A post DIPS world
Tango Tiger links to a study detailing how Barry Zito keeps his batting average against so darn low. He's doing his best work vs righthanders. It makes sense. All the years of watching Barry from the other side, when he's on his game it always seems to me that lefty hitting Garret Anderson is most likely to come through for the good guys.
I've got Barry at a .271 BABIP for 2007, well below average. One clear example of how big a difference CHONE sees in pitcher's ability in this regard is Johan Santana vs Ben Sheets. Prorating the injury prone Sheets to match Johan's 212 innings, they match up pretty well in the defense independent categories:
walks: 37, 42
whiffs: 228, 232
homers: 22, 23
But in hits its Sheets, 190, Santana 159, pretty much the difference 50 points in ERA. BABIP: .303 to .262. Some of that is a Minnesota defense expected to be much better than last year and well above average, Punto and Bartlett did a much better job than Castro and Batista. Some of that is the pitcher's own performance in terms of hits allowed, and some is due to their batted ball data.
Batted ball data helps me keep more of the signal through the noise. Without it I'd have to regress more to the mean, and my projections would have a smaller spread in BABIP.
Pitch by pitch data may be able to take us further by giving information about quality of strikes, a pitcher's ability to keep out of the middle of the plate. Smarter people than me are working on it.