Saturday, February 01, 2014

Which Players Were Best at Advancing Runners in 2013?



Prince Fielder had more opportunities to advance runners than any hitter in 2013 and led the AL in both successes and failures.  (Photo credit: Getty Images)

In earlier posts, I discussed some statistics which describe how runs are scored: (1) Baseball Prospectus' Others Batted In Percentage statistic which is the percent of runners on base which a batter drives in; (2) Runs Assisted which is the number of runs to which a batted contributed without getting a run scored or RBI. In this post, I'll talk about other things that can happen in a plate appearance where there are runners on base.  

The events that can occur when batters are presented with base runners can be put into two broad categories (Advancement and Non-advancement) and five sub-categories.  There are three types of Advances (ADV):
  • Other Batted In (OBI) - A base runner is driven in by the batter.  It's the same thing as an RBI except a player does not get credit for driving himself in with a home run.
  • Run Assisted (RAS) - A batter advances a runner to either second or third with a hit, base on balls, hit batsmen, error, sacrifice bunt, or another kind of out.  If that runner then scores either during the same at bat or an ensuing at bat, the batter who advanced him is given a Run Assisted.
  • Unrewarded Advancement (UNR) - A batter advances a runner, but the runner does not score by the end of the inning.  
When I first presented the Runs Assisted metric, I also included a second part to the definition: "A batter reaches base and is removed for a pinch runner or is replaced by another runner on a force out.  If the new runner then scores, the batter who originally reached base is given a Run Assisted".   Here, I am only looking at whether a batter advances base runners, so the second portion is excluded.

There are two types of Non-advances (NADV):
  • Neutral (NEU) - A batter does not advance a runner, but there are no outs on the play. (e.g. a walk with a runner on second)
  • Giveaway (GA) - A batter fails to advance a runner and one or more outs are made either at the plate or on the bases.
It is possible to have an Advance and a Giveaway in the same plate appearance.  For example, a batter comes up with runners on first and second and hits into a force out at second advancing the runner to third.  In that case, he gets credit for a Giveaway for the first runner and an Advance (either a RAS or UNR) for the second runner.  These statistics are discussed further in the comments section of a post at Tom Tango's Book Blog.  I basically followed his algorithm presented in comment #31. I have not yet programmed the odd-ball occurrences discussed, but they should not change the results too much.   

Table 1 below shows that there were 55,844 runners on base in all American League plate appearances in 2013. A total of 21,000 (or 37.6%) were advanced including Others Batted In (13.5%), Runs Assisted (10.5%) and Unrewarded Advances (13.6%).  There were 34,844 Non-advances (62.4%) including Neutrals (4.3%) and Giveaways (58.2%).   The National League percentages were similar. 

Table 1: Advancement of Runners by League , 2012
League
        American
       National
Category
n
%
n
%
Baserunners
55,884
100.0
     54,513
Advances
21,000
37.6
20,536
         37.7
   Others Batted In
7,525
13.5
7,086
13.0
   Runs Assisted
5,880
10.5
5,606
10.3
   Unrewarded Advances
7,595
13.6
7,844
14.4
Non-advances
34,884
62.4
33,977
62.3
   Neutrals
2,382
4.3
2,595
4.8
   Giveaways
32,502
58.2
31,382
57.6

These counting statistics are not a replacement for Batting Runs or True Average or any of your other favorite batting evaluation statistics.  Their primary purpose is to fill gaps in baseball data collection.  I find it interesting to know how successful a batter was in advancing runners and how often he failed.  In a more sophisticated analysis, these statistics might possibly have some practical use in building batting orders or in looking at the age-old clutch questions.  This post only serves as an introduction to some new statistical categories.

Table 2 shows that Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips advanced more runners (220) than any player in baseball in 2013.  The American League leader was Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder with 215.  Does it seem like Fielder was the best in the league at advancing runners last year?  If it doesn't feel that way to you, there's a reason for it. Table 3 tells us that Fielder also failed to advance a league-leading 321 base runners.  If we remove Neutrals from the equation (as many of those are walks where the batter has not given any good pitches to hit), Fielder still led with 294 giveaways. 

                                     Table 2: Runners Advanced Leaders, 2013

Player
Team
OBI
RAS
Unrewarded
Advances
Brandon Phillips
Cincinnati
85
63
72
220
Prince Fielder
Detroit
81
50
84
215
Paul Goldschmidt
Arizona
89
48
69
206
Miguel Cabrera
Detroit
93
51
59
203
Joey Votto
Cincinnati
49
80
73
202
Dustin Pedroia
Boston
75
69
57
201
Robinson Cano
New York
80
45
73
198
Adrian Gonzalez
Los Angeles
78
52
64
194
Matt Holliday
St. Louis
72
69
52
193
Hunter Pence
San Francisco
72
38
82
192

Table 3: Non-Advancement Leaders, 2013

Player
Team
Neutrals
Giveaways
Non-advances
Prince Fielder
Detroit
27
294
321
Jay Bruce
Cincinnati
41
274
315
Victor Martinez
Detroit
22
291
313
Hunter Pence
San Francisco
14
279
293
Pedro Alvarez
Pittsburgh
25
268
293
Mike Napoli
Boston
26
264
290
Josh Hamilton
Los Angeles
17
270
287
Mark Trumbo
Los Angeles
19
268
287
Adrian Beltre
Texas
24
260
284
Dustin Pedroia
Boston
19
258
277
 

Fielder leading the league in both advances and non-advances tells us something about these new measures. They are counting statistics like RBI which are dependent on opportunity and nobody had more chances with runners on base than Fielder batting behind MVP Miguel Cabrera. So, it's useful to compute a rate.  There are several ways that could be done, but one simple one is Advance Percentage (ADV%).  

Table 4 indicates that Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig advanced 184 of 348 base runners (excluding neutral plate appearances) for a .508 percentage.  This was the top percentage among players with 200 or more base runners in their plate appearances.  The trailers are shown in Table 5 led by Braves outfielder B.J. Upton at .258. 


Table 4: Advance Percentage Leaders, 2013

Player
Team
Base runners
Advances
%
Allen Craig
St. Louis
348
184
.508
Matt Holliday
St. Louis
363
193
.501
Robinson Cano
New York
369
198
.497
Shane Victorino
Boston
271
139
.488
Matt Carpenter
St. Louis
289
147
.479
Freddie Freeman
Atlanta
366
188
.475
Adrian Gonzalez
Los Angeles
403
194
.464
Yadier Molina
St. Louis
333
160
.461
Jason Kipnis
Cleveland
371
178
.460
Torii Hunter
Detroit
409
190
.459
Joey Votto
Cincinnati
398
202
.458
Paul Goldschmidt
Arizona
409
206
.458
Josh Donaldson
Oakland
381
189
.458
Miguel Cabrera
Detroit
405
203
.456
Erick Aybar
Los Angeles
323
148
.454
 
 Table 5: Advance Percentage Trailers, 2013 

Player
Team
Base runners
Advances
%
B.J. Upton
Atlanta
255
69
.258
J.P. Arencibia
Toronto
299
82
.271
Rajai Davis
Toronto
214
62
.284
Dan Uggla
Atlanta
296
92
.285
Jedd Gyorko
San Diego
326
97
.287
Alfonso Soriano
Chicago
225
69
.294
Raul Ibanez
Seattle
274
84
.296
Lucas Duda
New York
202
68
.298
Chris Young
Oakland
244
75
.299
Will Middlebrooks
Boston
235
74
.301
 
 The information used here was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet.  Interested parties may contact Retrosheet at Retrosheet.org.  

3 comments:

  1. Rajai Davis made the list, but the rule with him is his stats need to be broken down vs LHP and RHP, please convert!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Convert it yourself, "expert".

      Delete
    2. It was more in jest, just sticking to the theme that Rajai Davis is only as valuable as you can platoon him into an advantageous matchup.

      Delete

Sabermetrics Book

Sabermetrics Book
One of Baseball America's top ten books of 2010

Blog Archive

Subscribe

501 Baseball Books

501 Baseball Books
Recommended by Tiger Tales

Stat Counter

Site Meter