take the example of a hitter whose real skill is to hit home runs 8% of the time he puts the ball in play. If his pure power skills stays intact but his contact rate improves from 70% to 80% from season to season, over a 550 at bat season he suddenly goes from being a 30 home run type to being a 35 home run player, even without an improvement in his rate of home runs per ball in play.
The contact rate sure seems like a distant cousin to BABIP or BIPA as ESPN calls it:
This is a measure of the number of batted balls that safely fall in for a hit (not including home runs)
Where as BABIP depends on some luck, contact rate seems like a better indication of the batters abilities.
I decided to take a look at BABIP at some of the NL batters in 2009, and showing the contact rate as a percentage alongside :
|Garrett Atkins||83.62%||.246||10.28%||2009 had .226/.308/.342/
LD% drop from previous years
Swing% drop from previous years
Hit .199/.268 vs RHP/LHP in 2009
Hit .200/.252 vs Away/Home
|Chipper Jones||81.76%||.287||16.95%||.264/.388/.430 in 2009 vs .364/.470/.574 in 2008
HR/FB% down in 2009
Bad 2nd half
|Troy Tulowitski||79.37%||.316||11.62%||.263/.332/.401 vs .297/.377/.552 in 2009with luck in favor as BABIP increased from .289 previous season
Became more of patient hitter with BB% spike increase
|Prince Fielder||76.65%||.315||15.30||.276/.372/.507 vs .299/.412/.602 in 2009.
Luck factor spike in 2009 with BABIP, and HR/FB%
Cut down on swings outside strike zone, increase in contact outside strike zone