Jud Fabian hasn’t had the year many expected for the Florida Gators in what will likely be his final run with the program, but his contributions to the team couldn’t be ignored. The 20-year-old’s season-long stats stand out on the page, he hit a lofty .262/.376/.621 and clubbed 20 home runs.
His achievements were enough to catch the eye of voters during the selection of All-SEC awards. Fabian was placed on the All-SEC first team, joined by fellow outfielders Enrique Bradfield Jr. of Vanderbilt and Tanner Allen of Mississippi State. Fabian was the only Gator to crack the first or second-team roster.
Some of the more impressive college performances are hand-waved for being small sample, but his performance wasn’t driven by luck. One indication as to whether a player was more or less fortunate in any given frame of time is his batting average on balls in play. The expected figure over a representative sample of at-bats is .300.
Deviation from that mark indicates that a player may have been playing above or below his true talent level. Fabian’s batting average on balls in play during the 2021 season was .284, which suggests he completely earned his impressive slash line.
It wasn’t all sunshine for the Orange and Blue slugger during the 2021 season. He carried a strikeout rate north of 30% through most of the season and saw his national perception as a draft prospect nosedive as a result. There’s virtually no track record of success in the pros for players with that kind of swing and miss at the college level.
One high-profile example is Jeren Kendall. He was an athletically gifted power/speed prospect with center field instincts from Vanderbilt drafted by the Dodgers. If there was ever a situation to bet on an outlier, it was this. Now he’s 25 years old unable to find his footing in pro ball due in part to his astounding strikeout rate.
Nonetheless, Fabian draft-eligible is likely done with his Florida career. He’ll leave a legacy of success and a highlight reel of impressive catches and electrifying at-bats. His stock as a first-year pro player will be questionable, but for now, he’s one of the brightest stars of the SEC and he deserves every bit of it.
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