Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Aramis Ramirez' BABIP

It's an off day, so rather than do it in the Shout Box, I thought I'd create a new post to respond to Intrepid Reader Chief's most recent comment, asking if Aramis' struggles have had anything to do with a low batting average on balls in play, or BABIP.

I'm not a stats expert either, but when I see that a hitter has a low BABIP, the next thing I do is look at his batted ball stats. Fangraphs breaks up batted ball types into three categories: ground balls, fly balls, and line drives.

For example, check out Derrek Lee's rate stats so far in 2010, compared to last year's totals, as well as his career rates:

2010 - 21.1 LD%, 38.3 GB%, 40.6 FB%
2009 - 19.2 LD%, 35.1 GB%, 45.7 FB%
career-21.3 LD%, 39.7 GB%, 39.0 FB%

Nothing way out of whack, really. Lee is hitting plenty of line drives, so his low BABIP does suggest a fair amount of bad luck.

Now let's look at Aramis Ramirez:

2010 - 15.1 LD%, 24.4 GB%, 60.5 FB%
2009 - 21.3 LD%, 34.6 GB%, 44.1 FB%
career-19.8 LD%, 35.1 GB%, 45.0 FB%

A huge chunk of what used to be line drives and hard hit ground balls are instead turning into fly balls this year. And unless those fly balls are getting hit a long long way -- and in this case, they're not -- they're easy outs.

That's why I'd bet on a D-Lee turnaround, but not on Aramis coming back anytime soon.

As for my next observation,

As for my next observation, it seems as both Lee and Ramirez have abnormally low HR/FB ratio. It also seems like both are just missing hitting the ball out. Also, I can't say enough how much Faith I have in Aramis Ramirez. He is just too consistent to be this bad. I'm convinced that both Lee and Ramirez can turn it around soon, but I think Lee is a lot closer



I also have faith in Aramis. I think his final numbers aren't going to be great because he's dug such a big hole for himself and I think this run he's had is a sign of the impending end of his time as a useful regular, but I do think he will get better this year. To me, it isn't his dropping line drive rate but rather his dropping contact rate that concerns me.

His typical BABIP is usually fairly low, lower than you'd expect for such a good player but he makes up for that with a rather solid contact rate, especially for a power hitter. That isn't happening this year. He's K'ing at a rate of 25% of his plate appearances and has already fanned almost as many times this year as he did all of last year (granted, he was injured but we're talking 342 plate appearances vs 173). The Zips projections has him hitting this the rest of the season (.265/.336/.458) to end up with a seasonal line OPS under .700. Ouch. I think he'll be better than that but it's going to be difficult to imagine Ramirez making it back to an .800 OPS.

The Cubs are stuck with him but if he's still hitting anything like this in late June, I think it's time for the team to go to a rotation at the position with Baker and Fontenot and look into a trade (if they are close enough to the race to do so). It's a bit sad but I say give him one more month and on say June 31..... if Aramis is still batting under .200 or has an Isolated power south of .150, it's time to start worrying in a big way, unlucky BABIP or not.

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