Bases and Runs after August

SWC75

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#1
I’ll continue this season to make monthly reports on the top ten batters in each league in “bases produced” and “runs produced”.

The first stat is something I invented in preference to “OPS” or “production”. I like the idea of combining the two basic percentages: on base percentage and slugging percentage, (both of which are better measures of a player’s offense than batting average), but I have a few problems with it. You are adding together two percentages with different divisors: total plate appearances and “official” at bats. You are counting hits on both sides of the equation and thus counting them twice. You are including something the hitter is not actually trying to do: get hit by a pitch. And you are excluding something he is trying to do, something that turns singles into doubles and doubles into triples: steal a base. Also, you wind up with a stat that, while it serves as a ranking isn’t directly translatable into something you can understand. It looks like a percentage but it isn’t. Mike Trout as of May 1st has an OPS of 1.039. That’s better than Bryce Harper 0.986) but not as good as Christian Villanueva (1.103). But what does it mean? Trout didn’t do something 1,039 times. He didn’t do something 1.039 percent of the time. Finally, I like gross numbers more than percentages. Gross numbers are what actually happened. Percentages are a rate of production, which will produce higher gross numbers if they are better unless there are fewer games played or at bats. And, in that case you don’t know that the rate of production would have continued had there been more games and at bats. It’s only the bases and runs that were actually produced that show up on the scoreboard and determine the outcome of actual games.

My solution is to add the batting bases a hitter produced, (1 for a single, 2 for a double, 3 for a triple and 4 for a home run), to the walks to the stolen bases and call that “bases produced”. It would be the leading contributory statistic to the production of runs. If you want to turn it into a percentage, you could divide it by total plate appearances. But I prefer an average per game statistic: the top players in the league tend to play whole games. You’ll find that great offensive player will produce around 3 bases per game. That’s easy to comprehend. And you can watch a game and just count the bases the players accumulate. If your favorite player is in the race for MVP and he walks twice, hits a double and steals a base, he’s increased his base production by 5 bases. What did the other guy do?

The obvious sister stat for bases production is “runs produced”, which has been around for decades: runs scored plus runs batted in minus home runs, (so you don’t count them twice: they are the same run, scored and driven in by the same guy). A top offensive player will produce about 1 run per game. 3 bases and 1 run per game. That’s easy to remember. If all nine guys in the line-up did that, you’d be pretty tough to beat.

This year I’ve decided to add a few other stats, one of which will allow me to evaluate pitchers, too. The first one I’m calling “clutch percentage”. I’m a Mets fan and noticed that Yoenis Cespedes was, by most measures, having a poor season:.233 batting average, .292 on base percentage, .437 slugging percentage, 43 strike-outs. But he was second in the league in RBIs in April with 25. Watching the games, I noticed that while he often made outs, when he did get a hit, it was always a big one and often produced runs. I decided to divide his RBIs by his total batting bases (45). The result was .556. The one guy with more RBIs in April was Javier Baez of the Cubs, who had 26 RBI but who had 63 TBB (.413). Cespedes seems to have been a much bigger ‘clutch’ hitter. Baez was hitting .280/.333/.630 with only 24 strike outs. But who was really having the better year?

I’m aware that many people in baseball don’t think there is such a thing as clutch hitting. I don’t agree: I watch the games and it is completely apparent that it’s not just what you do but when you do it that counts. It will be interesting to see how this stat evolves over the season. If it changes radically, that would suggest that it’s not a meaningful stat, at least beyond the short term. If the guys at the top remain somewhat stable, that would indicate that maybe there is such a thing as “clutch hitting”.

I’ve always wanted to do something to evaluate pitchers. When I look at a box score, (and I’ve had occasion lately to look at Mets box scores to try to figure out the pitching), I look at the innings pitches and multiply by 3, (and add the fraction: ‘.1’ = 1 more out; ‘.2’ = two more outs) to get the number of outs the pitcher recorded. Then I look at hits and walks to get the number of baserunners. I look at the ratio of outs to baserunners. Then I look at earned runs and compare that to the number of baserunners, (who are on by this and walks, not errors). What percentage of them scored? This season Jacob DeGrom, (before throwing his elbow out swinging the bat), had gotten 130 outs, given up 32 hits and 11 walks (for a total of 43 baserunners) and 9 earned runs. If you add the outs and the baserunners and divide the baserunners by that, you get the pitcher’s on-base percentage (130 + 43 = 173; 43/173 = .173). Then if you dive the earned runs by the baserunners, you get a percentage of baserunners that scored (9/43 = .209). That’s how you get a 2.06 ERA. Jason Vargas in his two starts, pitched 8.1 innings (he got 25 outs). He’s given up 20 hits, 5 walks (25 baserunners) and 15 earned runs. That’s an OBP of .500 and a ‘scoring percentage’ of .600. That’s how you get a 16.20 ERA.

Looking at the stats on Baseballreference.com, they have something the box scores don’t have: hit by pitch, (HBP). I don’t include that in base production because the hitter is not trying to get hit by a pitch: it’s the equivalent of a fielding error to him. But a pitcher is certainly trying to avoid hitting people, 9unless a grudge is involved), so it seems legitimate to include that in baserunners allowed: we are just trying to factor out fielding errors and HBP is not the equivalent of that for a pitcher. Baseballreference.com also gives “BF”, which is not “best friend” but rather “batter’s faced”, so I decided to make the formula H+BB+HBP/BF. DeGrom in April faced 155 batters, gave up 30 hits, 11 walks and hit 1 batter, (this doesn’t include his last partial start where he gave up 2 hits). That’s 42/155 = .271 OBP. He gave up 9 earned runs for a scoring percentage of (9/42 =) .214.

I looked at the top 50 batters in each league in RBIs and runs scored, (a total of 138 different batters in April) and the top pitchers in innings pitched in each league (a total of 100 pitchers) and came up with top tens in each league in bases produced, (and then averaged them per game and per at bat), in runs produced (ditto), and in “clutch percentage”, and the top ten pitchers in each league in OBP and “scoring percentage”.

(The bases and runs produced top tens are ranked in order of gross bases and runs produced with the per game average as the first tie-breaker and the per plate appearance percentage as the second tie-breaker. If still tied, they are listed alphabetically and if there is a tie for 10th, all those tied will be listed For clutch percentage the number of RBIs will be the tie breaker and for the pitchers the number of baserunners will be the tie breaker for OBP and earned runs for scoring percentage.).

AFTER AUGUST

AL

Bases Produced
Jose Ramirez, Indians 407 in 132 games (3.08) and 583 plate appearances (.698)
Mookie Betts, Red Sox 382 in 116 games (3.29) and 529 plate appearances (.722)
J. D. Martinez, Red Sox 381 in 128 games (2.98) and 557 plate appearances (.684)
Mike Trout, Angels 370 in 116 games (3.19) and 512 plate appearances (.723)
Francisco Lindor, Indians 368 in 132 games (2.79) and 618 plate appearances (.595)
Alex Bregman, Astros 355 in 132 games (2.69) and 596 plate appearances (.596)
Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees 335 in 134 games (2.50) and 597 plate appearances (.561)
Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox 325 in 127 games (2.56) and 573 plate appearances (.567)
Sin-Soo Choo, Rangers 314 in 125 games (2.51) and 579 plate appearances (.542)
Khris Davis, Athletics 315 in 126 games (2.50) and 550 plate appearances (.573)

(The 64 AL players who were in the top 50 in RBIs or runs scored averaged 261 bases produced.)

Comments: The top four guys are the likely MVPs. Will the rex Sox players split the vote?


Runs Produced
J. D. Martinez, Red Sox 175 in 128 games (1.37) and 557 plate appearances (.314)
Francisco Lindor, Indians 159 in 132 games (1.20) and 618 plate appearances (.257)
Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox 154 in 127 games (1.21) and 573 plate appearances (.269)
Alex Bregman, Astros 151 in 132 games (1.14) and 596 plate appearances (.253)
Mookie Betts, Red Sox 150 in 116 games (1.29) and 529 plate appearances (.284)
Jose Ramirez, Indians 148 in 132 games (1.12) and 583 plate appearances (.254)
Khris Davis, Athletics 142 in 126 games (1.13) and 550 plate appearances (.258)
Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees 138 in 134 games (1.03) and 597 plate appearances (.231)
Eddie Rosario, Twins 135 in 130 games (1.04) and 560 plate appearances (.241)
Mitch Haniger, Mariners 132 in 132 games (1.00) and 570 plate appearances (.232)

(The 64 AL players who were in the top 50 in RBIs or runs scored averaged 112 runs produced.)

Comments: I’d go for Martinez as MVP. Runs still win games. Nothing else does.


Clutch Percentage


Edwin Encarncion, Indians 92 RBI from 200 batting bases = .460
Evan Gattis, Astros 71 RBI from 174 batting bases = .408
Carlos Correa, Astros 59 RBI from 145 batting bases = .407
Mitch Moreland Red Sox 66 RBI from 162 batting bases = .407
Yonder Alonso, Indians 76 RBI from 192 batting bases = .396
Khris Davis, Athletics 104 RBI from 263 batting bases = .395
Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox 86 RBI from 225 batting bases = .382
Joey Gallo, Rangers 78 RBI from 214 batting bases = .364
Nomar Mazara, Rangers 64 RBI from 177 batting bases = .362
Gleyber Torres, Yankees 62 RBI from 173 batting bases = .3583815

Kyle Seager, Mariners 72 RBI from 201 batting bases = .3582089
Nelson Cruz, Mariners 82 RBI from 229 batting bases = .3580786
Yuli Gurriel, Astros 64 RBI from 179 batting bases = .3575418

(The 64 AL players who were in the top 50 in RBIs or runs scored averaged .306, meaning they drove in a run for every three bases they produced with their bat.)

Comments: Indians, Astros, Astros, Red Sox, Indians, Athletics, Red Sox…. Nah, there’s no such thing as ‘clutch’ hitting. Except on the good teams.


Pitcher’s On Base Percentage
Chris Sale, Red Sox 135 baserunners of 566 batters faced = .239
Justin Verlander, Astros 179 baserunners of 713 batters faced = .251
Corey Kluber, Indians 182 baserunners of 723 batters faced = .252
Mike Leake, Mariners 185 baserunners of 692 batters faced = .267
James Paxton, Mariners 155 baserunners of 561 batters faced = .276
Trevor Bauer, Indians 190 baserunners of 680 batters faced = .279
Luis Severino, Yankees 198 baserunners of 694 batters faced = .285
Mike Minor, Texas 156 baserunners of 548 batters faced = .285
Wade LeBlanc, Mariners 158 baserunners of 551 batters faced = .287

(The Top 50 AL pitchers in innings pitched averaged .300, meaning that they let 30% of the batters they faced got on base.)

Comments: Sale has the performance and the team, and thus the publicity, to win the Cy Young in a landslide.


Pitcher’s Scoring Percentage
Trevor Bauer, Indians 41 earned runs from 190 baserunners = .216
Blake Snell, Rays 33 earned runs from 145 baserunners = .228
Chris Sale, Red Sox 32 earned runs from 135 baserunners = .237
Brad Keller, Royals 41 earned runs from 150 baserunners = .273
Charlie Morton, Astros 53 earned runs from 194 baserunners = .273
CC Sabathia, Yankees 49 earned runs from 176 baserunners = .278
Jake Ordorizzi, Twins 70 earned runs from 250 baserunners = .280
Mike Clevinger, Indians 60 earned runs from 209 baserunners = .287
Gerrit Cole, Astros 54 earned runs from 178 baserunners = .303
Mike Fiers, Tigers/Athletics 55 earned runs from 179 baserunners = .307

(The top 50 AL pitchers innings pitched averaged .336, meaning that a third of the batters they let on base scored earned runs. )

Comments: Some of the best pitchers aren’t on the best teams, such as Keller and Ordorizzi. And some of them get traded from bad teams to good ones, like Fiers.


NL

Bases Produced
Paul Goldschmidt, D-Backs 362 in 133 games (2.72) and 591 plate appearances (.613)
Matt Carpenter, Cardinals 358 in 130 games (2.75) and 561 plate appearances (.638)
Freddie Freeman, Braves 338 in 134 games (2.52) and 595 plate appearances (.568)
Bryce Harper, Nationals 336 in 132 games (2.55) and 570 plate appearances (.589)
Trevor Story, Rockies 335 in 133 games (2.52) and 561 plate appearances (.597)
Nolan Arenado, Rockies 334 in 128 games (2.61) and 552 plate appearances (.605)
Christian Yelich, Brewers 328 in 120 games (2.73) and 533 plate appearances (.615)
Trea Turner, Nationals 312 in 135 games (2.31) and 607 plate appearances (.514)
Rhys Hoskins, Phillies 305 in 125 games (2.44) and 542 plate appearances (.563)
Charlie Blackman, Rockies 302 in 127 games (2.38) and 569 plate appearances (.531)

(The 65 NL batters who finished in the top 50 for RBIs or run scored averaged 259 bases produced)

Comments: Paul Goldschmidt continues to be perhaps the most under-rated player in MLB. He puts up good numbers each year but you don’t hear that much about him. Matt carpenter is another player like that. This is the first year that he’s hit like a big-time home run hitter. He leads the NL with 35 dingers.


Runs Produced
Javier Baez, Cubs 151 in 131 games (1.15) and 529 plate appearances (.285)
Christian Yelich, Brewers 144 in 120 games (1.20) and 533 plate appearances (.270)
Nolan Arenado, Rockies 143 in 128 games (1.12) and 552 plate appearances (.259)
Nick Markakis, Braves 140 in 134 games (1.04) and 589 plate appearances (.238)
Scooter Jennett, Reds 139 in 131 games (1.06) and 545 plate appearances (.255)
Bryce Harper, Nationals 138 in 132 games (1.05) and 570 plate appearances (.242)
Eugenio Suarez, Reds 137 in 116 games (1.18) and 506 plate appearances (.271)
Rhys Hoskins, Phillies 132 in 125 games (1.06) and 542 plate appearances (.244)
Ozzie Albies, Braves 131 in 130 games (1.01) and 573 plate appearances (.227)
Jesus Aguilar, Brewers 130 in 123 games (1.06) and 461 plate appearances (.282)
Paul Goldschmidt, D-Backs 130 in 133 games (0.98) and 591 plate appearances (.217)

(The 65 NL batters who finished in the top 50 for RBIs or run scored averaged 110 runs produced)

Comments: If the Cubs finish with the best record in the NL< as they have had for a while, Baez has to be considered in the MVP race. Christian Yelich has been coming on strong with his unique feat of twice hitting for the cycle while hit team has moved up to challenge the Cubs.


Clutch Percentage
Adam DuVal, Reds/Braves 61 RBI from 136 batting bases = .449
Jesus Aguilar, Brewers 93 RBI from 223 batting bases = .417
Carlos Santana, Phillies 77 RBI from 190 batting bases = .405
Eugenio Suarez, Reds 96 RBI from 244 batting bases = .393
Ian Desmond, Rockies 76 RBI from 196 batting bases = .388
Anthony Rizzo, Cubs 86 RBI from 222 batting bases = .387
Rhys Hoskins, Phillies 83 RBI from 226 batting bases = .3672566
Bryce Harper, Nationals 84 RBI from 229 batting bases = .3668122
Johan Camargo, Braves 64 RBI from 175 batting bases = .3657142
Matt Kemp, Dodgers 69 RBI from 190 batting bases = .363

(The 65 NL players who were in the top 50 in RBIs or runs scored averaged .301, meaning they drove in a run for every three bases they produced with their bat.)

Comments: Adam Duval is only 4 for 44 since he joined the Braves. But he only hit .203 for the Reds. It’s just that when he does get hits, they are big ones, with ducks on the pond.


Pitcher’s On Base Percentage
Max Scherzer, Nationals 174 baserunners of 726 batters faced = .240
Aaron Nola, Phillies 175 baserunners of 687 batters faced = .255
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers 126 baserunners of 493 batters faced = .256
Jacob DeGrom, Mets 183 baserunners of 712 batters faced = .257
Patrick Corbin, D-Backs 175 baserunners of 668 batters faced = .262
Zack Greinke, D-Backs 189 baserunners of 706 batters faced = .268
Jack Flaherty, Cardinals 134 baserunners of 487 batters faced = .275
Ross Stripling, Dodgers 125 baserunners of 446 batters faced = .280
Mike Foltynewicz, Braves 176 baserunners of 623 batters faced = .282504
Miles Mikolas, Cardinals 191 baserunners of 677 batters faced = .282127

(The Top 50 NL pitchers in innings pitched averaged .299, meaning that they let 30% of the batters they faced got on base.)

Comments: DeGrom is one of a group of contenders for the top spot here. At the end of August his won-lost record was 8-8. Scherzer was 16-6, Nola 15-3, Corbin 15-5 and Mikolas 13-4. Those seem more like Cy Young records.


Pitcher’s Scoring Percentage
Jacob DeGrom, Mets 34 earned runs from 183 baserunners = .186
Aaron Nola, Phillies 41 earned runs from 175 baserunners = .234
Kyle Freeland, Rockies 53 earned runs from 209 baserunners = .254
Ross Stripling, Dodgers 32 earned runs from 125 baserunners = .256
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers 33 earned runs from 126 baserunners = .262
Max Scherzer, Nationals 46 earned runs from 174 baserunners = .264
Mike Foltynewicz, Braves 47 earned runs from 176 baserunners = .267
Miles Mikolas, Cardinals 55 earned runs from 191 baserunners = .288
Jack Flaherty, Cardinals 39 earned runs from 134 baserunners = .291
Noah Syndergaard, Mets 44 earned runs from 151 baserunners = .291

(The Top 50 NL pitchers in innings pitched averaged .3247, meaning that they let 32% of the batters they let on base scored earned runs.)

Comments: This is the stat that makes DeGrom’s season historically great and which still gives him a shot at the Cy Young. No one in either league does a better job of preventing baserunners from scoring – and it’s not even close. Other famous pitching seasons from recent decades:

2014 Clayton Kershaw (21-3) 39 earned runs from 172 baserunners = .227
2013 Max Scherzer (21-3) 69 earned runs from 212 baserunners = .325
2011 Justin Verlander (24-5) 67 earned runs from 234 baserunners = .286
2008 Cliff Lee (22-3) 63 earned runs from 253 baserunners = .249
2002 Randy Johnson (24-5) 67 earned runs from 281 baserunners = .238
2001 Roger Clemens (20-3) 86 earned runs from 282 baserunners = .305
1999 Pedro Martinez (23-4) 49 earned runs from 206 baserunners = .238
1995 Greg Maddux (19-2) 38 earned runs from 174 baserunners = .218
1990 Bob Welch (27-6) 78 earned runs from 296 baserunners = .264
1986 Roger Clemens (24-4) 70 earned runs from 250 baserunners = .280
1985 Dwight Gooden (24-4) 47 earned runs from 269 baserunners = .175

All won the Cy Young.
 
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