Saturday, November 27, 2004


For giggles, I thought I would calculate the BABIP (Batting Average on Balls-in-Play) for the White Sox pitchers to see who got lucky and who didn't this year in terms of where the hits fell. The BABIP stat is somewhat meaningful - it measures what happens when the pitcher left his fate up to the defense. In those instances, the play is out of his control; if a blooper falls in because of the outfielder's bad break on the ball, the pitcher gets charged with a hit. BABIP, first described by Voros McCracken (who now works for the Red Sox) is calculated by deducting the pitcher-controlled plate appearances (BB, K, HR, HBP) from total batters faced by the pitcher and deducting HR (which do not give the defense a chance) from the total hits allowed to come up with an average. Expressed in an equation, it is (H-HR)/(BF-(BB+K+HR+HBP)).

Here are the BABIP for the key pitchers on your 2004 Chicago White Sox:
Player BABIP
Buerhle 0.295
Garland 0.272
Loaiza 0.294
Schoneweis 0.309
Garcia 0.294
Contreras 0.302
Takatsu 0.205
Marte 0.245
Cotts 0.271
Politte 0.313
Adkins 0.321
TEAM 0.293

As you can see, Shingo Takatsu got a wee bit lucky this year (although his style of pitching might induce such luck), while at the same time Politte and Adkins didn't have so much luck. It looks like the defense made a fair number of plays behind Garland, helping his numbers somewhat.

The Twins, you ask? Here's how they faired:


Hmmm, so much for the vaunted Twins defense - they allowed a 10 point higher batting average on balls in play than the White Sox. Here are a couple of notable things about those numbers: (1) Santana's a good pitcher, but he had a very low BABIP last year. Look for him to regress to the mean next year; (2) Rincon also got lots of help from the defense; and (3) poor Terry Mulholland - the hits just fell in against him.

Now, how do these figures compare to the AL as a whole? Not an easy thing to calculate - baseball-reference does not have the league-wide HBP or BF figures handy. Here's my shot:

Numerator - 21,151 hits allowed, 2,591 HR allowed =

Denominator - 88,280 batters faced, 7,520 BB allowed, 14,505 K's, 2,591 HR allowed, 901 HBP.

AL BABIP = .296

So the White Sox were slightly above average and the Twins were somewhat below average in terms of turning balls into play into outs. Interesting thoughts as we turn into 2005.

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