The recent rash of perfect games and no hitters has many people scratching their heads. Some are calling it the “Year of the Pitcher,” while others think it’s due to the eradication of steroids in the sport.

But for all the analyzing and debating, everyone seems to be forgetting one thing: sports are notoriously unpredictable, and can be more random than a clueless crossword puzzle. I mean, who could have predicted three major players all going down on thumb injuries within the same short time span (four if you count the recently returning Aramis Ramirez)?

While we still haven’t invented a reliable injury-predicting machine (looking at you, scientists), we do have stats at our disposal that can help us figure out (or at least get a ballpark estimate) of a player’s future production.

These two stats basically work by separating luck from a player’s actual skill. BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) is a major one for pitchers and hitters which tells us how many balls are dropping for hits.

.300 is the traditional average, so anything way above that number for hitters or way below that number for pitchers means they are getting favorable plays on balls hit into the field. As BABIP regresses towards the median, it almost always results in a drop in production.

FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching) is pretty self-explanatory, but more important for pitchers than BABIP. It tells us how much help a pitcher is getting from his defense and how much of his ERA is for real.

ERAs tend to go in the direction of their FIP, and when it’s close you can usually count on them staying steady for a while.

I use those two stats frequently when assessing a player’s future value, so make sure those are two stats you look at first. Here’s some other random numbers I’ve come across recently.


Number of times the Tampa Bay Rays have been no-hit in the past 12 months, most recently by the Diamondbacks’ Edwin Jackson .

I don’t know how one of the best offenses in the league can have this happen to them so frequently. Many people benched Dallas Braden for his Mother’s Day start against the Rays, not the worst idea had he not thrown a perfect game.

Again, this should be regarded merely as a quirky aberration, and you can definitely bank on the Rays’ lineup going forward.

Still, it’s mind boggling to think how this could happen. Did the power go out in their hotel room? Was there a particular meal they ate on the plane? Who was mixing the Kool-Aid that days? We may never know…



June BABIP for emerging ace Tommy Hanson , whose been hit pretty hard lately.

In his last two starts he’s allowed 14 earned runs and been knocked around for 21 hits, only two fewer than he allowed all of April.

But his FIP is a very healthy 3.44, a full run below his ERA, and as we see in his BABIP, he’s definitely in line for a huge rebound and will continue to have a stellar season.

Consider this a minor bump in the road.



Stolen bases over the past five games for Chone Figgins , including three last Friday.

Even for a stat like steals where many times production comes in bunches, this is a huge number. Anyone who has kept the faith with Figgins won that category last week.

While his batting average and run totals have been a major disappointment this season, he’s still on pace for 40+ stolen bases, and he’s batting an encouraging .276 for June.

A player with a .300 average over the past three seasons doesn’t dip this bad for an entire year.


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