Two notes on OPS and RBI's

Two notes on OPS and RBI's

Post by Ramin Zab » Thu, 05 Mar 1992 16:44:51


1.  There seems to be an implicit assumption among the people who
prefer OPS over RBI's, namely that no player hits particularly better
(nor worse) with runners on base.  Now, I've seen the evidence that
clutch hitting is a mirage, and I find it moderately convincing.  But
the assumption that everyone hits the same with runners on or not
strikes me as a much stronger one.  One thing that would show up in
RBI's but not in SLG is the ability to hit with runners on base.

2.  The claim that RBI's need to be pro-rated is fair, but it's also
(I think) vulnerable to overstatement.  There is a place in baseball
both for absolute stats for performance over a season (like 61 homers,
100 steals, 200 hits or 40 saves, to name a few) and for pro-rated
stats (average, OBP, SLG, etc).  It seems that the argument against
raw RBI totals applies equally well against any other stat that counts
successes of some sort over an entire season.  But some of baseball's
most hallowed records are of this form (e.g. 61 homers).  I don't
object to RBI's pro-rated by outs consumed or opportunities, but I
also fail to see why counting RBI's over a season is any worse than
counting hits, or doubles, or times reached base, or anything else.
Do the people who object to raw RBI counts object equally strongly to
all other absolute stats?  Is there a place in the Brave New World of
baseball statistics [ :-) ] for Maris's record??
--

Ramin Zabih                                  Computer Science Department

 
 
 

Two notes on OPS and RBI's

Post by Roger Lust » Fri, 06 Mar 1992 02:05:44



Quote:
>1.  There seems to be an implicit assumption among the people who
>prefer OPS over RBI's, namely that no player hits particularly better
>(nor worse) with runners on base.  Now, I've seen the evidence that
>clutch hitting is a mirage, and I find it moderately convincing.  But
>the assumption that everyone hits the same with runners on or not
>strikes me as a much stronger one.  One thing that would show up in
>RBI's but not in SLG is the ability to hit with runners on base.

Not until you divide by RBI *opportunities*.  RBI is an excellent
measure of the ability to *come to the plate* with men on base.  That's
why Canseco has so many more RBI than Henderson...the hitting with men
on is a much smaller portion of the difference than the difference in
opportunity.

As for the ability ot hit with runners on, very few hitters do so
consistently season after season after season.  (Kevin Elster, btw,
seems to be one of them so far; his only redeeming quality at the
plate.  I wonder if he can do it again this year.  I'd prefer some
decent hitting, period....)

Quote:
>2.  The claim that RBI's need to be pro-rated is fair, but it's also
>(I think) vulnerable to overstatement.  There is a place in baseball
>both for absolute stats for performance over a season (like 61 homers,
>100 steals, 200 hits or 40 saves, to name a few) and for pro-rated
>stats (average, OBP, SLG, etc).  It seems that the argument against
>raw RBI totals applies equally well against any other stat that counts
>successes of some sort over an entire season.  But some of baseball's
>most hallowed records are of this form (e.g. 61 homers).  I don't
>object to RBI's pro-rated by outs consumed or opportunities, but I
>also fail to see why counting RBI's over a season is any worse than
>counting hits, or doubles, or times reached base, or anything else.
>Do the people who object to raw RBI counts object equally strongly to
>all other absolute stats?  Is there a place in the Brave New World of
>baseball statistics [ :-) ] for Maris's record??

Sure there is.  After all, Maris played every day, more or less, and had
about as many plate appearances as anyone else who ever won the HR
title.  (Remember that the baseline argument caused the Commish to put
an asterisk beside Maris' name?  It's been *removed* since then.)

As I say, sur there's a place.  The question is, WHAT place?  Does
hitting 61 HR make Roger MAris automatically the best player of his era?
Is a guy with 200 hits better than one with 155 hits and 110 walks?  Is
the hit leader the best hitter?  We used to think like that, and made
all kinds of funny arguments along those lines.  There's nothing wrong
with keeping the stats -- even shoe size or batting average on Tuesdays.
It's what we *do with them* that matters.

Roger

 
 
 

Two notes on OPS and RBI's

Post by David H. Thornl » Fri, 06 Mar 1992 02:35:38


Quote:
>[1.  The implicit assumption among those who like OPS over RBIs is that
>     in general there is no real ability to hit with runners on base
>     more than with the bases empty.]

Clutch studies seem to focus on LIPS (late innings, close score) and
RISP (runners in scoring position).  If some players did have a
significant ability to hit better with runners on, I suspect some
non-Elias analyst would have found this.  In other words, I think that
this assumption is generally valid, and that the ability to drive
people in can be measured well with SLG.

Quote:
>[2.  RBIs may need to be pro-rated, but are counting stats useless,
>     and are RBI counts less useful than hit or HR counts?]

Counting stats are useful, with limitations.  Canseco's HR and RBI
totals for '89 are unimpressive, unless you notice that he was out
until the All-Star break.  In other words, you need more context to
know what the stat means.  118 hits can be impressive or unimpressive,
depending on the number of ABs.  An OBP of .460 is impressive, provided
the player had enough playing time to make it meaningful.

The difference between RBIs and (say) HRs is that RBIs need even more
context.  A home run is something a player does all by himself; and RBI
includes team accomplishment.  133 RBI in a season is a considerable
accomplishment, but to say how good Fielder was in '91 you have to
know how many opportunities he got to knock in runs, compared to other
sluggers like Canseco and Ripken.  You have to consider lineup position;
it would be just as unfair to expect a leadoff hitter to have as many
RBIs as a cleanup hitter as it would be to expect an outfielder to
have as many putouts + assists as an infielder.

That aside, anybody with large RBI numbers is probably a very good
slugger, although the player with the most RBIs is not necessarily the
best slugger.  I prefer to use slugging average, myself.

David Thornley
"Frantically avoiding working on urgent schoolwork."

Quote:

>2.  The claim that RBI's need to be pro-rated is fair, but it's also
>(I think) vulnerable to overstatement.  There is a place in baseball
>both for absolute stats for performance over a season (like 61 homers,
>100 steals, 200 hits or 40 saves, to name a few) and for pro-rated
>stats (average, OBP, SLG, etc).  It seems that the argument against
>raw RBI totals applies equally well against any other stat that counts
>successes of some sort over an entire season.  But some of baseball's
>most hallowed records are of this form (e.g. 61 homers).  I don't
>object to RBI's pro-rated by outs consumed or opportunities, but I
>also fail to see why counting RBI's over a season is any worse than
>counting hits, or doubles, or times reached base, or anything else.
>Do the people who object to raw RBI counts object equally strongly to
>all other absolute stats?  Is there a place in the Brave New World of
>baseball statistics [ :-) ] for Maris's record??
>--

>Ramin Zabih                                  Computer Science Department



 
 
 

Two notes on OPS and RBI's

Post by David DeMe » Fri, 06 Mar 1992 04:01:41


Quote:
>1.  There seems to be an implicit assumption among the people who
>prefer OPS over RBI's, namely that no player hits particularly better
>(nor worse) with runners on base.  Now, I've seen the evidence that
>clutch hitting is a mirage, and I find it moderately convincing.  But
>the assumption that everyone hits the same with runners on or not
>strikes me as a much stronger one.  One thing that would show up in
>RBI's but not in SLG is the ability to hit with runners on base.
>2.  The claim that RBI's need to be pro-rated is fair, but it's also
>(I think) vulnerable to overstatement.  There is a place in baseball
>both for absolute stats for performance over a season (like 61 homers,
>100 steals, 200 hits or 40 saves, to name a few) and for pro-rated
>stats (average, OBP, SLG, etc).  It seems that the argument against
>raw RBI totals applies equally well against any other stat that counts
>successes of some sort over an entire season.  But some of baseball's
>most hallowed records are of this form (e.g. 61 homers).  I don't
>object to RBI's pro-rated by outs consumed or opportunities, but I
>also fail to see why counting RBI's over a season is any worse than
>counting hits, or doubles, or times reached base, or anything else.
>Do the people who object to raw RBI counts object equally strongly to
>all other absolute stats?  Is there a place in the Brave New World of
>baseball statistics [ :-) ] for Maris's record??

I think the issue is whether stats are being used for accounting,
or for inference.  RBI, HR, SB counts and the like are accounting
records.  It's interesting to see what somebody did.  But if you
want to compare the value of a player's contribution, or
predict future performance, then you need to look at stats
which show value and are useful for prediction.  We don't yet
have data to measure runs prevented on defense, so I'll stick
to offense.  Offensive value is generating runs.  You get
a fixed number of outs in which to generate as many runs as
you can.  Runs consist of getting on base, and advancing other
runners.  This is why many of us like to look at OBP and SLG.
R and RBI are very context dependent, whereas OBP and SLG
don't seem to be greatly affected by teammates and lineup
position (though there is of course some effect.  The #8
hitter in the NL gets an artificial OBP boost by being
IBB'd more than his typical stats would suggest.  And
the reverse, Maris had NO  IBBs in 1961, but I suspect
that no manager in his right mind would EVER walk Maris
to pitch to Mantle...)

For MVP, usually the player with the best accounting records
gets to win - which I think is not necessarily bad (most
true stat-heads beg to differ with me here) if we look
at things like RISP and LIPS performance, and not just
raw RBI totals.

--


UC San Diego                                    ...!ucsd!cs!demers
La Jolla, CA 92093-0114 (619) 534-0688, or -8187, FAX: (619) 534-7029

 
 
 

Two notes on OPS and RBI's

Post by Sarcasm Is A Way Of Lif » Fri, 06 Mar 1992 02:20:45


Quote:
>1.  There seems to be an implicit assumption among the people who
>prefer OPS over RBI's, namely that no player hits particularly better
>(nor worse) with runners on base.  Now, I've seen the evidence that
>clutch hitting is a mirage, and I find it moderately convincing.  But
>the assumption that everyone hits the same with runners on or not
>strikes me as a much stronger one.  One thing that would show up in
>RBI's but not in SLG is the ability to hit with runners on base.

The implicit assumption is there, but I think its the least important
of the 3 main reasons we all don't like RBIs.  The other two objections -
that RBIs are extremely team dependent, lineup dependent, and random
opportunity dependent, and that the amount of outs the player eats up
trying to get those RBIs is ignored - are much more important in terms of
the illusions they create in RBIs.

Now what you're trying to say about the ability to hit with runners on base
is a mystery to me; I think you didn't write what you meant to write.

Regardless of whether clutch hitters exists, most clutch hitting stats are
fairly worthless as the result of a small sample size.  Even if we all
believed that clutch hitting did exist, it would be hard to tell who was a
clutch hitter from clutch hitting stats.  Therefore, I myself don't really
have a problem with ignoring the extra RBIs that a player has one year as
the result of "hitting extra good with runners on base."  Especially when
I'm trying to evaluate how a player is going to do the next year.

Quote:
>2.  The claim that RBI's need to be pro-rated is fair, but it's also
>(I think) vulnerable to overstatement.  There is a place in baseball
>both for absolute stats for performance over a season (like 61 homers,
>100 steals, 200 hits or 40 saves, to name a few) and for pro-rated
>stats (average, OBP, SLG, etc).  It seems that the argument against
>raw RBI totals applies equally well against any other stat that counts
>successes of some sort over an entire season.  But some of baseball's
>most hallowed records are of this form (e.g. 61 homers).  I don't
>object to RBI's pro-rated by outs consumed or opportunities, but I
>also fail to see why counting RBI's over a season is any worse than
>counting hits, or doubles, or times reached base, or anything else.
>Do the people who object to raw RBI counts object equally strongly to
>all other absolute stats?  Is there a place in the Brave New World of
>baseball statistics [ :-) ] for Maris's record??

[In answer to the next to last question]

No, because there's only one real problem with raw doubles, home runs, etc.,
and that's ballpark effects.  These can be serious, but it's not hard to  
adjust the raw totals.  It's much harder to adjust RBIs etc in raw form,
and thus I don't know anybody who bothers trying.

Greg
--

 cmcl2!panix!spira      left field!  If it stays fair, it's gone!  Home Run!"  
158-17 Riverside Dr.                     Ned Martin, 10/22/75  
Whitestone NY 11357          (Insert your favorite baseball moment here)

 
 
 

Two notes on OPS and RBI's

Post by Steven Smi » Fri, 06 Mar 1992 05:19:05


Quote:

>>[2.  RBIs may need to be pro-rated, but are counting stats useless,
>>     and are RBI counts less useful than hit or HR counts?]

>Counting stats are useful, with limitations.  Canseco's HR and RBI
>totals for '89 are unimpressive, unless you notice that he was out
>until the All-Star break.  In other words, you need more context to
>know what the stat means.  118 hits can be impressive or unimpressive,
>depending on the number of ABs.  An OBP of .460 is impressive, provided
>the player had enough playing time to make it meaningful.

Note that the meaning of counting stats is pretty clear when the stat is
extra large.  That is, you may have to check the number of ABs to know
whether 118 hits is impressive, but you know immediately that 240 hits
is a great accomplishment. Basically, there are some counts you just can't
achieve if you miss any significant number of games/at bats/etc. You'll
still have to check the context to make more micro evaluations, such as
whether 240 hits is better than 230, but in both cases you can assume that
the rate was pretty good.

In this light, I'll answer Ramin's later question (deleted) regarding the
place (if any) that the "Brave New World of baseball statistics" holds
for Roger Maris' 61 homers:

Maris' 61 was clearly the result of a very high rate of production over an
entire season, and therefore qualifies under the above criterion as an
immediately recognizable Great Feat (tm).  Note, though, that even in the
former Dark Ages of baseball stats, some people had enough sense to
consider the context (see Asterisk, recent modifications notwithstanding).

-Steve

--

 Steve Smith                      *   name of another Netter
 University of Washington HR-20   *   in his .sig file than
 Seattle, WA 98195                *   umm.. err..."

 
 
 

Two notes on OPS and RBI's

Post by David Marc Niepore » Fri, 06 Mar 1992 06:09:27


Quote:
>1.  There seems to be an implicit assumption among the people who
>prefer OPS over RBI's, namely that no player hits particularly better
>(nor worse) with runners on base.  Now, I've seen the evidence that
>clutch hitting is a mirage, and I find it moderately convincing.  But
>the assumption that everyone hits the same with runners on or not
>strikes me as a much stronger one.  One thing that would show up in
>RBI's but not in SLG is the ability to hit with runners on base.

(Actually, the claim is that no one consistently hits much better or
worse *relative to the league* in any clutch situations.  (ie. the whole
league hits better with the bases loaded, so you have to measure it
relative to that.)  But it would only show up in RBI/opportunity, not
RBI, because the number of opportunities varyies *widely*, unlike the
other stats you state below.

Quote:
>2.  The claim that RBI's need to be pro-rated is fair, but it's also
>(I think) vulnerable to overstatement.  There is a place in baseball
>both for absolute stats for performance over a season (like 61 homers,
>100 steals, 200 hits or 40 saves, to name a few) and for pro-rated
>stats (average, OBP, SLG, etc).  It seems that the argument against
>raw RBI totals applies equally well against any other stat that counts
>successes of some sort over an entire season.  But some of baseball's
>most hallowed records are of this form (e.g. 61 homers).  I don't
>object to RBI's pro-rated by outs consumed or opportunities, but I
>also fail to see why counting RBI's over a season is any worse than
>counting hits, or doubles, or times reached base, or anything else.
>Do the people who object to raw RBI counts object equally strongly to
>all other absolute stats?  Is there a place in the Brave New World of
>baseball statistics [ :-) ] for Maris's record??

I think I speak for most of us here when we say, no, we don't object to
raw RBIs, HR, H, 2B, SB, Sv.  What we *do* object to is USING any of
these *for evaluating who is better.*  (Except when people have the same
pro-rated stats, in which case this is equivalent to counting playing time.)

There's absolutely nothing wrong with saying "Juan Samuel had more
hits than anyone last year.  In fact, this was the most since 19X".  But to
thereby say "Juan is the best player," without noting that he had more
ABs than anyone else, too... (No, I don't think he's ever led the league
in hits, but he does have the NL record for most AB in a season.)

RBI I mostly object to because they measure how good a player's
teammates are & where he batted in the lineup, rather than how well he hit.
I don't think raw RBI totals tell you *anything* about a player (within
reason; we know a 100+ RBI player played a full season and didn't bat
1st on an NL team.) without knowing about his teammates.

Quote:
>--
>Ramin Zabih                                  Computer Science Department


--
David M. Nieporent              |ALEast 92: 1.Baltimore 2.Boston 3.Toronto

                                |
"Not likely to call anyone an idiot except John MacNamara and Elias"
 
 
 

Two notes on OPS and RBI's

Post by Harold_Broo » Fri, 06 Mar 1992 08:05:59


Quote:
>1.  There seems to be an implicit assumption among the people who
>prefer OPS over RBI's, namely that no player hits particularly better
>(nor worse) with runners on base.  [deleted]

I don't think that any such assumption goes into people's opposition to
the use of RBIs as an analysis tool.  (I know it doesn't go into mine.)  In
any event, a more accurate statement of the assumption that you are
trying to state is that players are affected in the same way by having
runners on base.  Not that there is no effect, but that it is the same
for everyone.  (Across the majors, players, on average hit better with
men on base.)

Quote:

>2.  [Deleted]
>There is a place in baseball
>both for absolute stats for performance over a season (like 61 homers,
>100 steals, 200 hits or 40 saves, to name a few) and for pro-rated
>stats (average, OBP, SLG, etc).  It seems that the argument against
>raw RBI totals applies equally well against any other stat that counts
>successes of some sort over an entire season.  But some of baseball's
>most hallowed records are of this form (e.g. 61 homers).  I don't
>object to RBI's pro-rated by outs consumed or opportunities, but I
>also fail to see why counting RBI's over a season is any worse than
>counting hits, or doubles, or times reached base, or anything else.
>Do the people who object to raw RBI counts object equally strongly to
>all other absolute stats?

Well, it depends on what you're trying to do with the numbers.  For
any analytical purpose, understanding the context is crucial and that
means looking at opportunities.  For instance, I'm much more
interested in BA than hits, or OBA than times reached base, for almost
anything I do.  For me, except for help in understanding the context
in which a player performed, totals aren't worth a whole lot more than
as the answers to trivia questions.  Events per opportunity are much
more interesting as far as understanding why things have happened or
how they will happen.

Harold
--

Celebrating the arrival of a daughter and new Cardinal fan-
Sarah Elizabeth Brooks (born 18 Feb 92)

 
 
 

Two notes on OPS and RBI's

Post by Mike Jon » Fri, 06 Mar 1992 09:18:55

Quote:

> 2.  The claim that RBI's need to be pro-rated is fair, but it's also
> (I think) vulnerable to overstatement.  There is a place in baseball
> both for absolute stats for performance over a season (like 61 homers,
> 100 steals, 200 hits or 40 saves, to name a few) and for pro-rated
> stats (average, OBP, SLG, etc).  
        [stuff deleted]
> Do the people who object to raw RBI counts object equally strongly to
> all other absolute stats?  Is there a place in the Brave New World of
> baseball statistics [ :-) ] for Maris's record??

Sure there is. There's a difference between purely individual stats and
stats that require a teammate's help. You can hit 60 HRs all by your
lonesome, but you'll never make 190 RBI without somebody on base. Similarly
for steals and saves. Most stat-heads (tm) prefer rate stats to absolute
stats in general largely because most baseball events are not individual
accomplishments. We may watch to see if Wade Boggs gets 200 hits in a
season, but we give the batting championship to the fellow who gets hits at
the best rate. There are two things that are required to validate an
"absolute" stat as usefull:
        1. The achievement must be individual. HR's, steals (even though a
        steal requires getting on base, you have to do it...no one has ever
        pinch run often enough to worry about that case), hits are all
        single-player events. The contribution of other players is minimal
        to zero.

        2. There must be (at least rough) equality of opportunity. Again,
        steals is kind of odd here, but we overlook that because ability to
        get on base is an important skill for a basestealer. In the case of
        HR's, you can figure that most regular players get, to a good first
        approximation, the same number of PA's/year (barring injury), so in
        any given year there are a lot of people who have a number of PA's
        comparable to Maris', but how many hit 61 HRs? That's impressive. In
        the case of saves, the number of save opportunities varies widely
        from team to team and year to year.
Note that raw RBI counts fail both tests ...your teammates must get
on base in order for you to have a chance at an RBI, and the number of RBI
opportunities you get is both team- and lineup-dependent.


If any of my players don't take a drink now and then they'll be gone. You
don't play this game on gingersnaps.
        - Leo Durocher

 
 
 

Two notes on OPS and RBI's

Post by r.. » Sat, 07 Mar 1992 05:34:59

Quote:
>Path: ns1.cc.lehigh.edu!netnews.cc.lehigh.edu!netnews.upenn.edu!jvnc.net!yale.edu!qt.cs.utexas.edu!cs.utexas.edu!sdd.hp.com!news.cs.indiana.edu!umn.edu!cs.umn.edu!thornley

>Newsgroups: rec.sport.baseball
>Subject: Re: Two notes on OPS and RBI's

>Date: 4 Mar 92 17:35:38 GMT

>Organization: University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, CSci dept.
>Lines: 58


>>[1.  The implicit assumption among those who like OPS over RBIs is that
>>     in general there is no real ability to hit with runners on base
>>     more than with the bases empty.]

>Clutch studies seem to focus on LIPS (late innings, close score) and
>RISP (runners in scoring position).  If some players did have a
>significant ability to hit better with runners on, I suspect some
>non-Elias analyst would have found this.  In other words, I think that
>this assumption is generally valid, and that the ability to drive
>people in can be measured well with SLG.

>>[2.  RBIs may need to be pro-rated, but are counting stats useless,
>>     and are RBI counts less useful than hit or HR counts?]

>Counting stats are useful, with limitations.  Canseco's HR and RBI
>totals for '89 are unimpressive, unless you notice that he was out
>until the All-Star break.  In other words, you need more context to
>know what the stat means.  118 hits can be impressive or unimpressive,
>depending on the number of ABs.  An OBP of .460 is impressive, provided
>the player had enough playing time to make it meaningful.

>The difference between RBIs and (say) HRs is that RBIs need even more
>context.  A home run is something a player does all by himself; and RBI
>includes team accomplishment.  133 RBI in a season is a considerable
>accomplishment, but to say how good Fielder was in '91 you have to
>know how many opportunities he got to knock in runs, compared to other
>sluggers like Canseco and Ripken.  You have to consider lineup position;
>it would be just as unfair to expect a leadoff hitter to have as many
>RBIs as a cleanup hitter as it would be to expect an outfielder to
>have as many putouts + assists as an infielder.

>That aside, anybody with large RBI numbers is probably a very good
>slugger, although the player with the most RBIs is not necessarily the
>best slugger.  I prefer to use slugging average, myself.

>David Thornley
>"Frantically avoiding working on urgent schoolwork."

>>2.  The claim that RBI's need to be pro-rated is fair, but it's also
>>(I think) vulnerable to overstatement.  There is a place in baseball
>>both for absolute stats for performance over a season (like 61 homers,
>>100 steals, 200 hits or 40 saves, to name a few) and for pro-rated
>>stats (average, OBP, SLG, etc).  It seems that the argument against
>>raw RBI totals applies equally well against any other stat that counts
>>successes of some sort over an entire season.  But some of baseball's
>>most hallowed records are of this form (e.g. 61 homers).  I don't
>>object to RBI's pro-rated by outs consumed or opportunities, but I
>>also fail to see why counting RBI's over a season is any worse than
>>counting hits, or doubles, or times reached base, or anything else.
>>Do the people who object to raw RBI counts object equally strongly to
>>all other absolute stats?  Is there a place in the Brave New World of
>>baseball statistics [ :-) ] for Maris's record??
>>--

>>Ramin Zabih                                  Computer Science Department