Who Is Laynce Nix?

Posted by Dave Nichols | Thursday, June 02, 2011 | , , , , | 5 comments »

For my post today over at MASNSports.com, I take a look at yesterday's hero, Laynce Nix.  I've been meaning to analyze his success this season, but just hadn't gotten around to it.  After hitting a home run off Roy Oswalt and making the game-saving catch in the Nats 2-1 win, I figured now would be the perfect time.

Nix is a good story for the Nats so far.  He's far outplaying his projections and career averages.  But a look into some pretty simple advanced statistics reveals he's living on luck and an elevated HR-per-fly ball ratio.  Once his BABiP reverts to mean and that HR:FB ratio flattens out, he's going to be the same old Laynce Nix who owns a lifetime .248/.290/.437 slash line. His K/9 is way up and BB/9 is way down in relation to career norms as well, another bad harbinger.

His line drive, ground out and fly out rates are all steady with career norms, so it's really just the case of a few extra fly balls turning into home runs and balls falling in for hits.  Nats fans should enjoy his success for what it is, but have a realistic idea that as the summer wears on Nix will probably return to his career rates.  Is it possible he's enjoying a career year at age 30? Sure, but he's doing so with the benefit of some pretty extreme luck right now.

I don't write this to be a killjoy. I want the Nats to succeed and have players that are legitimately good.  But I also want Nats fans to be educated about what's going on behind the boxbar numbers so that if (when) Nix returns to earth they aren't shocked.

It's like that old conundrum: Would you rather be optimistic and disappointed or realistic and pleasantly surprised?


  1. bdrube // June 2, 2011 at 11:41 AM  

    "Would you rather be optimistic and disappointed or realistic and pleasantly surprised?"

    Actually, I'd rather see the Nats "sell high" at the trading deadline. :)

  2. Dave Nichols // June 2, 2011 at 11:53 AM  

    bd: if Nix keeps this up hopefully the Nats can find a taker. would be nice to get something of value for a player succeeding on luck.

  3. Harper // June 3, 2011 at 1:22 PM  

    Hmm his LD/GB/FB ratio suggest he hitting more like 2009. Basically going for the homers and hitting less GBs. That K/9 ratio would kind of fit in with that. I bet he evens out and hits with a lower OBP and a higher SLG than that slash line for the rest of the year. Let's hope he can bunch those homers now and get some trade attention.

  4. Dave Nichols // June 3, 2011 at 2:04 PM  

    Harper, thanks for the comment. Nix will be fascinating to watch this summer to see if he can retain this value up to the trade deadline.

  5. Stoney // June 5, 2011 at 10:08 PM  

    I've been going to games in DC since the early sixties and these guys still get no respect. Why would you want to "warn" us Nix's impending blow-up? It's like your girlfriend saying you better check my history because the chances are I'll probably sleep with your dad before the summers up. There have been a lot of players in their late 20's that "get it". Look at Bautista in Toronto. Did Nix luck into that catch against the Phillies? Don't think so. Maybe he's playing "lights-out" because he getting playing time and respect. I bet you would have probably trashed "Hondo" for being one dimensional. Let him have his day in the sun. Maybe he'll shine for awhile.