Correlating Minor League BABIP to Major League BABIP

In an earlier post I had examined whether Pedro Alvarez has been unlucky. My conclusion is that he has not been so much unlucky in 2012, but rather it is more likely that his 2010 BABIP value was elevated over where his career BABIP will eventually be. That got me to thinking about how well minor league BABIP values correlate to Major League BABIP values.

I thought this post was pretty good. Far more minor leaguers post a .350 or higher BABIP than players in the Majors do. The author’s conclusion is that weaknesses are exposed the higher you get in the pros, making it that much tougher to have an elevated BABIP. I think there is also a defensive element to this. Balls that might fall in or get to holes in the minors are suddenly being caught or snagged in the Show.

I thought it would be fun to have a look at some Pirates of recent vintage to compare their minor league BABIP to what they posted during their Major League careers. I chose any Buc who has gotten 1200 or more at bats in a Pirate uniform and appeared as a Pirate in this century. I also chose Alvarez, Adam Dunn, Brandon Inge and Mark Reynolds for the sake of comparison. All data is from baseball-reference.com. Career data is for the whole career, not just time spent in Pittsburgh. I pulled out minor league data that involved rehab stints or guys going back down after being in the Show for a couple of years and trying to win their way back on a Major League roster (like Adrian Brown). So, to some extent, this is minor league development years for some people as opposed to their entire minor league career.

Generally speaking, Big League BABIP is lower than minor league BABIP. In this group of players, only three hitters saw a rise in BABIP – Walker, Craig Wilson and Tike Redman. Not sure what to make of that as one of those three is not like the others. The three highest minor league BABIPs were posted by Morris, Sanchez and Jack Wilson. One of those three is not like the others in this case, as well.

Player MLB BABIP MiLB BABIP Difference
Jose Bautista .271 .337 .066
Jason Bay .321 .344 .023
Adrian Brown .292 .314 .022
Jose Castillo .296 .323 .027
Ryan Doumit .302 .325 .023
Brian Giles .294 .323 .029
Garrett Jones .287 .298 .011
Jason Kendall .306 .308 .002
Adam LaRoche .310 .336 .026
Rob Mackowiak .318 .333 .015
Andrew McCutchen .316 .327 .011
Nate McLouth .275 .314 .039
Warren Morris .295 .364 .069
Abraham Nunez .287 .316 .029
Aramis Ramirez .289 .326 .037
Tike Redman .303 .301 -.002
Freddy Sanchez .324 .359 .035
Neil Walker .325 .302 -.023
Craig Wilson .335 .322 -.013
Jack Wilson .290 .357 .067
Kevin Young .296 .339 .043
Pedro Alvarez .294 .335 .041
Adam Dunn .291 .343 .052
Brandon Inge .282 .297 .015
Mark Reynolds .312 .325 .013
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