Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Detroit Tigers Runs Created Analysis

How many runs does a player contribute to his team’s offense? One way to answer this question is with the statistic “runs created”. Runs created (RC) is not the most popular sabermetric measure today but it was one of the statistics which made Bill James (the God father of modern sabermetrics) famous. I discussed the calculation of the runs formula in last week’s article on offensive efficiency. The same version of the formula will be used for players except that it will be adjusted for ballpark.

Does RC work? As shown last week, if you add up the individual RC for players on a team, it generally comes pretty close to the total runs scored for that team. This is an indication that it is doing a fairly good job of measuring what it is intended to measure: how much each player contributes to his team runs scored total.


Another statistic is runs created per game or runs created per 27 outs (RC/G). Theoretically, this statistics tells you how many runs your team would score per game if you had the same player bat in all line-up positions. For example, Brandon Inge had an RC/G of 5.0 so you would theoretically expect a team of 9 Brandon Inges to score 5.0 runs per game. That may not be a very practical or realistic use of the statistic. However, it’s a good statistic for comparing the relative offensive contribution of different players.

A player like Inge who played a lot of games will have more runs created than a player like Marcus Thames who played only semi-regularly. On the other hand, Thames hit better when he did play so he’ll have more runs created per game. Both stats are useful depending on the question being asked.

As mentioned above, I adjusted RC and RC/G for the impact of the hitter’s home park. A hitter playing his home games in a hitter friendly park like Ameriquest Field in Texas will have his runs created adjusted downward while a hitter playing in a pitcher friendly park like Comerica Park in Detroit will have his runs created adjusted upward. Ballpark factors are very complex but if you want a detailed explanation, I’ll point you toward US Patriot.

Table1 below ranks the Tigers in RC among American League batters.

Table 1: Runs Created in 2006

Player

PA

RC

Lge Rank

Guillen

622

111

15

Ordonez

646

97

29

Granderson

679

93

33

Inge

601

79

49

Monroe

585

77

54

Rodriguez

580

77

57

Thames

390

66

78

Shelton

412

58

87

Polanco

495

52

97

Infante

245

30

144

Young

184

20

165

Wilson

168

20

175

Casey

196

19

180

Gomez

111

14

190

Clevlen

42

8

208

Stairs

44

6

228

Santiago

86

5

233

Perez

70

2

257

Hooper

5

0

297

Hannahan

10

0

303

Rabelo

1

0

304


The table shows that Carlos Guillen contributed more runs (111) to the offense than any other player on the team. He was followed by Magglio Ordonez (97), Curtis Granderson (93), Brandon Inge (79), Craig Monroe (77) and Ivan Rodriguez (77). The final column on the table shows where players ranked within the American League. After having no players finish in the top 30 last year, they had two this year - Guillen (15th) and Ordonez (29th). Having those two players healthy this year was a big boost for their offense.


Table 2 ranks the Tigers among 126 American League players with 300 or more plate appearances in runs created per game.

Table 2: Runs Created Per Game in 2006

Player

PA

R/G

Lge Rank

Guillen

622

7.5

12

Clevlen

42

7.5

***

Thames

390

6.9

18

Ordonez

646

6.0

41

Shelton

412

5.5

55

Granderson

679

5.4

59

Rodriguez

580

5.1

80

Inge

601

5.0

82

Monroe

585

4.9

85

Gomez

111

4.9

***

Infante

245

4.7

***

Stairs

44

4.7

***

Wilson

168

4.2

***

Young

184

4.1

***

Polanco

495

4.0

113

Casey

196

3.5

***

Santiago

86

2.0

***

Perez

70

1.2

***

Hooper

5

0.3

***

Hannahan

10

0.0

***

Rabelo

1

0.0

***


This table looks a little different because Marcus Thames and Chris Shelton produced more when they did play than some of the players with more plate appearances. Carlos Guillen tops the list at 7.5 runs created per game. Would a team of 9 Guillens score 7.5 runs per game? If the 9 Guillens performed exactly the same as the one Guillen did, then the answer would be yes. That’s a fun way to interpret the stat but it’s impossible to know what would really happen with such a line-up. Whatever way you look at it, Guillen had a great season. Among players with at least 300 PA, Guillen was followed by Thames (6.9), Ordonez (6.0), Shelton (5.5) and Granderson (5.4).


One player who is going to need to improve next year is Placido Polanco (4.0). He finished 113th among 126 players with 300 or more PA. Then there’s Sean Casey. He had only 196 AL plate appearances but his 3.5 runs created per game was abysmal. If he comes back next year, he’ll need to do a lot better than that.



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