A stat like BABIP can tell us about whether a hitter's batting average has been influenced by luck or not. But, as evidenced in my post about evaluating batting averages, xBABIP and xAVG are also vital tools in analyzing a player. When we're looking at potential comeback players for 2012 who might be undervalued, expected AVG (xAVG) really comes in handy for comparing to a player's actual AVG.
For the full listing of players, you can view the spreadsheet I created by clicking here. This post will highlight some of the more interesting names on the list of biggest differences between xAVG and AVG from 2011. These players represent great possible value as they're being undervalued due to circumstances beyond their control and could have a good comeback season potentially.
Ian Kinsler had a very nice year in 2011 as he returned to the 30/30 club while scoring 121 runs in the process. However, it should have been even better if you look at his .255 actual AVG compared to his .300 xAVG. If he had actually managed to his for .300 last year to go with his other stats, you could make a strong argument that he would be a top 5 draft pick being taken above Tulowitzki (who would have had lower totals in all categories except RBI's). Right now, Kinsler is being drafted at the top of the 3rd round and he holds a ton of value there if you can get him. Here's an oddity for you... Kinsler's AVG is .256 in odd-numbered years yet .299 in even-numbered years. 2012 is an even number! Get on the Kinsler train!
Ben Revere is looked at as being a defensive specialist with no offensive prowess. After hitting .267 with 0 HR in 481 PA, it's certainly understandable to make that case. However, he does have significant fantasy potential for 2012 given the fact that his xAVG was .329 last year. He's a speedster and he will be able to use that speed even more if he gets on base even more. He hit .326 in his minor league career over 380 games and never had a season below .300 (and he totaled 154 SB) so he has certainly shown that he has the potential to hit .300 while notching 50+ SB. At this point, he's being drafted late in drafts and is worth reaching for because of his speed and AVG potential.
From 2006-2008, Alex Rios had a batting average of .296 which was very nice to go with his 20/20 potential. However, things haven't been as rosy since then as he's had a .253 AVG from 2009-2011. Last year was his worst year yet as he hit .227 with 13 HR, 64 R, 44 RBI and 11 SB. Alex, wha happen? Well, it seems like bad luck happened as his xAVG for 2011 was still .275 which would have meant about 25 more hits which would have meant more RBI's and more Runs and maybe more SB's. Ah, the possibilities! Rios still has the potential to return to his 2010 former self which hit .284, 21 HR, 89 R, 88 RBI and 34 SB. However, he comes at the discounted price of being drafted in about the 20th round due to his craptastic year in 2011.
Evan Longoria brought back the power stroke in 2011 that took a break in 2010 by jacking 31 HR in 133 games. However, his batting average dropped to .244 mostly due to a terribly unlucky .239 BABIP. As you might expect based on the theme of this article, his xAVG was much higher (.301). If luck can go back onto his side in 2012 then you can expect a year that might exceed his great 2010 season where he hit .281 with 33 HR, 100 R, 113 RBI and 9 SB.
From 2005 to 2009, Mark Teixeria had three seasons where he hit above .300 and only one season where he hit below .290 (which was still .282). However, in 2010 and 2011, luck has reared it's ugly head as his BABIP has been way below average both seasons and his AVG was .256 and .248 respectively. His xAVG in 2011 indicates that he should have hit around .288 without the bad luck. Due to the fact that his power still seems to be as good as ever, he should return to his old super-good-in-all-categories-except-stolen-bases self in 2012.
Remember that wacky Ichiro Suzuki guy? He used to lead the league in AVG, score some runs, steal those bases and do all sorts of fun stuff? Well, he stole 40 bases last year and came up to the plate 700+ times but his AVG was poor (.272) and he only scored 80 runs in that crappy Mariners lineup (least amount of Runs scored in 2011 despite being in the AL and having an extra batter!). The good news is that his xAVG was .310 but the bad news is that the Mariners should still struggle offensively. They have some young hitters that might allow for improvement but Ichiro scoring 100 runs like old times isn't expected. He should still be able to produce numbers somewhat close to his 2010 line of .315 AVG, 6 HR and 42 SB yet he's being drafted in about the 10th round at this point.
Jimmy Rollins is a bit of an odd duck in the fact that he's always been a bit of a speedster but has not always had a high BABIP to go with that. The amount of flyballs that he hits certainly doesn't help there. But what makes him even odder is that he has experienced three seemingly unlucky seasons in a row where he's had a BABIP of .251, .246 and .275. After three years of this, it makes you start to wonder if it's a product of who he is as opposed to luck. None of his statistics seem to jump out as causing this odd BABIP. But, regardless, he had an AVG of .268 in 2011 with an xAVG of .296 so we should expect his batting average to go higher which would be nice with his 15 HR and 30 SB potential. But, I really don't know what to make of this guy anymore. One year of poor BABIP is unlucky, two years is really unlucky but three years just seems like a trend.
Back in 2009, Adam Lind hit .305 with 35 HR's and all was well in the world. I know I'm living in the past but the past looks so much better than two years of bad baseball from this guy. He hit .251 last year but, as you may have guessed, his xAVG tells a different story and says he should have hit closer to .296. He only played in 125 games but did hit 25 HR's so we can hope that a luckier and healthier Adam Lind can hit .290 with 30 HR's in 2012. That doesn't seem like too far of a reach. He's being drafted 159th on average right now. A power hitter with a chance to hit for average at that point? Sure, I'll take it.
Drafters still like Elvis Andrus and have him pegged as an early draft pick despite him mainly being an SB guy. He hit .279 with 37 SB last year which is pretty cool but, of course, his xAVG says he should have hit a much better .325. However, take caution with this one as we seem to have another Jimmy Rollins situation. His BABIP has been between .305 and .317 in his first three MLB seasons and his AVG has been between .265 and .279 so it's hard to see a reason why this would suddenly change (his xBABIP calculates as .364). As a speedster who hits a long of ground balls, you'd expect a high BABIP and AVG but it hasn't translated yet. I'm not feeling Andrus as a definite comeback player until he proves otherwise, much like J-Roll earlier.