Who Got Lucky in 2014?

After the 2013 season I used BAPIP and FIP to find batters and pitchers who were the luckiest and unluckiest players of the season. See that article for an explanation of these stats, and how they relate to luck. Before taking the same look at the 2014 season, let’s see how our 2013 lucky and unlucky players did.

BAPIP Leaders by Position – Luckiest Batters in 2013

2013 BABIP 2014 BABIP 2013 OPS 2014 OPS 2014 OPS – 2013 OPS
Catcher: Joe Mauer .383 .342 .880 .732 -.148
First Base: Mike Carp .385 .227 .885 .519 -.366
Second Base: Scooter Gennett .380 .321 .834 .754 -.080
Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta .374 .292 .815 .779 -.036
Third Base: Chris Johnson .394 .345 .816 .653 -.163
Right Field: Yasiel Puig .383 .356 .925 .863 -.062
Center Field: Junior Lake .377 .293 .760 .597 -.163
Left Field: Christian Yelich .380 .356 .766 .764 -.002

puigAs expected the luck ran out for most of these players, with everyone except Joe Mauer having a lower BABIP in 2014. Even with a crazy high BABIP Mauer joined the rest with a lower OPS in 2014. His Batting Average stayed about the same but his Slugging Percentage dropped to a near career low. Mike Carp had the largest BABIP drop and the largest OPS drop. His 2013 OPS was a career high and he suffered a couple injuries in 2014. Unfortunately Yasiel Puig is still really good at baseball.

How did our unlucky 2013 batters do in 2014?

BABIP Losers by Position – Unluckiest Batters in 2013

2013 BABIP 2014 BABIP 2013 OPS 2014 OPS 2014 OPS – 2013 OPS
Catcher: Martin Maldonado .214 .293 .520 .707 .187
First Base: Yuniesky Betancourt .226  Japan .595  Japan
Second Base: Darwin Barney .222 .267 .569 .642 .073
Shortstop: Ruben Tejada .228 .283 .519 .652 .133
Third Base: Jerry Hairston .224  Retired .539  Retired
Right Field: Jason Bay .231  Retired .691  Retired
Center Field: Sam Fuld .223 .280 .537 .663 .126
Left Field: Don Kelly .226 .299 .652 .620 -.032

Betancourt, Hairston, and Bay were so bummed out by their unlucky 2013 seasons they left Major League Baseball. The good news for the rest of our unlucky players is their BABIP improved. The bad news is they’re still not All Stars. Martin Maldonado turned things around the most with the largest increase in BABIP and OPS. Only Don Kelly managed an OPS drop despite his increased BABIP.

How did our lucky 2013 pitchers do in 2014?

ERA-FIP Leaders – Luckiest Pitchers in 2013

2013 ERA-FIP 2014  ERA-FIP 2014 FIP – 2013 FIP 2014 ERA – 2013 ERA
Jason Marquis -1.59 Minors
Clay Buchholz -1.04 1.33 1.23 3.6
Hector Santiago -0.98 -0.38 -0.31 0.29
Chris Archer -0.85 -0.06 -0.68 0.11
Randall Delgado -0.79 1.48 -1.6 0.67
Travis Wood -0.78 0.68 0.49 1.95
Hisashi Iwakuma -0.78 0.27 -0.19 0.86
Jeremy Guthrie -0.75 -0.19 -0.47 0.09
Zack Wheeler -0.75 -0.01 -0.62 0.12
Kyle Lohse -0.73 -0.41 -0.13 0.19

The two luckiest pitchers in 2013 regressed the most in 2014 with Jason Marquis not playing in the majors in 2014 and Clay Buchholz adding 3.6 points to his ERA and 1.23 to his FIP. Travis Wood’s luck also ran out, adding 1.95 to his ERA and .49 to his FIP. All of these pitchers were less lucky in 2014 with higher ERA-FIP scores and higher ERAs. Most of the pitchers were able to overcome their decrease in luck to some degree by lowering their FIP.

2013 Boston Red Sox Photo Day

How did our unlucky 2013 pitchers do in 2014?

ERA-FIP Losers – Unluckiest Pitchers in 2013

2013 ERA-FIP 2014  ERA-FIP 2014 FIP – 2013 FIP 2014 ERA – 2013 ERA
Edinson Volquez 1.49 -1.11 -0.09 -2.69
Wade Davis 1.39 -0.19 -2.99 -4.57
Mike Pelfrey 1.2 0.42 2.38 1.6
Edwin Jackson 1.19 1.88 0.66 1.35
Jordan Lyles 1.09 0.11 -0.35 -1.33
Jeremy Hellickson 0.98 0.37 -0.07 -0.68
Juan Nicasio 0.88 -0.07 1.2 0.25
Rick Porcello 0.86 -0.24 0.14 -0.96
Dallas Keuchel 0.85 -0.28 -1.04 -2.17
Barry Zito 0.83

The two unluckiest pitchers in 2013, Edinson Volquez and Wade Davis had big rebounds in 2014, drastically reducing their ERAs. Wade Davis is particularly interesting with a big swing in ERA-FIP, and by far the best season of his career. Time will tell if it was a break out year for Davis, or if his luck will even out. Only Edwin Jackson got even more unlucky in 2014. Jackson added .69 to his ERA-FIP, and compounded his continued bad luck by adding 1.35 to his ERA. Everyone else had a lower ERA-FIP, but some added to their ERA and others lowered it. Mike Pelfrey added to his ERA the most, despite his ERA-FIP dropping .78. Barry Zito didn’t play in 2014 so we’ll have to wait until the 2015 season for his spectacular come back.

MLB: Kansas City Royals-Photo Day

Who Got Lucky in 2014?

Now onto our Lucky and Unlucky leaders for 2014. Let’s find out who is likely to regress or bounce back in 2015.

BAPIP Leaders by Position – Luckiest Batters in 2014

Catcher Tyler Flowers (.355)
First Base Adam Lind (.369)
Second Base Jose Altuve (.360)
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (.355) *Danny Santana led at this position as well as Center Field.
Third Base Justin Turner (.404)
Right Field J.D. Martinez (.389)
Center Field Danny Santana (.405)
Left Field Scott Van Slyke (.394)

Hey, there are a couple players above .400. We didn’t have that in 2013. Center fielder Drew Stubbs is also in that club with a .404 BABIP. I’m happy to see a couple Dodgers on this list, and no Giants. Hopefully Van Slyke and Justin Turner will regress in 2015.

BABIP Losers by Position – Unluckiest Batters in 2014

Catcher J.P. Arencibia (.195)
First Base Mark Reynolds (.218) *J.P. Arenciba led at this position as well as Catcher.
Second Base Brandon Hicks (.208) *Stephen Drew led at this position as well as Shortstop.
Shortstop Stephen Drew (.194)
Third Base Mike Olt (.203)
Right Field Nate Shierholtz (.231)
Center Field Arismendy Alcantara (.266)
Left Field Raúl Ibañez (.197)

stephen_drewHey, there are a few players below .200. We didn’t have that in 2013. I’m not sure what it means that 2014 had more extremes in lucky and unlucky players than 2013. I believe Raúl Ibañez is the only unsigned player in this list, but he’s 42 and is probably retiring after withdrawing as one the finalists for the Rays’ manager position. Brandon Hicks signed a Minor League deal with the Giants, so hopefully he’ll luck out this season. Stephen Drew had a 4.5 point drop in WAR from 2013 to 2014 and a .126 drop in BABIP, so he’s likely to rebound this season. Arismendy Alcantara is young and speedy, and his BABIP wan’t all that low in 2013, so he has potential.

ERA-FIP Leaders – Luckiest Pitchers in 2014

Miguel Gonzalez (-1.67)
Doug Fister (-1.52)
Josh Beckett (-1.46)
Chris Young (-1.36)
Danny Duffy (-1.30)
Edinson Volquez (-1.11)
Johnny Cueto (-1.05)
Henderson Alvarez (-.93)
Alfredo Simon (-.90)
Shelby Miller (-.80)

Johnny Cueto led this group in ERA with 2.25. Doug Fister, Josh Beckett, Henderson Alvarez, and Danny Duffy also had ERAs under 3. Chris Young and Shelby Miller had the highest ERAs at 3.65 and 3.74 respectively. Young is a 35 year old former All Star who recently had surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. He won the 2014 AL Comeback Player of the Year award. Miller is only 24 and had a 2.2 WAR in 2013, so don’t count him out yet. Edinson Volquez went from last year’s unluckiest list to this years luckiest list, so I’m not sure what to make of him. The top three luckiest pitchers all dropped below their career average WAR despite their good luck. That sounds like a red flag to me.

ERA-FIP Losers – Unluckiest Pitchers in 2014

Jacob Turner (1.97)
Edwin Jackson (1.88)
Trevor Cahill (1.72)
Justin Masterson (1.38)
Clay Buchholz (1.33)
Ricky Nolasco (1.08)
Nathan Eovaldi (1.00)
Yusmeiro Petit (.91)
Phil Hughes (.87)
Brett Oberholtzer (.83)
Marcus Stroman (.81)

petitEdwin Jackson was on the unluckiest list in 2013 as well. I guess that’s just what happens when you play for the Cubs. Clay Buchholz moved from the 2013 luckiest list to the 2014 unluckiest list, so maybe it wasn’t purely regression that added 3.6 points to his ERA. I’m surprised to see Yusmeiro Petit on this list. He set a MLB record in 2014, retiring 46 consecutive batters in a mix of relief and spot starts. If anything, I think this proves just how underrated Petit is in his long man and sixth starter role with the Giants.

There you have it. Use these lists to create your fantasy baseball teams and send me my cut at the end of the 2015 season.

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