Ever since Ben Shpigel of the New York Times wrote about David Wright's Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) in an unusual way, mainstream media members have been tripping over themselves to mention it.
Through Tuesday, Wright had hit safely on 49.7 percent of the balls he has put in play, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That is the highest percentage in baseball this season, and if Wright maintains that pace he will hold the career record, surpassing Babe Ruth’s 48.1 percentage compiled in 1923. - Shpigel
Shpigel's a good writer and he makes the right conclusion in his article: that the various oddities of Wright's statistical season will eventually all revert back to something more familiar. Still, his phrasing of Ruth's BABIP as a "record" that Wright may "surpass" gives all the wrong ideas about what the statistic means. Despite whether you think he's skinnier or Wright said he's shooting for the gaps, he's basically the same hitter he's been his whole career. His .497 BABIP (now already down to .467) is an indicator of luck and will continues to fall until it's about 70 to 100 points lower.
That's why writers and broadcasters need to stop saying things like:
The thing that Wright has been able to do this year that has made his BABIP soar, is adjust his swing so that he is producing more clean line drives as opposed to upper-cutting and hitting fly balls. -Bleacher Report
You made that up.
What that means is that Wright, for whatever reason, is hitting 'em where they ain't. It can't hold up forever -- or can it? -DiComo
No it can't.
Actually, Jerry Manuel seems to have it right:
"I don't know if that will last with the strikeouts and the balls put in play for the average to be that high," Manuel said
"I think the strikeouts will go down, and I think the power will go up," Manuel said, allowing for Wright's average to remain high even if his luck begins to fall. "That sounds crazy, but I think that's what's going to happen for him."