The 2020 Cincinnati Reds Are Statistically the Unluckiest Hitting Team in the Last 30 Seasons

The Cincinnati Reds had a bit of hype coming into the 2020 season, but have really struggled, currently sitting at 18-23 and in fourth place in the NL Central — despite great years from Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer.

The team is hitting .211 on the season, which ranks dead last in Major League Baseball. But when I saw the graph above showing the Reds' BABIP — batting average on balls in play — I was truly shocked.

BABIP is exactly what it sounds like: a team's batting average on at-bats which end in the ball being hit into play. It's a stat which has become much more popular in the sabermetrics era to try to quantify luck. I generally hate this stat for pitchers — a guy who throws 88 MPH down the middle and gets shelled will have a high BABIP, but it's because he sucks, not because he's unlucky — but it's reasonably reliable for most hitters.

The Reds' 2020 BABIP of .237 is historically low, more than 20 points below the next-lowest team in the past 30 seasons. When you put the ball in play, things generally even out over a large enough sample size, but it looks like that just might not happen for the Reds this season.

I feel bad for Reds fans. This was supposed to be their year. Maybe three out of every four balls they hit won't be outs in 2021.