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Friday, August 12, 2011

Schoenfield: Who delivers from the cleanup spot?

There’s another major flaw with using this method of evaluation—it doesn’t account for walks. Take Cabrera, for example. According to this statistic, he’s only the 97th-best “RBI guy” in the majors. Here’s the thing though: He’s hitting .373 with runners in scoring position and .348 with men on base. But pitchers will pitch around him whenever possible. With runners in scoring position, Cabrera has had just 102 at-bats, but 31 walks (giving him a .507 on-base percentage), meaning he draws a walk more than 20 percent of the time when a runner is already in scoring position. You think pitchers fear Cabrera?

Compare that to Howard, who has 132 at-bats with runners in scoring position and just 21 walks. (Howard is actually hitting .311 with runners in scoring position). Howard may have 20 more RBI than Cabrera, but it’s all a matter of opportunity and how often pitchers challenge you. Or compare to Beltre, who is hitting only .254 with a .296 OBP with runners on base. He also had more RBI than Howard, but rarely draws a walk, meaning overall he’s not that productive with runners on, even though he has 76 RBI.

In the end, this is just further evidence of why you shouldn’t place much emphasis on a hitter’s RBI total. It’s simply a tally of something that happened, not a good tool to analyze a hitter with.

Thanks to The Buck Washer.

Repoz Posted: August 12, 2011 at 12:45 PM | 11 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics

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   1. cardsfanboy Posted: August 12, 2011 at 01:43 PM (#3898591)
I always want a better rbi stat, but so far the best that has been created recently seems to be WPA and it just doesn't work for me. To be honest the only way to take rbi seriously is to get a spreadsheet with about 20 or so columns of data just to try and parse out whatever it is you are looking for.
   2. Mike Emeigh Posted: August 12, 2011 at 02:21 PM (#3898610)
You think pitchers fear Cabrera?


Cabrera is by far the best hitter that the Tigers have, so it's probably a combination of how much they fear Cabrera and how little they fear the rest of the lineup.

-- MWE
   3. Mayor Blomberg Posted: August 12, 2011 at 02:34 PM (#3898621)
so, wait, if Cabrera gets pitched around and they get the next guy out, how productive is he again?
   4. cardsfanboy Posted: August 12, 2011 at 02:44 PM (#3898627)
so, wait, if Cabrera gets pitched around and they get the next guy out, how productive is he again?


Well he does help the team cycle through the lineup and if later on in the game he delivers because he got another at bat..

Of course it's not about how productive a player is or not, it's about how productive they are when they are given the chance. Ryan Howard is less productive per chance given than Cabrera. Basically in a clutch situation this year, a fan of the at bat team would rather have Cabrera than Howard. If the pitcher pitches around them that is one thing that neither player can control, but when the pitcher doesn't ##### out, Cabrera delivers more frequently than Howard.
   5. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: August 12, 2011 at 04:06 PM (#3898692)
so, wait, if Cabrera gets pitched around and they get the next guy out, how productive is he again?


Meh, Cabrera taking a walk is actually a *bad* thing for the team, as all he is doing is clogging up the bases.
   6. Nasty Nate Posted: August 12, 2011 at 04:15 PM (#3898699)
so, wait, if Cabrera gets pitched around and they get the next guy out, how productive is he again?


serves the team right for batting a .000 OBP guy in the heart of their order...
   7. Walt Davis Posted: August 12, 2011 at 09:40 PM (#3898860)
Cabrera is by far the best hitter that the Tigers have, so it's probably a combination of how much they fear Cabrera and how little they fear the rest of the lineup.

Have you looked at what some of those other guys are hitting?

Peralta 140 OPS+
Avila 140
Boesch 125
VMart 125

That's 4 guys with a higher OPS+ than Howard, granted VMart being the only one I would consider a better hitter longterm. Cabrera has had VMart behind him almost the entire season (mostly Boesch when not) and, for the last month, Paralta behind him.

so, wait, if Cabrera gets pitched around and they get the next guy out, how productive is he again?

In that scenario, not very. In the scenarios where Cabrera has scored 54 times after a non-HR compared to Howard's 37, I'd say quite a lot.
   8. DCA Posted: August 12, 2011 at 10:55 PM (#3898910)
I always want a better rbi stat, but so far the best that has been created recently seems to be WPA and it just doesn't work for me.

The problem with WPA as an RBI-type stat is that it doesn't treat all runs as equal, only all wins (which is similar to but different than the problem with WPA as a value stat: that it doesn't treat all runs within the same team-game as equal).

Something like RBI+delta(BaseOutStateRunValue) would be a pretty good "better RBI" in that it accounts for context (a single scoring a runner on second is more "valuable" than a single with the bases empty) while also including other contributions to run production that occur as a result of the PA.
   9. thetailor Posted: August 13, 2011 at 04:14 AM (#3899119)
Meh, Cabrera taking a walk is actually a *bad* thing for the team, as all he is doing is clogging up the bases.

I realize this isn't popular around BBTF, but if there are runners on and the game is close, I want my best hitter HITTING.

Runners on second and third, two outs? Team down by two? Carlos Beltran at the plate? Jason Bay on deck? I want Beltran swinging. Granted, the Cabrera example may not be so good as Walt points out, but I don't think it's ridiculous to think a walk doesn't have the same utility in that spot.
   10. cardsfanboy Posted: August 13, 2011 at 04:48 AM (#3899138)
I realize this isn't popular around BBTF, but if there are runners on and the game is close, I want my best hitter HITTING.

Runners on second and third, two outs? Team down by two? Carlos Beltran at the plate? Jason Bay on deck? I want Beltran swinging. Granted, the Cabrera example may not be so good as Walt points out, but I don't think it's ridiculous to think a walk doesn't have the same utility in that spot.


It's not that it's unpopular, it's that it's stupid. If the other team isn't going to give your best guy pitches to hit, how is he helping the team by expanding his zone out of the strike zone where he's more than likely to make an out anyway.
   11. CrosbyBird Posted: August 13, 2011 at 01:30 PM (#3899204)
I realize this isn't popular around BBTF, but if there are runners on and the game is close, I want my best hitter HITTING.

So does everyone. We all prefer a hit to a walk. We just prefer a walk to an out.

When a hitter draws a walk, he's taken four pitches that are considered to be far enough outside of a reasonable hitting zone that they've been called balls. It's very unlikely that even a great hitter will do much with those pitches. Even bad-ball hitters do much better when they swing at actual strikes.

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