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## Tuesday, September 03, 2013

#### Posnanski: Stat of the Day: RE24

Poz’s Neat-O Stat of the Day!  (Sponsored by no one.)

I have in my mind a friend who is a big baseball fan but does not like advanced statistics at all. I think he would love RE24 (with a different name) and a few other advanced stats if given a chance. So I’m going to explain RE24 with him in mind—I suspect it will be too slow for the rest of you. Apologies in advance.

The statistic is called RE24 because, as you might know, there are 24 different possibilities when a batter comes up in any given inning. There are eight “states.” They are:

Bases empty.

Man on first.

Man on second.

Man on third.

Man on first and second.

Man on first and third.

Man on second and third.

So that’s eight states. You get 24 total possibilities because of the outs—all of these states are possible with zero outs, with one out or with two outs. That makes 24 different possibilities in any inning.

Now, each of these possibilities offers a run expectation—that is to say how many runs a team might be expected to score in the inning… All RE24 does is add up the run value a player adds (or takes away) from any given situation…

that’s really all you need to know… RE24—which is Tom Tango’s preferred metric, by the way—adds up a players value over the season. You might have heard of WPA—Win Probability Added—which works in a similar way. But there’s a difference: WPA adds up the WIN expectation rather than RUN expectation. That means that a leadoff double in the ninth inning of a tie game is worth A LOT more than a leadoff double in the third inning when the team is down by five runs.

Maybe that kind of measurement speaks more to you—I like RE24 better because it doesn’t have the wild swings that WPA has and isn’t as context driven (if you play on a lousy team that is often down five runs, it really doesn’t matter what you do).

Here’s the main reason why I think you will like RE24 better than other statistics.

Miguel Cabrera, 75.37
Chris Davis, 66.32
Mike Trout, 65.97
Edwin Encarnacion, 41.80
Robinson Cano, 38.57

Paul Goldschmidt, 55.44
Allen Craig, 48.16
Freddie Freeman, 47.30
Joey Votto, 42.97
Shin-Soo Choo, 42.87

I think that will come closer to matching people’s MVP votes than just about any other stat, including WAR (especially in the American League). Yes, it does miss Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen—my personal MVP because of his brilliant all-around game (he ranks 10th with a 31.88 RE24)—but I think in general RE24 is the advanced stat that comes closest to matching what many so-called “anti-stat” people really think of as “value.”

What seems to make many Cabrera fans so angry about the Trout lead in WAR (and, as expected, the lead is widening—Baseball Reference now has Trout with 8.2 WAR, Cabrera with 6.9) is that it just does not seem to give him enough credit for his offensive awesomeness. The guy’s a hitting Terminator. He’s hitting .358. He’s got 130 RBIs in 127 games. He’s a demigod. And WAR just doesn’t speak to these fans. The argument goes that WAR, with all its contextual adjustments and its various attempts to give value to things that statistics have generally not valued in the past, does not give Cabrera enough credit for simply being the Incredible Hulk of hitting.

Well RE24 does give him credit. As you can see, Cabrera has a MASSIVE lead in RE24 over everyone else in baseball. Not only that, it is the highest RE24 in baseball since Albert Pujols in 2009, and the season ain’t over yet—he could finish with the highest RE24 in a decade.*

*Just to give you one more idea of how ridiculous the big-headed Barry Bonds was, his RE24 in 2004 was 128.8 which was almost DOUBLE anybody else in baseball, and is almost 30 runs better than Mickey Mantle’s Triple Crown season in 1956.

So, maybe RE24 is a good stat for you when you think about MVP. I mean, I wouldn’t put TOO much stock in it. Last year, while the Trout-Cabrera MVP debate raged, it was actually Edwin Encarnacion who led the American League in RE24. But, anyway, RE24 is fun to talk about, though it definitely needs a better name.

The District Attorney Posted: September 03, 2013 at 04:03 PM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
Tags: joe posnanski, re24, sabermetrics, statistics

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1. Bote Man Posted: September 03, 2013 at 09:25 PM (#4533732)

Obama. Syria. Guns. Roses. Steroids. Microsoft buys Nokia. Children taken away. GO!
2.  Posted: September 03, 2013 at 09:34 PM (#4533735)
What seems to make many Cabrera fans so angry about the Trout lead in WAR (and, as expected, the lead is widening—Baseball Reference now has Trout with 8.2 WAR, Cabrera with 6.9) is that it just does not seem to give him enough credit for his offensive awesomeness. The guy’s a hitting Terminator. He’s hitting .358. He’s got 130 RBIs in 127 games. He’s a demigod. And WAR just doesn’t speak to these fans. The argument goes that WAR, with all its contextual adjustments and its various attempts to give value to things that statistics have generally not valued in the past, does not give Cabrera enough credit for simply being the Incredible Hulk of hitting.

This doesn't seem like a particularly good argument for RE24 over any other offensive statistic. RE24 is a purely offensive statistic - which is fine, that's what it's designed to be. But we don't need a particularly fancy offensive statistic to show Miguel Cabrera as the best in the American League. Good old batting average or RBIs both do the trick quite nicely. And, because it's a purely offensive statistic, RE24 misses out on all of the ways that a player can contribute outside of the batting box - which is why RE24 misses on Poz's (and my) choice for NL MVP, Andrew McCutchen.
3. dave h Posted: September 03, 2013 at 10:36 PM (#4533788)
How does this compare to WPA/LI?
4. Sweatpants Posted: September 04, 2013 at 12:16 AM (#4533841)
When did Posnanski start devoting a large portion of his baseball blogging to statistics (or stats-centric topics, like Trout vs. Cabrera or Jack Morris)?
5. Baldrick Posted: September 04, 2013 at 12:33 AM (#4533848)
When did Posnanski start devoting a large portion of his baseball blogging to statistics (or stats-centric topics, like Trout vs. Cabrera or Jack Morris)?

Never?

I mean, there's been a bit more of that in the last few weeks I suppose. But it seems like he's writing pretty much the same stuff as usual. There's a bit less non-sports stuff lately maybe.

RE24 is not very interesting. It's a 'context' stat that doesn't include game context, nor does it include context like park effects, quality of opposing pitcher, etc. It purports to tell us, simply, what value the player actually provided. But it does so by making presumptions about what an average team will get out of a circumstance. To which I say: eh.
6. Sweatpants Posted: September 04, 2013 at 01:11 AM (#4533869)
Never?

I mean, there's been a bit more of that in the last few weeks I suppose. But it seems like he's writing pretty much the same stuff as usual. There's a bit less non-sports stuff lately maybe.
Of his August blog entries, 19 are about baseball. I'd say three or four maybe are more about stories than they are about numbers. It's mostly park factors and Hall of Fame and Ichiro's hits in Japan. I liked his Browns entry a million times more than any of his baseball ones.
7. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: September 04, 2013 at 01:23 AM (#4533875)
Semi-fun junk stat. What else can you say.

What seems to make many Cabrera fans so angry about the Trout lead in WAR (and, as expected, the lead is widening—Baseball Reference now has Trout with 8.2 WAR, Cabrera with 6.9) is that it just does not seem to give him enough credit for his offensive awesomeness.

And Trout is kicking his ass again despite going from +21 to -8 runs on defense (and no, those numbers are not regressed in the final calculation because you only need to regress things that have error and there is no error in these numbers. A 21 year old just dropped from an awesome fielder to semi-shitty and it's all captured. Do not look behind the curtain!)

The defense fairy is crushing Miggy this year and that combined with the wonky park factors...he doesn't really have a chance.
8. Ron J Posted: September 04, 2013 at 08:07 AM (#4533909)
#3 Leverage (well more like batting order position) is an issue with re24. The advantages it has over the win probability family is that the quality of your pitching will not affect the results and it's not inning sensitive.

I don't like it as an offensive system, but I find it very helpful in evaluating clutch claims.

I know it's highly correlated with runs created (92% for full time players the last time I checked -- which was many years ago). Minor discrepancies with WAR from the way baserunning is handled (the Seans get closer to the truth IMO, but it's no big deal). I expect it would correlate quite well with any decent offensive metric -- just over-value good hitters who bat in the middle of the order.
9. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: September 04, 2013 at 08:14 AM (#4533914)

You err in thinking of BTF as a "baseball statistics discussion site."
10. Lassus Posted: September 04, 2013 at 08:30 AM (#4533919)
Do Braves fans fear folding into themselves like a wormhole if they aren't complaining about something?

I'm not really a stat wonk, but "junk" seems a little bit of an oversell here.
11. Dan Posted: September 04, 2013 at 10:31 AM (#4533991)
And Trout is kicking his ass again despite going from +21 to -8 runs on defense (and no, those numbers are not regressed in the final calculation because you only need to regress things that have error and there is no error in these numbers. A 21 year old just dropped from an awesome fielder to semi-shitty and it's all captured. Do not look behind the curtain!)

Have you watched Trout much this year? He has been visibly far worse on defense. He has still made some great plays here and there, but there have been a LOT of misplays. I don't watch him nightly, but I have seen several anyway. Ask any of the Angels fans who post here. They would all tell you that Trout has visibly and obviously had a poor defensive season.

These things happen, even to fast and talented defensive outfielders. Take a look at Jacoby Ellsbury's defensive stats and see how 2009 jumps out as a total outlier. You might say it's a quirk of the stats with the same exact arguments here, a CF in his 20s with awesome footspeed goes from a superlative fielder to well below average with no obvious explanation. But like Trout, Ellsbury was visibly off in the field that year. He was playing way too deep and he was getting terrible breaks on a lot of line drives, especially ones that ended up dropping in front of him. People have it in their heads that "defense doesn't slump", but that is a total fabrication. Sometimes guys see the ball better over a few month period, sometimes they have trouble. Defensive ability is not absolutely consistent year to year (or even month to month).

The defense fairy is crushing Miggy this year and that combined with the wonky park factors...he doesn't really have a chance.

Cabrera has been playing at least half of this season on an injured hip, and you suggest that his decline in defensive numbers is just a whim of the "defense fairy"?
12. SG Posted: September 04, 2013 at 10:46 AM (#4534008)
I like RE24 better than WPA since it's less focused on the timing of events. I wouldn't use it as a comprehensive evaluation stat, but it's a relatively quick and easy way to compare a player's context-neutral value to his actual value to his team on the field.

I think it's a good value stat for relievers, although it's influenced by defense.
13. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: September 04, 2013 at 11:41 AM (#4534062)
#11 - I appreciate your conjecture but that's all it is. I have no interest in spinning narratives to cover for the defense fairy. False precision is not anyone's friend.
14. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: September 04, 2013 at 11:57 AM (#4534069)
You err in thinking of BTF as a "baseball statistics discussion site."
Do you have any stats to back that up?

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