MLB's second half bounce-back candidates

Which players are likely to see a better second half based on BABIP Photo: San Diego's Chase Headley/AP

CHICAGO, July 18, 2013 — Yesterday’s column covered players who may see their stats decrease in the second half due to high first half BABIP’s. Today Tagging Up takes a look at some players who may see an uptick in their statistics based on low first half BABIP’s.

People often say that a player has been unlucky and is likely to bounce back when the luck catches up. Finding these players can be even more difficult because players could be seeing their skills erode, dealing with an injury, which is causing them to not hit as many line drives. Or they may, in fact, just be getting unlucky.

SEE RELATED: MLB players may be headed for second half regression

Many of the players with low BABIP’s may not be candidates for improvement due to being middle infielders who are unlikely to improve much, like Pete Kozma, but here is a look at some of the players who many would not expect to find among the low BABIP bottom dwellers.

B.J. Upton 2013 BABIP .240. BJ has a career .317 BABIP and his lowest BABIP before this year was a .294 BABIP in 2012. Upton is the player many have pointed to in the first half as a player likely to have a bounce back second half. A closer look shows this may not be a given as Upton’s BABIP has decreased every year since 07 when he had a .393. Expect him to bounce back to an extent, but his best days are likely behind him.

Adam Dunn 2013 BABIP .233. Dunn has a career .286 BABIP and his lowest BABIP before this year was a .240 BABIP in 2011. These stats alone point to Dunn seeing his BABIP increase, but his last two and a half seasons range from .233 to .246 so this may be Dunn’s new talent level.

Mike Moustakas 2013 BABIP .228. Moustakas has a career BABIP of .269 and his previous low was .274 in 2012. Moustakas has only three years of MLB experience and could go either way. Given Moustakas’ pedigree as a prospect he is a candidate to bounce back.

Miguel Montero 2013 BABIP .268. Montero’s career BABIP is .312 with a previous low BABIP of .217 although that came in only 244 plate appearances in 2007. Based on the numbers it looks as if Montero will certainly bounce back, but he is a 29 year old catcher. Catcher is a position that has caused many players to decline before people expected. Look for Montero to improve, but do so with caution.

Josh Hamilton 2013 BABIP .263. Hamilton has a career .327 BABIP and his previous low season was a .315 BABIP in 2007. Hamilton is an interesting case as if you remove his outlier 2010 season, when he had a .390 BABIP, which as stated yesterday is an extreme outlier, his BABIP’s have ranged from .315 to .333. It seems plausible that Hamilton could bounce back to that range, but at the age of 32 it is not a certainty.

Albert Pujols has struggled in the first half/AP

Chase Headley 2013 BABIP .288. Headley’s career BABIP is .333, and his previous low BABIP of .323 came in 2010. With his age and track record, it seems that Headley is likely to bounce back up to near his career average. However, it may also be that last year’s seeming breakout ends up being an outlier.

J.J. Hardy 2013 BABIP .249. Hardy has a career BABIP of .278 and his previous low BABIP of .253 came in 2012. Hardy’s BABIP has declined every year since 2010 and has had a BABIP over .300, roughly the league average, only once. Hardy is unlikely to see a large bounce in his BABIP in the second half or going forward. If only the Orioles had a skilled, younger, All-Star caliber shortstop they could use in his place…

Albert Pujols 2013 BABIP of .248. Pujols has a career BABIP of .306 and his previous low BABIP was .277 in 2011.  Peripherally, it looks like Pujols will bounce back with a vengeance, and he may. He has not had a BABIP over .300, however, since 2008 and although a bounce to a BABIP of .280 is in within reason, expecting a return to his mid 2000s greatness is likely a fantasy.

These are just some of the players who have BABIP’s below the .297 league average, but are a good sample to show various reasons why players may or may not bounce back.

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Steve Adler

Steve Adler was born and raised in NH in a town called Westmoreland. He currently resides in Chicago, IL with his wife and daughter. He has worked in Commodities and Banking. Steve has been a sports columnist for The Washington Times Communities since July 2013.

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