, but because I suck at baseball.

There is definitely something broken with the Sox's approach at the plate, I don't know if its just a coaching thing or if its systematic through the roster, but they do seem to want to crush the ball every AB, and I wonder if that has to do with the close walls at the Cell. You're right, other teams have higher FB% than the Sox, but other parks (especially carnival contraptions like Fenway) have all sorts of crazy angles so there's room to hide them.I agree with your compliments to the OP. As for your point #3, I'd like to add that I think we've seen all the "jokes" about "all in" that can possibly be made.

doublem23
05-05-2011, 02:01 AM
I agree with your compliments to the OP. As for your point #3, I'd like to add that I think we've seen all the "jokes" about "all in" that can possibly be made.

:nod:

Nice catch. That's why you're the Professor.

SoxSpeed22
05-05-2011, 02:01 AM
Most of the stuff put into play are either weak ground outs or some sort of pop up. None of us really have an answer to what is going on, but I don't think Walker, Ozzie or any of them will solve it, so Jerry might as well let someone else try.

doublem23
05-05-2011, 02:04 AM
What I would really like to see is if there is any major difference between the Sox (and, hell, opponents') BABIP at the Cell and on the road. We've always assumed that a slugging lineup is the way to attack the Cell's short fences, but maybe that's not the right approach.

*I am not advocating bunting, however. Ever.

Nellie_Fox
05-05-2011, 02:08 AM
None of us really have an answer to what is going on, but I don't think Walker, Ozzie or any of them will solve it, so Jerry might as well let someone else try.We have enough threads about firing everybody. Let's keep this one to discussing the topic raised, ok?

SoxSpeed22
05-05-2011, 02:13 AM
We have enough threads about firing everybody. Let's keep this one to discussing the topic raised, ok?1989 already presented enough facts for this, so I don't really plan on posting in this thread after this one.
Getting out and around the ball is also a problem. There have been a lot of away fastballs and breaking balls that have turned into grounders to third base or the shortstop.

1989
05-05-2011, 02:24 AM
What I would really like to see is if there is any major difference between the Sox (and, hell, opponents') BABIP at the Cell and on the road. We've always assumed that a slugging lineup is the way to attack the Cell's short fences, but maybe that's not the right approach.

*I am not advocating bunting, however. Ever.

I looked up the numbers and tried to see if there was any major discrepancy between the road/home BABIP splits for the Sox.

There was a difference, where the Sox actually get more balls to drop in on the road than at home.

2007-2011
Home BABIP - .277, MLB Rank 30th
Road BABIP - .290, MLB Rank 25th

So there is a .13 BABIP increase on the road, which is somewhat significant, however it still doesn't account for why the Sox still rank extremely poorly in comparison to rest of the league on the road.

Although there was an interesting stat I found during the splits that stood out to me. Which was that on the road, the White Sox hit only 37.6% of their batted balls as fly balls, which ranked 15th in baseball, whereas at home the Sox hit 40.3% of their batted balls as fly balls, which ranked 3rd.

That to me tells that there could be a specific philosophy at work being emphasized to our hitters at home; ie: hit the ball in the air because of the shorter fences which will in turn lead to more home runs.

kufram
05-05-2011, 03:40 AM
We have enough threads about firing everybody. Let's keep this one to discussing the topic raised, ok?


Thank you. I actually stopped reading the message board because it had become predictable and simplistic. A dumping ground for anger, which is fine, but not for me. I can go do some work in my garden and the soil gets beat around a bit... much more productive.

This thread is a breath of fresh air. Something to actually think about and talk about. There could be something to this "swinging for the fences all the time" being part of the problem. I like PK's approach which I think is to just try to drive the ball. If you make good contact it might go out, but it is definitely more likely to at least get you on base and move runners ahead of you. But there is no one answer. One action will not be a golden bullet.

There is also something to the opinion that this spiral HAS to bottom out at some point. I believe it will and I don't believe it is too late for the season to be salvaged if only because the assumed rivals are not out of reach by any means. It is possible that for as many bad plays, horrible at bats, and bad moves... there will be as many good plays, good at bats, and good moves by the end of the season. Maybe, just maybe when this thing does reach it's nadir (right word?) those things will happen in bunches and we will at least have fun watching the White Sox play baseball again. God, I hope so.... there is only so much soil in my garden!

Zakath
05-05-2011, 07:16 AM
This would seem to be a combination of two things: other teams scouting the Sox well, and hitters not breaking out of tendencies (altering stances, going with pitches to opposite field, etc.).

Not much you can do about the first one, but the second one would seem to be the responsibility of the hitting coach...

The smaller park would have some effect as well, as you have less space to cover.

Zakath
05-05-2011, 07:22 AM
There is also something to the opinion that this spiral HAS to bottom out at some point. I believe it will and I don't believe it is too late for the season to be salvaged if only because the assumed rivals are not out of reach by any means. It is possible that for as many bad plays, horrible at bats, and bad moves... there will be as many good plays, good at bats, and good moves by the end of the season.


It is sort of strange to see damn near the entire team in a funk at the same time, which makes you think when it does end :praying:, we're going to go on a tear where we're beating everyone like 11-3 every day.

Maybe, just maybe when this thing does reach it's nadir (right word?) those things will happen in bunches and we will at least have fun watching the White Sox play baseball again. God, I hope so.... there is only so much soil in my garden!Nadir - correct word. Exact opposite of zenith, which is where we ain't right now.

Jerko
05-05-2011, 07:40 AM
we also have too many posts about how this team has so much talent. I agree the cap tipping jokes are worn out, as is posting all in after every loss, but saying how great these guys are is just as annoying imho.

Moses_Scurry
05-05-2011, 09:37 AM
We've all been hearing the same complaints about the offense for awhile now. How our approach sucks, too reliant on the home run, sucks since second half of 2006, Greg Walker is ordering everyone to pull the ball, etc.

So I've taken a look at our team averages at batted balls in play (or BABIP) for this year. As to no one's surprise, we are dead last in the majors in BABIP. But I decided to go back even further, to where our offense's problems originated, 2007 and found this has been a common trend.

2007 - BABIP .278, MLB Rank: 30th; 21.1% K Rate, MLB Rank: 23th
2008 - BABIP .281, MLB Rank: 29th; 18.3% K Rate, MLB Rank: 11th
2009 - BABIP .285, MLB Rank: 28th; 18.7% K Rate, MLB Rank: 7th
2010 - BABIP .292, MLB Rank: 23rd; 16.8% K Rate, MLB Rank: 2nd
2011 - BABIP .257, MLB Rank: 30th; 16.8% K Rate, MLB Rank: 2nd

Composite Totals 2007 - 2011: BABIP .283, MLB Rank: 30th; 18.6% K Rate, MLB Rank: 9th

The weird thing is, with the exception of 2007, we haven't been striking out a lot. We've been putting the ball in play a ton and making contact. Now, I can hear everyone saying it already, "But we pop the ball up all the time"

True. We were the 5th highest team of fly ball percentage from 2007-2011. However, in that same time frame, the Blue Jays and Red Sox both have a higher percentage, 40.6% and 40.9%, of their batted balls being fly balls than the White Sox, 38.9%. And both of those teams are perceived as quality hitting teams with above average offenses yet neither of their teams have been victimized as badly as the White Sox have been in BABIP.

So what is it? Perhaps it's the fact that the Sox play their home games in a ballpark without a whole lot of outfield territory, hence making it harder for batted balls to the outfield to drop in. Is it the philosophy? Personnel? Just ****ty luck?

I'd like to hear other people's thoughts on this

If for nothing else, this data proves that we should see a significant progression to the mean for BABIP. Heck, even our anemic offense full of below average replacement players in 2007 managed to hit more than 20 points higher as a team than ours so far this year. And we have a hell of a lot more talent in the lineup up and down the order.

This is all very interesting. I've never fully trusted the idea that BABIP tells you if someone is "unlucky". As MM said, if I played baseball my BABIP would be bad because I suck at hitting. I would guess that Mark Kotsay's BABIP last year was pretty low, and it wasn't because he was "unlucky".

I have a question. Are the numbers you provided for the whole seasons or the first couple months of the seasons? As Sox fans know, the Sox tend to have anemic offenses early and heat up when the weather heats up. To me, that would mean that if you looked at the BABIP (assuming that the numbers provided were whole season BABIPs) for the first couple months of each season, they would be even worse.

I also feel like the Sox early season offensive woes go back longer than 2007. Certainly there were some outliers (2000, 2005, 2006), but I seem to remember 2003 and 2001 having pretty awful offenses early in the season.

I feel like there is no way a team can be so unlucky that they would have bad BABIPs for 5 seasons in a row. Because of natural turnover, there are only two starters that remain from the 2007 team, and yet the BABIPs for both years rank dead last. Plus one of those starters, Paul Konerko, is likely bringing up the BABIP this year. There has to be an organizational issue. I just have no idea what it is. I don't think it can be Ozzie unless he has changed something in his managing style. The Sox offense started the season fine in 2005-2006.

doublem23
05-05-2011, 10:43 AM
This is all very interesting. I've never fully trusted the idea that BABIP tells you if someone is "unlucky". As MM said, if I played baseball my BABIP would be bad because I suck at hitting. I would guess that Mark Kotsay's BABIP last year was pretty low, and it wasn't because he was "unlucky".

BABIP is a good indicator of luck or unluckiness if there's an outlier. If a guy, for instance, is a career .300 hitter over several years suddenly has the bottom fall out and hit only .250 one season, you'd want to check his BABIP and if that was league average all the years he was cranking out .300 years and then suddenly fell 40 points in his down year, it's likely he'll rebound the next season toward his career norm. But if a guy can't hit for **** and his BABIP is always pretty low, it's more likely he's just not a good hitter.

There are other good stats that determine "luck" that the OP brought up, as well, specifically LD%/FB%. A low BABIP and a low LD% is a pretty good recipe for a guy who just doesn't hit the ball hard, and as result, is probably not an effective offensive player.

Team BABIP is one of those stats that should be consistenly inconsistent, you'll have guys have good years where balls find holes and you'll have bad years where you hit screaming line drives right at someone. That's the unpredictability of baseball, but for a team, with some decent roster turnover over 5 years to conistently have a league-low BABIP is a very disturbing trend.

BringHomeDaBacon
05-05-2011, 10:51 AM
We've all been hearing the same complaints about the offense for awhile now. How our approach sucks, too reliant on the home run, sucks since second half of 2006, Greg Walker is ordering everyone to pull the ball, etc.

So I've taken a look at our team averages at batted balls in play (or BABIP) for this year. As to no one's surprise, we are dead last in the majors in BABIP. But I decided to go back even further, to where our offense's problems originated, 2007 and found this has been a common trend.

2007 - BABIP .278, MLB Rank: 30th; 21.1% K Rate, MLB Rank: 23th
2008 - BABIP .281, MLB Rank: 29th; 18.3% K Rate, MLB Rank: 11th
2009 - BABIP .285, MLB Rank: 28th; 18.7% K Rate, MLB Rank: 7th
2010 - BABIP .292, MLB Rank: 23rd; 16.8% K Rate, MLB Rank: 2nd
2011 - BABIP .257, MLB Rank: 30th; 16.8% K Rate, MLB Rank: 2nd

Composite Totals 2007 - 2011: BABIP .283, MLB Rank: 30th; 18.6% K Rate, MLB Rank: 9th

The weird thing is, with the exception of 2007, we haven't been striking out a lot. We've been putting the ball in play a ton and making contact. Now, I can hear everyone saying it already, "But we pop the ball up all the time"

True. We were the 5th highest team of fly ball percentage from 2007-2011. However, in that same time frame, the Blue Jays and Red Sox both have a higher percentage, 40.6% and 40.9%, of their batted balls being fly balls than the White Sox, 38.9%. And both of those teams are perceived as quality hitting teams with above average offenses yet neither of their teams have been victimized as badly as the White Sox have been in BABIP.

So what is it? Perhaps it's the fact that the Sox play their home games in a ballpark without a whole lot of outfield territory, hence making it harder for batted balls to the outfield to drop in. Is it the philosophy? Personnel? Just ****ty luck?

I'd like to hear other people's thoughts on this

If for nothing else, this data proves that we should see a significant progression to the mean for BABIP. Heck, even our anemic offense full of below average replacement players in 2007 managed to hit more than 20 points higher as a team than ours so far this year. And we have a hell of a lot more talent in the lineup up and down the order.

My first reason to consider as a possible explanation of a lower than league BABIP would be a lack of speed. There's too small of a sample size for this year, but it could explain 07-09 and the slight bump in ranking seen in 10 if you believe that 10 was a faster team than its predecessors.

Without a closer examination, if you were to ask me if I remember the 07-09 teams as being slow overall I would say yes. I'm not saying that it's all due to a lack of speed but it certainly could be a component of the low BABIP. If you factor in the pop ups you get a profile of a team without much speed that hits a lot of pop ups. That leaves fewer ground balls that turn into hits as compared to the rest of the league.

khan
05-05-2011, 11:09 AM
All kidding aside, I find it curious that in many cases, the youngsters down in the farm system have problems making contact, and avoiding the K. [Thinking of Viciedo, Flowers, Danks, Mitchell, and many, many others.]

This would suggest to me that this issue with poor BABIP and low K rate isn't a philosophical one within the SOX organization. Rather, it suggests to me an issue associated with the dimensions of the cell.

Huisj
05-05-2011, 11:09 AM
My first reason to consider as a possible explanation of a lower than league BABIP would be a lack of speed. There's too small of a sample size for this year, but it could explain 07-09 and the slight bump in ranking seen in 10 if you believe that 10 was a faster team than its predecessors.

Without a closer examination, if you were to ask me if I remember the 07-09 teams as being slow overall I would say yes. I'm not saying that it's all due to a lack of speed but it certainly could be a component of the low BABIP. If you factor in the pop ups you get a profile of a team without much speed that hits a lot of pop ups. That leaves fewer ground balls that turn into hits as compared to the rest of the league.

Fangraphs had an interesting little thing about BABIP on groundballs and speed recently.

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/graphing-babip-against-speed/

Basically, it looks like it has some effect, but not a huge consistent effect.

Gavin
05-05-2011, 11:34 AM
http://i56.tinypic.com/ydwg0.jpg

dickallen15
05-05-2011, 11:38 AM
http://i56.tinypic.com/ydwg0.jpg
That's an interesting chart. Only 5 teams .500 or better and only 1 out of 91 finishing with at least 89 wins. At least it doesn't appear season ticketholders will have to cough up money for playoff games this year.

doublem23
05-05-2011, 11:41 AM
http://i56.tinypic.com/ydwg0.jpg

God that chart is depressing, .449 is 73 wins so this means at this point we'd be statistically lucky to best the 2007 team.

Awesome.

Gavin
05-05-2011, 11:42 AM
That's an interesting chart. Only 5 teams .500 or better and only 1 out of 91 finishing with at least 89 wins. At least it doesn't appear season ticketholders will have to cough up money for playoff games this year.

Also, 13 of the 91 teams (14.2%) ended up going 0.500 or better after the 11-21 point, most recently last year's Astros Team went 65-65.

SI1020
05-05-2011, 11:44 AM
http://i56.tinypic.com/ydwg0.jpg Great graphic. So if past performances is a guide there is a 5.5% chance of a winning season. A slightly better than 1% chance of 89 or more wins. The most likely outcome is about 67 wins, give or take a few on either side. Wonderful.

KMcMahon817
05-05-2011, 11:47 AM
The smaller park would have some effect as well, as you have less space to cover.

I think this has alto to do with the low BABIP numbers over the course of the past 5 seasons. However, our number this year is extremely low. That has to be at least partially attributed to bad luck.

russ99
05-05-2011, 12:04 PM
Great info. I wonder what the difference in BABIP is for key Sox hitters between last year and this year?

I'd like to think that our hitting has plain been unlucky, and averages will even out, but right now that seems a bit of a stretch.

Chez
05-05-2011, 12:16 PM
So is the take-away from this analysis for those of us who are not as statsitically inclined is that the Sox lead the league in "Hang Wiffums?"

miker
05-05-2011, 12:23 PM
So I've taken a look at our team averages at batted balls in play (or BABIP) for this year. As to no one's surprise, we are dead last in the majors in BABIP.

Maybe the league's ability to scout the Sox hitters has exceeded the Sox hitters' ability to adjust.

kittle42
05-05-2011, 12:23 PM
Thanks so much for this thread and, in particular, the chart regarding the chances of the season turning around. It just confirms my decision to already lose hope. Luckily, I have become much more invested in my fantasy teams this season, so I've actually been paying a lot of attention to non-Sox baseball. Such an emotional relief!

Gavin
05-05-2011, 12:51 PM
Here's a list of the four teams that actually had winning seasons after starting 11-21. The top two actually made the playoffs (but didn't advance past that).

1989 Toronto Blue Jays: 89-73
1974 Pittsburgh Pirates: 88-74
1950 New York Giants: 86-68
1996 Boston Red Sox: 85-77

Marqhead
05-05-2011, 01:00 PM
Here's a list of the four teams that actually had winning seasons after starting 11-21. The top two actually made the playoffs (but didn't advance past that).

1989 Toronto Blue Jays: 89-73
1974 Pittsburgh Pirates: 88-74
1950 New York Giants: 86-68
1996 Boston Red Sox: 85-77

I think the only thing that may give us a ray of hope is the apparent ineptness of our division (I'm aware that Cleveland is #2 in the MLB). I've still lost all hope, but with the outrageous suckiness of the AL Central there's a chance we'd be in contention come August assuming they rebound and play like we all think they are capable of.

As for the Sox hitting woes, I've got to assume it's the approach or coaching. Free agents with past success come here and start out slow, that can't just be back luck after bad luck.

Lip Man 1
05-05-2011, 01:30 PM
Gavin:

Just wondering, how you got that info. Is there a database where you plug in the parameters and it comes out with the answer or did you have to look through season by season to find out?

Lip

Gavin
05-05-2011, 02:12 PM
Gavin:
Just wondering, how you got that info. Is there a database where you plug in the parameters and it comes out with the answer or did you have to look through season by season to find out?

Lip

I went team by team through 32 games played (it listed all seasons for the selected team) on BR and fortunately it also had the team's season result and whether they made the postseason. I lifted each instance of 11-21 through 32 games. There's not a database to use otherwise that I know of. And of course, this data I pulled becomes irrelevant as of tomorrow.

russ99
05-05-2011, 02:21 PM
Free agents with past success come here and start out slow, that can't just be back luck after bad luck.

Not always the case. Dunn is a notorious slow starter. I had hoped he was over that until his surgery.

kittle42
05-05-2011, 02:24 PM
Not always the case. Dunn is a notorious slow starter. I had hoped he was over that until his surgery.

Nitpicking, I know, but Dunn's numbers don't really show that trend:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=dunnad01&year=Career&t=b#month

thomas35forever
05-05-2011, 09:34 PM
Just what we need! A thread with stat geeks no one likes!

Frater Perdurabo
05-05-2011, 10:09 PM
I also like this thread. I have a few "qualitative theories" that may help explain some of the data.

I have suspected the Sox are "unlucky" for quite some time because they tend to have the "swing for the fences" mentality. This approach is more successful at the Cell when the weather is warm and humid and the breeze is blowing from the southwest.

Think about Greg Walker. As a player he hit for decent power (for a 1980s / Old Comiskey Park context) but a mediocre batting average. I don't think it's a coincidence that Hawk is a huge proponent of Walker (that goes beyond the organizational loyalty thing), because as a player Hawk had the same approach. I don't get to watch the Sox very much, but over the years I've heard Hawk talk a lot about the coaching he received as a player, and is particularly complimentary of the "let's just work on being the best fastball hitter you can be" coaching approach he received one year.

The Sox hitters are excellent fastball hitters, and I think that partially explains why they hit NL pitching so well, in part because the NL has a reputation as a "fastball league" and in part because NL teams don't spend as much time scouting AL teams like the Sox. Not coincidentally, the Sox face NL pitching just as the weather is starting to get hotter and more humid.

I fully expect the Sox to start hitting more home runs - including more homers with runners on base - when the weather warms up and when they start facing NL pitching. This will coincide with Sox hitters "progressing to the mean" of their career averages. As this happens, the Walker fans - or those who say the hitting coach has no effect - will come out from hiding. And Hawk will start crowing, and the Sox will go on a nice run and get back into contention.

Nelson Foxtrot
05-06-2011, 03:22 AM
So I've taken a look at our team averages at batted balls in play (or BABIP) for this year. As to no one's surprise, we are dead last in the majors in BABIP. But I decided to go back even further, to where our offense's problems originated, 2007 and found this has been a common trend.

2007 - BABIP .278, MLB Rank: 30th; 21.1% K Rate, MLB Rank: 23th
2008 - BABIP .281, MLB Rank: 29th; 18.3% K Rate, MLB Rank: 11th
2009 - BABIP .285, MLB Rank: 28th; 18.7% K Rate, MLB Rank: 7th
2010 - BABIP .292, MLB Rank: 23rd; 16.8% K Rate, MLB Rank: 2nd
2011 - BABIP .257, MLB Rank: 30th; 16.8% K Rate, MLB Rank: 2nd

Composite Totals 2007 - 2011: BABIP .283, MLB Rank: 30th; 18.6% K Rate, MLB Rank: 9th

The weird thing is, with the exception of 2007, we haven't been striking out a lot. We've been putting the ball in play a ton and making contact. Now, I can hear everyone saying it already, "But we pop the ball up all the time"


Thank you. It's great to see a thoughtful well-researched thread analyzing the numbers, and trying to make sense of the struggles.

I do disagree on the usefulness of BABIP, however. It rewards those who strike out a lot, while punishing those who consistently put the ball in play. Joe DiMaggio was a career .325 hitter with a .343 BABIP. Sammy Sosa was a career .273 hitter with a .370 BABIP.

Adam Dunn, often considered the poster boy for the stat, hit .260 last season with a .404 BABIP. If he returns to form this season, he'll raise the Sox team BABIP significantly, simply because he strikes out so often. I understand the frustration some have with those who say "He has a low batting average and strikes out a lot, so he's not very good," but I think focusing on his ability to get on base and rack up extra-base hits is far more important than imagining what his average would be if 200 of his outs didn't exist.

Hypothetically speaking, let's say all 77 of Dunn's walks last season were really close call on 3-2 counts. If they had all been called K's instead, his OBP, AVG, and SLG would all drop significantly. Yet his BABIP would still be .404.

As for team rankings, if all other things had been equal (every team finishing the season with an identical batting average), the Sox who were 2nd-hardest to strike out last year, would have ranked 29th in BABIP. I think Konerko managing to hit .310 despite striking out 110 times is the major reason they were 23rd instead. As for 2007, that team was dreadful offensively, dead last in the AL in AVG by 10 points, so they were still 30th in BABIP despite striking out a lot.

During the Guillen/Walker years, the Sox offense was really only good in 2004 and 2006, due mainly to the homerun advantage they had. That's not to say HRs are vital, just that they helped overcome the fact that the Sox haven't done a great job overall offensively most seasons. Even in 2005, they were below average and won thanks to the what was easily the best pitching staff in baseball.

Moses_Scurry
05-06-2011, 06:35 AM
During the Guillen/Walker years, the Sox offense was really only good in 2004 and 2006, due mainly to the homerun advantage they had. That's not to say HRs are vital, just that they helped overcome the fact that the Sox haven't done a great job overall offensively most seasons. Even in 2005, they were below average and won thanks to the what was easily the best pitching staff in baseball.


While this is true, the 2005 team did not display the more recent trend of absolutely sucking for the first two months of the season and heating up later. That trend is more of a "last 3 or 4 years" thing.

miker
05-06-2011, 09:22 AM
While this is true, the 2005 team did not display the more recent trend of absolutely sucking for the first two months of the season and heating up later. That trend is more of a "last 3 or 4 years" thing.

Agreed. I remember a totally different vibe during April and May with the 2005 team. They went for the other teams throats and took no prisoners. They got on base, moved runners, made plays, pitched well...

This team hits the field waiting for the balloon to pop.

Of course, some statheads will say you can't quantify that...except for that little thing called "Wins."

JC456
05-06-2011, 12:41 PM
I agree with the point the Sox hitters are fast ball hitters. And since 2006 they have seen there share of lefties who throw nothing but sliders/ curveballs and kick our fanny.

When the bull pen comes in I also see a higher number of breaking balls than fast balls. That mistake pitch that is often thrown is mostly fouled off.

My addition is I don't see them adjust at all for the pitcher that is on the mound. The approach seems to be the same no matter who they face. AS well as, the situation.

Whatever it is it is the most frustrating thing to watch pop up after pop up. I was at the no hitter, and I would guess there were at least 15 pop up outs out of the 27 possible. Not fly balls, pop ups.

JC456
05-06-2011, 01:05 PM
One more thing I forgot, they aren't very smart at the plate.

Example Pierre bunts right into two fielders 50 feet away instead of trying to slap the ball past their sorry butts for being in so deep.

Dunn must be batting about 160 and the teams are giving him the entire third base side of the diamond and he's striking out instead of bunting the ball in the open part of the field and at least get on base. The big guy Ortiz does that now.

Last point on this is when they appear to have a pitcher on the ropes, someone always comes up and swings at the first pitch either in the dirt or over their head like they went to the plate saying I'm swinging at that first pitch no matter where the pitch is.
but that's what I keep seeing.

Lip Man 1
05-06-2011, 01:09 PM
JC:

Some would say the Sox are simply reflecting Walker's philosophy. I don't know if that's true or not.

Lip

JC456
05-06-2011, 01:24 PM
I don't know, but it is extemely frustrating to watch. I was at a game this year first homestand, it's raining in the fifth, the Sox are losing bad, Pierre comes up to the plate, the game hasn't been postponned yet and the skies did not appear to want to let up. Two runners on two out. Pouring and they're still playing. He swings at the first pitch. We're all going are you kidding me? pops it up, third out official game now and the tarp comes out.

Stupid. I'm telling you they are as stupid as stupid can be! I thought, and this is just me now, that if it were me, and it wasn't, but if it were me, I think I would have taken a couple of pitches to see if the umps called for the tarp. I don't know, but they weren't hitting this guy and maybe a delay would have maybe changed some things. Stupid.

Falstaff
05-06-2011, 08:03 PM
FYI: Frank Thomas BABIP through age 35 was .314
6 years around .350, and well into .400s rookie year.
Not a fast runner either.
Again, (listen Kenny!) I advocate for this White Sox legend
to come on board and share his knowledge of hitting.
Ya, I have heard the argument that "being able to hit well does
not mean he can teach that skill". We have seen (as illustrated in
the BABIP stats) that in Walker's case, "being able to hit mediocre does
not mean he can teach others to hit well".

I also argue that he probably learned something about mentoring thru his
willingness to be mentored in the art of hitting, throughout his
HOF quality career.

What would it take to make this happen?:dtroll:

Gavin
05-13-2011, 01:46 PM
Updated. FWIW, no team in this era (1995 and on) has finished above 92 wins (Col, 2009) or below 111 losses (Ari, 2004) after starting 15-23. Also, the 2005 Astros had this record at this point -- hell, they were 15-30 seven games later.
http://oi55.tinypic.com/nyfrxc.jpg


http://i56.tinypic.com/ydwg0.jpg

kittle42
05-13-2011, 01:55 PM
Hey, still a 15.38% chance of finishing at or above .500. It's like chasing a straight draw on the river.

Moses_Scurry
05-13-2011, 02:22 PM
Hey, still a 15.38% chance of finishing at or above .500. It's like chasing a straight draw on the river.

I've been beaten more than once by somebody chasing a straight draw on the river. One of them was pretty devastating because I had a trip and went all in.

Frater Perdurabo
05-13-2011, 08:45 PM
What has happened in previous seasons to other teams has no bearing on the 2011 Sox.

What does have bearing is that most teams that start 15-23 are simply not good teams. It is likely that for whatever reason the 15-23 2011 Sox are not very good, despite their "on paper" talent.

However, their "on paper" talent and the historical production of so many slumping players is precisely what gives us any hope that they can turn things around and have a good season.

Winning two games in Oakland, after winning the last two series, and then getting to .500 by the end of the May, would give us reason for more optimism.

rdivaldi
05-14-2011, 01:51 AM
To the "graph watchers", there have been seven White Sox teams that have started the season 16- 23.

1983 - finished 99- 63
2010 - finished 88- 74
1922 - finished 77- 77
1971 - finished 79- 83
1968 - finished 67- 95
1938 - finished 65- 83
1930 - finished 62- 92
1970 - finished 56- 106

Time to win ugly again....

24thStFan
05-16-2011, 10:40 AM
Last point on this is when they appear to have a pitcher on the ropes, someone always comes up and swings at the first pitch either in the dirt or over their head like they went to the plate saying I'm swinging at that first pitch no matter where the pitch is.
but that's what I keep seeing.

For me, this is the most frustrating "tendency" I see with the Sox. No matter what the situation - even if the opposing pitcher is struggling with control - the Sox hitters swing at the first pitch, get behind in the count, and hit a pop up or GIDP. It's maddening!

Taliesinrk
05-16-2011, 05:06 PM
For me, this is the most frustrating "tendency" I see with the Sox. No matter what the situation - even if the opposing pitcher is struggling with control - the Sox hitters swing at the first pitch, get behind in the count, and hit a pop up or GIDP. It's maddening!

:TCM:

"íHola!"

kittle42
05-16-2011, 05:18 PM
:TCM:

"íHola!"

I hear he waits for better pitches in warmer weather. You see, it's warmer, so he doesn't mind standing at the plate longer.