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Atlanta Braves Hitters Expecting Regression According To BABIP

As you may or may not know, BABIP (batting average balls in play) is a pretty straightforward stat - it tells a player's batting average on balls in play. Generally, the higher the number, the more lucky he has been, while the lower the number, the more bad luck he has run into. It's a telling stat for regression and what players might be looking forward to in the near future, or over a couple seasons.

So in using this stat, let's determine which Braves hitters should expect regression or better numbers as the season wears on.

Through 26 games, the Braves are ranked second from the bottom in the National League, and third from the bottom in all of MLB, in BABIP with a team number of .259. The team has run into a bit of bad luck along with poor line drive and contact numbers so far, resulting in a struggling offense. But there is reason for optimism.

Brian McCann: .375
Nate McLouth: .324
Chipper Jones: .284
Martin Prado: .260
Freddie Freeman: .258
Jason Heyward: .254
Alex Gonzalez: .250
Dan Uggla: .176

Only two numbers above average for the Braves and neither has displayed any power to this point, so that's a recipe for disaster. McCann's .083 ISO and .393 SLG are extremely low and without any real reason why, but there's no reason to believe it will last all season. Once the power returns, the BABIP may drop some but not much. McLouth seems intent on trying to make contact and find holes to get on base, which is for the best. I wouldn't expect his power numbers to increase much, but hopefully his BABIP won't change much either.

Prado's .292 OBP and .288 wOBA are a result of poor contact. His strikeouts may be down, but his line drive rate is down significantly from 21% to 14%. Heyward's line drive rate went from 17% last season to 12% so far this season. These are just two examples of the poor contact rates the Braves are putting up so far.

So this explains a lot in regards to the low BABIP down the lineup. These poor line drive rates shouldn't last all season unless something is terribly different and wrong in the entire lineup's approach, and when they regress, things will improve.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.