Fan Confidence: What's Luck Got to Do with It?

Christian Petersen

To think about baseball in the Internet Age is to accept luck's larger role in the game. We look at some of the D-backs who have benefited, and been hampered, the most by luck through the first month.

Being a fan requires the ability to juggle multiple perspectives. We follow every at-bat and game diligently, our faces so close to the boxscore that the ink smudges our noses. Yet we also have to always keep one eye to the horizon, forever worrying what it means for the long race of the season. Putting in fastest lap doesn't mean much if you don't have the pace to finish.

As such, virtually everything written or said about baseball during its first month comes with a heavily implied "small sample size applied." Or, in other words, be wary of too much luck when making prognostications.

Will the Rockies continue to lead the NL West? Will Matt Kemp continue to struggle? Will Justin Upton hit 75 home runs? Will the Angels, Blue Jays, and Dodgers continue to struggle, and will the Pirates really win the NL Central? Maybe, but I wouldn't take any of those bets.

So without further ado is a listicle of Diamondbacks who have been overly affected by luck. Perhaps it will continue, but probably not. It's just something to think about the next time you feel like bemoaning Martin Prado's hitting with runners in scoring position.

  • Martin Prado's BABIP is .207, compared to a career .312 BABIP. Virtually everything he has made contact with has been right at a fielder, so once that normalizes he should look a lot better.
  • Didi Gregorious' BABIP, on the other hand, is .529. Over half of what he makes contact with ends up being a hit. That won't continue, either.
  • Cody Ross has a K% of 15.8 compared to a career 21.7. That unfortunately means we should see some more whiffs by Ole Beady Eyes.
  • Miguel Montero has a BB% of 13.0, while his career rate is 9.6. He's been surprisingly patient, which is good because he hasn't done a ton more.
  • The team is averaging an error nearly every 4 games. Last year it averaged closer to 1 a little less than every 2.
  • Brandon McCarthy has an ERA of 7.48, but he has a Fielding Independent Pitching, or FIP, of 3.65. In other words, nearly 4 more runs are being score than what should be scored just a result of what he can control.
  • McCarthy also has a BABIP of .396, compared to a career .288. As the flip-side to the batter's BABIP, it means batters are just hitting 'em where the D-backs ain't when McCarthy pitches, and to an unsustainable degree.
  • David Hernandez's HR/9 is 2.13, versus a career rate of 1.28. Yet his fly ball % for 2013 is down 12.5%, which means a disproportionate amount of fly balls he gives up end up as home runs. That hopefully won't continue.
That's just a sample of some of the luck that has helped or hindered specific Diamondbacks. We could probably identify a small thing for every player, and perhaps you have one in mind. Leave 'em in the comments if you got 'em.
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