Lady Luck Is Not on Fan Kuo-Chen’s Side?

Baseball fans who follow the CPBL this season will all know that Fan Kuo-Chen is performing very poorly in the first-half of the 2024 season. Although his standard stats are at a historic low, batting .205/.263/.283 in the first half with an OPS+ of 63, maybe it’s just because luck hasn’t been on his side for a few months.

Let’s first look at a particular stat people often compare when a player is in a slump to determine whether the player is struggling with their hitting or just unlucky: BABIP.

Quick Explanation: BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play)

According to MLB, BABIP is a stat that “measures a player’s batting average exclusively on balls hit into the field of play, removing outcomes not affected by the opposing defense (namely home runs and strikeouts).”

Normally, a player’s BABIP will be consistent season by season since a player’s hitting approach is the main factor for this stat. Therefore, if a player’s BABIP is significantly lower or higher than his career number, we can guess that the player might become luckier or unluckier unless he changes his hitting style significantly.

Examining Fan Kuo-Chen’s Hitting Approach

In Fan Kuo-Chen’s case, his career BABIP is 0.332, which is pretty decent, but this half-season, his BABIP is only 0.246, a whopping 0.086 difference compared to his career. This phenomenon can be reflected in the number of ground ball base hits he had. Until July 2, Fan Kuo-Chen had only one ground ball resulting as a base hit, unlike last year when he had 15.

Some might still be unconvinced and say that he is not performing well because he is hitting the ball into the ground more than before. However, his hitting approach is almost the same as the 2023 season, where he had a 0.304 BABIP and a 112 OPS+ season.

From the graph below, we can also observe that his style has not changed much from last year, hitting the ball evenly across the field. Since his hitting outcome is almost identical, maybe it is his plate discipline that affects his stats this season?

Surprisingly, Fan Kuo-Chen does not change much when it comes to his swinging attempts. Take the photo below as a reference, pitch locations are now classified into four types: Heart (in the middle of the strike zone), Shadow (the edge of the strike zone), Chase (two to three balls away from the strike zone), and Waste (three or more balls away from the strike zone). In Fan Kuo-Chen’s case, his approach to hitting the baseball does not differ much compared to last year, which also cannot explain his current half-season-long slump.

Without the exit velocities of the balls Fan Kuo-Chen hit, we cannot be completely sure whether his decline is due to bad luck or not. Nonetheless, his BABIP, batted ball spray chart, and his plate discipline all suggest that his stats will likely to regress back in the long run because of how similar his hitting style is to last year. With him finally hitting his first home run of the season on July 6, hopefully, luck will start to be on Fan Kuo-Chen’s side.

Note: Fan Kuo-Chen’s stats are via Rebas Sports


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