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Hey Aaron, Your BABIP Is Showing

May 9, 2011

Image: Lisa Blumenfeld - Getty Images

I’m not president (or even treasurer) of the Aaron Rowand fan club. I don’t dislike him as a man — mostly because I don’t know him as a man — but as one of the team’s highest-paid players he kind of bothers me.

So a few of you have asked when I’ll be eating crow over Rowand’s alleged resurgence. My answer? BABIP.

For those unfamiliar, BABIP stands for “batting average on balls in play,” a pretty self-explanatory stat. An average BABIP is .300, which means a player is hitting ’em where they ain’t about 30 percent of the time. Lower than .300 indicates bad luck and thus a good chance of improvement; higher than .300 indicates good luck and thus a good chance of regression.

Aaron Rowand’s BABIP is .352.

Rowand has also walked 5 times in 126 plate appearances. That’d be iffy for any player, but for a supposed leadoff hitter it’s atrocious. (By comparison, Brandon Belt drew 8 walks in just 60 plate appearances before his demotion.)

The squatty leopard hasn’t changed his spots is what I’m saying. He’s contributed in the early going, gotten some key hits and earned a small portion of his bloated contract. Great, swell. But when Torres comes back we’re going to be treated to a wholly invented and unnecessary playing-time “dilemma,” with Rowand hanging on to the centerfield job as his stats slide and Bochy dishes platitudes about “Row” being “one of our key guys.” It’ll happen I tell ya, and I’ll be glad I saved that crow for when Dinger the dinosaur cures cancer.

(I realize this is a pretty sour post after a three-game sweep of the Rockies that involved two walkoff wins and a Ryan Vogelsong shutout. But I woke up with a stiff neck, and nothing gets the muscles loose like a little Rowand bashing.)

Gently massage your sternocleidomastoid while thinking about his 2010 on-base percentage.

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