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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Brian Kenny: The Triple Crown is nonsense

Why, this is the most outrageous thing from a Kenny since…since…since Kenny!

gt

Let’s go through the rest of the big three. The weakness of RBIs are obvious. It is very much a team-dependent stat. Certainly driving in runs is important, but it is very much a result of the number of times your teammates get on base.

Home runs are important to tabulate. But what about doubles? Or triples? Don’t those count? Adam Dunn has more home runs this year than Robinson Cano, Andrew McCutchen, Mike Trout, Chase Headley, and Prince Fielder. To borrow Thorn’s methodology, do you want to tell me you’d take Dunn over any of those five? Not a chance. So let’s not blindly follow any of these stats, let alone all three thrown together.

Now that, hopefully, we see the Triple Crown to be the antiquated throwback that it is, we can also admit that anyone winning it has had a monstrous offensive season. So the real question is: Who’s having the better season, Cabrera or Trout, the Angels’ rookie outfielder?

...By things we can easily measure, Trout is about dead even with Cabrera in total bases while hitting and running at a higher level, doing so in 58 fewer plate appearances, and making 21 fewer outs via double plays alone. He is also 30 runs better defensively. It’s just not close.

Look, if Miguel Cabrera wins the Triple Crown this year, he deserves to be put alongside Carl Yastrzemski, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig. It just doesn’t mean, on its own, that he was the best player in the American League. He’s not. Mike Trout is.

Good analysis asks the question, then answers it based on evidence. Lazy analysis has a conclusion, then looks for anything to back it up. When you ask, “Who is the best player in the American League?” the answer this year, even with the possibility of a Triple Crown, is inescapable.

Repoz Posted: September 23, 2012 at 06:09 PM | 57 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics

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   1. MikeinMI Posted: September 23, 2012 at 07:09 PM (#4243818)
The weakness of RBIs are obvious. It is very much a team-dependent stat. Certainly driving in runs is important, but it is very much a result of the number of times your teammates get on base.


Aren't GIDP's also dependent on the same thing? Not to say that Trout would have hit into as many or that it changes anyones mind on the MVP but let's be fair.
   2.   Posted: September 23, 2012 at 07:14 PM (#4243821)
To me the triple crown is AVG/OBP/SLG. I think that would get everyone's attention.
   3. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: September 23, 2012 at 07:25 PM (#4243828)
But why even including AVG when you're already using OBP and SLG?
   4.   Posted: September 23, 2012 at 07:30 PM (#4243830)
But why even including AVG when you're already using OBP and SLG?


Gotta throw a bone to the writers. It's a compromise.
   5. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 23, 2012 at 07:37 PM (#4243831)
GIDP's also dependent on the same thing? Not to say that Trout would have hit into as many or that it changes anyones mind on the MVP but let's be fair.


sure, but their GIDP stats are stunningly different, Cabrera is 3x Trout, thats not opportunities, thats mostly faster footspeed.

and this is an excellent article, he added in the extra bases Trout takes. And despite that, the author still under-emphasizes Trout's advantage, if he added up all the extra outs Cabrera made to accumulate basically the same number of bases it gets even clearer.

Without even having to point out Cabreras apparently more favorable park, or even touching on defense.
   6. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: September 23, 2012 at 07:43 PM (#4243834)
In the competition for the Triple Crown, Trout has superior speed, but Cabrera is better built to handle the crowding and jostling in the turns.
   7. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 23, 2012 at 07:43 PM (#4243835)
To me the triple crown is AVG/OBP/SLG. I think that would get everyone's attention.

how bout AVG/OBP/SLG/HR/RBI quintuple crowns?

Yaz 67--yes
Robinson 66--yes
Mantle 56 (lost OBP to Williams)
Williams 47 and 42--yes
Ducky 37--(3rd in OBP to Camilli(?!) and Mize)
Gehrig 34--yes
Klein 34--yes
Foxx 34--(lost OBP to Cochrane)
Hornsby 25 and 22--yes
Cobb 09--yes
Lajoie 01--yes

Cabrera this year--3rd in OBP to Mauer and Fielder

(well played, Mauer)
   8. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 23, 2012 at 07:44 PM (#4243836)
sure, but their GIDP stats are stunningly different, Cabrera is 3x Trout, thats not opportunities, thats mostly faster footspeed.

Uh, it's at least partly opportunities. Cabrera has 138 PA with a runner on first and less than 2 outs, Trout has 78. So Cabrera's GDP% in those situations is still a lot higher, but it's about 20% to 9%, which is not nearly as large as the raw 28-7 difference.
   9. SOLockwood Posted: September 23, 2012 at 08:18 PM (#4243846)
The unsung stat in this exercise is Runs Scored. Both Runs Scored and Runs Batted In are equally important. Yes, they are both team dependent, but they are also the primary objective of the offense. So my version of the Quadruple Crown would be Avg/R/HR/RBI.

Quadruple Crown Winners

1901 Lajoie - yes
1909 Cobb - yes
1922 Hornsby - yes
1925 Hornsby - no (Cuyler)
1933 Foxx - no (Gehrig)
1933 Klein - no (Martin)
1934 Gehrig - no (Gehringer)
1937 Medwick - yes
1942 Williams - yes
1947 Williams - yes
1956 Mantle - yes
1966 Robinson - yes
1967 Yaz - yes

Trout leads Cabrea in R 121-104
   10. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 23, 2012 at 08:43 PM (#4243850)
Without even having to point out Cabreras apparently more favorable park


That's actually a part of this debate that I've been having a hard time wrapping my head around. When did the Big A turn into Petco? When did Comerica stop being death to right-handed batters? OK, in reality, I'm aware that they made some pretty dramatic changes in Detroit in 2005 and I need to stop thinking that it's still a pitchers' park. But what the hell happened in Anaheim the last three years?
   11. Booey Posted: September 23, 2012 at 08:58 PM (#4243856)
To me the triple crown is AVG/OBP/SLG. I think that would get everyone's attention.


Not as rare though. Since Yaz's Triple Crown, we've seen players lead in all 3 of the above categories 7 times: Lynn in 1979, Brett in 1980, Walker in 1999, Helton in 2000, Bonds in 2002 and 2004, and Mauer in 2009.

Still a cool feat, though.
   12. Booey Posted: September 23, 2012 at 09:02 PM (#4243861)
That's actually a part of this debate that I've been having a hard time wrapping my head around. When did the Big A turn into Petco? When did Comerica stop being death to right-handed batters? OK, in reality, I'm aware that they made some pretty dramatic changes in Detroit in 2005 and I need to stop thinking that it's still a pitchers' park. But what the hell happened in Anaheim the last three years?


I've wondered about this too. Cabrera's OPS is over 60 points higher than Trout's, but OPS+ shows them as being essentially equal. Seems a bit extreme.
   13. Kiko Sakata Posted: September 23, 2012 at 09:06 PM (#4243863)
Cabrera's OPS is over 60 points higher than Trout's, but OPS+ shows them as being essentially equal. Seems a bit extreme.


This is generally a terrible way of doing this kind of analysis, so take it for what it's worth, but Trout's road OPS is .906 vs. Cabrera's road OPS of .895.
   14. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: September 23, 2012 at 09:51 PM (#4243882)
[9] And in standard fantasy Baseball stolen bases are also counted. Has anyone lead those 4 categories and stolen bases?
   15. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 23, 2012 at 10:12 PM (#4243892)
So let’s not blindly follow any of these stats, let alone all three thrown together.

We all know the limitations/worthlessness(?) of AVG and RBI, but I disagree with the "let alone" of this sentence. We shouldn't blindly follow any of these stats, but when you throw them all together, I think they're more meaningful. I would rather blindly follow the three together than blindly follow any single one of them.

It's not easy to be a high average hitter and hit a lot of home runs, and vice versa. The people who can do this are almost always considered superstars (or Rockies). It is quite a bit easier and less valuable to hit for a high average with no power (Hal Morris) or to hit home runs with a low average (Dave Kingman). Those guys are not so special. We have other stats that better reveal a player's value, but AVG and HR do a pretty good job of measuring a player's abilities in particular areas -- "hitting" (as originally envisioned in the rules of baseball) and power. And RBI sort of gives you "context," though 90% of the time RBI is linked to HR so it's kind of a tag-along in the Triple Crown.

A more interesting Triple+ Crown would be to treat it like the decathlon and measure distinct skills: Maybe AVG (hitting), HR (power), SB (speed), and BB (batting eye), and you could throw some combination of R/RBI in there to measure works-with-teammates-ness.
   16. bobm Posted: September 23, 2012 at 10:12 PM (#4243893)
The weakness of RBIs are obvious. It is very much a team-dependent stat. Certainly driving in runs is important, but it is very much a result of the number of times your teammates get on base.


2012 YTD RBI Percentage for MLB RBI leaders [100*(RBI-HR)/Runners On]

           Player Runners On RBI HR RBI Pct.
   Miguel Cabrera 424        131 42 20.99
    Josh Hamilton 357        123 42 22.69 SAMPLE MAX
  Josh Willingham 450        110 35 16.67
    Chase Headley 407        108 29 19.41
       Ryan Braun 377        107 40 17.77
  Alfonso Soriano 376        104 30 19.68
Edwin Encarnacion 357        103 40 17.65
  Adrian Gonzalez 417        102 16 20.62
   Prince Fielder 431        102 27 17.4
     Billy Butler 387        100 27 18.86
    Albert Pujols 379         99 30 18.21
    Matt Holliday 434         98 27 16.36
     Adam LaRoche 406         98 32 16.26
   Aramis Ramirez 391         97 25 18.41
     Buster Posey 402         97 23 18.41
        Jay Bruce 398         97 34 15.83
     Hunter Pence 479         96 21 15.66
    Adrian Beltre 381         95 34 16.01
Curtis Granderson 381         94 39 14.44 SAMPLE MIN
 Andrew McCutchen 351         92 30 17.66
  Freddie Freeman 406         91 21 17.24
   Hanley Ramirez 403         90 24 16.38
   Carlos Beltran 396         90 30 15.15
        Adam Dunn 350         90 39 14.57
   Ryan Zimmerman 369         89 23 17.89
      Mark Trumbo 339         89 31 17.11


Source: Baseball Musings Day By Day Database, RBI Percentage


   17. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: September 23, 2012 at 10:32 PM (#4243899)
I get hours of entertainment from watching Brian Kenny resist the urge to be an out-and-out smug ####### to the Bill Ripkens and Harold Reynoldses of MLB Tonight when they're spouting off some of the cliches about the game you've come to expect from those who think stats are for virgins with pocket protectors and taped glasses.
   18. PreservedFish Posted: September 23, 2012 at 10:35 PM (#4243901)
When I was a little kid I never understood why RBI were prioritized over Runs. It seemed to me that scoring runs was the whole point of the game and that the league leaders ought to have received more press. I still don't really get it.

Why isn't Runs Scored one of the signature statistics? Why did Rickey Henderson get 10 times as many kudos for breaking the stolen bases record as he did the runs record?
   19. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 23, 2012 at 10:41 PM (#4243903)
[9] And in standard fantasy Baseball stolen bases are also counted. Has anyone lead those 4 categories and stolen bases?

Cobb in 09, of course--no one else was even close. I wonder which player had the most black ink in one year, even including meaningless categories. Cobb in 09 led in R/H/HR/RBI/BA/OBP/SLG/OPS/OPS+ (not invented yet)/TB

that's 10 (well, 9 really)
   20. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: September 23, 2012 at 10:42 PM (#4243904)
When I was a little kid I never understood why RBI were prioritized over Runs. It seemed to me that scoring runs was the whole point of the game and that the league leaders ought to have received more press. I still don't really get it.

It's probably because the guy who drives in the run is the most temporally related to the run actually getting scored.
   21. bobm Posted: September 23, 2012 at 10:50 PM (#4243908)
              Player Runners On RBI HR RBI Pct. 
Michael Trout 284                78 28 17.61
   22. Howie Menckel Posted: September 23, 2012 at 10:57 PM (#4243911)

wondered about Trout - so Cabrera's rate is better. I guess RBI also are a function of how often you drive people in.

and iirc, Runs were bigger than RBI in the 1800s as a stat....

   23. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 23, 2012 at 10:58 PM (#4243912)
When I was a little kid I never understood why RBI were prioritized over Runs

the only reason a guy scores a lot of runs is that he gets on base a lot.. (oh, wait a minute...)
   24. Dale Sams Posted: September 23, 2012 at 11:01 PM (#4243913)
So let’s not blindly follow any of these stats, let alone all three thrown together.



uhhhh...The logic here is not so sound.
   25. JJ1986 Posted: September 23, 2012 at 11:02 PM (#4243914)
Are intentional walks taken out of that?
   26. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 23, 2012 at 11:13 PM (#4243917)
to correct #19--Cobb also led in SB, so that's 11 (10)
   27. The importance of being Ernest Riles Posted: September 23, 2012 at 11:33 PM (#4243923)
stats are for virgins with pocket protectors and taped glasses

Yeah, I got my glasses fixed long ago.
   28. Jim Wisinski Posted: September 23, 2012 at 11:42 PM (#4243926)

Yeah, I got my glasses fixed long ago.


It's amazing how much money you have for stuff when you aren't spending it on women.
   29. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: September 23, 2012 at 11:45 PM (#4243927)
RBI are in a sense a measure of clutchiness. Since all RBI aren't equally clutch, shouldn't we consider that Trout's WPA is 5.48 with an essentially 0 Clutch number while Cabrera has a WPA of 4.44 with a -1.5 Clutch number. Clutch isn't just about driving in runners on base. You can be clutch by getting a leadoff walk in the 9th inning of a tie game, and then again by stealing 2B. As a guy whose value is a lot higher with runners on base, it's actually easier to neutralize Cabrera in the clutch by intentionally walking him. You can't really intentionally walk Trout leading off the 9th inning.
   30. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: September 23, 2012 at 11:53 PM (#4243933)
Is clutchiness a colloquial term for leverage? So we can use Leverage Index to assess these situations?

I know at least one infrequent poster here who claims that there is no such thing as clutchiness, either you're a good hitter or you're not.
   31. bobm Posted: September 24, 2012 at 12:06 AM (#4243938)
Just for fun...

             Player Runners On  RBI HR RBI Pct. 
        Nelson Cruz 368          85 22 17.12 
...
       Nick Swisher 373          83 21 16.62 
          Ike Davis 366          83 28 15.03 
       Matt Wieters 330          82 22 18.18
 
       David Wright 398          82 18 16.08 
...
      Mark Teixeira 368          81 23 15.76 
...
          Joe Mauer 383          79 10 18.02 
         Adam Jones 355          79 31 13.52 
      Jason Heyward 391          79 27 13.3 
       Josh Reddick 395          79 29 12.66 
      Robinson Cano 441          79 30 11.11 
...
   Brandon Phillips 381          76 18 15.22 
...
    Yoenis Cespedes 294          75 20 18.71 
...
         J.J. Hardy 354          66 21 12.71 
...
     Dustin Pedroia 322          63 15 14.91 
...
       Justin Upton 360          62 15 13.06 

      Chipper Jones 310          61 14 15.16 
       Rickie Weeks 374          61 20 10.96 
 
          Matt Kemp 242          60 19 16.94 
        David Ortiz 220          60 23 16.82 
...
     Alex Rodriguez 319          56 18 11.91 

        Ryan Howard 202          55 14 20.3 
...
       Bryce Harper 305          52 19 10.82 
...
     Russell Martin 278          48 18 10.79 

      Evan Longoria 167          47 13 20.36 
...
        Mike Napoli 261          45 19  9.96 
...
     Jeff Francoeur 323          41 13  8.67 
...
Yuniesky Betancourt 152          36  7 19.08 
...
     Zachary Cozart 238          34 15  7.98 
...
    Jacoby Ellsbury 166          26  4 13.25 
       Jayson Werth 159          26  5 13.21 
...
         Josh Thole 207          21  1  9.66 
...
          Jason Bay 129          20  8  9.3 
       Jemile Weeks 245          20  2  7.35 
   32. shoewizard Posted: September 24, 2012 at 04:06 AM (#4243960)
1992 is somewhat similar to this year.

If Gary Sheffield had 2 more homers and 9 more RBI he would have won the triple crown.

(In 67 Yaz tied Killebrew with 44 HR, and they gave him the Triple Crown.....Sheffield was 2 HR behind McGriff 9 RBI behind Daulton).

In 92 they gave the right guy the MVP, but if Sheffield didn't break his hand and miss the last 6 games of the year, (and if Gwynn didn't miss the entire last month), then Sheffield would have had a great chance to finish off the Triple Crown.

I wonder if the 92 voters would have given the MVP to the obviously better all around player, despite the rarity of the Triple Crown.

   33. vivaelpujols Posted: September 24, 2012 at 04:28 AM (#4243963)
Ryan Howard's RBI percentage is crazy.
   34. Mom makes botox doctors furious Posted: September 24, 2012 at 05:16 AM (#4243966)
"to correct #19--Cobb also led in SB, so that's 11 (10)"


Stan Musial's 1948 is a king as well, at 11. One homer short of the Triple Crown.. fortunately no doubt as to who was MVP that year.....
   35. bjhanke Posted: September 24, 2012 at 08:09 AM (#4243999)
You can count Musial's 1948 as 11 1/2 if you want. Stan finished the season one short of tying for the homer crown. But he had hit a homer in a game that ended up in a tie, and the stats got thrown out. - Brock Hanke (never wanting to miss a chance to praise Stan Musial, my childhood idol)
   36. bunyon Posted: September 24, 2012 at 08:30 AM (#4244001)
I think if I could start from scratch, my triple crown would be:

OBP/SLG/(R+RBI)

Yes, R and RBI are "team-dependent". Except that to do either, you have to do something. You have to get on base, you have to put the ball in play, etc. They aren't perfect, and are not good predictors, but as a record of what happened, they're important.

Moreover, this formulation gives bonus credit to those driving themselves in.


As it is, I think the usual crew is reacting predictably to a possible triple crown. No, triple crowns, cycles, and no-hitters aren't much more than statistical flukes but they're a part of the fabric of the game and they're, what's the word? oh, right, fun. It's interesting.

Get all bent out of shape about the MVP if you like, insist that we all bow down to the great fish in Los Angeles (who is, undoubtedly, using whatever measure from 85 year old wrinkly eye to the most modern of stats, the best player this year), but lighten up. Triple crowns are cool.
   37. vivaelpujols Posted: September 24, 2012 at 08:45 AM (#4244002)
OBP/SLG/(R+RBI)


The would be better than the current one, but you'd still have the problem of the events being correlated to eachother. Runs are heavily dependent on OBP and RBI's are heavily dependent on SLG. I would change R/RBI's to stolen bases minus caught stealings, because that's the only significant batter skill/value that isn't already accounted for in OBP and SLG.

In that case Trout would be the only one even close as he's first in SB-CS, 4th in OBP and 4th in SLG.
   38. GuyMcGuffin Posted: September 24, 2012 at 10:33 AM (#4244048)
What about OPSBIs?
   39. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 24, 2012 at 10:37 AM (#4244054)
As it is, I think the usual crew is reacting predictably to a possible triple crown. No, triple crowns, cycles, and no-hitters aren't much more than statistical flukes but they're a part of the fabric of the game and they're, what's the word? oh, right, fun. It's interesting.

Get all bent out of shape about the MVP if you like, insist that we all bow down to the great fish in Los Angeles (who is, undoubtedly, using whatever measure from 85 year old wrinkly eye to the most modern of stats, the best player this year), but lighten up. Triple crowns are cool.


Beat me to it. Well put.
   40. SoSH U at work Posted: September 24, 2012 at 10:41 AM (#4244058)
You can count Musial's 1948 as 11 1/2 if you want. Stan finished the season one short of tying for the homer crown. But he had hit a homer in a game that ended up in a tie, and the stats got thrown out. - Brock Hanke (never wanting to miss a chance to praise Stan Musial, my childhood idol)


Do you mean a rainout that failed to go 5? Musial didn't homer in the Cards' lone tie in 1948, and the stats in ties count anyway.

   41. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 10:54 AM (#4244064)
Slightly different categories, but, in 1946 Stan led the league in 12 categories

G/PA/AB/R/H/2B/3B/BA/Slg/OPS/OPS+/TB

   42. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 10:56 AM (#4244065)
Tip O'Neill's 1887 is always fun to look at also. Led in 12 categories, only person to lead his league in 2B/3B/HR in the same year.
   43. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:16 PM (#4244215)
Tip O'Neill's 1887 is always fun to look at also. Led in 12 categories, only person to lead his league in 2B/3B/HR in the same year.

Oddly, Jim Rice led the league in triples and home runs in 1978 but wasn't even close to the league lead in doubles (20 behind). In 1977 he led in home runs and was second in triples (just one behind Carew), and again was nowhere near the lead in doubles (25 behind).

Normally, doubles correlate much more strongly with HR than triples do. And beyond those two years with 15, Rice never hit more than 8 in a season. Was there a trampoline on the wall at Fenway in 1977-78? How did he get all those triples?
   44. BDC Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:03 PM (#4244283)
How did he get all those triples?

Rice's triples in 1977-78 came equally home and away, most of them to the opposite field, as one might predict. I don't see any overwhelming pattern, but it's fun to note that he hit five triples in one week in July 1978, including three in three games over two days (those three coming in the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium, where there was some room for the baseball to roll around.
   45. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:10 PM (#4244292)
How did he get all those triples?

There was a point in baseball history when power hitters, rather than pose in narcissistic admiration, actually busted their ass down the basepaths on a ball well-struck. (One who didn't was Reggie Jackson, and his triples numbers show it. Stealing mid-20s bases with routine years of 3 and 4 triples is an embarrassment. There's probably a "dog" quotient to be had somewhere in there.)
   46. Davo Dozier Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:11 PM (#4244294)
So, a question:

Is this the latest in a season since 1967 that a player has led the league in all 3 triple crown categories?
   47. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:15 PM (#4244302)
There was a point in baseball history when power hitters, rather than pose in narcissistic admiration, actually busted their ass down the basepaths on a ball well-struck.

There were also a lot of asymmetric ballparks back in the day with a really deep areas. e.g. Sportsman's Park, 422' to dead center, Polo Grounds, 440'+ to CF, RCF and LCF, Shibe Park 509' to CF.
   48. SoSH U at work Posted: September 24, 2012 at 02:38 PM (#4244339)

There were also a lot of asymmetric ballparks back in the day with a really deep areas. e.g. Sportsman's Park, 422' to dead center, Polo Grounds, 440'+ to CF, RCF and LCF, Shibe Park 509' to CF.


Jim Ed, sadly, had no triples in any of those.

Rice in the late 70s was a) a better hitter, and b) a faster runner. And while he never scaled those triple heights again, he was banging out 7 as late as six years later.* Those two factors, plus more than a smattering of fluke, would be the chief reasons for that triples productivity in 77-78.

* Overall, he was a better all-around player than those who reduce him to "the fear" give him credit for.
   49. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 03:05 PM (#4244384)
Is this the latest in a season since 1967 that a player has led the league in all 3 triple crown categories?

I KNOW there's a web site that has this info, and I thought I had it bookmarked, but for the life of me I can't find it
   50. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: September 24, 2012 at 03:10 PM (#4244393)
The decline in American League triples from 538 in 1978 to what will be well under 400, when doubles have gone up from 3325 to ca. 3650, is a definitive marker of cultural decline, and I say that only half-jokingly.

Guys are routintely coasting into second or settling for doubles on innumerable hits that should be triples.
   51. Walt Davis Posted: September 24, 2012 at 09:25 PM (#4244700)
Alfonso Soriano 376 104 30 19.68

MVP! MVP!

Adrian Gonzalez 417 102 16 20.62

The clutch god!
   52. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 24, 2012 at 10:37 PM (#4244743)
Rice in the late 70s was a) a better hitter, and b) a faster runner. And while he never scaled those triple heights again, he was banging out 7 as late as six years later.* Those two factors, plus more than a smattering of fluke, would be the chief reasons for that triples productivity in 77-78.

Here's another way of posing my question: It seems that in the '70s, Jim Rice was quite a good triples hitter, in addition to being a very good home run hitter. He was NOT, however, a particularly notable doubles hitter for most of his career. (He had 39 a couple of times, but more often was in the mid-20s.) For people who got to watch him play regularly, what's the explanation for that?

I suppose Fenway turned a lot of his otherwise-doubles into Green Monster singles. But if the explanation about him hustling and not "settling" for doubles was true, wouldn't he be also stretching more singles into doubles? Or did he get thrown out at second a bunch of times?
   53. bjhanke Posted: September 25, 2012 at 04:56 AM (#4244879)
Fish asks, "When I was a little kid I never understood why RBI were prioritized over Runs. It seemed to me that scoring runs was the whole point of the game and that the league leaders ought to have received more press. I still don't really get it.

Why isn't Runs Scored one of the signature statistics? Why did Rickey Henderson get 10 times as many kudos for breaking the stolen bases record as he did the runs record?"

I think the main reason is that fans cheer when the run actually scores. Except for homers, that happens when the RBI happens, not when the runner first gets on base. If my memory is right, Henry Chadwick, when first making up stats for baseball in the mid-1800s, listed hitters not by batting average or RBI (an unknown stat at the time, I think), but by runs scored. I do think that it was the fan reaction that changed that.

SOSH may be right about Musial in 1948 - it may have been a rainout, not a tie. I know that Musial hit the phantom homer, but I was, technically, zero years of age at the time (I was born in November of 1947), so it's not as if I remember it.

My guess about Rice's triples is that he got some in Fenway because he hit the ball so hard that, when it did bounce off of the Monster, it came back further and faster than outfielders were used to. I'm not a Rice fan, and think he has no business in the Hall, but he did hit the ball very very hard. That's part of why he has so many DPs. He hit HARD grounders, giving the infield plenty of time to turn two if they could actually get to the grounder in the first place. - Brock
   54. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 25, 2012 at 05:58 AM (#4244888)
My guess about Rice's triples is that he got some in Fenway because he hit the ball so hard that, when it did bounce off of the Monster, it came back further and faster than outfielders were used to. I'm not a Rice fan, and think he has no business in the Hall, but he did hit the ball very very hard. That's part of why he has so many DPs. He hit HARD grounders, giving the infield plenty of time to turn two if they could actually get to the grounder in the first place.

So if I'm understanding this correctly, the Green Monster may have played a role in increasing Rice's triples totals AND decreasing his doubles totals?

I suppose that could actually make sense. When he hit the ball hard off the Monster -- a hit that would have typically been a double (or HR) in another park -- if the ball bounced right back to the left fielder, he was held to a single. If it bounced somewhere unexpected, he kept running.
   55. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: September 25, 2012 at 07:33 AM (#4244903)
My guess about Rice's triples is that he got some in Fenway because he hit the ball so hard that, when it did bounce off of the Monster, it came back further and faster than outfielders were used to.
There are two ways, generally, to get triples in Fenway. One is to get one down the RF line and have the RF misplay/overrun the ball as it scoots along the curved wall. The other is to hit it deep into the triangle in CF and get a crazy bounce that sends the OFs chasing it. I'd bet the latter is where the majority of Rice's Fenway triples were hit.
   56. Don Malcolm Posted: September 25, 2012 at 10:36 PM (#4245810)
Regarding Rice and his 2Bs/3Bs: my dear old pal Mr. Hanke has a nice theory which attempts to capture every possible nuance AND explaining the seemingly unexplainable (more triples, less doubles at home).

It's a theory with only two things marring it: 1) Rice hit the same number of triples at home and on the road in his two big 3B seasons; 2) Rice actually hit more doubles in Fenway over his career than he did on the road.

What makes sense is that Rice lost his speed early (it may have started as early as age 26). That killed the triples thing. He also seemed to start slow, which means he might not have worked as hard as he need to in order to stay in shape. (That might have contributed to his premature decline.) He would always seem to take until May (and often June) before playing on all cylinders. As his HR power declined, he hit more doubles--at least relative to his other XBH--and he took more advantage of Fenway in terms of doubles...but it could have been that 5-7 balls that would have gone out of the park in earlier years became doubles.

Rice is in the Hall because the a) the writers remembered his '77-'79 peak as being more special than what the adjusted numbers say it is; b) they remembered him being a frequent high finisher in the MVP race (six times in the top 5, and of the 29 players with more MVP Award share points, 21 are in the Hall and only Pete Rose and Dave Parker are likely to remain out the outside looking in); and c) enough of them got wind of how knicker-twisted the "mom's basement" crowd was becoming at his getting so many votes and they decided to "middle-finger" it by putting him in.
   57. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 25, 2012 at 10:40 PM (#4245813)
Don: "c" wins

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