Stats are slightly old now, but I thought the general point was worth highlighting.
At a ridiculously low .201, [Jose] Bautista has not had much success turning balls in play into hits… while a .381 wOBA is fine for anyone to hang his head on, Bautista has actually been held back this season.
It seems strange for someone to produce so effectively with such a low BABIP, which got me thinking: has anyone ever finished a season with a wOBA as strong as Bautista’s current .381 mark with as extremely suppressed a batting average on balls in play?
After perusing the historical records, it seems that Bautista could potentially finish the season in some rare company. Among players with at least 400 plate appearances in a season since 1900, there are only five batters with a .380+ wOBA and a .225- BABIP:
Roger Maris (1961): .424 wOBA, .209 BABIP
Ralph Kiner (1952): .409 wOBA, .221 BABIP
Roy Cullenbine (1947): .391 wOBA, .206 BABIP
Norm Cash (1962): .389 wOBA, .215 BABIP
Andy Pafko (1951): .381 wOBA, .222 BABIP
... One season that came close, but ultimately missed the cut, was Bautista’s 2010 campaign. Two years ago, he hit .260/.378/.617, with a .422 wOBA and a .233 BABIP. He bopped 54 home runs and had 56 singles.
Players have produced at an all-star level like this with substandard BABIP rates, but it’s incredibly rare throughout baseball history.
Similarly interesting is that Bautista entered this past weekend with a .197 BABIP. It wasn’t just low, it was below .200, which seems even rarer. Throughout history, only seven players with 400+ PA from 1900-now have finished a season with a sub-.200 BABIP. The highest wOBA was Gus Triandos‘s .336 back in 1959.