Sunday, January 10, 2016

Which Hitters Were Best At Advancing Runners in 2015?

Reds star Joey Votto excelled at advancing runners in 2015
(Photo credit: USA Today/ Sports Illustrated)

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 baserunners 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 baserunner 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 baserunners, 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 programmed the odd-ball occurrences discussed, but they should not change the results too much.   

These counting statistics are not a replacement for Batting Runs or Base Runs 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 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 1 shows that Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo advanced more runners (206) than any player in baseball in 2015  The American League leader was Royals designated hitter Kendrys Morales with 190. 

Conversely, Reds outfielder Jay Bruce led everyone in non-advances with 310 with teammate Todd Frazier next in line at 307.  Part of the reason for all their failures though was that they were also among the leaders in opportunities to advance runners - Frazier with 452 and Bruce with 415.  


Table 1: MLB Runners Advanced Leaders, 2015
Player
Team
OBI
RAS
Unrewarded
Advances
Anthony Rizzo
Chicago
70
62
74
206
Bryce Harper
Washington
57
67
70
194
Kendrys Morales
Kansas City
84
53
53
190
Prince Fielder
Texas
75
58
54
187
Buster Posey
San Francisco
76
44
67
187
Xander Bogaerts
Boston
74
55
53
182
Adrian Beltre
Texas
65
51
65
181
Kris Bryant
Chicago
73
45
63
181
Matt Duffy
San Francisco
65
60
56
181
Josh Donaldson
Toronto
82
54
42
178
Data source:Retrosheet

Table 2: MLB Non-Advancement Leaders, 2015
Player
Team
Neutrals
Giveaways
Non-advances
Jay Bruce
Cincinnati
29
281
310
Todd Frazier
Cincinnati
16
291
307
Carlos Santana
Cleveland
39
265
304
Eric Hosmer
Kansas City
24
257
281
Marcus Semien
Oakland
18
262
280
Albert Pujols
Los Angeles
24
250
274
J.D. Martinez
Detroit
22
250
272
Jhonny Peralta
St. Louis
20
251
271
Kyle Seager
Seattle
24
244
268
David Ortiz
Boston
35
231
266
         Data source:Retrosheet

Bruce and Frazier finishing among the leaders in both opportunities and non-advances reminds us that these new measures are counting statistics like RBI which are dependent on opportunity.   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 3 indicates that Reds first baseman Joey Votto advanced 165 of 309 baserunners (excluding neutral plate appearances) for a .534 Advance Percentage.  This was the top percentage among players with 200 or more baserunners in their plate appearances.  Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera was the American League leader at .529.  The trailers are shown in Table 4 led by Indians outfielder Brandon Moss at .273.     

Table 5 shows that were some surprises among the Tigers Advancement leaders with outfielder Tyler Collins (.517) and catcher Alex Avila (.404) finishing second and third on the team.                             

                                       Table 3: MLB Advance Percentage Leaders, 2015
Player
Team
BR
ADV
ADV%
Joey Votto
Cincinnati
309
165
.534
Miguel Cabrera
Detroit
295
156
.529
Shin-Soo Choo
Texas
334
173
.518
Bryce Harper
Washington
375
194
.517
Anthony Rizzo
Chicago
407
206
.506
Mike Trout
Los Angeles
312
154
.494
Cesar Hernandez
Philadelphia
217
104
.479
Dee Gordon
Florida
261
125
.479
Matt Duffy
San Francisco
378
181
.479
Joe Mauer
Minnesota
330
158
.479
 Data source:Retrosheet

                                        Table 4: MLB Advance Percentage Trailers, 2015
Player
Team
BR
ADV
ADV%
Brandon Moss
Cleveland
275
75
.273
Jason Castro
Houston
204
58
.284
Jimmy Rollins
Los Angeles
296
88
.297
Mike Zunino
Seattle
250
75
.300
Marcus Semien
Oakland
375
113
.301
Scooter Gennett
Milwaukee
202
62
.307
Yasiel Puig
Los Angeles
204
63
.309
Yan Gomes
Cleveland
262
84
.321
Hanley Ramirez
Boston
285
92
.323
Jay Bruce
Cincinnati
415
134
.323
Data source:Retrosheet

Table 5: Tigers Advance Percentages, 2015
Player
OPP
ADV
ADV%
Miguel Cabrera
295
156
.529
Tyler Collins
120
62
.517
Alex Avila
104
42
.404
Nick Castellanos
341
135
.396
Ian Kinsler
357
136
.381
Jose Iglesias
233
88
.378
Andrew Romine
139
52
.374
J.D. Martinez
399
149
.373
Yoenis Cespedes
260
97
.373
Victor Martinez
343
127
.370
James McCann
268
95
.354
Rajai Davis
199
67
.337
Anthony Gose
269
88
.327
Data source:Retrosheet


3 comments:

  1. Really interesting stuff...thanks Lee.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You posit a scenario where a batter walks with a runner on second, calling that a "neutral" event. Is it really? Isn't a team more likely to score (or at least more likely to score multiple runs) with men on first and second then with just a man on first? Perhaps it varies by outs--setting up a double play is a negative value of the walk if there are less than two outs.

    ReplyDelete
  3. In that scenario, the team is more likely to score multiple runs because they now have two men on base instead of one. However, the runner on second is not more likely to score which is what is being measured here. In other words, the player potentially helped the team by getting on base, but the event was neutral in terms of base runner advancement.

    ReplyDelete

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