Archive for November 15th, 2012

Would people like RBI better if they worked like this?

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Stats people and sabrmetric followers have a long history of not really like the RBI stat. Most people probably realize now that getting big numbers in RBIs has as much to do with being in the right spot in the batting order, and getting lots of opportunities with runners on base as it has to do with any particular skill at hitting. At least that’s how the theory goes. But what if we really wanted to know which players are best at driving in runs? You could look at splits like OPS with runners in scoring position, but OPS doesn’t consider a sacrifice fly to be a positive contribution, even though there are most likely some cases where batters step to the plate trying to hit a long fly ball, that will at worst be a sacrifice fly. I like the idea of trying to measure how successful the batter is at the thing the batter is trying to do, and I think driving in runs is one of those things a batter is trying to do more often than not. OBP measures what batters are trying to do some of the time. Slugging percentage usually doesn’t, or more batters would be trying to stretch hits into doubles and triples.
So how can we measure how well batters drive in runs after we already know some batters get a lot more opportunities than others? It’s not that big a mystery – measure the success against the opportunities. For example, Buster Posey had 20 plate appearances with no outs and a runner on third. The runner on third scored as a result of 16 of those plate appearances. That’s the most in both those categories. Obviously he never would have driven in 16 runners from 3rd base if he hadn’t had 20 opportunities, but how often does a runner on third score league wide? 53.9% of the time. There were 2709 plate appearances in 2012 with a runner on 3rd and no outs, and the runner on 3rd scored on 1459 times. So if average batters had been in those positions 20 times, instead of Buster Posey, only 10.78 runs would have been driven in from 3rd. So Posey was 48% better at driving in runners from third than the league average.
Using that same method, we can put an expected RBI value on each runner on base for every plate appearance for every batter. Add up the RBIs, add up the expected RBIs and divide actual by expected to see which batters are the best at driving in runs. (Ignoring the scoring decisions where the runner scored with no rbi awarded, because that just confuses things)
Here are the weights for each runner, based on what actually happened in 2012:

Outs Batter Runner on 1st Runner on 2nd Runner on 3rd
0 0.029 0.050 0.133 0.539
1 0.026 0.048 0.147 0.484
2 0.026 0.052 0.170 0.221

As you can see, batters scored on about 3% of plate appearance regardless of how many outs there were in the inning, and the number of outs don’t matter much to how often runners on 1st score. But runners on 2nd base have a slight advantage with 2 outs, and runners on 3rd obviously score less often with 2 outs because the sacrifice is no longer an option.  To get the expected RBI for each plate appearance, just got to the right number of outs, and add up the value in the chart based on what bases have runners.  Batting with 1 out and none on base gives a value of .026.  Batting with no outs and runners on 1st and 3rd gives an expected RBI value of .618.  If we add those all up for a player’s entire season, we can see who had the most opportunities to drive in runs.

You probably won’t be shocked to hear that Miguel Cabrera finished first in expected RBI in the American League – the situations he batted in this year add up to 88.38 from the base runner values above.  Basically, if an average batter hit in all the situations Cabrera hit in this year, the average batter would have driven in about 88 runs.  But Cabrera drove in 139 runs, so he was about 57% better at driving in runs.  His RBI/eRBI is 1.572.

On the other hand, Hunter Pence finished first in expected RBI in the nation league, with 94.1.  Pence batted with 541 runners on base during his plate appearances, and 281 of them were in scoring position.  Cabrera only had 248 runners in scoring position when he batted.  And the results for Pence were only 105 actual RBI.  His RBI/eRBI is 1.116, telling us he’s only 11.6% better than average for driving in runs.  But he’s still above average.  Pence’s world series teammate and playoff hero Marco Scutaro wasn’t quite so effective in the regular season.  His plate appearances add up to 80.5 expected RBI, but he only drove in 74 runs.  That puts his RBI/eRBI at only 0.920.  But he made up for it in the postseason.

RBI/eRBI is kind of a weird thing to write – and since I already have home-made stats named Bacon, SPAM, HAM, and PORK, it’s only logical that this stat be name Spare Rib to fit into the suite of sabermeatrics.

Anyway, here’s this 2012 Spare Rib leaders for players with over 500 plate appearances:

Batter Actual RBI Expected RBI Spare Rib
Josh Hamilton 128 79.246 1.615
Edwin Encarnacion 110 69.16 1.591
Miguel Cabrera 139 88.385 1.573
Garrett Jones 86 58.042 1.482
Ryan Braun 112 75.817 1.477
Alfonso Soriano 108 73.623 1.467
Chris Davis 85 58.368 1.456
Giancarlo Stanton 86 59.86 1.437
Mark Trumbo 95 67.5 1.407
Allen Craig 91 64.852 1.403
Curtis Granderson 106 77.257 1.372
Mike Trout 83 61.122 1.358
Yoennis Cespedes 82 60.409 1.357
Adrian Gonzalez 108 80.093 1.348
Prince Fielder 108 80.531 1.341
Chase Headley 115 85.829 1.34
Adam Dunn 96 71.821 1.337
Aramis Ramirez 105 78.732 1.334
Billy Butler 107 80.565 1.328
Miguel Montero 88 66.551 1.322
Andrew McCutchen 96 73.317 1.309
Torii Hunter 92 70.426 1.306
Matt Wieters 83 64.251 1.292
A.J. Pierzynski 77 59.683 1.29
Cody Ross 81 62.833 1.289
Dayan Viciedo 78 60.8 1.283
Jason Kubel 90 70.269 1.281
Adrian Beltre 103 81.057 1.271
Yadier Molina 76 60.128 1.264
Josh Willingham 110 87.182 1.262
Alex Rios 91 72.16 1.261
Albert Pujols 104 82.937 1.254
Ryan Zimmerman 95 75.888 1.252
Ike Davis 90 72.038 1.249
Carlos Beltran 97 77.675 1.249
Ian Desmond 73 58.537 1.247
Kendry Morales 73 58.78 1.242
Pedro Alvarez 85 68.849 1.235
Adam LaRoche 100 81.282 1.23
Andre Ethier 89 72.722 1.224
Chris Johnson 76 62.111 1.224
Nelson Cruz 90 73.625 1.222
David Wright 93 76.335 1.218
Matt Holliday 102 83.995 1.214
Buster Posey 103 85.041 1.211
Kyle Seager 86 71.294 1.206
Jay Bruce 99 82.123 1.206
Nick Swisher 93 77.231 1.204
Kevin Youkilis 60 50.034 1.199
Adam Jones 82 68.461 1.198
Corey Hart 83 69.645 1.192
Mark Reynolds 69 58.989 1.17
Carlos Gonzalez 85 72.715 1.169
Aaron Hill 85 72.874 1.166
Paul Goldschmidt 82 70.688 1.16
Mark Teixeira 84 72.887 1.152
Neil Walker 69 59.902 1.152
Colby Rasmus 75 65.386 1.147
Frederick Freeman 93 81.712 1.138
Robinson Cano 93 81.858 1.136
Jason Heyward 82 72.658 1.129
B.J. Upton 78 69.316 1.125
Jimmy Rollins 68 60.597 1.122
David Freese 79 70.492 1.121
David Murphy 61 54.522 1.119
Paul Konerko 75 67.155 1.117
Hunter Pence 105 94.099 1.116
Coco Crisp 46 41.692 1.103
Mike Moustakas 73 66.18 1.103
Hanley Ramirez 91 82.563 1.102
Ben Zobrist 74 67.306 1.099
Josh Reddick 85 78.802 1.079
Mike Aviles 60 56.568 1.061
Michael Saunders 57 53.931 1.057
Dan Uggla 79 75.047 1.053
Alexei Ramirez 73 69.646 1.048
Ryan Doumit 75 72.213 1.039
Austin Jackson 66 64.214 1.028
Brandon Phillips 77 74.931 1.028
Joe Mauer 85 82.774 1.027
Delmon Young 74 72.594 1.019
Martin Prado 72 70.816 1.017
Howie Kendrick 67 65.913 1.016
Melky Cabrera 60 59.215 1.013
Bryce Harper 59 58.454 1.009
Gordon Beckham 60 59.78 1.004
Starlin Castro 78 77.791 1.003
Brett Lawrie 48 47.925 1.002
Jason Kipnis 77 77.006 1
Dexter Fowler 53 53.327 0.994
Justin Morneau 77 77.818 0.989
Carlos Santana 76 76.835 0.989
Dustin Pedroia 65 65.971 0.985
Asdrubal Cabrera 66 67.064 0.984
Carlos Lee 77 79.143 0.973
Alberto Callaspo 53 54.493 0.973
Dan Murphy 65 66.874 0.972
Ian Kinsler 72 74.416 0.968
Jhonny Peralta 63 65.334 0.964
J.J. Hardy 68 70.579 0.963
Brennan Boesch 54 56.135 0.962
Kelly Johnson 55 58.356 0.942
Alejandro De Aza 50 53.206 0.94
Jordan Pacheco 54 57.767 0.935
Shin-Soo Choo 67 71.905 0.932
Jesus Montero 62 66.984 0.926
Justin Upton 67 72.44 0.925
Eric Hosmer 61 66.001 0.924
Carlos Pena 61 66.299 0.92
Marco Scutaro 74 80.46 0.92
Alex Gordon 72 78.988 0.912
Casey Kotchman 55 60.498 0.909
A.J. Ellis 52 58.018 0.896
Drew Stubbs 40 44.925 0.89
Michael Young 67 75.903 0.883
Alex Rodriguez 57 64.64 0.882
Justin Smoak 51 57.89 0.881
David DeJesus 50 56.999 0.877
Omar Infante 53 60.518 0.876
Michael Bourn 57 65.847 0.866
Norichika Aoki 50 58.624 0.853
Yonder Alonso 62 72.926 0.85
Desmond Jennings 47 55.983 0.84
Danny Espinosa 56 67.105 0.835
Michael Brantley 60 72.563 0.827
Elvis Andrus 62 75.18 0.825
Derek Jeter 58 70.73 0.82
Rafael Furcal 48 58.907 0.815
Angel Pagan 56 69.607 0.805
Ichiro Suzuki 55 68.397 0.804
Jose Reyes 57 70.958 0.803
Jeff Francoeur 49 61.4 0.798
Denard Span 41 51.44 0.797
Rickie Weeks 63 79.094 0.797
Yunel Escobar 51 64.601 0.789
Jon Jay 40 51.324 0.779
Shane Victorino 55 70.878 0.776
Dustin Ackley 50 64.597 0.774
Darwin Barney 44 58.258 0.755
Erick Aybar 45 60.046 0.749
Alcides Escobar 52 72.829 0.714
Jose Altuve 37 52.522 0.704
Zack Cozart 35 49.957 0.701
Cameron Maybin 45 64.896 0.693
Jamey Carroll 40 60.084 0.666
Ben Revere 32 55.833 0.573
Ruben Tejada 25 45.109 0.554
Jemile Weeks 20 47.026 0.425

You can see right in the middle there, it turns out Jason Kipnis is that average batter I was talking about above. The runners on base when he batted scored at pretty much exactly the same rate as the major league average.

It turns out managers are pretty good at getting their players who are best at driving in runs into the middle of the order – here’s what the Spare Rib totals look like by batting order position:
4th – 1.154
3rd – 1.138
5th – 1.114
6th – 1.002
7th – 0.969
2nd – 0.931
8th – 0.837
1st – 0.831
9th – 0.652

The most plunked batters born on November 15th

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

27 hbp – Gus Bell, born 11/15/1928, 1100th all time, played from 1950 to 1964
13 hbp – Mickey Livingston, born 11/15/1914, 2061st all time, played from 1938 to 1951
8 hbp – Maurice Van Robays, born 11/15/1914, 2804th all time, played from 1939 to 1946
6 hbp – Jim Long, born 11/15/1862, 3239th all time, played from 1891 to 1893
5 hbp – Bill Burgo, born 11/15/1919, 3521st all time, played from 1943 to 1944