By just about every measure except for hits, Alcides Escobar has been the same offensive player in 2012 as he was in 2011. I won't waste space articulating it here, but compare his offensive profiles on fangraphs.com. Nearly identical walk rates and a slight uptick in strikeouts; for batted balls, nearly identical groundballs, a slight increase in line drives, and a moderate decrease in flyballs; on balls that leave the yard, his HR/F is up, but not all that much.
So, seriously, check it out. It's kind of eerie. The data suggests he's hitting the ball a little bit harder (Higher LD%, HR/F%, and K%), but the margin is slight
. And yet he's added about 50 points (.050) to his batting average this season and seen his BABIP surge to near .360.
I think it would be lazy, and even erroneous to write off his improvement this year as a BABIP mirage, as stat. geeks are wont to do. And really, a player with Escobar's speed should put up better BABIP numbers than .264 (2010) and .285 (2011) if he can hit the ball with any sort of authority. My guess, and I'm sure many of you feel the same, is that Alcides has established a new BABIP threshold to expect from him.
But this is where the discussion of hit f/x comes into play. If teams are charting batted ball velocities and trajectories, it's not information available to the general public. The discussion on Alcides' improvement is open to everyone, but I'm certainly curious if anyone has any expertise to offer on the subject.
Edit: sorry for the bizarre formatting. Didn't realize fanshots like this don't allow paragraphs.
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