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Examining Huff with FIO

March 18, 2012

A couple of weeks ago Bradley Woodrum released a series of articles (Part 1, Part 2) on a statistic called Fielding Independent Offense (FIO). He created a system to project a batter’s offensive skill independent of the random variations of BABIP, basing it on BB%, K%, HR%, and Stolen Bases, which can better determine a player’s true offensive skill than other stats like wRC+ because those largely incorporate luck.

FIO is calculated as such:

FIO = -51.57 + 275.21(BB%) – 180.52(K%) + 1184.34(HR%) + 151.75(SB/PA) + 422.14(BABIP)


This is a graph of Aubrey Huff’s wRC+, FIO, and Career BABIP FIO. Notice how his FIO almost matches his wRC+ even though FIO includes stats that wRC doesn’t count, like strikeout rate and BABIP. That is a testament to how key the 5 components of BABIP, BB%, K%, HR%, and Stolen Bases are to offensive production.

As you probably already know, BABIP is a large determinant of offensive production and can vary a lot more wildly than the other 4 components. It is also the only one of the 5 stats where a large part of the outcome is out the batter’s control. That’s where FIO comes in; it gives us a players wRC+ as a function of his BABIP. So If Huff’s BABIP is X his offensive production is Y.

The green line is Huff’s Career BABIP FIO (CaBFIO), where we are plug in Huff’s career BABIP instead of his BABIP for that year. His career BABIP is probably more indicative of his skill to make batted balls fall for hits; thus CaBFIO is also probably more indicative of his true luck independent performance for that season, and we can use this to see if random variation favored Huff or not.

You can see that in 2005 Huff’s CaBFIO outperformed a his wRC+ by 35 points which probably indicates that he suffered from some bad luck that year. He likely suffered from some bad luck in 2009 as well, as his CaBFIO slightly out performed both his wRC+ by 25 points. In 2010, Huff’s wRC+ outperformed his CabFIO by 14 points suggesting that he might have gotten a little lucky. Even on further inspection, you can see in at Huff’s career numbers that his CaBFIO outperforms his wRC+ by 7 points so his 2010 excellence might have been due to a  significant amount of luck involved in Huff’s 2010.

2011 was a disaster for Huff, (I probably realized that after the 100th time he grounded out to second) as you can see all the lines dropped downwards and his CaBFIO was only 7 points better than wRC+. His CabFIO was only 91 and his wRC+ was 84 well below average and unacceptable for any 1st baseman. If you look closer, every one of Huff’s components trended in the wrong direction: his SO% increased 1.9%, BB% dropped 4.3%, and his HR% almost halved from 4.8% in 2010 to 2.5% in 2011.

Huff did suffer from a bad BABIP of .271—20 points lower than his .291 career average—but the way he put balls in play (grounding out to second) indicates it wasn’t just random variation hurting Huff. Breaking it down further, Huff in 2011 had a 15.9% Line Drive rate, the second lowest of his career and significantly lower than his 17.9% average. Line drives are the hard hit balls that most likely to fall for hits, so such a dramatic drop in LD% indicates that he was not hitting the ball as hard. Most disturbing of all was his dramatic drop in HR/FB rate. His career average was 13.2% and in 2011 he had a career low 7.3%, further showing that he lost the ability to make hard contact with the ball.

All these trends can show us that Huff’s 2011 was not significantly affected by luck and that he just stunk at the plate. From this, we can probably draw to the obvious conclusion that Huff needs to change his approach for him to become a useful player again. The other possible and more depressing conclusion is that Huff could have hit the wall of aging (he is 34 years old) and simply cannot be a useful major leaguer for much longer.

Stats from Fangraphs and Baseball-Refrence

Big thanks to Bradley for releasing his tools and spreadsheets. Also the diagrams on the components on FIO and wRC+ are taken from Part 2 of his series.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Gayfrank permalink
    March 19, 2012 6:10 PM

    Haha all that math to confirm what everyone knew.

    • March 19, 2012 10:18 PM

      All that math to confirm that he probably most likely isn’t gonna bounce back and the giants should probably play Belt instead.

      • gayfrank permalink
        March 19, 2012 10:45 PM

        Its Bochy. He is as much in love with Huff as Gardy with Blackburn. Or Scioscia with Mathis. Or Mariners with Chone Figgins. Or Linceccum with weed. or Hamilton with booze. or Mets with shady shit…

  2. March 24, 2012 6:58 AM

    Past time for Bochy Ball to use Huff as an OF; Belt is the future of the Giants and needs to be allowed to have a batting slump and come back out of it. Pill is a well-aged minor leaguer who can learn to play OF, pinch hit for Belt, and maybe be an emergency 3b; he has value as a hitter, but is not the future 1b. Like Dusty Baker, Bochy is caught up in his personal fear of losing his job; he needs to put that behind him and do what is right for the long-term success of the team.

    • Bo Jackson permalink*
      March 24, 2012 8:00 PM

      I totally agree with your comments except for Bochy fearing of loosing his job. I think Boch is here for the long haul. He is one of the top managers in baseball apart from the frustrating vertrophillia. Anyway I think it is easier for a manager to pencil in someone who has been here done that than someone who you have no idea whar your getting. The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.

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