Saturday, August 03, 2013

How Good Are The Tigers at Taking Advantage of RBI Opportunities?

There is nothing more frustrating for a baseball fan than seeing his or her team get runners on base and failing to score.  How many times this year have you listened to a Tigers game and heard television broadcaster Mario Impemba or Radio voice Dan Dickerson use the phrase: "Tigers threaten but do not score?"  It seems like too many times, but was it really worse for the Tigers than other teams?  Or did it just seem that way because of our emotional attachment to our favorite team?

One way to answer this question is with the RBI opportunity statistics at Baseball Prospectus. Using that data, we can determine how many runners the Tigers had on base in their plate appearances and how many of those runners scored. For example if Miguel Cabrera comes up with with the bases loaded and doubles home two runs, that is three base runners and two runs for a 66.7% success rate.  A batter does not get credit for driving himself in, so if Cabrera hits a grand slam, it's three runners and three runs (not four) for a 100% success rate.

Summing over all of the Tigers plate appearances, we can obtain their total Runners on Base (ROB) and total scored or Others Batted In (OBI) not including the batters themselves.  Table 1 shows that the Tigers have had 2,835 ROB in their plate appearances, second highest in the American League to the Red Sox (2,874).  So, they have given themselves plenty of opportunities to score runs.  Given that they lead the league in On-Base Percentage, this is not surprising.

They have been able to score 411 (or 14.5%) of those runners.  This may not sound like a lot, but it is better than the league average of 13.8%.  It is also better than the Tigers rate of 14.2 in 2012.

The data can also be broken down by bases on which the runners were situated.  The Tigers have had 1,455 runners on first base and scored 76 of them  for a 5.2 OBI% (versus a league average of 4.8).  They are also above the league average with runners on second (17.4% versus 16.0% ) and third (38.4% versus 36.3%).

Table 1: RBI Opportunities and Successes for Tigers, 2013
Base
ROB
OBI
OBI%
Lg %
Rank
First
1,455 76 5.2 4.8 3rd
Second
927 161 17.4 16.0 4th
Third
453 177 38.4 36.3 3rd
Total
2,835 411 14.5 13.8 5th

Data Source: Baseball Prospectus

Table 2 shows the OBI% for each AL team.  The Orioles lead the league  at 15.3 followed by the Indians (14.9).  The Tigers were fifth at 14.5.  You might think that the Tigers should be higher than that given that the lead the league with a .280 batting average, but they are only fifth in home runs (123) and sixth in isolated power (.158).  Thus, they are driving in runners at about the pace you should expect.  

Table 2: RBI Percentages for AL Teams, 2013

Team
ROB
OBI
OBI%
Baltimore
2,362
361
15.3
Cleveland
2,584
386
14.9
Boston
2,874
425
14.8
Toronto
2,312
337
14.6
Detroit
2,835
411
14.5
Tampa Bay
2,545
356
14.0
Los Angeles
2,547
352
13.8
Kansas City
2,429
333
13.7
Oakland
2,564
345
13.5
Texas
2,414
321
13.3
Chicago
2,184
283
13.0
Seattle
2,389
295
12.3
New York
2,377
293
12.3
Minnesota
2,555
314
12.3
  Data Source: Baseball Prospectus

Which Tigers are best at getting runners home? It's no shock that Cabrera leads the team with a 21.5 OBI% (See Table 3).  In other words, he has driven in over 21 percent of the runners who have been on base in his plate appearances.  This is second in the league to Orioles slugger Chris Davis (22.6).  Outfielder Matt Tuiasosopo is second on the Tigers with 21.2 in limited at bats.  The next regular is right fielder Torii Hunter at 16.3 followed by hefty first baseman Prince Fielder (16.0).

How is Hunter with just 53 RBI ahead of first baseman Prince Fielder who is fifth in the league with 76 RBI? Fielder has a lot of RBI, in part, because he has had more opportunities (369 ROB) than any player in the majors.  Hunter has has had far fewer base runners (257) but has taken slightly better advantage of those chances thanks to a .358 batting average with runners on base (third best in the AL).  Fielder's .286 average with runners on base is not bad but not as spectacular as Hunter or Cabrera, the league leader at .385.

The Tigers do have some regulars with OBI% substantially below average including Andy Dirks (8.5%), Omar Infante (10.5%) and Austin Jackson (10.9%).  Overall though, the Tigers have been fairly successful at taking advantage of their run-scoring opportunities.  

Table 3: RBI Percentages for Tigers Players, 2013


Player
ROB
OBI
OBI%
Miguel Cabrera
312
67
21.5
Matt Tuiasosopo
99
21
21.2
Torii Hunter
257
42
16.3
Prince Fielder
369
59
16.0
Jhonny Peralta
273
43
15.8
Victor Martinez
334
51
15.3
Alex Avila
186
24
12.9
Avisail Garcia
68
8
11.8
Don Kelly
95
11
11.6
Brayan Pena
127
14
11.0
Austin Jackson
174
19
10.9
Omar Infante
200
21
10.5
Andy Dirks
212
18
8.5
Ramon Santiago
82
6
7.3
 Data Source: Baseball Prospectus  

2 comments:

  1. Seems odd that the Tigers can rank 3rd, 4th, and 3rd in each of the scenarios but fall to 5th overall.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I noticed that too. It's because the Tigers were just barely ahead (second decimal) of other teams in a couple of the scenarios.

    ReplyDelete

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