BAPIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) is a statistic that analyzes a player’s participation in non-home run batted balls at play. Unlike other sabermetric statistics, BAPIP can analyze players in batting or pitching positions and focuses on player quality, defense, and luck. You can find a player’s BABIP rankings on several websites, including FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, MLB, and more.
So, what is a good BAPIP in baseball? Is high or low BAPIP good? What is the formula to calculate the batting average on balls in play? What does a high BAPIP mean for a hitter? Do pitchers control BAPIP? Why is using BAPIP an excellent idea to evaluate batters? Is there any downside to using this formula?
Continue reading to learn more about BABIP in baseball.
What is a Good BABIP in Baseball?
A good BABIP score depends on whether the player is a pitcher or a hitter. Pitchers want to see lower BABIP numbers, so a good BABIP score for a pitcher with at least 600 innings pitched would be below the league average BABIP score of .300. In the 2022 season, Julio Urias led the MLB with a BABIP of .229, well below the .300 mark.
For batters, a good BAPIP score, using a plate appearance minimum of 2,000, ranges from the average of .300 and above. The higher the score for a batter, the better. For example, Mike Trout’s current career BABIP score of .347, as of February 2023, is one of the best in the game.
Is a High or Low BABIP Good?
For a batter, the higher the score, the better. Starting at an average of .300, batters with a score higher than that average, like .340, have a good score.
In contrast, the lower a pitcher’s BABIP, the better. Using the same average, .300, pitchers with a score of .245, for example, is good. The reason for this stems from how the statistic is calculated. The more times a batter can hit a ball into the field of play and earn bases is reflected in the BABIP number while the pitcher is trying to prevent the batter from hitting fair balls.
When observing a player’s stats, any extreme deviation from the average of .300 could signify that a player will eventually regress at some point in the season.
What is the Formula to Calculate the Batting Average on Balls in Play?
The BABIP statistic calculation is as follows: (H – HR)/(AB – HR – K + SF). The formula is a hitter’s hits minus home runs divided by at-bats minus home runs minus strikeouts plus sacrifice flies.
- H means hits
- HR means home runs
- AB means an at-bat for a batter
- K means strikeouts
- SF means sacrifice fly
One factor not calculated into the BABIP score is the ballpark. For example, Coors Field is friendly to home run hitters because of the high altitude. A hard-hit line drive at Coors could easily turn into another homer on a hitter’s stat sheet, whereas the same at-bat might turn into a routine fly ball in the extended outfield of Comerica Park.
What Does a High BABIP Mean for a Hitter?
While a high BABIP for a hitter is considered good, a high score does not necessarily reflect the hitter’s skill as much as it reflects the opponent’s defense. More often than not, a high BABIP reflects the hitter’s luck to a certain extent.
This metric does not necessarily accurately reflect a hitter’s skills because it does not include home runs like OPS+. Once the hitter hits the ball, and the ball is in play within the bounds, the defense controls the rest of the outcome, so if a hitter is lucky, a poor defense can lead to a higher BABIP score; conversely, if a player has terrible luck and their opponent has a great defense, they might earn a lower BABIP.
Another factor that plays into the hitter’s BABIP score is the hitter’s accidental hits. A good hitter may consistently get good BABIP scores each season. In contrast, an average hitter may get a good score one season and a poor one the next because this statistic factors into the hitter’s luck in making a hit on an accident. Finally, speed is another factor in a hitter’s BABIP score. If a hitter can turn ground balls into infield singles, their BABIP score will increase.
Do Pitchers Control BABIP?
As a defensive player, a pitcher affects their own or a batter’s BABIP; however, when calculating BABIP, none of the main factors taken into consideration is the role of defense, which includes the other defense players supporting the pitcher.
Once the ball is outside of the pitcher’s range, what happens next is in the other defense player’s hands. While the pitcher may be able to affect some of the BABIP scores through their participation in defense, there is only so much they can accomplish once the ball is in play. A pitcher may be able to stop certain hits from happening, but certain plays are outside of their control.
Why is Using BABIP a Good Idea to Evaluate Baseball Batters?
BIBAP can be suitable for analyzing specific player trends when taken into consideration over a long period. While luck is always a factor playing into the BIBAP score, there is also the genuine skill of the hitter. If a hitter is skilled, there is a higher chance that they will earn hits more often than a hitter who is less skilled and more reliant on luck.
Pitting defense against hitter with this statistic is a great way to discover if a hitter is getting a better score because of the opponent’s poor defense or if the hitter is getting a poor score because the defense of the opponent’s team is optimal.
Is There Any Downside to Using this Formula?
The obvious downside to the BIBAP formula is that it needs to accurately reflect a hitter’s or pitcher’s skill overall as much as it accentuates trends in the hitter’s or pitcher’s situations as it relates to luck and defense.
In other words, a player’s BIBAP score from season to season will largely depend on not only their skill but also the skill of their own or their opponent’s defensive fielders. For this reason, it is far more likely to see a player’s BABIP fluctuate over seasons than more ironclad statistics that more accurately reflect a player’s skill.
Conclusion: What Does BABIP mean in Baseball?
BABIP calculates a pitcher’s or batter’s participation in batted balls at play, not including home runs. A player’s BABIP score calculation uses this formula method: (H – HR)/(AB – HR – K + SF).
A good BABIP score depends on the position of the player being analyzed; calculated from an average of 3.00, a good score for a pitcher is lower than the average, while a good score for a hitter is higher than the average.
One of the more complicated aspects of the BABIP statistic is how luck plays a role in a player’s score. Both the pitcher and hitter are at the mercy of defense, whether it’s their team, in the case of the pitcher, or their opponent’s defense, in the case of the hitter.
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