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Batting average on balls in play and the NHL’s Billy Beane in this week’s mailbag


(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Every week Neil Greenberg will answer your questions.

Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) measures how many of a batter’s balls in play go for hits. Fangraphs explains why it is useful:

If a player has a very high or very low BABIP, it means that whatever the reason for the spike (whether it’s defense, luck, or slight skill), that player will regress back to their career BABIP rate. BABIP rates are flaky and prone to vary wildly from year to year, so we should always take any extreme BABIP rates with a grain of salt.

So far this season, J.B. Shuck of the Los Angeles Angels has the lowest BABIP (.136) among hitters with at least 50 plate appearances. It is less than half of what it was last season (.325) and lower than his 0.297 mark set in 2011.


Source: FanGraphs

So what does this mean? Expect Shuck to start hitting the shuck out of the ball sooner rather than later.

Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, gained notoriety from the movie “Moneyball,” which is based on the book of the same name by Michael Lewis. Alan May calls me Billy Beaneberg, but I digress.

Beane’s approach was about exploiting market inefficiencies — acquiring players and skills that were undervalued at the current time. For example, focus on players with high on-base percentages because that was cheaper than signing superstar sluggers.

Stan Bowman, general manager of the Chicago Blackhawks, appears to be doing the same thing. Instead of over-spending on fourth line players, he instead has invested $2,462,500 in the trio of Brandon Bollig, Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith who take a lion’s share of the defensive zone draws.


Source: ExtraSkater

By having those three buried deep in the defensive zone on faceoffs, coach Joel Quenneville can put out Johnathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane for more offensive zone draws.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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