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 MAY

AL

Bases Produced

Mike Trout, Angels 194 in 57 games (3.40) and 252 plate appearances (.769)

Mookie Betts, Red Sox 175 in 48 games (3.65) and 213 plate appearances (.822)

Jose Ramirez, Indians 173 in 54 games (3.20) and 244 plate appearances (.709)

Francisco Lindor, Indians 162 in 54 games (3.00) and 258 plate appearances (.628)

Manny Machado, Orioles 161 in 56 games (2.875) and 245 plate appearances (.657)

Aaron Judge, Yankees 160 in 53 games (3.02) and 241 plate appearances (.664)

J. D. Martinez, Red Sox 156 in 54 games (2.89) and 231 plate appearances (.675)

Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox 144 in 53 games (2.72) and 238 plate appearances (.605)

Nomar Mazara, Rangers 134 in 58 games (2.31) and 243 plate appearances (.551)

George Springer, Astros 133 in 56 games (2.375) and 253 plate appearances (.526)

Jose Altuve, Astros 133 in 58 games (2.29) and 257 plate appearances (.518)

(The 67 AL players who were in the top 50 in RBIs or runs scored averaged 112 bases produced.)

Comments: Didi Gregorious sure cooled off. He produced 92 bases in his first 28 games and has produced 26 in the 22 games since. People are talking about Mike Trout having “the greatest season ever”. But what about Mookie Betts?

Runs Produced

Jean Segura, Mariners 74 in 53 games (1.40) and 240 plate appearances (.308)

Mookie Betts, Red Sox 72 in 48 games (1.50) and 213 plate appearances (.338)

Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox 68 in 53 games (1.28) and 238 plate appearances (.286)

Aaron Judge, Yankees 66 in 53 games (1.25) and 241 plate appearances (.274)

J. D. Martinez, Red Sox 65 in 54 games (1.20) and 231 plate appearances (.281)

George Springer, Astros 65 in 56 games (1.16) and 253 plate appearances (.257)

Mike Trout, Angels 65 in 57 games (1.14) and 252 plate appearances (.258)

Francisco Lindor, Indians 64 in 54 games (1.19) and 258 plate appearances (.248)

Jose Ramirez, Indians 63 in 54 games (1.17) and 244 plate appearances (.258)

Carlos Correa, Astros 62 in 55 games (1.13) and 236 plate appearances (.263)

(The 67 AL players who were in the top 50 in RBIs or runs scored averaged 49 runs produced)

Comments: Everybody’s talking about the Yankee’s batting order but the Red Sox are looking pretty good right now and the Astros and Indians aren’t bad.

Clutch Percentage

Denard Span, Rays 28 RBI from 61 batting bases = .459

Marwin Gonzalez, Astros 27 RBI from 59 batting bases = .458

Gary Sanchez, Yankees 35 RBI from 83 batting bases = .422

Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox 29 RBI from 70 batting bases = .414

Khris Davis, Athletics 38 RBI from 93 batting bases = .409

Salvador Perez, Royals 28 RBI from 69 batting bases = .406

Carlos Correa, Astros 38 RBI from 94 batting bases = .404

Mitch Haniger, Mariners 41 RBI from 102 batting bases = .402

Justin Upton, Angels 35 RBI from 90 batting bases = .389

Gleyber Torres, Yankees 26 RBI from 67 batting bases = .388

(The 67 AL players who were in the top 50 in RBIs or runs scored averaged .316)

Comments: Dennard Span has held up as the leader although his percentage has dropped from .600 to .459. He had 21 RBI form 35 bases in April, 7 from 26 in May, so the trend is down. Gonzalez had 16 RBI from 33 bases in April (.485) and 11 from 26 in May (.423), so he dropped but not nearly as much. But .600 was not as sustainable as .485.

Pitcher’s On Base Percentage

Justin Verlander, Astros 46H + 17W + 4HBP = 67BR/ 329BF = .204

Corey Kluber, Indians 61H + 10W + 1HBP = 72BR/ 326BF = .221

Gerrit Cole, Astros 48H + 20W + 3HBP = 71BR/ 316BF = .225

Blake Snell, Rays 49H + 23W + 0HBP = 72BR/ 301BF = .239

Daniel Mengden, Athletics 64H + 8W + 0HBP = 72BR/ 295BF = .244

Luis Severino, Yankees 55H + 21W + 1HBP = 77BR/ 311BF = .248

Jose Berrios, Twins 57H + 14W + 4HBP = 75BR/ 299BF = .251

James Paxton, Mariners 51H + 24W + 0HBP = 75BR/ 299BF = .251

Chris Sale, Red Sox 58H + 21W + 6HBP = 85BR/ 328BF = .259

Sean Manaea, Athletics 59H + 14W + 7HBP = 80BR/ 305BF = .262

(The average baserunners allowed per batters faced of the top 50 AL pitchers in innings is .296)

Comments: Justin Verlander, (at age 35), is easily the best pitcher in the American League so far this season. He likes being an Astro: since joining the team last year he’s 12-2 with a 1.19 ERA. With Detroit last year he was 10-8 with an 3.82 ERA.

Pitcher’s Scoring Percentage

Justin Verlander, Astros 12 earned runs from 67 baserunners = .179

Trevor Bauer, Indians 24 earned runs from 95 baserunners = .253

Luis Severino, Yankees 20 earned runs from 77 baserunners = .260

Corey Kluber, Indians 19 earned runs from 72 baserunners = .264

Tyler Skaggs, Angels 24 earned runs from 87 baserunners = .276

Charlie Morton, Astros 23 earned runs from 83 baserunners = .277

Marco Gonzalez, Mariners 25 earned runs from 90 baserunners = .278

Blake Snell, Rays 20 earned runs from 72 baserunners = .278

Gerrit Cole, Astros 20 earned runs from 71 baserunners = .282

Garrett Richards, Angels 22 earned runs from 76 baserunners = .289

(The average earned runs allowed per baserunners of the top 50 AL pitchers in innings is .348)

Comments: Reynaldo Lopez of White Sox led this stat after April with 6 ER from 35 BR = .154. He had a 1-2 record despite a 1.78 ERA. In May he was 0-2 with a 5.61 ERA and gave up 21 ER in 49BR = .429. His scoring percentage for the season is now 27/84 = .321 and slipping.

NL

Bases Produced

Bryce Harper, Nationals 157 in 55 games (2.85) and 245 plate appearances (.641)

Freddie Freeman, Braves 156 in 56 games (2.79) and 253 plate appearances (.617)

Ozzie Albies, Braves 150 in 56 games (2.68) and 261 plate appearances (.575)

Nolan Arenado, Rockies 143 in 51 games (2.80) and 221 plate appearances (.647)

Nick Markakis, Braves 140 in 56 games (2.50) and 252 plate appearances (.556)

Trea Turner, Nationals 136 in 56 games (2.43) and 251 plate appearances (.542)

Brandon Belt, Giants 135 in 52 games (2.60) and 225 plate appearances (.600)

Cesar Hernandez, Phillies 134 in 54 games (2.48) and 243 plate appearances (.551)

Charlie Blackmon, Rockies 131 in 51 games (2.57) and 228 plate appearances (.575)

Lorenza Cain, Brewers 129 in 53 games (2.43) and 231 plate appearances (.558)

Travis Shaw, Brewers 129 in 55 games (2.35) and 226 plate appearances (.571)

(The 67 NL players who were in the top 50 in RBIs or runs scored averaged 107 bases produced)

Comments: Bryce Harper is batting .234, I guess he’s having a lousy year. But he’s walked 47 times and hit 18 homers and leads the NL in bases produced. Maybe batting average is over-rated. But he’d have a bigger lead if he were hitting .300. Ozzie Albies is getting a lot of attention because he’s new but Freddie Freeman is quietly having his best year for the Braves.

Runs Produced

Ozzie Albies, Braves 70 in 56 games (1.25) and 261 plate appearances (.268)

Freddie Freeman, Braves 66 in 56 games (1.18) and 253 plate appearances (.261)

Nick Markakis, Braves 65 in 56 games (1.16) and 252 plate appearances (.258)

Javier Baez, Cubs 63 in 51 games (1.24) and 214 plate appearances (.294)

Bryce Harper, Nationals 59 in 55 games (1.07) and 245 plate appearances (.241)

Charlie Blackmon, Rockies 58 in 51 games (1.14) and 228 plate appearances (.254)

Eugenio Suarez, Reds 56 in 40 games (1.40) and 172 plate appearances (.326)

Nolan Arenado, Rockies 56 in 51 games (1.10) and 221 plate appearances (.253)

Scooter Gennett, Reds 56 in 55 games (1.02) and 222 plate appearances (.252)

Travis Shaw, Brewers 56 in 55 games (1.02) and 226 plate appearances (.248)

(The 67 NL players who were in the top 50 in RBIs or runs scored averaged 47 runs produced)

Comments: Eugenio Suarez missed some games but is performing at quite a rate. Where are my Mets? Sigh…

Clutch Percentage

Anthony Rizzo, Cubs 37 RBI from 71 batting bases = .521

Aaron Altherr, Phillies 24 RBI from 47 batting bases = .510

Eugenio Suarez, Reds 43 RBI from 88 batting bases = .489

Adam DuVal, Reds 32 RBI from 71 batting bases = .451

Francisco Cervelli, Pirates 33 RBI from 74 batting bases = .446

Yoenis Cespedes, Mets 28 RBI from 65 batting bases = .431

Maikel Franco, Phillies 32 RBI from 76 batting bases = .421

Matt Adams, Nationals 32 RBI from 77 batting bases = .416

Adrian Gonzalez, Mets 24 RBI from 59 batting bases = .407

Dexter Fowler, Cubs 20 RBI from 50 batting bases = .400

(The 67 NL players who were in the top 50 in RBIs or runs scored averaged .322)

Comments: The Met’s Adrian Gonzalez led all of baseball with a .657 clutch percentage after April (17 RBI from 26 bases), He’s now a .407 (24 for 59) after a .212 May (7 of 33). The Phillies and Reds seem to have some good young players starting to make a mark of themselves. There aren’t many of these guys on the base or run production lists: most of them have missed some games. They may wind up on those lists or they may find it hard to retain this level of production as they get more at bats. Some of the top players who didn’t make this list: Mike Trout .273 (36/132), Mookie Betts .268 (37/138), Ozzie Albies .271 (35/129) and Bryce Harper .381 (40/105). So the numbers on the “clutch” lists are pretty high.

Pitcher’s On Base Percentage

Max Scherzer, Nationals 49H + 19W + 4HBP = 72BR/ 311BF = .231

Aaron Nola, Phillies 55H + 18W + 1HBP = 74BR/ 309BF = .239

Patrick Corbin, D-Backs 51H + 20W + 3HBP = 74BR/ 300BF = .

Miles Mikolas, Cardinals 64H + 8W + 3HBP = 75BR/ 292BF = .257

Jacob DeGrom, Mets 54H + 21W + 3HBP = 78BR/ 295BF = .264

Zach Greinke, D-Backs 66H + 11W + 2HBP = 79BR/ 299BF = .264

Kyle Hendricks, Cubs 58H + 14W + 2HBP = 74BR/ 277BF = .267

Stephen Strasburg, Nationals 64H + 19W + 4HBP = 87BR/ 323BF = .269

Michael Wacha, Cardinals 51H + 27W + 1HBP = 79BR/ 292BF = .271

Alex Wood, Dodgers 60H + 13W + 1HBP = 74BR/ 267BF = .277

(The average baserunners allowed per batters faced of the top 50 NL pitchers in innings is .296)

Comments: Max Scherzer just had an inning in which he struck out the side in 9 pitches. They call it an “immaculate inning”. He keeps the bases pretty immaculate.

Pitcher’s Scoring Percentage

Jacob DeGrom, Mets 12 earned runs from 78 baserunners = .154

Gio Gonzalez, Nationals 18 earned runs from 88 baserunners = .205

Mike Fotynewicz, Braves 17 earned runs from 81 baserunners = .210

Jon Lester, Cubs 19 earned runs from 88 baserunners = .221

Max Scherzer, Nationals 17 earned runs from 72 baserunners = .236

Michael Wacha, Cardinals 19 earned runs from 79 baserunners = .241

Sean Newcomb, Braves 19 earned runs from 76 baserunners = .250

Jake Arrieta, Phillies 19 earned runs from 75 baserunners = .253

Aaron Nola, Phillies 19 earned runs from 74 baserunners = .257

Junior Guerra, Brewers 16 earned runs from 74 baserunners = .262

Miles Mikolas, Cardinals 20 earned runs from 75 baserunners = .267

(The average earned runs allowed per baserunners of the top 50 AL pitchers in innings is .333)

Comments: Jacob DeGrom allowed 3 out of 36 baserunners to score in May. That’s 8.3%.