Saturday, May 23, 2015

Inefficient Tigers Offense

Many Tigers fans have been complaining that the Tigers are leaving way too many men on base  and not scoring nearly as many runs as they should.  That is something fans talk about every year and it's usually not true.  This year, however, the masses seem to be correct.  The Tigers currently lead the American League with a .774 OPS but are only sixth with 4.4 runs per game.  So, something seems amiss both by observation and by the numbers.

Entering today's action, the Tigers lead the American League with 216 Runs Created.  Simply stated, this means that a typical team with a .280/.346/.428 batting line a quarter of the way through the season would be expected to have 216 runs scored.  The Tigers have only scored 190 runs which is 26 (or a whopping 12%) short of where they should be.  Table 1 below shows that no team in the league has a bigger negative differential between Runs and Runs Created (RC). 

Table 1: Differences In Runs and Runs Created for AL Teams, May 22, 2015
Team
Runs
RC
Diff.
Detroit
190
216
-26
Toronto
226
209
17
Kansas City
207
205
2
Oakland
187
191
-4
New York
188
190
1
Cleveland
179
188
-9
Houston
189
178
11
Texas
176
178
-2
Tampa Bay
170
176
-6
Baltimore
180
173
7
Boston
162
169
-7
Seattle
156
165
-9
Minnesota
185
159
26
Los Angeles
163
143
20
Chicago
143
143
2
Data source: Fan Graphs.com

A quick look at basic situational statistics begins to explain what is happening.  The Tigers lead the league with a .289 batting average with base empty, but are sixth in the AL batting .270 with runners on base.  As Neil Weinberg of TigsTown points out, they are particularly bad in one specific situations - runner at first base only:
...the Tigers are horrible with men on first base only. You’re probably thinking that’s a weird thing, and you’re right. The Tigers have a .704 OPS in 273 PA with a man on first only. In every other situation (1258 PA), they have a .780 OPS. 
Another way to look at situational hitting is with the RE24 statistic.  Statistics like on base percentage, slugging average and OPS don't address situational hitting. Traditional fans like to use Runs Batted In, but that is a team dependent statistic.  A player has more or less opportunity to drive in runs depending on who is batting in front of him.

Other fans point to batting average with runners in scoring position, 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).  It also 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 RunsBatting Runs Above Average by the 24 Base/Out States (RE24) - found at FanGraphs - does just that.   In the past, I have discussed just plain Batting Runs  (see the bottom section of the linked article).  Batting Runs (RAA) is an estimate of how many runs a player contributed to his team beyond what an average hitter would have contributed in his place.   RE24 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 Batting Runs, 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. On the other hand, 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.

RE24 for one at bat is the difference between run expectancy at the beginning and end of a play.  For example, suppose JD Martinez 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 Martinez 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, Martinez's double is worth 0.891 runs.

Summing RE24 over all of a batter’s plate appearances yields his season total RE24. For
example, Martinez has a RE24 of  -2.8 this year.  So, by this measure, he has contributed about 3 runs below what an average batter would have been expected to contribute given the same opportunities. This is quite a bit lower than his 6.4 Batting Runs, which means that Martinez has not been very good in situations with high run expectancy.  We can estimate that he has contributed 9 fewer runs than RAA indicates. 

Table 2 below shows the differential between RE24 and RAA for all Tigers regulars.  Most of the Tigers have negative differentials indicating their situational hitting has been poor.  The worst offenders have been Martinez and Nick Castellanos (-7).  The only Tiger with a positive differential so far is catcher Alex Avila at +2.  

Table 2: Differences In Batting Runs and Runs Created for AL Teams, May 22, 2015
Player
RAA
RE24
RE24-RAA
Cabrera
19
15
-4
J. Martinez
6
-3
-9
Gose
5
6
-1
Cespedes
5
5
0
Kinsler
4
4
0
Iglesias
4
1
-3
Davis
3
2
-1
McCann
2
-2
-4
Avila
0
2
2
Castellanos
-2
-9
-7
V. Martinez
-7
-8
-2
Data source: Fan Graphs.com

 So, it;'s true that the Tigers are not scoring as many runs as they should.  This is something that should even out over the course of the season though, especially since much of the problem lies in one random situation (runner on first only) as Weinberg found.  If they remain at the top of the league in OPS and wOBA, you can expect them to start scoring more as the season progresses.  

2 comments:

  1. AnonymousJune 03, 2015

    Lee, what did you mean to say here "The Tigers lead the league with a .289 batting average with runners on base, but are sixth in the AL batting .270 with runners on base."

    ReplyDelete
  2. Should say .289 with bases empty.

    ReplyDelete

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