In spring training prior to the season Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto made a promise to teammate Zack Cozart. If the 31-year-old shortstop was named to the 2017 National League All-Star team then he would give Mr. Cozart a donkey. Well, Mr. Cozart is a first time All-Star and soon to be a donkey owner I am sure.
Entering the season fantasy baseball owners didn’t expect Mr. Cozart to be an All-Star. This level of performance was not even a consideration (more on that later). However, every season some players produce numbers in the first half…and even some over an entire season…that are outliers. They are out of the ordinary for the player. They are unexpected, and often the player will eventually regress closer to the player they were prior to the outlier half or whole season. Oh sure, there are breakout performances that turn from outliers to the norm. But for every true breakout there are many more outliers that eventually have negative regression to much closer to the norm for that player.
Here we will look at the BABIP Hitter Donkeys of the 2017 season. They are hitters like Mr. Cozart that most fantasy baseball owners didn’t expect to have the seasons they have had in 2017. If Mr. Votto had promised to give Mr. Cozart an owl or a bear, then we would be calling these players owls or bears. But, he decided to promise to give a donkey. So, as promised, here are some BABIP Hitter Donkeys. Do you have the confidence in them to close out the season as the same player they are right now, stats wise? Do you see them regressing to the player they were prior to this season in the second half of 2017? Let your voice and opinion be heard by making a comment on this article!
BABIP Hitter Donkeys:
Zack Cozart (CIN) – .357 BABIP
Prior to this season, in order from 2016 all the way back to 2012, Mr. Cozart had these BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) numbers: .274, .258, .255, .285, .282. Sure, Mr. Cozart has a great .315 batting average, but that is mostly a byproduct of his significantly elevated BABIP. Just look at his corresponding batting averages that line up with those BABIP’s: .252, .258, .221, .254, .246.
If you haven’t done this already as a fantasy baseball owner of Mr. Cozart, well, then I highly suggest you float him on the trade block in you league and see if you can upgrade your team via moving him in a trade, as his value, going forward, will likely never be higher than it is now. Heck, his value has already taken a hit this season. After hitting .352 in March/April and .344 in May he hit .250 in June. After having a BABIP of .444 in March/April and .365 in May it was .286 in June. He’s only 15 plate appearances into July, but the negative regression continues for Mr. Cozart (.200 BABIP and .200 batting average).
Avisail Garcia (CHW) – .376 BABIP
Guess what? Just like with Mr. Cozart we have here a first time All-Star in Mr. Garcia. Mr. Garcia has had 1,868 plate appearances in major league baseball and the young 26-year-old has a .330 BABIP over that span. His .313 batting average is being propped up by a BABIP that is very likely due for some negative regression. This is most likely at-best a .260 or .270 hitter that is just enjoying a great outlier first-half of a season.
Just like with Mr. Cozart we have here a guy that you want to be floating out there on the trade block to see if you can improve your team by dealing him now. In March/April his batting average was .368. He followed that up with a May batting average of .315. In June it was .293. His BABIP numbers along the way have been .443, .373 and .366.
Ryan Zimmerman (WAS) – .352 BABIP
Mr. Zimmerman is now a two-time All-Star. He’s enjoying a bounce back season with a .330 batting average to go along with 19 home runs. First off, while the 32-year-old’s solid power .280 ISO (Isolated Power) is impressive, it also should be noted that his previous major league season career high ISO is the .233 he had in 694 plate appearances way back in 2009. In 390 plate appearances in 2015 Mr. Zimmerman did post a .217 ISO though. So, while it is very plausible the power and home runs keep coming, I think going forward they will be at a bit of a slower rate as he likely will show some negative regression in ISO the rest of the way this season. In fact, we already have seen negative regression. In March/April he was on fire with a .466 ISO. Then in May he posted a .223 ISO. His June ISO dipped to .185.
However, we don’t just have to recognize that it is very likely his overall ISO will continue to take a hit as the season progresses. We also have to recognize that his BABIP will take a hit. In 6,346 major league career plate appearances Mr. Zimmerman has a .311 BABIP. At the MLB level it was .313 (2014), .268 (2015) and .248 (2016) the past three seasons. In those seasons he had batting averages of .280, .249 and .218. This season his batting average is .330. To continue the theme here, we have already seen the negative regression begin to take place with Mr. Zimmerman as his BABIP has decreased every month: .448 (March/April), .366 (May), .293 (June) and his batting average each month has followed suit (.420, .319, .283). If it is still possible in your league to sell high on Mr. Zimmerman than it would be a good idea to do so if you feel you are improving your team.
Jedd Gyorko (STL) – .346 BABIP
Here we have a hitter that was drafted for his power production. The 28-year-old hit 30 home runs (.253 ISO) last season in only 438 plate appearances with a .243 batting average. This season he has hit 12 home runs (.215 ISO) but has a .301 batting average. Thus far his fantasy baseball owners have to be happy with this. Sure, he’s hit for less power, but at least he has a much better batting average to go along with it.
His ISO in March/April was .317 when he hit 4 home runs in 67 plate appearances. He followed that up with 4 home runs in May and then again 4 in June, this time in 102 plate appearances and then 109 plate appearances. His ISO’s in May (.189) and June (.194) have gone down. Last season he had a March/April ISO of .263 (62 plate appearances) before following it up with ISO’s of .133 (52 plate appearances) in May and .118 (34 plate appearances) in June. Then he caught on fire with ISO’s of .301 (79 plate appearances) in July, .330 (110 plate appearances) in August and .231 (101 plate appearances) in September/October. He ended up hitting 23 of his 30 home runs from July through the end of the 2016 season. Is a repeat of such a feat possible? Sure. However, his BABIP numbers last season were .231, .294, .192, .313, .197 and .242. That all came out to a .244 BABIP in 2016. Now, he does have a major league career .280 BABIP and posted a .290 MLB BABIP as recently as 2015. So, as you can see, so far his BABIP has jumped around a lot. However, expecting him to maintain his current BABIP is foolish. He already has seen it begin its negative regression: .410 (March/April), .338 (May) and .319 (June). Right along with the BABIP regressing we also have seen the batting average begin its regression: .333, .295 and .290. Just like the other players on this list, if you can get someone who values Mr. Gyorko higher than he should be valued…well, then it is time to move him.