May 2019 BABS Update – Batters
by Doug Gruber
BABS has updated the database for her first in-season rankings. If you are like me, you will spend hours looking at the file. “No surprises with Yelich and Bellinger.” “Wow, I didn’t realize Hunter Dozier was doing that well.” “That rating seems very surprising.” And so on…
Let’s mention a couple of disclaimers. First, these ratings are based on actual results for the first month of the season. Meaning small sample sizes, perhaps impacted negatively by bad weather, or favorable circumstances such as scheduling advantages. For example, both the Twins and Yankees enjoyed two series with the Orioles, resulting in 41 home runs in 12 games. More than half of the teams didn’t hit 41 HRs for the entire first month. Second, these ratings are not predictors for remainder of season results. BABS and her asset ratings have always been most valuable for pre-season draft preparation; their in-season value is mostly for player-to-player comparisons.
Nevertheless, let’s get to the fun and look at the hitters and their respective skills for the first five weeks. Click on the Database May 1 update in the Members Only section, and select 2019, Batter In-Season Ranking, BABS, Mixed, GO.
At the top? How about Austin Meadows (pictured)? BABS rates him as (P+,SB,A+) based on his torrid start before a thumb injury sent him to the IL. Coming into 2019, Meadows was a BABS triple asset player, and his first 74 ABs certainly have BABS smiling. Undrafted Danny Santana (yes that is Danny…not Domingo or Carlos) is next on the list, where 5 SBs, a .345 BA and 2 HRs in only 58 ABs has earned him a rating of (p,S+,A+) thus far. Not even BABS could have seen that one coming.
The top full-time players, Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger, have made the NL MVP a two-person race after only one month. And BABS agrees with identical (P+,s,A+) scores. Not far behind on BABS’ list are a trio of shortstops. The Cards Paul DeJong (PW,SB,A+) and Padres rookie sensation Fernando Tatis, Jr. (P+,SB,AV) had terrific Aprils, contributing in all categories thus far. Tim Anderson (S+,A+) has also stuffed the stat sheet, with the biggest surprise being his .375 BA.
Speaking of surprises, in addition to Yelich and Bellinger, there are six hitters who have earned extreme BABS grades in both power and batting effectiveness (P+,A+). Anthony Rendon might not be a huge shocker, but how about these names…Peter Alonso, Hunter Dozier, Christian Walker, Clint Frazier and Daniel Vogelbach? This quintet has already amassed 37 HRs, while hitting well over .300, led by Dozier’s .349. That is a high number, but not as high as the 550 average ADP of this group. To BABS’ credit, she recognized the power assets for all five of these sluggers (e.g., Vogelbach P+) going into 2019, but certainly didn’t expect the BA contributions or the extensive early season playing time.
Combing through the rest of the top 50 finds players we would expect to see. Mike Trout (PW, A+), Ronald Acuna (PW,S+,a), Mookie Betts (p,SB,AV), J.D. Martinez (PW,,A+) and Trevor Story (P+,s,a) are understandable. But there are some pleasant revelations beyond those previously mentioned. Yandy Diaz (p,SB,A+) and Brandon Lowe (PW,SB,AV) are big contributors to Tampa Bay’s spot in the standings. Mitch Haniger, Michael Conforto and Hunter Renfroe have all earned triple asset (P+,s,a) placements.
How about the big contract guys not named Trout? So far, they are below their projected BABS skill sets. Bryce Harper (P+), Nolan Arenado (p,AV) and Manny Machado (SB|-AV) have demonstrated some skills, albeit not to the levels that their new contracts might have expected. It’s early.
On a more macro basis, the paucity of plate appearances have resulted in more than 50 batters being identified as possessing extreme batting effectiveness (A+) skills. Going into the season, only six players carried this distinction. The May 1 update is not surprising, given that more than 50 hitters were batting over .300; in fact, more than 30 had averages above.320, and 35 had OBPs at .400 and above. History says this number will significantly regress, and outliers like James McCann will not be rated (A+) come summer.
On the extreme speed (S+) side, there are very few names who are huge amazements based on BABS pre-draft ratings. Adalberto Mondesi, Whit Merrifield, Tommie Pham, Byron Buxton, Victor Robles, Billy Hamilton are all showing off their speed assets thus far. Jose Ramirez and Mallex Smith have also logged (S+) ratings, however, both have shown a lack of batting skills. Smith has just been demoted as a result of that.
In the ultimate example of small sample size, before breaking his finger in Game 4 on a bunt attempt, Trea Turner was hitting .357 with 2 HRs and 4 SBs in only 14 ABs. This earned him the immaculate BABS rating (P+,S+,A+), but you would have to scroll well down the list to find him. Ron’s article from last week, which suggested that all asset classes be grouped together regardless of playing time, would allow us to more readily find these extreme skilled players such as Turner. Ditto for others such as Scott Kingery (PW,SB,A+) or Terrance Gore (p,S+,A+).
Looking further down the report, several players are off to horrendous starts who were highly coveted during draft season. The lowest BABS grade for hitters would be an asset rating devoid of power and speed, together with a batting average liability (-AV). Notable players who have “earned” their way onto this asset-less class include Yasiel Puig, A.J. Pollock, Ramon Laureano (unless your league counts outfield assists!), Eloy Jimenez, Rougned Odor, Danny Jansen and Jackie Bradley Jr. Health permitting, these players likely will positively regress to prior skill levels as the season continues. It happened a year ago with players such as Paul Goldschmidt and Matt Carpenter, both of whom were April 2018 casualties.
It’s the beginning of May. BABS has been busy giving us her first 2019 asset update, ranking the hitters based on their demonstrated skills during the first month. Perhaps BABS will continue to provide guidance as you manage your teams in the months to come. Dive into the rankings, keep the disclaimers in mind, and have fun!
Coming up… pitchers.