Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
It's an off day... I thought I'd make a little Data Table.

And we have been talking obsessively about how well the Blue Jays hit with runners on base, haven't we?

I'm looking at the handouts I gathered in the pressbox yesterday. The Blue Jays, going into yesterday's game ranked fourth in the American League in Runs Scored. That's not bad - so how do they do it? What does this offense do well?

Hitting for Average? - 9th
Home Runs? - 10th
Stealing Bases? - 10th
Doubles? - 5th
Triples? - 2nd
Walks? - 6th
Slugging? - 9th
On-Base Pct? - 3rd

They're quite good at getting people on base. They're not so good at hitting for average and hitting for power. Still, it doesn't seem to add up. Maybe they're just really good at cashing in those additional baserunners... Further analysis is probably called for.

Anyway, I thought I'd pass along how the individual Jays have done hitting with men in scoring position. We could break this down further, into with two outs and with less than two out, but it's absolutely NOT worth the time and trouble. At least not on an individual basis. When we start talking about performance over 40 or 50 at bats, the sample sizes are too damn small. These samples are really too small as well, but here we go:

TOTAL	         AB   H  2B 3B HR RBI SP-RBI MISP MOB   BB IBB SO SH SF GIDP %driven in

Johnson	         84  26   3  3  3  42     34  116  161   6  1  14  1  0   5   .261
Wells	        114  31   6  1  7  55     41  157  226  15  2  19  0  7   4   .243
Catalanotto	 68  24   3  2  2  35     29  102  144   6  0   8  0  5   4   .243
Adams	         95  28   8  2  2  46     40  140  201  14  1  14  3  6   0   .229
Hillenbrand	129  37   8  0  6  54     44  165  236   8  2  16  0  3   9   .229
Hill	         74  22   7  2  2  31     24   96  138   8  0   9  1  1   2   .225
Zaun	        106  29   4  0  4  45     37  152  215  13  1  21  0  5   3   .209
TEAM	       1163 311  60 12 39 478    396 1604 2295 128 15 208 10 43  47   .208
Hinske	         91  21   7  0  5  40     30  133  197  11  4  27  0  4   3   .203
Rios	        118  34   5  2  3  45     40  158  226  11  1  24  0  4   4   .199
Hudson	        124  31   6  0  4  45     39  159  226   9  1  17  0  6   2   .199
Koskie	         59  13   3  0  1  16     15   81  123  15  2  16  0  0   3   .130
There are four columns that require an explanation: 1) SP-RBI are runners in Scoring Position driven home; 2) MISP are Men In Scoring Position; 3) MOB are Men On Base; 4) % driven in is my own contribution - its the percent of runners on base driven in. I derived it by simply dividing the RBI by the Men on Base. I probably should have subtracted the Home Runs, because that's driving in someone who was never on base... but what the hell. I don't want to punish someone for hitting a home run.

I left out batting average because... well, I just wasn't sure it was going to fit. You can work it out easily enough if you're curious. The short version: Catalanotto, Johnson, and Adams have raised their averages; Wells, Hillenbrand, Hill, and Zaun have stayed about the same; Hinske, Hudson, and Koskie have all lost about 20 points.

But what really, really interested me when I gave these numbers an Intense Scrute (the product of intense scutiny) were the opportunities. Shea Hillenbrand has had the most at bats with runners in scoring position. Well, that's as it should be - he's hit in the middle of the order all year long. He's been the cleanup hitter for 90 of the 129 games this data covers, far more than any other Blue Jay.

But the man with with the second most ABs with runners in scoring position is Orlando Hudson? Who has only started 110 games,and hit 8th or 9th for 59 of them? And Hudson is followed, in third place, by Alex Rios, who has started 102 games, and batted 6th or lower in 70 of them.

Then, and only then, do we come to the team's RBI leader, Vernon Wells. Who has been the # 3 hitter for 91 of his 123 starts.

This surprised me quite a bit.

It doesn't hurt, obviously, that Rios and Hudson generally follow Gregg Zaun in the order - Zaun leads the team in On-Base percentage, just ahead of Catalanotto (and Menechino).

But it still seems very weird to me that Wells, who generally hits right behind Catalanotto, is not getting as many opportunities with runners in scoring position. Suggestions?

Runners In Scoring Position | 18 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
perlhack - Monday, August 29 2005 @ 03:40 PM EDT (#126986) #
Could Hudson's chances be due to Aaron Hill's hot start? Who wants to go through the game logs to find out?
gv27 - Monday, August 29 2005 @ 10:25 PM EDT (#127004) #
There must be something to Hudson hitting behind patient contact hitters, like Adams or Johnson. Or, as you mentioned, for the most part of the season he's usually 2 or 3 spots behind Zaun, who has the highest OBP. Still, it is odd...
DepecheJay - Monday, August 29 2005 @ 11:12 PM EDT (#127009) #
So the team's % Driven in is .208? Is that a good number, bad, terrible, etc. How does that compare to team's around the league?
Magpie - Monday, August 29 2005 @ 11:38 PM EDT (#127010) #
Is that a good number, bad, terrible, etc.

I'm not sure, because I only had the Men on Base and Men in Scoring Position numbers for the Jays and Cleveland. The Jays were definitely doing better than the Indians, I can tell you that much...

The Jays are 3rd in the AL in both Runs and RBI as a result of plate appearances with runners in scoring position, behind Boston and the Yankees. They're also third in Plate Appearances with runners in scoring position, behind... well, have a guess! Boston and New York.

The Jays get many more at bats with runners in scoring position than, say, Texas - and as a result they've cashed in 60 more runs from those situations than the Rangers have.

But Texas has outscored Toronto overall because they cash in runners who aren't in scoring position, who aren't even on base. The Rangers have 92 more home runs than the Blue Jays, 209-117. A little more than half of that extra power production is park illusion, but even in road games, Texas has out-homered Toronto 82-52.

jvictor - Tuesday, August 30 2005 @ 12:09 AM EDT (#127011) #
I recall an issue of Baseball Abstract, where Bill James talked about TO.s type of offence. Then it had to do with the Cardinals (or so I thought) with the comparison being the Jays of yesteryear. The premise was that where the Jays offence peaked at around the 5, 6 hitters, after that a steep decline. The Cardinals offence, which had scored a similar amount of runs (dh considered - maybe it was where they fit compared to the league?), was spread out more evenly. Where they did peak, it was not as high, nor so big a decline behind the peak. I forget what the rest of the argument was.

But here's the thing. I've been rethumbing dog eared copies and I can't find the piece. Anyone recall such a thing? Where it might be had? Truth is, it has reminded me of the Jays offence for some time now, and it's starting to bug me. Back to the books.
CaramonLS - Tuesday, August 30 2005 @ 01:45 AM EDT (#127013) #
Zaun would be the perfect #2 guy in our order if he could just run a little faster.

slitheringslider - Tuesday, August 30 2005 @ 02:20 AM EDT (#127014) #
The only problem with Zaun batting #2 is that I don't believe he has the greatest bat control. But I guess if we're playing by the Moneyball theory, it doesn't really matter.
King Ryan - Tuesday, August 30 2005 @ 02:40 AM EDT (#127015) #
Zaun has laid down the only successful sacrifice bunt in recent memory.

And the "moneyball theory" doesn't exist. "Moneyball" is not a theory or a strategy or a guide. It's the name of a book and that is it.
Magpie - Tuesday, August 30 2005 @ 03:09 AM EDT (#127016) #
jvictor - I think I remember something like that too. Oddly enough, I think he was talking about Kevin McReynolds. And the paradox that while Kevin McReynolds was a better offensive player than (I forget who - some fast Cardinal, they were more or less interchangeable) - an offense of the 9 Cardinals would actually function better than 9 McReynolds...

Might have been the very last Abstract, 1988 one. Check the player discussions...
slitheringslider - Tuesday, August 30 2005 @ 03:35 AM EDT (#127017) #
And the "moneyball theory" doesn't exist. "Moneyball" is not a theory or a strategy or a guide. It's the name of a book and that is it.

I know it's not really a theory, I was merely commenting on the high .OBP correlation with high run total in the book.
CaramonLS - Tuesday, August 30 2005 @ 03:43 AM EDT (#127018) #
Has Zaun even been asked to bunt much in recent memory?

He has been one of the Jays best hitters.

He did play a lot in the NL and as a catcher, (his stats were terrible as a hitter, so you assume he would know how to bunt most likely being the #8 man).

jvictor - Tuesday, August 30 2005 @ 03:22 PM EDT (#127038) #
Found it. 1986, under the comment for Damaso Garcia. I was way off. Got it arsie versie. "The Cardinals were a whopping 81 runs better in the spots 1-5 of the batting order, but the Blue Jays were 93 runs better 6-9." Bill James; Baseball Abstract, 1986 (pg 270).

The point is that there is more than one way to set up a lineup. Tradition has it that the lineup is Leadoff, sac. take a pitch guy, high average, big bopper, lesser bopper, etc. But if you have the luxury of competent hitters up and down the line, your offence can be just as effective. Looking at the Jays runs and rbis, this seems to be the way their offence is set up.
slitheringslider - Tuesday, August 30 2005 @ 03:41 PM EDT (#127043) #
I don't think it actually matters that much how a line up is set up. Over a full year, it will account to more or less the same offensive output.
Nigel - Tuesday, August 30 2005 @ 06:42 PM EDT (#127054) #
The counterpoint to this is the undeniable fact that the higher up the line-up you place a batter the more AB's that batter will get throughout the season. In order to maximize offense you would put your best hitters in a place in the line-up that comes to bat more often.
TangoTiger - Wednesday, August 31 2005 @ 01:53 PM EDT (#127095) #
The difference in # of PAs between the leadoff hitter and the #9 hitter is (9-1)*(162/9)= 144 PA.

(Note: 9,1 refers to the two batting spots, 162 to games, and 9 to number of batters in a lineup.)

A great hitter is +.1 runs per PA above average. A horrible hitter is -.05 runs per PA. A good hitter would be +.05, while a poor hitter is -.03.

So, if you give those 144 PA to the better hitter, you'll gain 12 runs. And, that's at this extreme level. At the more realistic level, you are looking at the #2 and #6 hitters. That's a 72 PA gap. And you'd be comparing a good hitter (+.05) to an average one. So, now you are at 72*.05 = 3.5 runs.

In my research, I've found the typical tradeoff to be 1 to 3 runs for any single batting spot. Over all 9 spots, it's about 5 to 15 runs (0.5 to 1.5 wins). This'll all be in the book.
Nigel - Wednesday, August 31 2005 @ 04:50 PM EDT (#127125) #
Thanks. That's really interesting. I'm guessing that the tradeoffs in offensive value between high OBP and high SLG players aren't significant enough to alter these numbers.
TangoTiger - Wednesday, August 31 2005 @ 08:22 PM EDT (#127138) #
Well, the leadoff hitter does have a weird opportunity profile, as you can imagine. So, a guy with a .400 OBP and SLG will fit there alot better than a .345/.500 guy would, even though they are both roughly equivalent. In that case, it's more like 4 or 5 runs, I think.
Nigel - Thursday, September 01 2005 @ 11:42 AM EDT (#127168) #
That makes sense.
Runners In Scoring Position | 18 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.