Let’s look at a handful of BABIP – BABIP is “Batting Average on Balls in Play,” a metric used to give context to hitter/pitcher results without homers and strikeouts – outliers in the first few months of fantasy season.
Christian Walker, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks (.184 BABIP)
Walker somehow remains available in more than half of Yahoo’s leagues, despite finishing seventh on the home run standings (and in the top-10, Walker has the highest No Doubter percentage) thanks to an incredibly unlucky hit rate . Chase Field may be partly to blame (the Diamondbacks are easily last on team BABIP), but Walker’s .184 BABIP is the last of all MLB hitters and more than 100 points lower than his career score.
His expected batting average is .275, while his expected slugging is in the top 3 percent of the league. Walker should be universally on the list, even in the shallowest of leagues.
Max Muncy, 1B/2B/3B, Los Angeles Dodgers (0.194 BABIP)
Muncy struggled tremendously as he returned from his ongoing elbow injury, registering his lowest average exit speed in the past five seasons. His BB% remains elite and is actually a career high, but Muncy’s career hit percentage is only 0.256, and he is one season away from posting a BABIP of .203, so a giant jump in BA might not be in it.
Still, Muncy will no doubt play better (he homered Tuesday night) and hopefully improved health will allow him to hit the ball harder in the second half.
Juan Soto, OF, Washington Nationals (.225 BABIP)
Soto is currently out of the top 100 fantasy players list after being drafted into the top 10, thanks in part to disappointing counting stats, but mostly due to a batting average that was nearly 70 points below his career score. sotos BABIP is the fourth lowest in MLB, so it’s safe to expect a much better performance in the future. Another problem was left-handed pitching, as he only batted .182/.319/.333 against left-handers this season (he has a .854 OPS career against them).
The Unhappiest Pitcher
Kevin Gausman, SP, Toronto Blue Jays (.366 BABIP)
Gausman has a dominant start, although he struggled with a 1.68 WHIP all through June. He still sports a strong ERA of 2.93 season despite being the highest BABIP of all starting pitchers, including 30+ points more than the second highest. Since becoming the pitcher he is today, Gausman has posted BABIPs of .296 and .274 in the past two seasons, so expect fewer hits against him in the future (Toronto’s defense is below average, but no disaster).
Of course Gausman’s HR/FB rate is also a career and MLB layer 2.4%so his ERA will likely equalize while allowing more home runs.
The Fortunate One
Tony Gonsolin, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (.188 BABIP)
Gonsolin has been a “league winner” as a late-round aviator currently leading baseball in ERA (1.58), WHIP (0.85) and wins (nine), ranked as a top-12 overall fantasy player. Any pitcher with an ERA that low is sure to have a low hit rate, and Gonsolin is no exception. It’s a bit remarkable, but his BABIP is 30+ points lower than the second lowest among starters, and the Dodgers field a good, not great defense†
Gonsolin is going to allow more hits and see his ERA increase, but he will continue to benefit from the Dodgers’ run support, and his career BABIP is a low .221, so the regression may not be too severe.