Joey Votto is a fantastic player. There is absolutely no denying this fact. Any and all arguments regarding the quality of Votto’s offensive ability should be, and generally are, made in terms of whether he is simply an excellent hitter, or one of the very best hitters currently playing baseball today.
The argument “against” Joey Votto commonly refers to his “inability” to “drive in runners”. In other words, Votto had a low RBI total in 2013, given his salary, place in the lineup, and position. Votto’s 73 RBI ranked 17th in baseball among first-basemen, and 65th overall.
We all know that RBI is not an effective way of measuring offense, or even the ability to drive in runners, because of its dependence on the offensive quality of the rest of the team. To rectify at least this flaw of the RBI, let’s look at a variant of the statistic, one that is reflective of its purpose, but more effectively measures said purpose. We’ll call it RBI per Opportunity, or RBI/Opp. Simply, it is the percentage of runners, on base while a player is up, that are driven in by said player, removing plate appearances in which the player is intentionally walked:
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A few weeks ago, Dave Cameron wrote a piece on RE24, explaining that, because RE24 measures offensive production with respect to the specific base-out state, one could compare it to a context-neutral offensive metric, such as Batting runs, in order to measure the effects of situational hitting.
Situational hitting is a vague term often used to laud making outs as long as it moves the runner up a base, but as I see it, all the phrase means is hitting differently depending on the situation. That is, good “situational hitting” is distributing your hits and extra base hits into the times that you hit when runners are on base, and especially in scoring position.
Subtracting Batting Runs (or Bat) from RE24 works as a good measure of situational hitting because it compares the value of the context-neutral event (single, strikeout, home run, etc) with the value of the actual change in base-out state. A single is worth more in certain situations; that “more” is measured using this method.
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If you recall, last week, I talked about one approach that we can take for evaluating starting pitcher performance. Today, I’d like to continue on that vein, this time taking a look at relief pitching.
With regards to evaluating both player performance and player talent, relief pitching is one of the least understood aspects of baseball. There are a few factors that lead me to believe this, but the only one I’d like to talk about today is the problem of mid-inning pitching changes.
I’d like to talk to you today about pitcher evaluation.
I don’t mean evaluation in the sense of determining a pitcher’s talent level, or evaluation in the sense of determining a pitcher’s future value — or even evaluation in the sense of determining a pitcher’s market value. I mean a pitcher’s past value. Or, perhaps, because value is so often misunderstood and misinterpreted, we’d be better off speaking in terms of contribution. That’s how do we determine the extent to which a player contributed to his team’s success (or failure)?