Sunday, October 07, 2007

RBI Men

The other day on MotownSports, there was a discussion about the RBI statistic. It is still one of the most popular stats among mainstream baseball media and fans. It's not a useless statistic as most players with a lot of RBI are good hitters. However, the number of RBI a player aggregates is dependent on the number of opportunities his team gives him. Certainly, a hitter in the middle of the Yankees line-up will have more opportunities to drive in runs than a hitter in the middle of the White Sox line-up. A clean-up hitter will generally have more chances than a number two hitter.

If it is power hitting you are trying to measure than slugging percentage or isolated power are better measures. If you are trying to measure the ability to score runners on base when a batter is up at the plate, one simple way is the RBI percentage stat invented by David Pinto (Baseball Musings). RBI% is the percentage of runners on base that a player drives home in his at bats. It is calculated as follows:
((RBI-HR)/runners on)*100
Table 1 shows the Major League leaders among the 180 players with 300 or more runners on base in their 2007 at bats. Magglio Ordonez tops the list with a percentage of 21.85. When I presented this statistic in the past, people commented on how low the numbers were. That just gives you an idea of how difficult it is to get runners home. Major League RBI leader Alex Rodriguez finished 11th with a 19.25 percentage.

Table 1 - RBI Percentage Leaders in 2007

Player

Runners

RBI

HR

RBI%

Magglio Ordonez

508

139

28

21.85

Matt Holliday

476

137

36

21.22

Chase Utley

385

103

22

21.04

Ryan J Braun

302

97

34

20.86

Vladimir Guerrero

479

125

27

20.46

Sammy Sosa

349

92

21

20.34

Victor Martinez

449

114

25

19.82

Miguel Cabrera

433

119

34

19.63

Nicholas Markakis

454

112

23

19.6

Raul Ibanez

430

105

21

19.53

Alex Rodriguez

530

156

54

19.25

Mike Lowell

521

120

21

19

Aramis Ramirez

395

101

26

18.99

Mark Teixeira

396

105

30

18.94

Frank Thomas

370

95

26

18.65

Michael Young

456

94

9

18.64

Brad Hawpe

467

116

29

18.63

Jim Thome

328

96

35

18.6

Carl Crawford

371

80

11

18.6



Table 2 shows where the Tigers rank on this statistic. After Ordonez, the next two Tigers are Carlos Guillen (37th) and Placido Polanco (52nd). The worst ranking Tiger was Gary Sheffield at 149th but his low ranking illustrates a flaw in the statistic: Players who draw a lot of walks are penalized because they don't usually knock in runs when they walk. Of course, the RBI statistic does not give credit for walks either. So, RBI% is not a perfect stat but I think it tells more about the ability to get runners home than the aggregate statistic RBI.

Table 2 - RBI Percentages for Tigers

Player

Runners

RBI

HR

RBI%

Rank

Magglio Ordonez

508

139

28

21.85

1

Carlos Guillen

461

102

21

17.57

37

Placido Polanco

350

67

9

16.57

52

Brandon Inge

362

71

14

15.75

83

Curtis Granderson

324

74

23

15.74

84

Ivan Rodriguez

336

63

11

15.48

91

Sean Casey

323

54

4

15.48

90

Craig Monroe

330

59

12

14.24

118

Gary Sheffield

392

75

25

12.76

149

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Lee. I did notice that it's got a "clutch" aspect to it, but from their glossary they really just say it's incorporated with hitting well with RISP and while that's not ideal, I'm not sure it'd make significant difference. Then again, I hate math and to force myself to do that post was almost torture (if I had to do that and it wasn't baseball related, I would've gone insane).

    I enjoy your blog as well. I especially enjoy this part of the season because of yours and Bill's recaps of the season/players statistically.

    ReplyDelete

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