Perhaps it’s the preponderance of data that has unearthed an entire geekdom of analytics and those professing its ultra-importance to measuring athletes’ worth to their given sport or team.
Whatever it is, for me, the most telling stat in how productive a baseball player is – the true test of his offensive value – has been forever lost somewhere in the swamps of the late ‘70s/early ‘80s.
Yep, along the lines of disco, runs responsible for … just disappeared.
You know what, maybe it wasn’t even called that, or labeled that. But what it was made – and still makes – perfect sense. Simply put, it shows exactly how an individual player impacted the scoreboard throughout the season.
How? Well, you add the runs a player drives in to the ones he scores, and then subtract his home runs – because, in baseball stat-ese, home runs on their own count as two runs … and we’re not playing with Monopoly money here. We’re talking reality. Actual tangible runs produced.
Let’s use the numbers of AL MVP candidate Josh Donaldson of Toronto. Going by the run responsible for (RRF) stat I’m using here, he is the runaway offensive leader in the Junior Circuit. With 100 RBIs, 95 runs scored and 34 homers (RBIs + Rs – HRs = RRF), the Blue Jays third baseman would have 161. The NL leader is Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt (93 RBIs, 79 runs, 24 homers) at 148.
To be fair, some players get more plate appearances than others, so, hence, they’d have more opportunities to produce runs. Still, Donaldson and Goldy lead the way in their respective leagues when factoring that in and determining how successful they are per appearance, the former producing .303 of a run every time he steps into the batter’s box (161 RRF/531 plate appearances) and the former .275 of a run (148/539). Call it the RRF Ratio.
MLB fans might be surprised to know that it isn’t just career-year guys who currently stand above celebrated favorites Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. Singles-hitting Ian Kinsler (.247) of Detroit actually tops Trout (.236) and Kansas City’s Eric Hosmar (.272) tops both Trout and Harper (.263). This from guys who have hit 8 (Kinsler) and 14 (Hosmar) homers this season through Monday’s games.
So the stat doesn’t just favor the big boppers. It’s a true measuring stick of the most important offensive thing in baseball: producing runs.
NL followers may be starting to notice Goldy’s season, but they shouldn’t overlook Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen, a former ML MVP, either. His .264 RRF Ratio is better than Harper’s, too … but, frankly, the .268 of Colorado’s Nolan Arenado is even better.
The best story in baseball right now, the Chicago Cubs, have an interesting little sidebar going on with RRF Ratio, too. The universal opinion is that first baseman Anthony Rizzo has been the team’s key player, especially on offense. Umm, not so fast. His .244 (123/505) rates below rookie Kris Bryant’s .261 (125/479), and the latter’s recent late-game heroics haven’t exactly been a negative, either.
A final hmmm to this … Donaldson’s closest competitor on the RRF Ratio among all MLB players is his teammate, Jose Bautista. Joey Bats checks in with a .277.
- Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org