Does High K% and High HR% mean High BABIP?

This post and analysis was prompted by a comment that bigsteve had posted in the Tuesday morning thread:

Guys who K alot and hit alot of HRs will generally have a high BABIP

This was with regard to the merits of whether Chris Davis could sustain a high BABIP.

Now, when I first heard this, I was scratching my head a little, because it didn't make much intuitive sense to me. So, I decided to dig a little further....

I decided that best way to see if Davis was likely to sustain a high BABIP is to see if there was any correlation between High SO% and High HR% guys and BABIP.

IMO, the simplest way to test this would be to divide people into above average(aa)/below average (ba) SO% and aa/ba HR%. Then to take the average BABIP of the aa SO%/aa HR% guys and see if it was higher than the average BABIP of ALL the hitters.

I took all the players who qualified for the BA title last year (2009), and took the average of certain of their stats. I calculated the SO% for PA and HR% for PA since fangraphs didn't have those readily available. Also, their K% and BB% seem to be off when calculating based on PA, so I'm assuming they're basing it on AB (which seems somewhat illogical).

There are some issues with taking the average of average-type stats, but for the most part, you'll generally get a pretty good estimate of the "true" average, especially if the weight for each average is about the same (which for BA eligible players, it is).

I also decided to take a look at High K/High HR/Low BB since Davis falls into this category, and High K/Low HR because it was easy to parse that data.

Anyways, here's the information for each type that we would be interested in:

Stat Sample Size SO% HR% BABIP K% BB%
BA Elig 154 16.158% 3.154% 0.31176 18.36% 9.46%
High K/High HR 51 21.082% 4.724% 0.30765 24.261% 11.100%
High K/Low HR 16 20.388% 2.004% 0.32550 23.019% 9.100%
High K/High HR/Low BB 16 19.651% 4.231% 0.31063 21.756% 7.694%


So, this shows that High K/High HR guys actually tend to have LOWER BABIPs than normal. And if you only looked at the low BB guys, it would still be slightly lower (though probably not significantly). That sort of makes sense because High K/High HR guys tend to be mashers who don't usually have the speed to beat out grounders which can raise BABIP a little and they tend to have uppercut swings rather than line-drive swings which also might lower BABIP.

Some examples of the High K/High HR guys:

Mark Reynolds
Jack Cust
Russell Branyan
Carlos Pena
Brandon Inge
Adam Dunn
Ryan Howard
Jason Bay
Mike Cameron
Brad Hawpe
Justin Upton
Jayson Werth
Nelson Cruz

OTOH, High K/Low HR guys tend to do MUCH better in BABIP, and that also seems to make an intuitive sense because if they K a lot and don't HR a lot, they have to bring SOMETHING else to the hitting table, and that something is likely hitting line drives and being fast.

Examples of High K/Low HR guys

B.J. Upton
Aaron Rowand
David Wright
Dexter Fowler
Shin-Soo Choo
Chase Headley
Mark Teahen
Jhonny Peralta
Michael Bourn
Franklin Gutierrez
Emilio Bonifacio

So, this information, along with analysis of Davis's swing and his performance these past 2 seasons, still makes me bearish on Davis's ability to contribute in the long run if he doesn't improve his plate discipline....

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