Manny Parra and Jason Hammel, two pitchers who certainly fit the definition of "sleeper" in NL-only leagues, squared off Saturday and threw four effective innings each. But just one of them really piqued my interest. Parra's stats are historically significant. No, I don't mean that I'm classifying his 6.36 ERA and 1.83 WHIP last year as historically bad, though they certainly fit that phrase. But part of the reason the Brewers' southpaw has been unable to take the next step in his development despite some good scouting reports is the fact that his career .349 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is the highest of any major league pitcher with more than 300 career innings, since 1900, according to FanGraphs. That's not a typo. As a ground ball pitcher, his BABIP is generally going to be higher, but Parra's is historically high, and it has helped drive his numbers in the wrong direction. Even if his BABIP went back to 2008's .337 mark instead of the .365 from last year (Alcides Escobar at short for a full season might be able to facilitate that), that would at least be a start. But it certainly wouldn't solve all of Parra's problems.
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