You could call this a Sell High post, but it's probably more practical to label it a warning. The warning being: beware of managers who are trying to trade these players your way. If you're not careful you could accept a trade proposal that includes (or looks like it includes) a Dr. Jekyll and find yourself rostering a Mr. Hyde. These killers of team stats hide behind a cloak that goes by the name of Player Rank. These barbarians of BABIP and hellions of HR/FB%, large and small, are to be feared. Whether they're featured players or simply hidden inside larger trade offers, I don't want to deal with those monsters. To the jump comrades.
Hunter Pence HOU Pence has a Batting Average of Balls In Play that is nearly 90 points above the norm for himself. The past three seasons have been pretty steady for him in terms of BABIP ('08-'10: .301, .308, .304), but he's currently pushing a .392 through 84 games. His LD% (17.4%) is about two percentage points higher than his career average for LD%, but it's still far below the league average. The monstrous jump in batted balls that have fallen for Base Hits has driven his Batting Average up to .325. What makes this situation worse is that Pence is striking out more than ever (his 22.3% K% would be a career worst), hitting less Home Runs (on pace for less than 20 HR) and the Stolen Base attempts are down (just five attempts). His rank of 33 is being propped up by his abnormally high AVG and the RBI that have come with it.
Jose Reyes NYM You know how we do. When someone is down we kick 'em! Reyes is currently dealing with a "hamstrain" (please tell me I invented that word) and he's been known for recurring issues with his legs so label this exhibit No. 1 in our case against trading for Jose Reyes. Exhibit No. 2 is the very high BABIP. It's 61 points higher than his norm despite his 19.1% LD% (career average: 20%). I can buy the "contract year" theory when discussing Reyes' improved K%, but not the luck with Balls in Play. He is indeed a great player at a thin position, but I wouldn't pay full price for the AVG and potential legs problems. Don gets more in depth with Reyes and his hamstrain here.
Lance Berkman STL When I look at Berkman's 28% HR/FB% all I can do is shake my head. When did Lance Bass turn into Lance Armstrong? Dude does not possess this kind of strumf. He is not stronger than Ryan Howard. Between 2008-2010 Lance averaged a 15.7% HR/FB%. Leaving Houston/New York for St. Louis was supposed to suppress his power numbers, not enhance them. The laws of mathematics, the law of harmony and the law of wisdom are not on Berkman's side. Do not buy into the 24 HR and do not buy into his overall rank (16). The Home Run total should be closer to 13 or 14 (and that's giving him credit). Fat Elvis: I hope his stat line dies on the crapper.
Howie Kendrick LAA Howie has been here before, cited for his high BABIP and HR/FB%. Both are coming down, but they're still high. The surge in July (.400 BABIP) has pushed his BABIP, about 20 points, above his career norm. He's hit only 2 HR since the calender flipped to May, but his HR/FB% is still nearly double what it should be. Howie's power numbers are clinging to the 6 HR he hit in April the way some Packers fans shun Ted Thompson/Aaron Rodgers and cling to memories of Brett Favre. Howie is hitting more Line Drives than ever so I won't hate on the BABIP too much, but he is striking out more often (21.1% K% would be a career worst) and, again, he's hit only 2 HR in the past ten weeks.
Alex Avila DET When is the last time you seen a Catcher post a BABIP of .349? In the past seven years, besides Joe Mauer, only Jorge Posada touched that number. And like Avila's number, Jorge's '07 season was an aberration. Last season Avila's LD% was two percent better and his BABIP was 70 points worse. Do the math, Alex Avila is playing above his head right now and his .289 AVG could soon plummet to the hellfires of the underworld. His power numbers have come down since his HR binge in May, next is the Batting Average.
Brett Wallace HOU I'll cover the 13% owned Brett Wallace quickly. For being a highly touted prospect Wallace sure does strike out a lot. His 26% K% is an improvement from last season, but it's still high for a player who doesn't possess Frankenstein-like power. The only thing holding up his .286 Batting Average is the .372 BABIP. He should be pushing a .330ish BABIP so his Batting Average is 30 points higher than where it should be.
Jeremy Hellickson TB What happened to Jeremy Hellickson? No seriously, what happened? You can't tell by his WHIP/ERA, but Hellickson has been pitching poorly. The Strikeouts have died and the Walks have risen, Jeremy Hellickson is the living dead of Starting Pitchers. The 5.90 K/9 is a full Strikeout below the league average and the 3.39 BB/9 is below average, yet he sports a 1.15 WHIP and 3.21 ERA. The WHIP and ERA are the result of the league's lowest BABIP (.224). No LD% meshes with a BABIP that low, especially Helly's 19.3% LD%. If we were to replace the .224 BABIP with something more reasonable, say .282, his WHIP would be 1.31 and his mdsFIP (expected ERA) would be 4.43. The scary part is that Hellboy's K/9 has gotten worse with each passing month (6.61, 6.27, 5.63, 2.45).
Alexi Ogando TEX Ogando may be the luckiest Pitcher in baseball. Alexi and Josh Tomlin are the only two Pitchers in baseball who have a BABIP below .250 (Alexi's is .240) with a LD% above 20% (Alexi's is 21.5%). Ogando has a cult-like following which can be found crusading in the comment sections of any Brad Evans' Flames/Lames blog post. I just have a couple questions for the Ogando Oligarchy: if Alexi is so spectacular why is his K/9 below average? If Alexi is so awesome at limiting base hits why do so many batters square up and lace Line Drives off him? Also working against Ogando: he's already 30 Innings over his career high for IP (72.1 IP in '10). While his fastball has gained velocity, ever so slightly, with each passing month (94.7 mph, 94.5, 95.2, 95.5) we have to wonder if this continue or will he tire down the stretch? Will Texas allow him to keep pitching from the rotation as the Innings pile up? They've already discussed sending him down to the minors. Beware of trades that include Alexi Ogando.
Jair Jurrjens ATL Jair brings home the bronze medal in the Special BABIP Olympics. Jair should be wearing a helmet on the mound with the number of Line Drives he gives up (21.5% LD%). From what I can tell he ranks about 15th in the most Line Drives allowed (73 total). A few who have him bested(?) include luminaries such as Randy Wolf, Edwin Jackson, Jason Hammel and some guy named Chatwood. Despite all the Line Drives allowed Jair is rocking a .256 BABIP. The masses love Jair and his 12-3 Win-Loss record, 1.07 WHIP and 1.87 ERA. Jurrjens is currently ranked 19th among all players at Yahoo. When is the last time a Pitcher was ranked that highly with a K/9 that sits lays down at 5.29? Also suspicious is the loss of velocity and movement on his pitches and the very high LOB%. If we adjust the BABIP (to .301) and HR/FB% (which is down 2.5%) Jurrjens' WHIP would be 1.22, his ERA would be 3.74.
Josh Beckett BOS Beckett recently hyper-extended his knee. Pulling him from the game was said to be a precautionary move so we don't have much time to kick him while he's down. Beckett is a good Pitcher, but he's not 2.27 ERA, 0.95 WHIP good. Hellickson may have the league best BABIP among SP, but Beckett is merely one point behind (.225 BABIP). Also, Ole Blister Paws has a HR/FB% that is five percentage points below his normal numbers. Beckett's 7.62 K/9 and 2.68 BB/9 are both above average (he's good), but his adjusted stats would look like this: 1.13 WHIP - 3.57 ERA. Because Beckett is limiting Line Drives (16.8% LD%) and his Curveball and Changeup are showing improved movement (PitchFX) I used a .284 BABIP (.291 career average) and 8.5% HR/FB% (10.5% career average). Some would have been more harsh with the adjusted stats. Beckett is good, but he is benefiting from some luck and you never know when he is going to committ Harry Carey on the mound.
Josh Tomlin CLE Tomlin could have been included here. As previously mentioned his BABIP and LD% do not mesh. However, I don't think you'll find many trade offers where someone is trading away Tomlin and asking for the moon. Plus I promised I wouldn't label him a Sell High candidate after giving him props here. Other Pitchers who could have been included, but lack name brand value: A.J. Burnett, Jeff Karstens, Phil Humber, Paul Maholm and Kyle Lohse.
Jhoulys Chacin COL Jhoulys has been very good at limiting Line Drives this season. In fact his 12.9% LD% is a league best among SP. It's completely understandable why his BABIP (.227) is very low. It should be low. He's got good stuff and few batters are able to make good contact against him. Chacin also owns a 58.9% GB%. The question going forward is whether or not he'll be able to maintain that 12.9% LD%. That's tough to do, especially when the guy posted a 21.9% LD% last season. He's posted great percentages each and every month this season (16.8%, 10.4%, 12.2%, 7.7%) so I say why not. I'm not going to do the math for an adjusted WHIP/ERA. I just wanted to ask the question: are you buying Chacin's amazing ability to induce weak contact?
I did leave out some big name players (Adrian Gonzalez, Jered Weaver, Justin Verlander, Tommy Hanson, Michael Pineda). While they are playing over their heads in their own ways, there is really no chance of these players transforming into a Mr. Hyde. Maybe I could have included Pineda with the Mariners planning on capping his Innings Pitched, but he's on like five of my teams so I'm not bad mouthing him. I hope this post didn't scare you too much - grease out - @andrewakamds