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June 18, 2013

Pebble Hunting

Blind BABIP Test, Part 2

by Sam Miller

Jose Iglesias has a .507 BABIP this year. This article is not about that BABIP, exactly, but we are starting there. Iglesias entered the season with a .164 career BABIP in the majors, and a .300 BABIP in the minors, and a reputation as the best defensive shortstop in baseball, with a bat that might be just weak enough to support that glove. Finding out Jose Iglesias has a .507 BABIP is like finding out that Chin-lung Hu quietly signed with the Pirates and hit 14 home runs in May. Anyway, like I said, this article isn't about that BABIP.

A year ago, we did a blind BABIP test for a Jake Peavy start; 20 balls put in play, 10 were hits, and you tried to guess which were which based on all the information you could collect up to the point of contact. Gosh, did you ever do terribly. Given a 50 percent chance of guessing the correct answers blindly, you collectively got 52 percent of the answers correct. But maybe that wasn't fair; maybe focusing on the pitcher (who, as we know, controls his BABIP only a little bit) is a doomed exercise. Hitters control their BABIP some bit more than that. So maybe we should be focusing on the batter, looking to see if he's balanced and putting a good swing on the ball or flailing, jammed, late, or on top of the ball. So what happens if we do this from the batter's perspective? Will we be any better? I suspect... well, honestly, I don't know.

There are 10 sets of GIFs below. Each set includes a Jose Iglesias base hit and a Jose Iglesias out. You have to guess which is which, the twist being that the GIF cuts off at the frame before contact is made. In most cases, I'm going to include a screengrab of the final frame to give you a better look to study, though it wouldn't surprise me if it'd do you better to just ignore that and focus on absorbing the natural flow of each GIF, a simpler and Zennier approach. (I'm not putting the final frame for all of them simply because I want to see whether your guesses are better with or without that hint.) Because of our technological limitations, sometimes the final frame shows the bat on the ball and sometimes it shows the ball a few feet in front of the plate, though every final frame is within nine or 10 feet of the plate at the very most.

I truly don't know if you'll get 90 percent or 40 percent of these. I will assure you that each pairing, as well as the order of each pair, was determined by a random number generator, so do not bother getting fooled by patterns (e.g. there have been three hits in a row on the left so the next is probably on the right). The hits and outs themselves were gathered randomly, too, so they're not a particular type or hit or a particular type of out that I went looking for. No attempts to skew this were made, I promise.

Finally, in addition to your answers (either in comments below, or by email to me at the link below, or by Twitter via @SamMillerBP), please predict how many you will get right. I'm interested not just in whether you're capable of spotting the hits but in whether you think you are capable of spotting the hits. Let's have fun!

1. Jose Iglesias vs Michael Kohn (left) and vs Joe Blanton (right)

(This one is the hardest. Don't get frustrated yet!)

2. Jose Iglesias vs. Freddy Garcia (left) and Vinnie Pestano (right)

3. Jose Iglesias vs. Brian Shaw (left) and Alexi Ogando (right)

4. Jose Iglesias vs Jonathan Pettibone (left) and Robbie Ross (right)

5. Jose Iglesias vs. Scott Kazmir (left) and Joe Blanton (right)

6. Jose Iglesias vs. Chris Tillman (left) and Roberto Hernandez (right)

7. Jose Iglesias vs. Jeremy Horst (left) and Freddy Garcia (right)

8. Jose Iglesias vs. Jonathan Pettibone (left) and Chad Durbin (right)

9. Jose Iglesias vs. Michael Stutes (left) and Robert Coello (right)

10. Jose Iglesias vs. Scott Kazmir (left) and Joe Nathan (right)

Did you get 'em? You got all of them, right? Prove to me that you got all of them right! I'll post the answers (or a link to the answers) in this space later today, and we'll see how you got all of them right.

ANSWERS: Right, Left, Left, Right, Left, Right, Left, Right, Right, Left. Expect to write the results up in an Unfiltered before too long. (But everybody did awfully.)

Sam Miller is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Sam's other articles. You can contact Sam by clicking here

Related Content:  Jose Iglesias,  Babip

40 comments have been left for this article.

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