Sunday, March 06, 2011

Tigers Who Got On Base

On Friday, I presented the Times On Base (TOB) leaders for 2010 and throughout baseball history.  Now, I'm going to do the same thing just for Tigers players.  The TOB statistic is the counting stat complement of the rate statistic On Base Percentage.  Whereas rates do a good job of measuring quality of performance, they tell us nothing about playing time.  That is where counting stats come into play.

Table 1 shows that Miguel Cabrera reached base 272 times last year, which was more than any other Tiger.  Austin Jackson (232) and Johnny Damon (217) were next in line.  Victor Martinez (189) should replace Damon in getting on base while adding some power. 

Table 1: Tigers Times On Base Leaders, 2010


Player
Team
PA
H
BB
HBP
TOB
Miguel Cabrera
DET
648
180
89
3
272
Austin Jackson
DET
675
181
47
4
232
Johnny Damon
DET
613
146
69
2
217
Victor Martinez
BOS
538
149
40
0
189
Brandon Inge
DET
580
127
54
5
186
Brennan Boesch
DET
512
119
40
5
164
Ryan Raburn
DET
410
104
27
8
139
Magglio Ordonez
DET
365
98
40
0
138
Ramon Santiago
DET
367
84
30
7
121
Alex Avila
DET
333
67
36
2
105


Table 2 shows that the legendary Ty Cobb reached base 336 times in 1915, a Tigers record which has stood the test of time.  Norm Cash had the second highest total (326) in his big 1961 season.  Cobb and second baseman Charlie Gehringer both appear on the top ten list three times.  For some, the biggest surprise on the list might be Tony Phillips with 313 TOB in 1993.  To put that in perspective, no major league player has reached base that many times in any of the last six seasons.


Table 2: Tigers Single Season Times On Base Leaders

Player
Year
PA
H
BB
HBP
TOB
Ty Cobb
1915
700
208
118
10
336
Norm Cash
1961
672
193
124
9
326
Charlie Gehringer
1934
708
214
99
3
316
Charlie Gehringer
1936
731
227
83
4
314
Tony Phillips
1993
707
177
132
4
313
Hank Greenberg
1937
701
200
102
3
305
Ty Cobb
1911
654
248
44
8
300
Charlie Gehringer
1937
660
209
90
1
300
Ty Cobb
1924
726
211
85
1
297
Hank Greenberg
1938
681
175
119
3
297

Not surprisingly, Ty Cobb, who leads the Tigers in almost everything, finished with over 5,000 TOB (5,133).  That is the third highest total of all time behind Pete Rose and Barry Bonds.   The closest Tiger was Al Kaline with 4,339.  The biggest surprises on the list might be shortstop Donie Bush with 2,899.

Table 3: Tigers Career Times On Base Leaders


Player
First year
Last year
pa
h
bb
hbp
tob
Ty Cobb
1905
1926
12,105
3,900
1,148
85
5,133
Al Kaline
1953
1974
11,597
3,007
1,277
55
4,339
Charlie Gehringer
1924
1942
10,237
2,839
1,186
50
4,075
Lou Whitaker
1977
1995
9,967
2,369
1,197
20
3,586
Harry Heilmann
1914
1929
8,390
2,499
792
39
3,330
Alan Trammell
1977
1996
9,375
2,365
850
37
3,252
Sam Crawford
1903
1917
8,869
2,466
646
16
3,128
Norm Cash
1960
1974
7,772
1,793
1,025
85
2,903
Donie Bush
1908
1921
8,451
1,745
1,125
29
2,899
Bobby Veach
1912
1923
6,782
1,859
512
53
2,424

Note: The raw data used to calculate Times On Base came from Lahman's database.

5 comments:

  1. Nice post Lee. Kind of gives you a different feel for a player's career, or for an outstanding season...Whitaker's career stands out surprisingly, as do the unreal individual seasons of Cash and Phillips.
    Thanks, I enjoy your work.
    Arlie

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Arlie. I'm glad Phillips's season stood out, because sometimes people forget how good he was.

    Lee

    ReplyDelete
  3. Interesting to see the 1993 Philips season jumping up there with some legends. I always appreciate a player who can contribute offensive value by not swinging, we could use some of that skill on the current team! That's one of the reasons why I can't stand Jim Leyland cause he encourages his hitters to be too aggressive in counts/situations that are favorable to take pitches, and too often we foolishly trade balls for strikes which cut into our offensive odds overall.

    ReplyDelete
  4. During Leyland's tenure, the Tigers are 4th in the A.L. in batting average and 10th in BB%, so it's true that his teams have not walked much. They also strike out more than most - 5th highest k%. I'm not sure how much of that is him and how much of it is the roster he's been given. He does say that he values hitters who drive in runs more than hitters who get on base.

    ReplyDelete
  5. It's Leyland. We have great hitters and crappy hitters, but nevertheless all players on average swing too often in strategic non-swinging situations. It doesn't matter how good a hitter is or how he thinks cause ultimately the manager can do anything he wants. He can give a green light, a red light, or leave it up to the hitter (yellow light). Not to mention, the GM can always instruct his managers to get this right, so he's a backup check and balance that should leave the team safe from making this mistake.

    Leyland's ratio on this mix of decisions is just awful and it has been obvious for years. To use a poker analogy, generally it's more offensive and a greater likelihood that you win any given hand if you PLACE A BET. But just because that is so doesn't mean you always place a bet. Sometimes your hand is too weak to bet on, or the pot is not big enough to bet at, and sometimes you can get your opponent to bet into you when you have a good hand and that's better than leading out with a bet. So to maximize your poker winnings, you need a mix that finds the breakeven marriage point of those 3 decision constructs to give you the best cumulative value in conjunction with the odds of each of those events as it relates to their payoff trees. The best mix leads to the most total money which is the OBJECT OF THE GAME, and Leyland's baseball mix is not harnessing the sweet spots of the science of those numbers. He just has no clue how this works so he goes with his gut, which is too often to tell his hitters to do whatever they think (yellow light), and when you leave it up to the hitters they tend to swing a lot more than they should cause that's what they know. They spend their entire lives trying to hit baseballs, not to avoid hitting baseballs, the players just don't know any better. So the more often you leave it in their hands, the more often you are going to get bad swing attempts. Plus he's heavy on the green light/red light ratio, so he has 2 ways that he is forcing our offensive to get less than what they are actually worth!

    The only thing that isn't obvious is if both the green lights and yellow lights are both being ordered too much, or if it is just one or the other. But I guarantee you one of those colors is being called too much, and just assume that it is most likely to be half and half, since Leyland appears to be unsophisticated and guessing, I would think it's more likely to be a half and half problem as opposed to a double problem for just one of the green/yellow choices. Green light choices are very infrequent however as compared to yellow lights which are on by default, so maybe it's a simple solution for Jim to not worry about the calls he does make, but rather to say something instead of doing nothing and order a red light instead of standing pat from time to time. As I think about it more, that's probably the easiest solution for him to improve that area.

    He also has this problem with SB decisions, PH decisions, and bunting decisions etc. If you don't know how to logically apply a well thought out mix, then you have an extreme longshot of randomly guessing the right mix (I estimate about 15-1 to be within 2% of optimal settings on any given category if you don't have a logical foundation behind your thoughts), so you can see how it's easy for a bad manager to strike out on all 5 categories or so (there's more like lineup decisions that can be included too), and it's killing our team when you add up the lost margins from all of these areas. It adds up to a lot! It's like paying an extra sales tax on top of all our contracts, one that is completely voluntary. Sure you can go to a casino and somehow walk away gambling at roulette, but the odds are that the house is going to kill you in the long-run. Leyland basically represents the addition of those 2 dead green spots that he self-creates!

    Smart baseball can eliminate this vigorish that ultimately gets paid to the other team!

    ReplyDelete

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