Over those 200+ innings, the position players have posted a 7.64 ERA, and a 7.82 RA/9. That ERA is supported by the peripherals, as the position players have generated 77 strikeouts, 157 walks, and 33 home runs. The home runs aren’t laugh-out-loud horrible, but they’re bad, and the strikeout-to-walk ratio is ghastly. Predictably ghastly, sure, but ghastly nonetheless, as position players possess neither command nor putaway pitches.
But there was one statistic that blew me away. One statistic that caught me so off guard that I double-, triple-, and quadruple-checked it to make sure I didn’t screw up the calculation. I looked at the position players’ collective batting average allowed on balls in play (BABIP). I was expecting something in the mid-.300s or so, figuring that they’d allow a greater rate of solid contact than the typical figure you see with real pitchers. Why wouldn’t they? They aren’t real pitchers.
But I didn’t get a BABIP in the mid-.300s. I got .296.
In other words, I got a BABIP very near the league average. The league average for real pitchers. I think it’s a little higher—the .300 BABIP rule we have in our heads doesn’t apply to the 1970s and ‘80s, when the league BABIP was lower—but it’s not off by much. Over the last few decades, position players have seen a similar number of balls in play find holes as pitchers have.
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