If you are a Mariners fan, or any kind of baseball fan in the year 2017, you are bound to come across stats like exit velocity, spin rate, ERA+, and OPS+ among seemingly hundreds more.
It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin, even such an internet-connected, up-to-date millennial and Mariners fan like myself. My goal is to try and clear the air on some of the more popular sabermetric numbers today’s baseball fan will come across.
You will hear someone try to justify a good hitter in a slump by saying his BABIP is too low. BABIP is batting average on balls in play. It is pretty self-explanatory. It is the amount of balls in play that fall for hits compared to total balls in play, excluding home runs.
This can help calculate a hitter’s good or bad luck. The average ball in play that falls for a hit is basically .300. Mariners outfielder Ben Gamel is currently batting .328. In 57 plate appearances before this season, he hit .188. Could this season be Gamel blossoming into a better hitter than most expected or is he just experiencing a string of good luck? His BABIP last season was .258, suggesting he had a bit of bad luck. This season he actually leads qualifying batters with a whopping .425 BABIP. This indicates Ben Gamel is been experiencing a lot of good luck and it is reasonable to expect he will come back to Earth.
This is not to say Gamel is not a good hitter who is capable of hitting around .300. It is to say the numbers he currently has are supported by an abnormal amount of balls in play falling in for hits.
Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco is batting just .219 this year. He never hit lower than .250 in his previous two full seasons. His BABIP this season is .220, which is suggesting he has had some terrible luck. Things could turn around for Franco.