Sunday, May 26, 2013

Cabrera Increasing his Value Even More with Situational Hitting

Tigers superstar Miguel Cabrera is off to an incredible start by any measure leading the American League in batting average, on-base percentage, OPS, total bases, times on base and wOBA. However, those numbers don't show just how productive he has been in the first couple of months. 

Many fans grumble that statistics like OPS don't account for situational hitting.  For example, if Cabrera singles with runners on second and third to drive home two runs, he gets the same credit as he would for a single with the bases empty.  Some will argue that this is not fair because he contributes more to his team in the former scenario than the latter.

Traditional fans like to address situational hitting with the familiar Runs Batted In statistic (another number by which Cabrera leads the league), but that is a team dependent measure.  A player has more or less opportunity to drive in runs depending on who is batting in front of him.  Thus, a player gets acknowledged for driving home runs, but does not get penalized for failing to drive home runs.  So, the RBI count is not a complete measure of situational hitting.

Other fans point to batting average with runners in scoring position (Cabrera is first there too!), but that is based on a limited number of plate appearances.  It also doesn't consider the number of outs, the specific base runners (e.g. bases loaded versus second base only) or the type of hit (single, double, triple or home run).  Additionally, it ignores a player's performance when no runners are in scoring position. 

What we want is a statistic which gives a player credit for everything he does including situational hitting.  Batting Runs Above Average by the 24 Base/Out States (RE24) - found at FanGraphs - does just that.  The RE24 statistic is also sometimes referred to as "Value Added".  This metric will give a player credit for his singles, doubles, and all other events, and gives him extra credit for hits occurring with runners on base.  It even gives him points for a scenario which most other metrics ignore - moving a runner over with a ground out.  Conversely, it subtracts points for hitting into double plays.

In a recent post, I discussed just plain Batting Runs or Weighted Runs Above Average (RAA) which is an estimate of how many runs a player contributed to his team beyond what an average hitter would have contributed in his place.  The RE24 metric is similar to RAA except that it uses base/out states in the calculation.  An example of a base/out state is "runners at first and third and one out".  There are 24 possible base/out states and RE24 takes all of them into consideration.

In the calculation of RAA, a double with the bases loaded and two outs counts the same (0.770 runs) as a double with the bases empty and no outs.  Conversely, RE24 counts the bases loaded double more than the bases empty double (2.544 versus 0.632) because it does more to increase the expected runs scored in the inning.

The RE24 metric for one at bat gives us the difference between run expectancy at the beginning and end of a play.  For instance, suppose Cabrera bats with a runner on first and one out. In that situation, we would expect 0.556 runs to score by the end of the inning.  Assume that Cabrera then doubles, putting runners on second and third with one out. In that situation, we would expect 1.447 runs to score by the end of the inning. Therefore, Cabrera's double is worth 0.891 runs.

Summing RE24 over all of a batter’s plate appearances yields his season total RE24. For example, Cabrera has a RE24 of 34.4 so far this year.  So, by that measure, he contributed 34.4 runs above what an average batter would have been expected to contribute given the same opportunities. This is higher than his 28.7 RAA, which means that Cabrera has been especially good in situations with high run expectancy and has added more to his team’s runs total than RAA indicates.  We can estimate that he has contributed an extra 6 runs with his situational hitting.

Since situational hitting is largely (although not completely) random, RE24 is less predictive than wRAA and should not be used as a measure of ability.  It is, however, a good alternative to RAA for looking at the value of past performance.

Table 1 below shows that Cabrera leads the league in both RAA and RE24.  Orioles first baseman Chris Davis is second on both numbers with 24.7 and 28.7 respectively.  Cabrera's teammate - Prince Fielder is the fifth in RE24 at 19.2.  Like Cabrera, the Tigers hefty first baseman is also doing particularly well in high leverage situations as evidenced by the 7.3 differential between RAA and RE24.

Table 1: American League RE24 Leaders, May 25, 2013

Player
Team
RAA
RE24
Diff.
Cabrera
Det
28.7
34.4
5.7
Davis
Bal
24.7
28.7
4.0
Trout
LA
16.4
22.4
6.0
Santana
Cle
13.4
19.2
5.8
Fielder
Det
11.9
19.2
7.3
Donaldson
Oak
14.7
17.9
3.2
Longoria
TB
16.0
17.4
1.4
Cano
NY
10.3
15.9
5.6
Gordon
KC
10.8
15.4
4.6
Loney
TB
12.3
12.3
0.0

Data source: FanGraphs.com

Table 2 below looks at RAA and RE24 for the Tigers.  After Cabrera and Fielder, the third highest RE24 belongs to spring training invitee Matt Tuiasosopo (8.6).  Not surprisingly for those following the team closely, the bottom two are Alex Avila (-13.2) and Victor Martinez (-10.6).  Avila's large negative differential (-5.4) indicates that he has performed even worse in higher leverage at bats.

Table 2: Tigers RE24, May 25, 2013

Player
RAA
RE24
Diff.
Cabrera
28.7
34.4
5.7
Fielder
11.9
19.2
7.3
Tuiasosopo
5.3
8.6
3.3
Hunter
4.0
7.5
3.5
Peralta
8.5
6.6
-1.9
Jackson
-0.2
2.9
3.1
Infante
3.7
2.2
-1.5
Dirks
1.0
-0.6
-1.6
Pena
1.9
-2.9
-4.8
Kelly
-2.2
-3.0
-0.8
Martinez
-9.6
-10.6
-1.0
Avila
-7.8
-13.2
-5.4
Data source: FanGraphs.com

6 comments:

  1. Great write-up and fantastic analysis for this wonderful statistic!

    ReplyDelete
  2. AnonymousMay 26, 2013

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  3. AnonymousMay 31, 2013

    Thanks for writing about these new age stats without calling people stupid.Yes, I did read one which said if you do not agree that Mike Trout is the AL MVP, and do not understand Sabermetric it only means you are stupid. At least we are having a conversation here about the old and the new stats. Having said that, I have fundamental misgivings about these new stats for reasons which have to do with mathematical properties of ratios. I have discussed this in some recent article (dealing only with the old stats where it is easy to see how a ratio y/x behaves).

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/144798463/What-is-Wrong-With-Ratio-Analysis-Baseball-Offers-an-Interesting-Example-with-Wider-Applications

    ReplyDelete
  4. AnonymousMay 31, 2013

    Why is there no option like Facebook or Linked In account? I chose anonymous since I was not offered the above two options.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sometimes there is a facebook option when I make comments. I'm not sure why it does not show up all the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have never seen an FB option or I would probably use that. Something definitely changed a couple months ago. I used to login to one method that seemed to connect with one of my many profiles out there, but now it doesn't login the same way or even display my name the way it did in the past. I think I was logging in under Disqus maybe? But that doesn't appear as an option for me any longer.

      But if I pick Wordpress it doesn't seem to work the same way as using Wordpress on other sites. It might be worth checking to see if you can do anything to standardize the options since I'm kind of confused with how to login or which one to pick each time I try to comment. Sometimes I have to try 2 or 3 before I remember which one I was using last that worked.

      Delete

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