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Saturday, October 06, 2012

Holmes: Percentage of runners driven in is an important stat that should get more attention

What happens when a professional hitter violates the RBI machine code? Get Carter (Joe Carter that is)!

But there are some batters who were not HR hitters who have impressive RBI Percentages. Hal McRae, the DH for the Kansas City Royals in the 1970s and 1980s, comes in at 18.0% even though he hit just 160 taters. That’s a better rate than more heraled RBI men like Frank Thomas, Dave Parker and McRae’s Hall of Fame teammate George Brett. Thurman Munson is another batter who has the RBI% of a slugger but wasn’t a slugger. Munson hit only 69 homers and he also had fewer RBI opps than most players, but his RBI% was 17%.

Probably the singles hitter who ranks the highest in RBI% since 1974 is Johnny Ray, a second baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1980s. Ray had more than 3,200 runners on base for him in his 10-year career, and he drove in 16.5% of them while only hitting 53 homers. Maybe there’s some underlying reason why his RBI% is higher than we’d expect from a batter who hit mostly singles and mostly doubles? Maybe he was “clutch” or he bore down and really concentrated when runners were on base? Perhaps there were excellent hitters behind him which forced pitchers to throw good pitches to Johnny when there were runners on? Interestingly, Ray hit in the #2 spot (for a NL team) for more than half his career, so he had fewer RBI opps than a #3 or #4 hitter in his league or the AL. But he was excellent at driving in runs, and he did it while nearly 75% of his hits were singles.

Players like Mcrae, Munson, and Ray point to the possibility that there are some players who year-in and year-out perform well at driving in a high percentage of runners.

Repoz Posted: October 06, 2012 at 07:29 AM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics

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   1. depletion Posted: October 06, 2012 at 08:58 AM (#4256625)
Neat article which will be used by Josh Hamilton's agent.
   2. TomH Posted: October 06, 2012 at 10:03 AM (#4256657)
Maybe Johnny Ray batted with more runners on 2nd than 1st, and didn't walk much.

Calculating RBI% as the article states, basically penalizing the batter who draws a base on balls, is just absurd.

Maybe RBU%/(1 - OBP) would be useful, runners driven in per out made with runners on. And yes, you do get an out for a sac fly.
   3. pyrite Posted: October 06, 2012 at 10:21 AM (#4256664)
McRae shows up in the least of least clutch hitters of his era using WPA.
   4. base ball chick Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:08 PM (#4256719)
the idea of percent of runners driven in is a good one.

agree that you HAVE to subtract IBB - you can't drive someone in if you have no opportunity. and agree that sac flies and squeezes should also count.

am not understanding why so many of all yall are like all - beeeg deeel - about driving in runners. i mean, not making outs is wonderful. no disagreement here. but still, increasing the runs scored by your own team is important, right???
   5. cmd600 Posted: October 06, 2012 at 12:59 PM (#4256756)
4 - I'm not sure anyone is saying "big deal". Everyone here understands the value of an additional run. But if your leadoff hitter draws a walk (making the pitcher work pretty hard in the process), steals second, gets moved to third, and your big bopper hits a lazy fly, the RBI stat is woefully inept at determining how much value each player had. It's that we can do better, sometimes a lot better.
   6. KT's Pot Arb Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:12 PM (#4256762)
RBI percentage is just another junk stat for the intellectuslly lazy.
   7. bobm Posted: October 06, 2012 at 01:43 PM (#4256790)
RBI percentage is just another junk stat for the intellectuslly [sic] lazy

Yes, normalizing counting stats by number of opportunities produces "junk stats."

Like BA, OBP, SLG, HR/PA, K/PA, BB/PA, TTO %, SB% ... all junk.
   8. Ron J Posted: October 06, 2012 at 02:00 PM (#4256809)
#7 But rbi% doesn't normalize opportunities. It's trivially obvious that it's easier to drive Vince Coleman in from third than a random catcher from first.

If you're at all interested in normalizing opportunities, the place to start is with Tom Ruane's article on rbi (and distribution of baserunners) at retrosheet.
   9. something like a train wreck Posted: October 06, 2012 at 02:03 PM (#4256813)
stupidest stat ever. apart from the bizarre deduction of HR, what does it tell you
without adjusting for offensive performance. in other words, of course Cabrera drives in a high percentage of runners, he's a terrific hitter. the stat tells me nothing.
   10. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 06, 2012 at 02:14 PM (#4256822)
#7 But rbi% doesn't normalize opportunities. It's trivially obvious that it's easier to drive Vince Coleman in from third than a random catcher from first.

If you're at all interested in normalizing opportunities, the place to start is with Tom Ruane's article on rbi (and distribution of baserunners) at retrosheet.


It's not perfect but its useful. I'd rather use RBI% than just RBI. Are there flaws? Sure, but just because something isn't perfect doesn't mean it doesn't have value. Until park effects, weather effects, opposition quality, time if day. Umpire quality, individual pitch quality and The other 800 little details that go into every single moment if a players life can be quantified all stats are going to be somewhat flawed.
   11. Ron J Posted: October 06, 2012 at 02:21 PM (#4256830)
#10 You're better off with SLG than either rbi or rbi%. The latter two have huge issues with factors beyond the player's control.

EDIT: and the side bonus of using SLG rather than some form of rbi is that it doesn't treat a walk with a runner on base as an implicit failure.
   12. cardsfanboy Posted: October 06, 2012 at 02:35 PM (#4256842)
RBI Percentage is a decent stat, provided it's not this screwed up version. Why the heck would you want to 1. remove the times the batter drives himself in 2. not include every potential runner in the percentages including the batter.

Without those inclusions, this is as dumb of a stat as productive outs, save percentage(that doesn't include holds), or that silly runs stat that is runs+rbi-hr.
   13. Shock Posted: October 06, 2012 at 02:41 PM (#4256845)

It's not perfect but its useful. I'd rather use RBI% than just RBI.


Sure, but so what? I would rather ride a horse than a donkey to work. But even better is to drive my car.
   14. cardsfanboy Posted: October 06, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4256849)

If you're at all interested in normalizing opportunities, the place to start is with Tom Ruane's article on rbi (and distribution of baserunners) at retrosheet.


The problem with the stat speak articles is that they make assumptions upon assumptions and produce a number that doesn't remotely register as intuitive.

If I'm going to look at rbi opportunities in a stat, let me make the decisions on how important it is to judge it and how it rates(as the reader) you come up with the stat that does what it should do. Instead of trying to put a win component into it, how about focus on the base component. The RBI percentage stat that I want is batters advanced, vs potential bases they could have advanced. Note: that isn't really rbi's so in the rbi world, it would be the runners driven (and how many bases they advanced) vs potential bases advanced.


Example. Man on first you hit a double he scores, that would be 3 bases advanced for the rbi, versus a potential of 7 bases advanced(the three that the man on first could advance and the four you could have advanced with a homerun) That would be the rbi component of the stat. (Actually to be honest, that is somewhat doable with retrosheet and a spreadsheet, it's just time consuming) And of course the another version of the stat would be bases advanced percentage which in this case, it wouldn't care about whether you delivered the rbi or not, but instead rates the total number of bases advance (in the example I gave it would be 5 bases out of a potential 7)

The problem is that the people doing this type of research, get this far and continue going on, where they then plug in the base out states into the equation and make then effectively are comparing it to league average hitter and it really does make it tough to trust the numbers after that.


Reading the first Tom Ruane article I could find, his assumption is to remove walks from the equation, which is absolutely 100% wrong. The complaint by traditionalist is that players who walk frequently are not expanding their strike zone for the team. You need to include walks in the equation or you are not talking the same language. (I can see removing hbp and intentional walks...and unfortunately there is no way to remove unintentional intentional walks)
   15. bobm Posted: October 06, 2012 at 03:04 PM (#4256856)
[8] It's trivially obvious that it's easier to drive Vince Coleman in from third than a random catcher from first.

As I posted recently in another thread:

Baseball Prospectus has a sortable "RBI Opportunity" report that reports % of runners driven in by 1B, 2B, or 3B.

historical: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/sortable/index.php?cid=1044579

2012: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/sortable/index.php?cid=1253205


This also seems a more precise split than using RISP, with a runner on 1B in about 50% of PA with RISP
   16. bobm Posted: October 06, 2012 at 03:41 PM (#4256890)
[12] Why the heck would you want to 1. remove the times the batter drives himself in 2. not include every potential runner in the percentages including the batter.

Because one wants to know who drives in baserunners more consistently, regardless of who drives in more batter-runners on home runs.

Ex. Career stats for selected one-time Cards' 1B since 1974:

         Player R-O  RBI  HR  RBI Pct.
  Albert Pujols 5314 1434 475 18.05
Keith Hernandez 5190 1063 160 17.40
   Mark McGwire 4954 1414 583 16.77
     Jack Clark 5448 1178 339 15.40
     John Mabry 2492  446  96 14.04
   17. cardsfanboy Posted: October 06, 2012 at 03:58 PM (#4256908)
Because one wants to know who drives in baserunners more consistently, regardless of who drives in more batter-runners on home runs.


That is just a way to penalize homerun hitters. A run driven in, whether he is on third base or at the plate is worth one run regardless. When you start to parse out driving yourself in, you are intentionally making a stat that is weakened as a analytical tool.

   18. bobm Posted: October 06, 2012 at 04:17 PM (#4256932)
[1] Neat article which will be used by Josh Hamilton's agent.

Hamilton ranks #1 in percent of runners driven in from 1st base, but #15 (tied) in percent of runners driven in from 2nd base and #48 in percent of runners driven in from 3rd base.

Miguel Cabrera ranks #8 (tied) in percent of runners driven in from 1st base, but #12 (tied) in percent of runners driven in from 2nd base and #14 in percent of runners driven in from 3rd base.

Tables below are data from the 2012 BP report at the link noted in [15] above, sorted by 2012 percentage of runners driven in from each base, preceded by the number of runners driven in from each base:


2012 percentage of runners driven in from 1st base:
 #              NAME R1_BI R1BI%
 1     Josh Hamilton 25    13.50%
 2   Alfonso Soriano 24    11.80%
 3 Edwin Encarnacion 23    11.30%
 4    Miguel Montero 22    11.20%
 5  Andrew Mccutchen 19    10.90%
 6     Wilin Rosario 13    10.80%
 7       Jason Kubel 18    10.80%
 8        Ryan Braun 21    10.40%
 8    Miguel Cabrera 22    10.40%
10         Adam Dunn 20    10.30%


2012 percentage of runners driven in from 2nd base:
   
 #            NAME R2_BI R2BI%
 1     Allen Craig 35    33.00%
 2 Adrian Gonzalez 35    28.90%
 3    Torii Hunter 37    28.00%
 4    Tyler Colvin 25    26.30%
 5 Howard Kendrick 30    25.40%
 6 Alfonso Soriano 29    24.60%
 7      Mike Trout 24    24.00%
 8      Coco Crisp 18    23.70%
 9    Billy Butler 31    23.70%
10  Prince Fielder 35    23.60%
11     Kyle Seager 28    23.50%
12  Miguel Cabrera 34    23.30%
13   Dayan Viciedo 20    23.30%
14    David Murphy 22    23.20%
15  Alexei Ramirez 26    22.80%
15   Josh Hamilton 26    22.80%


2012 percentage of runners driven in from 3rd base:

 #              NAME R3_BI R3BI%
 1      Martin Prado 31    53.40%
 2    Pablo Sandoval 28    51.90%
 3   Adrian Gonzalez 27    50.90%
 4      Buster Posey 43    50.00%
 5      Will Venable 17    50.00%
 6     Gerardo Parra 17    50.00%
 7  Alejandro De Aza 22    50.00%
 8    Mike Moustakas 29    46.80%
 9     Daniel Murphy 28    46.70%
10     Melky Cabrera 27    46.60%
11    Ryan Zimmerman 31    46.30%
12      Matt Wieters 27    45.80%
13     Michael Young 35    45.50%
14    Miguel Cabrera 39    45.30%
15      Todd Frazier 24    45.30%
16       Carlos Ruiz 23    45.10%
17       Rajai Davis 22    44.90%
18       Neil Walker 28    44.40%
19    Jordan Pacheco 23    44.20%
20        B.j. Upton 26    44.10%
21    Miguel Montero 25    43.90%
22      Torii Hunter 30    43.50%
23   Yoenis Cespedes 23    43.40%
24    Alexei Ramirez 29    43.30%
25 Edwin Encarnacion 25    43.10%
26   Carlos Gonzalez 31    43.10%
27      Elvis Andrus 29    42.60%
28     Yunel Escobar 26    42.60%
29     Mark Teixeira 30    42.30%
30  Alberto Callaspo 19    42.20%
31      Jason Kipnis 32    42.10%
32    Carlos Beltran 32    42.10%
33     Garrett Jones 21    42.00%
34     David Dejesus 23    41.80%
35         Cody Ross 23    41.80%
36    Aramis Ramirez 30    41.70%
37     Chase Headley 35    41.70%
38      David Wright 29    41.40%
39     Dustin Ackley 24    41.40%
40       Ben Zobrist 24    41.40%
41      Delmon Young 28    41.20%
42     Dexter Fowler 21    41.20%
43     J.d. Martinez 23    41.10%
44    Norichika Aoki 25    41.00%
45    Casey Kotchman 25    41.00%
46         Matt Kemp 20    40.80%
47         Joe Mauer 33    40.70%
48     Josh Hamilton 34    40.50%


Source: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/sortable/index.php?cid=1253206
   19. bobm Posted: October 06, 2012 at 04:26 PM (#4256941)
[17] That is just a way to penalize homerun hitters. A run driven in, whether he is on third base or at the plate is worth one run regardless. When you start to parse out driving yourself in, you are intentionally making a stat that is weakened as a analytical tool.

That's simply not true.

In fact, your proposal is analytically weak because you advocate including HR in the numerator--since 1 HR = 1 RBI even with the bases empty--but you seem to ignore including batter PA in the denominator even though 1 PA = 1 (batter-)runner on and eligible to be (self-)driven in on a home run.
   20. Carlo Paz Posted: October 06, 2012 at 04:49 PM (#4256957)
Wow, thanks bobm, that table nicely illustrates why I wanted to punch Robin Ventura in the face when he bunted the runner to third to give Adam Dunn a chance to drive him in, since he is the worst on the team (as anyone except Ventura might expect)in that situation.
   21. cardsfanboy Posted: October 06, 2012 at 04:57 PM (#4256962)
In fact, your proposal is analytically weak because you advocate including HR in the numerator--since 1 HR = 1 RBI even with the bases empty--but you seem to ignore including batter PA in the denominator even though 1 PA = 1 (batter-)runner on and eligible to be (self-)driven in on a home run.


I don't ignore batter pa in the denominator except when the pa results in an intentional walk or a hit by pitch. All Pa's should count in which the player had a large choice in figuring into the result. That includes walks, (choosing not to swing) sacrifices etc.

My example was effectively number of bases advanced divided by potential number of bases advanced...or number of bases advanced towards a run divided by potential number of bases...in either equation I would include the batter as 4 potential bases.

Their formula completely ignores the batter as a potential run, in fact they actively penalize the batter for driving himself in, by removing those from the equation.
   22. bobm Posted: October 06, 2012 at 05:14 PM (#4256977)
[21] Their formula completely ignores the batter as a potential run, in fact they actively penalize the batter for driving himself in, by removing those from the equation.

Counting HR and all PA raises certain high HR/PA hitters on the list and hurts certain low HR/PA. Isn't that correlated with SLG? Does the stat then add much informational value over SLG?

If, as in [20], you are also interested in who also drives in baserunners excluding batter-runners (esp if you are in the play-for-one-run situation), it would seem to me that removing HR and all PA tells you something about the RBI "productivity" of lower SLG hitters in with non-batter-runner baserunners on as compared to high SLG hitters.
   23. bobm Posted: October 06, 2012 at 05:36 PM (#4257005)
[20] I wanted to punch Robin Ventura in the face when he bunted the runner to third to give Adam Dunn a chance to drive him in

Also from BP for 2012 (except ABI% defined below):

White Sox driving in runners from 3B (R3_BI%), 2012:

            NAME TM  YEAR R3 R3_BI R3BI% OBI%  ABI% HR
Alejandro De Aza CHA 2012 44 22    50.0  16.7  6.1   9
  Alexei Ramirez CHA 2012 67 29    43.3  17.8  7.4   9
       Alex Rios CHA 2012 64 25    39.1  15.7  8.6  25
   Dayan Viciedo CHA 2012 64 25    39.1  18.2  9.4  25
 A.j. Pierzynski CHA 2012 53 20    37.7  16.2  9.3  27
  Gordon Beckham CHA 2012 42 15    35.7  13.5  6.6  16
    Paul Konerko CHA 2012 59 21    35.6  13.4  7.8  26
       Adam Dunn CHA 2012 66 23    34.8  14.5  9.3  41


OBI% is baserunners only driven in
ABI% is all RBI including HR as a percentage of batter PA plus baserunners

   24. Walt Davis Posted: October 06, 2012 at 06:06 PM (#4257017)
2 Alfonso Soriano 24 11.80%
6 Alfonso Soriano 29 24.60%


MVP! MVP!

You will notice the %age of runners driven in from 3rd list is not exactly murderer's row ... that's pretty much nothing but making contact.



   25. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: October 06, 2012 at 11:01 PM (#4257405)
Maybe Johnny Ray batted with more runners on 2nd than 1st, and didn't walk much.


Johnny Ray drove in more runners because he was AWESOME.

The fact that he was my favorite player as a kid is purely a coincidence.
   26. Walt Davis Posted: October 07, 2012 at 02:52 AM (#4257577)
19 Jordan Pacheco 23 44.20%

What species critter be this? I'm usually pretty good with players who start, never heard of this guy.
   27. bobm Posted: October 07, 2012 at 03:08 AM (#4257579)
[26] Rockie

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/p/pachejo01.shtml


   28. JoeHova Posted: October 07, 2012 at 03:51 AM (#4257581)
Wow, Posey and Cabrera each came up to bat with a runner on third 86 times last season? That seems like a lot. 14% of Posey's PAs, 12% of Cabrera's.
   29. zachtoma Posted: October 07, 2012 at 05:27 AM (#4257584)
It seems like this measures little more than batting average. Isn't RBI% basically BA w/ RISP, which is basically BA? Or at least BA with a side of SLG.
   30. bobm Posted: October 07, 2012 at 12:00 PM (#4257687)
[28]

From BR PI event finder:

All of MLB: 19164 Plate Appearances in 2012, 3rd Occupied

Batters:

   Hunter Pence 90
      Jay Bruce 90
Josh Willingham 88
 Miguel Cabrera 86
  Albert Pujols 86
     Carlos Lee 86
   Buster Posey 86
  Marco Scutaro 85
  Adrian Beltre 85
 Starlin Castro 85


Pitchers:

    Ricky Romero 112
 Adam Wainwright 104
Justin Masterson 102
   Ricky Nolasco 102
      Derek Lowe 101
    Tommy Hanson 101
 Felix Hernandez  94
    Tim Lincecum  94
      Yu Darvish  93
   Rick Porcello  93

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