Monday, June 18, 2012

Regressing Quintin Berry

The hot topic today is Quintin Berry.  Should he be starting?  Or is he nothing more than a bench player?  The general consensus is that his .473 BABIP is unsustainable due to a small sample size and that he’ll regress.  The question then becomes, what will he regress to?  What is his true talent?  And is his true talent an everyday player?

In the minors, Berry has consistently averaged about an 11% BB rate.  So far in the majors, it’s at 6.7%.  A walk rate is something that usually translates well from the minors to the majors.  The biggest reason that his walk rate hasn’t translated well, yet, is because of the small sample.  Also, when you’re hitting the ball, there’s no time to walk.  I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that this will increase.  I’ll give him a 9.5% BB% as his true talent.

Next is the strikeout rate.  This has been a problem for Berry.  In 2012, in the minors, it was at 25%.  In the majors, it’s at 25.8%.   Pretty consistent.  In his career in the minors, it was at 18.9%.  In time, Berry could improve on this number, but for now it’ll probably stay at around 25%.

Now let’s look at his balls in play.  For this, I’m going to use two different sources, Baseball-reference and FanGraphs.  Sometimes, there’s a discrepancy in how these balls in play are classified and using two sources should minimize this flaw.

25 Ground Balls (52.1%), 13 hits, 1 2B
13 Fly Balls (27.1%), 3 hits, 2 3B
10 Line Drives (20.8%), 7 hits, 2 2B

23 Ground Balls (47.9%), 11 hits, 1 2B
10 Fly Balls (20.8%), 2 hits, 2 3B
15 Line Drives (31.3%), 10 hits, 2 2B

According to Minor League Central, over the last two years, Quintin Berry has a 48.2% ground ball rate, so seeing this high ground ball rate at the major league level isn’t surprising.  What is surprising is the number of hits he’s getting on ground balls; a .520 average according to Baseball-reference and a .478 average according to FanGraphs.  This is where the majority of the regression will take place.  What is “normal,” though?  According to FanGraphs, the league average on ground balls is .227.  However, Berry is a speedster, so we can expect that number to increase, slightly.  How much?  Ichiro has a .297 average on ground balls.  Juan Pierre has a career .240 average on ground balls.  Somewhere in the middle would probably be about right.

Using Baseball-reference stats, giving Berry a .280 average on ground balls (subtracting 6 “lucky” hits), would give Berry a slash line of .256/.341/.359/.700.

Using FanGraphs stats, giving Berry a .261 average on ground balls (subtracting 5 “lucky” hits), would give Berry a .269/.352/.372/.724 slash line.

One problem with using FanGraphs stats is that it shows that he has a 31.3% line drive rate.  In the minors in 2011-2012, this number was 17.9%, so Baseball-reference is probably closer to his “true” talent. 

Putting it all together, with the 9.5% walk rate, 25% strikeout rate, .280 average on ground balls, and a lower than average average on fly balls and line drives (to show his poor power), given 650 PA:

.234/.325/.329/.654 You can check my math here.

So, is this good enough production for your starting LF?


  1. I'm OK with him getting a shot at least until Dirks comes back or if they make a trade.

  2. I say stick with him until his "luck" runs out.

    Do bunts count as ground balls? If so, his ability to bunt for base hits may increase is BABIP without constituting as much "luck" as is typically thought of with ground ball hits.