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I saw a comment recently that Ellis' high BABIP suggested he will regress in 2006, and while the comment may have been 100% right on, I didn't understand it... So I thought I'd make a whole front-page diary about it...

I will confess to not being as "other stat" minded as many on AN, as I am usually content to stick with the basics--AVG, OBP, ERA and the like. Looking at OPS was a big commitment for me, and I only VORP if I chug a Sprite too fast. So not being too savvy about dem newfangled stats, I have some confusion about the utility and the validity of the BABIP (batting average of balls put in play). Hopefully, in educating me users can also educate others who don't know as much--but want to know more--about dem newfangled stats.

It seems to me as if there are some players who, by the way they hit, get a lot of "cheap" hits that aren't impressive but count the same. Jason Kendall, master of the grounder to deep short, and Johnny Damon, always good for a bloop over the third-baseman's head, are prime examples. On the flip side, there are some players who reliably hit the ball hard but are masters of the "at 'em" ball, like Dan Ford and Carney Lansford, whose sharp grounders were often right at the third-baseman--if it wasn't a single through the hole it was often a 5-4-3 DP.

It seems to me that if someone's BABIP is always high, or always low, then when it is high (or low) again one year, that doesn't say anything about their being lucky or unlucky, or having a "career year" or a "down year". It seems to me as if the only time the BABIP stat is highly meaningful is if it suddenly fluctuates one year, suggesting a fluke of unusual good or bad luck that is unlikely to be seen again.

Perhaps those of the more stat-minded nature might want to explain this stat in more detail, to correct my misunderstandings and offer some insight as to how this stat can best be interpreted. I don't know if this discussion will interest people, but it's what popped into my mind today so...