The new world of StatCast data got even better today with Baseball Prospectus revealing new research work in adjusting batted ball exit velocities to account for park and competition. This is excellent new ground that they are crossing with necessary adjustments to a new statistic that has plenty of interest around baseball. Also, RotoGraphs' Andrew Perpetua has been working on estimated BABIPs and wOBAs based on exit velocity for hitters, and he released his BABIP data yesterday.
Baseball Prospectus even went a step further and estimated, based on run values they have calculated from 2015 data, their predicted run totals based on exit velocity and launch angle. They put it on a leaderboard for both hitters and pitchers. Here is what the terms mean:
· Pred_Runs: the number of runs we would expect the batter / pitcher to generate / prevent based on the adjusted exit velocity and launch angle of the ball off the bat.
· Pred_Runs_Rate: this is the column we sort by, and it tells you the average effect, per batted ball, that the player’s presence has on run-scoring, per their adjusted exit velocity and launch angles.
· Act_Runs: the raw number of runs generated while the batter / pitcher was involved so far this season.
· Act_Runs_Rate: the raw average run effect, per batted ball, while the batter / pitcher was involved so far this season.
· Pred_vs_Act: the differential between the outcome of batted balls with the batter / pitcher involved and what our models would have predicted. The differential suggests how lucky / unlucky a player has been so far this year.
· BIP+HR: the number of batted balls at issue, comprising balls in play (non-HR, fair balls) and home runs.
Both of these factors can show us a little bit of interesting stuff about the Marlins so far in 2016. Let's take a look at a few players and see how they stand with this data.
The Marlins' hottest hitter somehow could be even hotter potentially based on this data. The easiest thing to see with Yelich is that his BABIP is perpetually high. At the time of Perpetua's article publihs at RotoGraphs, Yelich owned a .375 BABIP. Based on his model, however, it was noted that this was about appropriate given Yelich's batted ball velocity and launch angles. That is amazing that Yelich can be hitting the ball hard enough in the right directions to be posting such a high average on balls in play, but we already figured some of the reasons behind this. Hitting an absurdly low number of pop-ups helps, and grounders add a little more to that as well.
As far as the value of his batted balls, surprisingly they could even be a little higher. Yelich's adjusted velocity is at 95.6 mph, and BP projects that that would have been worth almost ten runs above average, whereas his actual batted balls have only been worth eight runs. He's been "unlucky" to the tune of about two runs according to this model! Somehow, Yelich could be even better!
We have had a lot of talk about Giancarlo Stanton, but one thing to point out is that thanks to this most recent slump, he owns just a .257 BABIP, which is a lot lower than his usual. Of course, this happened last year too. Through the end of May in 2015, following another short slump, Stanton was batting just .228/.320/.513 with a .257 BABIP. Cut to 2016, and he's hitting .233/.346/.527 with an exact same BABIP. We all saw what happened for the rest of the year.
The lower BABIP should be less concerning because Stanton is once again among the league leaders in batted ball velocity. The adjusted batted ball velocity for Stanton was at 96.0 mph, which is fourth in all of baseball. Perpetua's model expected Stanton to hit .305 rather than the .271 he was hitting before on balls in play. Furthermore, the BP data projects that Stanton should have been worth almost three runs more on batted balls than he has been thus far in 2016. It is only a matter of time before those hard hit balls become base knocks again.
Prado has obviously benefited from an inflated BABIP to start the year. That .402 mark is definitely not continuing. However, Prado is doing some things well. His strikeout rate is down a significant amount, down to 6.2 percent, even with his walk rate. More contact at least gives him more chances to get hits on balls in play, and he is certainly hitting the ball decently. Prado's adjusted exit velocity is at 91.6 mph, which puts him on par with players like Jonathan Villar, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Travis Shaw. However, given the more grounder-heavy nature of his contact, at this velocity this should be only worth 3.3 runs according to BP. This is about four runs worse than what he has actually produced.
Hechavarria actually has a similar profile and should produce around three runs with his batted balls as well, as he has a similar hitting profile and batted ball velocity. However, the projection for Hechavarria is actually larger than his actual dismal performance, so we should expect more luck from Hech. Perpetua's model expects Hechavarria to hit .298 on balls in play rather than the .230s mark he owns now.
As we mentioned before, there is a lot of potential data to dig through, and researchers are just reaching the tip of the usefulness of this information. The more we find out, the more we will know about our Marlins team!