The Houston Astros may have traded Michael Bourn of the Atlanta Braves and Hunter Pence of the Philadelphia Phillies at just the right time. Bourn ranks third in the majors and Pence seventh in batting average on balls in play (BABIP). That measures the ability of batters to get hits when they don't strike out or hit the ball out of the park. In other words, the ability to get a ball past fielders.
Extreme BABIPs tend to settle back to the .300 range. Look at both these players during the last four seasons:
|BABIP||Michael Bourn||Hunter Pence|
Pence's 2011 represents a big outlier. Bourn reached this rare atmosphere before, in 2009. A high BABIP helps to lead to a high batting average, and helped make this pair look desirable to other teams. Don't trust this to last past this season, however. This season, among batting qualifiers, the spread of BABIP is .200 to .387. If you look at the last four seasons, however, that spread is down to .253 to .355. The extremes just don't hold up. The Astros did a good job of selling their players when they looked their best.