Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Detroit Tigers Runs Created Analysis - 2007

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 famous. I discussed the calculation of the runs created formula in my recent 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 in the efficiency article, 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's 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, Placido Polanco had an RC/G of 7.0 so you would expect a team of 9 Polancos to score 7 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 Brandon Inge who played a lot of games will have more runs created than a player like Ryan Raburn who played only semi-regularly for part of the season. On the other hand, Raburn 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. The table shows that Magglio Ordonez contributed more runs (142) to the offense than any other player on the team. He was followed by Curtis Granderson (126), Placido Polanco (105), Carlos Guillen (99) and Gary Sheffield (93). The final column on the table shows where players ranked within the American League. After having no players finish in the top 30 in 2005 and just 2 in 2006, they had 5 this year - Ordonez (2nd), Granderson (4th), Polanco (14th), Guillen (22nd) and Sheffield (30th). There is no question they had a powerful top half of the order this year especially when Sheffield was healthy.


Table 1: Runs Created by Tigers in 2007

Player

PA

RC

Lge Rank

Ordonez

679

142

2

Granderson

676

126

4

Polanco

641

105

14

Guillen

630

99

22

Sheffield

593

93

30

Casey

496

63

78

Inge

577

62

79

Rodriguez

515

57

85

Thames

284

37

123

Monroe

372

31

136

Raburn

148

22

156

Infante

178

18

168

Perez

96

18

170

Rabelo

185

18

172

Santiago

74

9

205

Hessman

57

8

214

Maybin

53

3

245

Perez

71

3

252

Clevlen

10

0

297



Table 2 ranks the Tigers among 133 American League players with 300 or more plate appearances in runs created per game. This table looks a little different because players like Timo Perez and Ryan Raburn produced more when they did play than some of the players with more plate appearances. Of those that played regularly, the same 5 players that topped the RC list also head the RC/G list: Ordonez (9.5 runs per game), Granderson (7.8), Polanco (7.0), Sheffield (6.5) and Guillen (6.2).

Would a line-up of 9 Magglio Ordonezes create 9.5 runs per game? If the 9 Magglios performed exactly the same as the one Magglio did, then the answer would be yes. Whatever way you look at it, Ordonez had a great season finishing second to Alex Rodriguez who created 9.7 runs per game.

Five regulars with 6+ runs created per game is pretty impressive. The problem was the wide gap between those 5 players and the bottom part of the order. In particular, Craig Monroe (2.9 RC/G), Pudge Rodriguez (4.0) and Brandon Inge (4.1) struggled mightily. The good thing was that, after Monroe was released, Perez and Raburn did well in his absence.

As for next year, Rodriguez will be back again mostly for what he contributes as a catcher. Inge will almost surely man the third base position again in 2008 due to his glove and his long term contract. I'd like to see both of them inch closer to 5.0 R/G next year. I wouldn't mind seeing Raburn get a shot at the left field job in 2008 but I think they will try to find a left-handed bat to get the majority of at bats out there.

With Guillen moving to first base, Sean Casey will take his middle of the road 5.1 R/G elsewhere. They will try to recreate those runs at shortstop but it might not be that easy to find a middle infielder who can do that. I'll look at runs created by position later in the week.


Table 2: Runs Created Per Game for Tigers in 2007

Player

PA

R/G

Lge Rank

Ordonez

679

9.5

3

Perez

96

7.9

N/A

Granderson

676

7.8

7

Polanco

641

7.0

13

Sheffield

593

6.5

18

Guillen

630

6.2

30

Raburn

148

5.6

N/A

Hessman

57

5.2

N/A

Casey

496

5.1

71

Santiago

74

5.0

N/A

Thames

284

4.7

N/A

Inge

577

4.1

106

Rodriguez

515

4.0

109

Infante

178

3.8

N/A

Rabelo

185

3.5

N/A

Monroe

372

2.9

131

Maybin

53

2.1

N/A

Perez

71

1.3

N/A

Clevlen

10

0.0

N/A

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