The Last, Greatest Post About Austin Jackson & BABIP: Part 1 - BABIP Throughout The Ages

Exhibit A:  Austin Jackson is a man of his era.

If you take a look at the career leaders in BABIP, at least among those guys who had at least 1000 career plate appearances to their names, you’ll see a lot of currently active players.  Of course that includes Ichiro Suzuki and Derek Jeter, who will likely make the hall of fame based in large part on their BABIP skills, but also a number of younger players:  Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Gonzalez, Joey Votto, Matt Holliday, Matt Kemp, etc…  You’ll also find a fairly large number of guys who played ball in the roaring twenties – Cobb, Rogers Hornsby, Bill Terry, George Sisler, Tris Speaker, etc… If we dig a little deeper, this shouldn’t actually seem strange.  Take a look at average BABIP stats for the league as a whole decade-by-decade:

Decade BABIP K-Rate
Teens 0.279 10.8%
Twenties 0.302 8.2%
Thirties 0.296 9.5%
Forties 0.278 9.8%
Fifties 0.276 12.9%
Sixties 0.276 16.9%
Seventies 0.281 15.1%
Eighties 0.284 15.7%
Nineties 0.295 17.9%
Aughties 0.298 19.3%

As you can see, average BABIP shoots up with the end of the dead ball era – not just homers – and stays high until WWII. Starting in the forties, BABIP plummets and stays low for decades. I wish I had a good explanation why, but it could be any number of things – the ball, the player mix, the mound, the umps, better defense, pitch development… Beginning in the seventies, BABIP begins a gradual climb until today, where we’re just about back to where we were when Babe Ruth was mashing the ball. Strikeout rates, on the other hand, have been on a near-continuous upward trajectory since the twenties until today when the average batter strikes out in almost a full twenty percent of his plate appearances. High strikeout, high BABIP? If you look at the path we’re on, that’s the 21st century batter.

Check back early tomorrow morning for part 2: ‘The BABIP Hall Of Fame’

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Tags: Austin Jackson BABIP

  • http://www.johnsbigleaguebaseballblog.blogspot.com John Sharp

    So what’s the BABIP of Jackson?

    By the way, I don’t like these new stats.

    Balls in play?

    If you don’t put the ball in play, your average is going to be .000, right?

    I appreciate baseball fans passions toward stats, but I think the SABR people tend to over think baseball way to much.

    You pitch the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball.

    That’s baseball, that simple.

    • Chris Hannum

      Last year Jackson had an astronomical BABIP of .396, due to a weak start his career major league BABIP is now tied with Ty Cobb at .378 – which is the best career number of any player with at least as many plate appearances. Your batting average will be determined by three somewhat related factors, actually putting the ball in play – i.e. not striking out (which Jackson doesn’t do a great job of), putting the ball over the fence (which Jackson doesn’t do a great job of) and hitting it where they ain’t (which Jackson does do a good job of) – in other words, ‘Batting Average on Balls In Play’.

    • http://Detroittigertales.com Lee Panas

      John,

      The point of the stats is to determine which players are best at pitching the ball, hitting the ball and catching the ball and which are most likely to do so in the future.

      Lee