Thursday, November 1, 2012

Run Producing Efficiency 2012

One of the reasons I don’t like to use RBI is that it completely ignores playing time and opportunity.  Very rarely do you see someone use hits to show one player is better than another; it’s always batting average (hits/AB).  Using AB introduces playing time as players don’t generally end up with the same amount of AB (due to things like batting order placement).  This is just the “fair” thing to do as rate stats put everyone on a level playing field.

Baseball-reference actually shows a rate stat on how efficient a player is at scoring their base runners.  This isn’t a flawless stat by any means, as it credits a player with things that don’t result in an RBI (such as runs scoring on double plays, errors and wild pitches) and it also ignores HR and how many runners are on each base (a runner on 1st is treated the same as a runner on 3rd, who is easier to score).  But it does answer the question, “how often do the base runners score when a particular player is up to bat.”  Some players are just better run producers than others and unlike RBI, this factors in opportunity.   

2012 Detroit Tigers (min 50 PA): 
BaseRunners
PA BR BRS BRS% ▾
Miguel Cabrera 697 444 98 22%
Prince Fielder* 690 456 80 18%
Quintin Berry* 330 171 27 16%
Austin Jackson 617 320 52 16%
Alex Avila* 434 264 39 15%
League Average 15%
Brennan Boesch* 503 329 46 14%
Andy Dirks* 344 207 28 14%
Jhonny Peralta 585 376 52 14%
Delmon Young 608 415 56 13%
Avisail Garcia 51 26 3 12%
Omar Infante 241 136 16 12%
Ramon Santiago# 259 168 15 9%
Gerald Laird 191 120 10 8%
Ryan Raburn 222 142 11 8%
Don Kelly* 127 87 6 7%
Danny Worth 90 49 3 6%
Team Total 6119 3793 550 15%
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/1/2012.

It comes at no surprise that Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder are at the top of the Tigers leader board.  People griping about Delmon Young staying the 5th spot have a legitimate argument as he was the least efficient starting player in converting base runners into runs at 13%.  Alex Avila, Brennan Boesch, Andy Dirks and Jhonny Peralta would have all been a better options, given that they were more efficient in scoring their base runners (although nothing is certain that they would've kept their efficiency rating as high given more playing time).  For example, there’s probably some noise in Quintin Berry being at 16% given his small sample size (and overall talent level). Also, this stat probably isn’t the most predictive stat to use.  Check out Delmon Young’s career:

Delmon Young Career:
BaseRunners
Year Age Tm PA BR BRS BRS%
2006 20 TBD 131 64 8 13%
2007 21 TBD 681 475 85 18%
2008 22 MIN 623 435 62 14%
2009 23 MIN 416 261 51 20%
2010 24 MIN 613 456 94 21%
2011 25 TOT 503 302 53 18%
2012 26 DET 608 415 56 13%
7 Yrs 3575 2408 409 17%
MLB Averages 15%
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/1/2012.

From 2009-2011, he was in the 18-21% range, which would’ve been perfect for the #5 spot.  What happened?  Well, one theory would be that he’s just not as good of a hitter with runners on base in 2012 as he was the previous 3 years (from 2009-2011, Delmon hit .295/.322/.457/.779 with runners on base.  In 2012, Delmon hit .261/.288/.392/.680 with runners on base).  Also, Delmon Young might have been in lineups with faster runners, who were able to easily score more often.  In 2012, Delmon was hitting behind Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, who aren’t exactly known for their speed.  Lee Panas showed that the Tigers were hurt by their lack of speed in scoring runs in 2012.  

By contrast, though, Victor Martinez has been much more consistent in turning his base runners into runs:

Victor Martinez Career:
BaseRunners
Year Age Tm PA BR BRS BRS%
2002 23 CLE 36 19 4 21%
2003 24 CLE 174 106 16 15%
2004 25 CLE 591 421 87 21%
2005 26 CLE 622 412 61 15%
2006 27 CLE 652 474 78 16%
2007 28 CLE 645 449 90 20%
2008 29 CLE 294 206 33 16%
2009 30 TOT 672 468 87 19%
2010 31 BOS 538 358 60 17%
2011 32 DET 595 450 95 21%
10 Yrs 4819 3363 611 18%
MLB Averages 15%
Generated 11/1/2012.

Even at the low end at 15-16%, is still better than what Delmon Young showed in 2012.  If V-Mart is able to get back to being productive after having 2012 off due to an ACL tear, then the Tigers should be much better off with him batting 5th than Delmon Young (as if it wasn't already obvious).  

Just in case you're wondering, Miguel Cabrera was 2nd in all of baseball behind Josh Hamilton, minimum 500 PA:

2012 Leaders (min 500 PA):
BaseRunners
Rk PA Tm BR BRS BRS% ▾
32 Josh Hamilton* 636 TEX 383 88 23%
37 Miguel Cabrera 697 DET 444 98 22%
39 Allen Craig 514 STL 354 73 21%
40 Adrian Gonzalez* 684 TOT 438 92 21%
42 Torii Hunter 584 LAA 370 78 21%
LgAvg per 600 PA 358 51 14%
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/1/2012.

 It’s interesting to note that Torii Hunter was 5th in all of baseball at 21%, a player that many Tiger fans want to get to play RF for the Tigers next year. 

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