Saturday, January 31, 2009

Granderson's art contest and other links

Curtis Granderson is holding an art contest for fourth graders in Michigan. The winning drawings will be included in his new book: All You Can Be. This is a great opportunity for youngsters all over Michigan so if you are a parent or teacher of fourth graders, make sure that your school gets involved.

Samara has her entry ready for the contest but bemoans the fact that she does not qualify as a fourth grader.

Bill Ferris talks about the high number of intentional bases on balls issued by Tigers pitchers last year.

Matt talks about Tigers outfield prospects and how they might impact the opening day roster.

Blake continues his series on the top 100 Tigers of all time. Pudge Rodriguez comes in at #45.

David Bloom of Baseball Happenings looks at an alternative to the Triple Crown stats that falls somewhere between the traditional and the hardcore sabermetric. He calls them Quad stats. This includes both counting stats (Times on Base, Total Bases) and rate stats (OBP and slugging). I think these stats summarize a player's quantity and quality more effectively than either BA/HR/RBI
or BA/OBP/SLG.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tweaking RBI Percentage

Like it or not, RBI is still one of the most popular stats among mainstream baseball media and fans. It's not a terrible statistic. 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. Most hitters in the middle of the Rangers line-up last year had more opportunities to drive in runs than Athletics batters. A clean-up hitter will generally have more chances than a leadoff hitter. It's a very situation dependent statistic.

If it is power hitting you are trying to measure than slugging percentage or isolated power are more independent measures. If you are trying to measure a batter's success in getting runners home, one simple way is RBI percentage. There are a few ways to do this. The first one was created by David Pinto (Baseball Musings). RBI% is the percentage of runners on base that a player drives home in his plate appearances. It is calculated as follows: (RBI-HR)/runners on)*100.


The league average RBI% in 2008 was 14.5%. The Tigers are listed in Table 1 below and it can be seen that Miguel Cabrera was the Tigers best RBI man. Miguel Cabrera had 477 runners on base in his plate appearances last year. He knocked in 127 of those runners. Subtracting his 37 homers, that comes out to 90/477 = 18.9%. That Cabrera is number one is not a surprise. Magglio Ordonez at number two (17.7%) is also not unexpected. What might shock some of you is that Brandon Inge was third at 16.1%.


Table 1 - Tigers RBI% Percentages in 2008 (All plate appearances)

Player

Runners

HR

RBI

RBI%

Cabrera

477

37

127

18.9

Ordonez

464

21

103

17.7

Inge

249

11

51

16.1

Thames

205

25

56

15.1

Granderson

294

22

66

15.0

Guillen

323

10

54

13.6

Polanco

374

8

58

13.4

Renteria

339

10

55

13.3

Laird

269

6

41

13.0

Rodriguez

210

5

32

12.9

Sheffield

333

19

57

11.4



The RBI percentage in Table 2 is a little different from what Pinto does. Pinto includes all plate appearances in his RBI opportunities. Let's do the same calculation but try removing plate appearances when a batter walks or is hit by the pitch or gets a sacrifice bunt. After all, it is difficult for a batter to knock in a run if he being pitched around or thrown at or is asked to bunt. One could make the case that some batters draw too many walks in spots where they should be trying to drive home runs but it's also true that some batters get pitched around more than others.

The league average for this new RBI% statistic was 16.0%. Cabrera (20.3), Ordonez (19.5) and Inge (18.3) once again lead the list.

Table 2 - Tigers RBI% Percentages in 2008 (PA with BB, HBP, SAC excluded)

Player

Runners

HR

RBI

RBI%

Cabrera

439

37

126

20.3

Ordonez

415

21

102

19.5

Inge

213

11

50

18.3

Granderson

256

22

65

16.8

Thames

194

25

56

16.0

Guillen

278

10

53

15.5

Laird

242

6

41

14.5

Renteria

317

10

55

14.2

Polanco

346

8

57

14.2

Rodriguez

189

5

30

13.2

Sheffield

276

19

53

12.3


Finally, we'll try one more thing. What happens if we just look at situations where runners are in scoring position? The average American Leaguer knocked in 28.9% of runners in scoring position. Cabrera (35.0) and Ordonez (32.7%) lead the list again. This time Granderson is third at 32.2 but Inge is still above average at 32.0.

Table 3 - Tigers RBI% Percentages in 2008 (RISP only, BB, HBP, SAC excluded)

Player

RISP

HR

RBI

RBI%

Cabrera

220

8

85

35.0

Ordonez

208

2

70

32.7

Granderson

115

3

40

32.2

Inge

103

1

34

32.0

Guillen

139

1

39

27.3

Renteria

154

2

42

26.0

Polanco

167

2

45

25.7

Laird

130

3

36

25.4

Sheffield

128

5

37

25.0

Rodriguez

99

1

24

23.2

Thames

96

5

27

22.9


Yes, there are more accurate ways to measure how well batters produced runs in different situations. There is Win Probability Added for example. However, sometimes it's good to step back and do something a little more simple. I think RBI% is something that goes a little beyond RBI, yet is a little easier for some to grasp than some of the more advanced statistics.

The information used here was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by
Retrosheet. Interested parties may contact Retrosheet at 20 Sunset Rd., Newark, DE
19711.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Adding arms to the Outfield - 2008

This is the eighth part of my series on fielding in 2008. The table of contents for the rest of the series is listed below:

Intro to series and ranking of first basemen
Second basemen
Third basemen
Shortstop

Left fielders
Center fielders
Right fielders

Earlier this week, John Walsh - a writer for The Hardball Times - wrote his annual report on outfielder arms. With the exception of the Fan Fielding Survey, all the measures that I have discussed in this series have focused on an outfielder's ability to catch fly balls. That is the most important part of outfield defense but the ability to stop the running game by throwing runners out or preventing them to advance is also important.

Using the the retrosheet database, Walsh considered any situations where a runner had a chance to take an extra base on a ball hit to the outfield (e.g. single with runner on first and second base unoccupied). For each outfielder, he counted the number of advancement opportunities, the number of times he threw a runner out (kill) and the number of times he prevented a runner from advancing (hold). From this, he determined how the outfielder compared to league average in each category. Then, using the run expectancy matrix (e.g how likely is it for a run to score with a man on first and third and no outs compared to a runner on first and one out), he then calculated runs saved above/below average for each outfielder.

I have taken these numbers and combined them with the range numbers presented in previous posts. Walsh calculated runs saved per 200 opportunities which is roughly a full season. The range numbers are runs saved per 150 games so they aren't exactly equivalent but close enough. In the three tables below you will find the following for each of the outfield positions:
  • Range - Runs saved per 150 games by range
  • Arm - Runs Saved per 150 games with arm
  • Total - Total Runs Saved per 150 games

Left field highlights (See table 1 below)

Best Arms - Alfonso Soriano (8.0), Fred Lewis (7.5)

Best Range - Carl Crawford (19.0)

Overall Leader - Carl Crawford (16.0)


Table 1: Runs saved by left fielders in 2008

Player

Team

Inn

Range

Arm

Total

Crawford

TB

920

19.0

-3.0

16.0

Lewis

SF

905

8.4

7.5

15.9

Holliday

Col

1,229

6.0

2.6

8.6

Soriano

ChC

937

-1.2

8.0

6.8

Braun

Mil

1,310

5.1

1.2

6.3

Scott

Bal

840

4.0

-3.5

0.5

Willingham

Fla

855

-0.6

-0.2

-0.8

Quentin

CWS

1,147

-5.4

2.9

-2.5

Headley

SD

713

0.1

-6.0

-5.9

Ramirez

Bos/LA

974

-10.2

4.1

-6.1

Burrell

Phi

1,198

-10.8

3.7

-7.1

Ibanez

Sea

1,340

-13.8

2.7

-11.1

Young

Min

1,324

-15.3

3.9

-11.4

Dunn

Cin/Ari

980

-5.4

-6.0

-11.4

Lee

Hou

915

-8.7

-8.4

-17.1

Bay

Bos/Pit

1,344

-10.0

-7.7

-17.7




Center field highlights (See Table 2 below)


Best Arms - Matt Kemp (11.3), B.J. Upton (7.9)

Best Range - Carlos Gomez (14.7)

Overall Leader - Carlos Gomez (17.1)

Tiger Arm - Curtis Granderson: slightly below average (-1.8)


Table 2: Runs saved by center fielders in 2008

Player

Team

Inn

Range

Arm

Total

Gomez

Min

1,271

14.7

2.4

17.1

Victorino

Phi

1,195

5.9

6.7

12.6

Upton

TB

1,248

3.3

7.9

11.2

Beltran

NYM

1,407

11.0

0.0

11.0

Kemp

LA

825

-1.5

11.3

9.8

Jones

Bal

1,102

5.9

3.7

9.6

Ross

Fla

866

7.3

2.2

9.5

Cabrera

NYY

973

1.4

3.0

4.4

Taveras

Col

993

0.6

3.7

4.3

Cameron

Mil

1,057

4.0

-0.7

3.3

Bourn

Hou

1,009

1.4

1.9

3.3

Young

Ari

1,390

6.2

-3.3

2.9

Patterson

Cin

798

1.2

-0.4

0.8

Sizemore

Cle

1,338

6.2

-8.2

-2.0

Gathright

KC

720

-4.4

1.4

-3.0

Granderson

Det

1,188

-2.4

-1.8

-4.2

Rowand

SF

1,275

-8.1

3.6

-4.5

Hunter

LAA

1,193

-0.0

-5.4

-5.4

Hamilton

Tex

912

-6.5

0.7

-5.8

Ankiel

StL

766

-12.8

4.3

-8.5

Crisp

Bos

886

-9.3

N/A

-9.3

Edmonds

ChC/SD

840

-13.1

N/A

-13.1

Wells

Tor

889

-13.8

-1.9

-15.7

McLouth

Pit

1,300

-16.2

0.0

-16.2

Milledge

Was

1,185

-14.1

-5.8

-19.9




Right field highlights (See Table 3 below)


Best Arms - Hunter Pence (9.2), Ryan Ludwick (8.7)

Best Range - Franklin Gutierrez (29.3)

Overall Leader - Franklin Gutierrez (30.9)

Tiger Arm - Magglio Ordonez: Exactly average (0)


Table 3: Runs saved by right fielders in 2008

Player

Team

inn

Range

Arm

Total

Gutierrez

Cle

763

29.3

1.6

30.9

Rios

Tor

820

16.1

N/A

16.1

Fukudome

ChC

1,103

13.5

0.8

14.3

Winn

SF

1,108

14.5

-0.4

14.1

Suzuki

Sea

788

9.4

3.0

12.4

Church

NYM

724

6.9

4.5

11.4

Markakis

Bal

1,367

2.6

7.8

10.4

Pence

Hou

1,366

-1.2

9.2

8.0

Gross

Mil/TB

768

7.0

N/A

7.0

Kearns

Was

734

11.5

-6.3

5.2

Ludwick

StL

962

-4.5

8.7

4.2

Francoeur

Atl

1,328

-3.7

2.6

-1.1

Drew

Bos

886

4.2

-5.9

-1.7

Hart

Mil

1,376

-0.5

-2.0

-2.5

Nady

NYY/Pit

763

-7.4

4.4

-3.0

Guerrero

LAA

839

-8.1

4.8

-3.3

Giles

SD

1,263

10.0

-13.6

-3.6

Upton

Ari

860

-0.7

-4.1

-4.8

Ethier

LA

881

-8.5

1.5

-7.0

Hermida

Fla

1,092

-3.1

-5.1

-8.2

Teahen

KC

756

-0.2

-8.3

-8.5

Ordonez

Det

1,144

-10.6

0.0

-10.6

Griffey Jr.

CWS/Cin

763

-17.6

3.7

-13.9

Dye

CWS

1,312

-11.3

-7.4

-18.7

Abreu

NYY

1,310

-15.0

-4.1

-19.1

Hawpe

Col

1,172

-29.6

-1.1

-30.7

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