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Fantasy Baseball: Separating the lucky players from the unlucky so far this season

Fred Zinkie
·Yahoo Fantasy Contributor
·4-min read
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At one point in time, fantasy baseball analysts believed that most players should have a BABIP (batting average on balls in play) around .300. We are much further ahead now, understanding that there can be as much as a 100-point spread in what is considered a normal BABIP for each player, depending on variables such as their batted-ball tendencies and sprint speed. That being said, there are always early season BABIPs that are extremely far from normal.

Here is a collection of players who have endured especially bad luck so far:

Player

Batting Average

BABIP

Miguel Sano

.079

.105

Brandon Crawford

.158

.115

Ozzie Albies

.159

.135

Joc Pederson

.108

.136

Elvis Andrus

.119

.139

Paul DeJong

.128

.143

Freddie Freeman

.205

.147

Jay Bruce

.118

.150

Charlie Blackmon

.154

.152

Kyle Tucker

.204

.154

Let’s take a closer look at a few names on this list.

Who has been unlucky in fantasy baseball this season?

Freddie Freeman (1B, ATL) is hitting under .200 while showing his usual outstanding control over the strike zone (1.00 BB:K ratio) and putting plenty of hard-hit balls into play. His line-drive rate is thus far lower than usual, but Freeman should still soon return to being a .300 hitter.

Leaving Miguel Sano (3B, MIN) in shallow league lineups is a tough call right now. The slugger is batting just .079, and while his luck has been terrible, he has also produced a massive number of fly balls (60.0 percent) and soft contact (60.0 percent). Until he stops providing the defense with so many easy outs, Sano will continue to have an extremely low batting mark.

Ozzie Albies (2B, ATL) is a great hitter to acquire in trades right now. His expected batting average is nearly 150 points higher than his actual mark, and he has produced solid rates in hard contact, line drives, and fly balls. Also, Albies is striking out at a lower rate than his career norm.

Like Albies, Kyle Tucker (OF, HOU) is someone to target in trades. He is rarely striking out (14.8 percent) while producing plenty of hard contact. Looking at his expected average of .298 shows that Tucker should improve in the coming days.

Elvis Andrus (SS, OAK) should be doing better than he has so far (.216 expected batting average), but still isn’t worth pursuing in mixed leagues. The veteran is producing meager amounts of hard contact and line drives, and he won’t be able to regularly use his speed until he logs better batted-ball data.

Joc Pederson (OF, CHC) is someone to drop in many mixed leagues. The slugger is striking out at an alarming 34.9 percent rate, while rarely squaring anything up (13.0 percent hard contact, 4.5 percent line-drive rate). His expected batting average is unfortunately nearly identical to his actual mark.

On the other end of the spectrum, here are the players with the highest BABIP.

Player

Batting Average

BABIP

Brandon Nimmo

.464

.625

Cedric Mullins

.442

.563

Christian Yelich

.333

.556

Mike Trout

.381

.522

Yermin Mercedes

.500

.516

Jacob Stallings

.333

.476

Xander Bogaerts

.372

.471

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

.390

.467

Donovan Solano

.353

.462

Yuli Gurriel

.429

.459

Don't get blinded by these lucky players

Brandon Nimmo (OF, NYM) isn’t a .464 hitter, but I didn’t need to tell you that. The center fielder has been a line-drive machine (40.0 percent) this year, and his expected batting average is a lofty .329. Injuries often find their way into Nimmo’s life, but he is someone to roster right now.

Among qualified hitters, only Franchy Cordero has a higher gap between his batting average and expected average than Cedric Mullins (OF, BAL). Still, Mullins is drawing plenty of walks (12.2 percent) and producing hard contact (42.4 percent) and line drives (33.3 percent) at great rates. His .301 expected average is an excellent mark.

Those who see the hot start (.333 average) and believe Christian Yelich (OF, MIL) is back, need to think again. His expected average is just .228, and he is striking out at a higher rate (32.4 percent) than his disappointing 2020 season. Unless things turn around in a hurry, you can expect Yelich to land in my Trade Tips column next week.

You don’t see this very often: Mike Trout (OF, LAA) has a .522 BABIP and an expected average (.393) that is higher than his actual mark (.381). I’m not sure what to say, except that Trout does things in the batter’s box that no other man can do. If he could mix in a dozen steals for the sake of his fantasy managers, that would be great.

Looking for a catcher in deep formats? Jacob Stallings (C, PIT) might be your guy. The Bucs backstop has posted exceptional marks in walk rate (21.1 percent), line drive rate (47.6 percent), and hard contact rate (47.6 percent). His expected average is nearly identical to his actual mark.