Saturday, October 09, 2010

Tigers Run Total in Line With Their Stats

Many Tigers fans anguished about the Tigers inability to drive home runs this year.  They batted a league leading .270 with the bases empty, but hit only .256 with runners in scoring position.  Batting average only explains a a portion of run scoring though.  The question is could they have scored more than 751 runs if they were more efficient with their hits, extra base hits and walks?

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:

1B 0.47
2B 0.77
3B 1.04
HR 1.40
BB 0.31
IBB 0.17
HBP 0.33
SB 0.20
CS -0.42
outs -.097

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

Team R RC R-RC % Diff
Rays 802 739 63 7.8
Angels 681 644 37 5.5
Yankees 859 833 26 3.0
Rangers 787 765 22 2.8
White Sox 752 731 21 2.8
Twins 781 769 12 1.6
Athletics 663 661 2 0.3
Blue Jays 755 759 -4 -0.5
Tigers 751 756 -5 -0.7
Indians 646 658 -12 -1.8
Red Sox 818 836 -18 -2.3
Royals 676 704 -28 -4.1
Mariners 513 542 -29 -5.6
Orioles 613 648 -35 -5.7

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

Team R RC R-RC % Diff
Astros 611 575 36 5.9
Padres 665 637 28 4.2
Dodgers 667 646 21 3.2
Marlins 719 702 17 2.4
Cardinals 736 719 17 2.3
Phillies 772 761 11 1.4
Braves 738 730 8 1.1
Cubs 685 679 6 0.9
Mets 656 651 5 0.8
Giants 697 695 2 0.3
Rockies 770 768 2 0.3
Reds 790 788 2 0.2
Nationals 655 661 -6 -0.9
Pirates 587 593 -6 -1.1
Diamondbacks 713 724 -11 -1.5
Brewers 750 773 -23 -3.1

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”.


  1. Runs Created by Tigers hitters was good, not outstanding, but still good.

    It was the Runs Saved by pitchers which was poor.
    After Verlander, and possibly Scherzer, Tigers starters were negative in runs saved.
    in part to having 5th and AAAA starters in the rotation.

    They absolutely need a starter of Verlander's caliber for starter depth, along with a veteran setup man.
    Add a power hitter and they will be much better than .500

  2. They need more pitching, but I don't think we can expect them to get anyone like Verlander. They need Porcello to develop and I think they could use another third or fourth caliber starter. That might be Coke or it might be a free agent. Porcello is going to be a key though.

  3. Thanks Lee.

    What I'm really looking forward to seeing is your analysis that attempts to explain the huge disparity in road vs. home performance.

  4. Lee,

    Why were the Brewers so inefficient? Were you able to look at that?


  5. The Brewers hit a little better with the bases empty (.266 BA, .770 OPS) than with runners on base (.258 .744 OPS). They also lost an estimated 3-4 runs with baserunning.




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