The Tigers finished 8th in the American League in runs and seventh in OPS. So, based on OPS, it doesn’t appear that they should have ranked a lot better in runs than they did. As I’ve explained before though, OPS does not do the best job of summarizing an offense. First, it does not consider baserunning at all. It also weights OBP and slugging equally when OBP contributes about 80% more to run scoring than slugging.
Based on the results of thousands of games, we know that there are more accurate ways to weight offensive events. According to linear weights theory, the average single single is worth 0.47 runs. In other words, if one single is added to a team’s hit total in each game for 100 games, that team would be expected to add 47 runs to their season total. Other events are weighted as follows:
The formula for linear weights runs created (RC) looks like this:
RC = (0.47 x 1B + 0.77 x 2B + 1.04 x 3B + 1.40 x HR +0.31 x BB + 0.17 x IBB + 0.33 x HBP + 0.20 x SB – 0.42 x CS - .097 x (AB-H)
If you plug a team’s numbers of singles, doubles and everything else into the formula, you will arrive at an estimate of how may runs a team should have scored. Table 1 below tells us that the Tigers should have scored 756 runs with their offense. That is just five more runs than they actually scored. So, they were a little inefficient with their offense but probably not as much as some fans suggested.
Table 1: Runs Versus Runs Created for AL Teams, 2010
Five American League teams undershot their runs created by more than the Tigers did. The least efficient team was the Orioles, who scored 35 runs fewer than expected. Part of that was baserunning. Beyond stolen bases and caught stealing, the Orioles were 7 runs below average on the bases (according to the Equivalent Baserunning stats at Baseball Prospectus). A .661 OPS with runners in scoring position probably did not help either.
The most efficient team in the league was the Rays, who scored 63 more runs than expected. They they helped themselves with an estimated 9 runs on the bases (other than SB and CS). They also hit a lot better with runners in scoring position (.790 OPS) than with the bases empty (.699). The National League results are shown in Table 2.
Table 2: Runs Versus Runs Created for NL Teams, 2010
I think the lesson to be learned here was that the Tigers did not have a major problem getting the most out of their offensive output. Thus, they should not necessarily be looking to be more efficient next year. Instead, they should aim to add more hits, walks and extra base hits. If they can get players who do that, they’ll score more runs even if they don’t always get their hits “at the right time”.