And the Babe Ruth of the SEC

Yesterday, the author published a post intended for an audience of roughly zero readers and purporting to have been written with a view towards identifying the Jose Bautista of the Ivy League. In reality, what the post did was to combine my curiosity about current Ivy League hitters with principles recently introduced by Chris Mitchell on forecasting a hitter’s future major-league performance with minor-league stats.

What follows is a much briefer version of that same thing, except in this case for the 2014 season of the Southeastern Conference.

To review very briefly: for hitters in the low minors (i.e. a level similar to the better collegiate leagues), the metrics most predictive of major-league success (besides age) are strikeout rate (K%), isolated power (ISO), and batting average on balls in play (BABIP). What the author has done is to combine regressed versions of those three metrics into an index stat, where 100 is league average and above 100 is better than league average.

Using that methodology (about which one can read more thoroughly in yesterday’s post), here are the top-10 hitters from the 2014 SEC baseball season by what I’ll continue to temporarily call KATOH+ (in homage to Mitchell’s system). Note that xK%, xISO, and xBABIP denote expected strikeout rate, isolated power, and batting average on balls in play, respectively.

# Player School 2015 Club Pos PA xK% xISO xBABIP KATOH+
1 A.J. Reed Kentucky Astros 1B 290 16.6% .399 .323 217
2 Sikes Orvis Ole Miss Ole Miss 1B 282 17.0% .247 .317 157
3 Sean McMullen LSU Astros OF 249 13.3% .220 .315 151
4 Christin Stewart Tennessee Tennessee OF 241 17.4% .211 .334 149
5 Ben Moore Alabama Red Sox OF/C 273 5.9% .176 .312 144
6 Logan Nottebrok Texas A&M Texas A&M 3B 160 18.1% .217 .308 141
7 Tyler Moore LSU Mets C/1B 178 11.8% .183 .318 140
8 Brian Anderson Arkansas Marlins 2B 287 13.9% .170 .329 136
9 Kade Scivicque LSU LSU C/1B 209 9.1% .163 .317 136
10 Max Kuhn Kentucky Athletics 3B 311 15.8% .170 .335 136

Some assorted observations:

• The relevant league averages for the SEC in 2014 were as follows: 15.1% strikeout rate, .096 isolated power, .319 BABIP. For reference: that’s a lower strikeout rate, almost identical ISO, and higher BABIP than one finds in the Ivy League.

• By this methodology, former Kentucky first baseman and recent Houston second-round draft pick A.J. Reed was obviously the best hitter in the SEC last year. Among other of his exploits, he produced the highest expected isolated-power figure last year by over 150 points. Ruthian, is a reasonable adjective with which to describe that feat. Kiley McDaniel recently ranked Reed 13th among Astros prospects.

• Among returning SEC hitters, Sikes Orvis of Ole Miss produced the top batting line (by this methodology) in 2014. Logan Nottebrok of Texas A&M also deserves some recognition — not only because he occupies a more difficult area on the defensive spectrum than Orvis, but also because his .248 BABIP likely undersold the quality of his season.

Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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0.399?!? Th-that’s impossible! ISO’s don’t go that high!


They don’t, unless of course you’re Babe Ruth (or Barry Bonds)


Pete Incaviglia’s ISO in his junior year was .676. Lance Berkman’s ISO in his junior year was .600.