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Ghosts of 1990
11-02-2011, 03:59 PM
What is your opinion and why? Are RBI's a meaningless stat? I am preparing to do a rather thorough blog post as to why they are not and need to make a decent argument as to why they are not. Want to get the board's opinions. I have seen in the past a lot of people here say they do believe they are largely indicative on the runners getting on base for said 'RBI man'; however, if they're so meaningless and random, why are some players better at accumulating this random event?

Superdude
11-02-2011, 04:04 PM
I have seen in the past a lot of people here say they do believe they are largely indicative on the runners getting on base for said 'RBI man'; however, if they're so meaningless and random, why are some players better at accumulating this random event?

It's not random. Better players are very likely going to drive in more runners, but there's way too many variables in play for RBI's to be a useful stat in gauging offensive ability. So yes IMO.

dougdirt
11-02-2011, 04:08 PM
It's not random. Better players are very likely going to drive in more runners, but there's way too many variables in play for RBI's to be a useful stat in gauging offensive ability. So no IMO

Yes it is mostly meaningless. And better players are likely to drive in more runners because they get more opportunities because they tend to bat in the #3/4 spots where managers usually put good OBP guys in front of them and then in turn, the better hitters get to bat with runners on base. So you take guys who are already better hitters and then give them more chances to do something, and they are going to most likely get more successful chances than other guys.

757690
11-02-2011, 04:48 PM
They aren't very predictive. However, that doesn't mean they are meaningless.

There still is a lot of value to stats that tell us what happened.

bucksfan2
11-02-2011, 04:54 PM
It's not random. Better players are very likely going to drive in more runners, but there's way too many variables in play for RBI's to be a useful stat in gauging offensive ability. So no IMO

I think any stat, no matter how archaic is can seem, has some value. I do think that good hitters tend to have more RBI's than poor hitters. Hitters who hit in the middle of the order tend to have more RBI's than 8 hole hitters or leadoff hitters. I tend to think that RBI is a meaningless stat, until it isn't. If you see something out of the ordinary then it may just have some meaning to it. I look at Ryan Howard who has more holes in his swing than the grand canyon yet still knocks in a ton of runners.

gonelong
11-02-2011, 05:11 PM
It depends on what you are trying to measure.

If you want to know how deep the water is, it's useless.

If you want to know how many Runners a guy knocks in, it's pretty darn good.

If you want to use it to value that same's guys offensive contribution it comes up short by itself.

GL

*BaseClogger*
11-02-2011, 05:41 PM
This is so scientific!

puca
11-02-2011, 06:09 PM
Meaningless.....no, they certainly have a meaning: Run Batted In's. Wait...what?

dfs
11-02-2011, 06:24 PM
They aren't very predictive. However, that doesn't mean they are meaningless.

There still is a lot of value to stats that tell us what happened.

right.

We like to think stats measure individual ability. RBI's are a function of how many at bats a player has with runners on base and how well he does in those at bats.

RBI has a meaning in terms of value achieved in the past.

It is not a useful predictor of value in the future.

Healthy players have more RBI's. IF you don't stay in the lineup. You don't rack up RBI's.

Healthy players who have guys with a high OBP hitting in front of them will have more RBI's. If you hit leadoff or 8th, you're not likely to rack up RBI's. Hit behind Ricky Henderson and you're going to look good.

Healthy players who hit well with men in scoring position and have guys wiht a high OBP hitting in front of them will have even more RBI's. We want to think that bearing down when guys are on base is a measure of character. The flip side of that position is that there are time that professional athletes are not trying as hard as they could. If you can hit extra special good with a guy on second, then why don't you hit extra special good all the time (Note that this is different than saying ALL players hit better with guys on base.)

edabbs44
11-02-2011, 07:30 PM
They arent perfect, but they are meaningless either. Just because it has it's flaws doesn't make it useless. All in all, I bet that players who drive in the most runs are generally pretty good hitters. It is also fairly easy to pick out the outliers, if circumstances warrant it.

Griffey012
11-02-2011, 08:15 PM
RBI's just like any counting stat is not meaningless, it just has to be taken into consideration with associated stats when trying to argue a point.

We can clearly state Player Y drove in 150 runs in 2010, which was more than Player Z who drove in 120.

But we cannot say Player Y is better than Player Z at knocking in runners because Player Y had more runs batted in.

I tend to look at a collection of related numbers such as the ratio of RBI's to AB's with RISP. To me this is a simple way at telling me how successful a player is given his opportunities. You can use something like this to compare a guy batting behind 2 or 3 guys with high OBP's to a guy like Votto who has some pretty putrid OBP's in front of him.

You also have to consider OBP with RISP because some players are going to get walked a ton more w/ RISP or pitched very selectively w/RISP thus hurting their RBI numbers a bit.

AtomicDumpling
11-02-2011, 08:38 PM
Question for you researchers out there:
In the 2011 season, what percentage of RBIs were produced from runners in scoring position (RISP)?

In other words, what % of RBIs represent runners who were on 2nd or 3rd base when the hitter drove them in as opposed to runners on 1st base or hitters who drove themselves in with a home run?

Some hitters are fully reliant on having RISP when they come to the plate to get an RBI. Other hitters can create their own RBI opportunities.

In my opinion RBI counts contain a little bit of useful information. But if you really want to know who the best run producers are there are much better statistics than RBIs for this purpose.

dougdirt
11-02-2011, 08:41 PM
if you really want to know who the best run producers are there are much better statistics than RBIs for this purpose.

Here is the rub....

Some people equate RBI and Runs as being the same as Run Production and it simply isn't. As you said, there are much better statistics out there for that purpose.

camisadelgolf
11-02-2011, 10:23 PM
I think we need an operative definition of meaningless. Until then, my answer is "no".

RedsManRick
11-02-2011, 11:08 PM
Defining meaning. They mean that a guy drove in another guy. They're a good story stat. But that's about it. Try to do anything beyond that and there are better ways to do it.

jojo
11-02-2011, 11:14 PM
I think we need an operative definition of meaningless. Until then, my answer is "no".

Meaningless? No. Meaningful? Given the limitations of the stat, it has very limited meaning.

There are better ways so really it's probably more appropriate to say rbis are useless. No one uses an abacus when they have a scientific calculator.

edabbs44
11-02-2011, 11:43 PM
Meaningless? No. Meaningful? Given the limitations of the stat, it has very limited meaning.

There are better ways so really it's probably more appropriate to say rbis are useless. No one uses an abacus when they have a scientific calculator.

But what if much of the discussion is 2+2? No need to whip out the calculator.

Traditional statistics can get you pretty far, especially when looking at them as a whole.

RedsManRick
11-02-2011, 11:46 PM
Meaningless? No. Meaningful? Given the limitations of the stat, it has very limited meaning.

There are better ways so really it's probably more appropriate to say rbis are useless. No one uses an abacus when they have a scientific calculator.

Actually, some people do. Those who can manipulate the abacus more quickly to get the answer they need.

My fiance's mother (60 year old Taiwanese woman) still uses an abacus to pay her bills and their family is quite well off and has access to not just a calculator by any computer software they'd like to have.

The issue is that it would take her a fairly decent investment of time to get up to speed on newer technologies and, at the end of the day, she's just doing some basic accounting. She's very quick with the abacus and it's not even clear that she'd be saving any time or gaining accuracy when and if she became proficient with the calculator or computer.

For 95% of baseball fans, RBI are a ubiquitous, easy to understand way to understand performance. In their day to day of watching the games, talking with friends, reading the news and watching the highlight shows, there's very little reason to question it's utility. Those activities mostly just reinforce the notions of value.

The problem arises, of course, when the casual fan wanders in to a conversation that both asks a more complicated question and is with people that are familiar with. The casual fan simply doesn't know what he or she doesn't know and, to be fair, the RBI still gets you 75% of the way there. The problem is that the interesting part of the conversation is the 25%. And if you think you've already got 100% of the answer, look out.

The reason some people say that RBI's are "meaningless" is because for them to have any real use, you have to back out that 25% that is misleading before you can do anything really useful with it. So you might as well just start from scratch with better data -- that isn't hard to find nor understand with a little bit of effort.

MikeThierry
11-03-2011, 01:13 AM
It is still important but RBI's, like many people here have said, are misleading. Still, I think getting a certain amount of RBI's can be a benchmark into what type of player they are. What I mean is even though the counting stats aren't as important to look at as they were 50 years ago, I still think a .300 hitter is something to be proud of. A guy who drives in 100 RBI's is still a landmark that means something and it tells you a lot about a player, that they are elite in a given year.

Homer Bailey
11-03-2011, 01:57 AM
The question the way it is phrased isn't going to give you the answers you're looking for. They aren't meaningless, but they don't tell us anything about a player's value that we can "conclude" on.

I voted for meaningless, because they mean nothing to me. I don't have a clue what any of the Reds players drove in this year, but I could probably guess their OPS within 20 points.

dougdirt
11-03-2011, 03:02 AM
It is still important but RBI's, like many people here have said, are misleading. Still, I think getting a certain amount of RBI's can be a benchmark into what type of player they are. What I mean is even though the counting stats aren't as important to look at as they were 50 years ago, I still think a .300 hitter is something to be proud of. A guy who drives in 100 RBI's is still a landmark that means something and it tells you a lot about a player, that they are elite in a given year.

It is pretty tough to have no value while hitting .300. I recall a few guys who weren't all that good hitters who did drive in 100 runs. Ruben Sierra had a 100 RBI season with a sub .300 OBP and a sub .400 SLG. How? I have no clue. Joe Carter also did the same thing, twice! Tony Armas drove in 100 with a sub .260 OBP!

MikeThierry
11-03-2011, 03:07 AM
It is pretty tough to have no value while hitting .300. I recall a few guys who weren't all that good hitters who did drive in 100 runs. Ruben Sierra had a 100 RBI season with a sub .300 OBP and a sub .400 SLG. How? I have no clue. Joe Carter also did the same thing, twice! Tony Armas drove in 100 with a sub .260 OBP!

Very good points but I think those examples are of the minority rather than the rule. I don't know, to me it is still an excellent number to strive for. I guess I'm still too driven and hard headed about some old school baseball stats.

Ron Madden
11-03-2011, 04:46 AM
I don't think RBI is a meaningless stat. It's important but it is also a team dependent stat.

jojo
11-03-2011, 07:43 AM
Actually, some people do. Those who can manipulate the abacus more quickly to get the answer they need.

Bet I can determine the square root of 3 with a scientific calculator much more quickly.... :)

Chip R
11-03-2011, 10:26 AM
I don't think RBI is a meaningless stat. It's important but it is also a team dependent stat.

I agree. I also believe that there are some players who thrive in RBI situations and there are those who do not. I think some guys in an RBI situation get so tight up there that they try to do too much and it also affects them mentally.

PuffyPig
11-03-2011, 01:54 PM
however, if they're so meaningless and random, why are some players better at accumulating this random event?

They are better at knocking in runs becuase at they are better hitters and/or they have more opportunities.

There are better stats which will tell us which hitters are better than others.
There is a correlation between better hitters and more RBI's but since the variable of opportunities plays into it greatly, it's not a huge correlation.

nate
11-03-2011, 02:17 PM
I think RBI and their derivatives like "RBI wRISP" are pretty much useless for determining how good a player is.

I think OBI% and it's variants better measure what RBI tries to measure.

RedsManRick
11-03-2011, 02:48 PM
Bet I can determine the square root of 3 with a scientific calculator much more quickly.... :)

If you feel so inclined to calculate the square root of 3....

AmarilloRed
11-03-2011, 02:58 PM
I'll say no until they come up for a different stat for the Triple Crown.Unless, of course, someone wants to make a case that the Triple Crown is meaningless.It's going to be hard to disregard the older statistics because of their tradition and history in the game.

dougdirt
11-03-2011, 04:56 PM
I'll say no until they come up for a different stat for the Triple Crown.Unless, of course, someone wants to make a case that the Triple Crown is meaningless.It's going to be hard to disregard the older statistics because of their tradition and history in the game.

They won't come up with a new stat for the triple crown, because the triple crown has a definition. But what does that have to do with its value? Just like the pitching triple crown, we have started to notice that guys who aren't close to the league leaders in wins getting Cy Young's. Why? Because we know that pitcher wins doesn't tell us as much about how good a pitcher is compared to other stats.

mace
11-03-2011, 05:13 PM
It is pretty tough to have no value while hitting .300. I recall a few guys who weren't all that good hitters who did drive in 100 runs. Ruben Sierra had a 100 RBI season with a sub .300 OBP and a sub .400 SLG. How? I have no clue. Joe Carter also did the same thing, twice! Tony Armas drove in 100 with a sub .260 OBP!

The relationship between RBIs and OBP is pretty flimsy, largely because a walk rarely drives in a run. Given two guys who both bat, say, .280., with comparable slugging percentages, but one guy walks more than the other (and consequently has a higher OBP), the guy with the lower OBP (all other things being equal) will almost surely drive in more runs. Because he has more hits (a result of more opportunities, since he hasn't walked as much). Hits drive in runs.

I guess I'm in the minority that doesn't kneel at the altar of OBP. I certainly value it--more than anything else--at the top of the order, but not as much in the middle. I happen to believe that the most productive lineup derives from a blend of hitting types.

So I believe that, yes, RBIs are meaningful. Granted, they are somewhat random and certainly team-based and often misleading and not entirely predictive--they are not the truest measurement, to be sure--but a certain type of hitter (and I don't mean just a good hitter) is simply better-suited to drive in runs. And that guy serves a vital purpose in a productive lineup.

dougdirt
11-03-2011, 06:08 PM
The relationship between RBIs and OBP is pretty flimsy, largely because a walk rarely drives in a run. Given two guys who both bat, say, .280., with comparable slugging percentages, but one guy walks more than the other (and consequently has a higher OBP), the guy with the lower OBP (all other things being equal) will almost surely drive in more runs. Because he has more hits (a result of more opportunities, since he hasn't walked as much). Hits drive in runs.

I guess I'm in the minority that doesn't kneel at the altar of OBP. I certainly value it--more than anything else--at the top of the order, but not as much in the middle. I happen to believe that the most productive lineup derives from a blend of hitting types.

So I believe that, yes, RBIs are meaningful. Granted, they are somewhat random and certainly team-based and often misleading and not entirely predictive--they are not the truest measurement, to be sure--but a certain type of hitter (and I don't mean just a good hitter) is simply better-suited to drive in runs. And that guy serves a vital purpose in a productive lineup.

Of course the guys with higher OBP also generate more RBI chances for your other hitters. OBP matters at every spot in the line up. Even guys who walk a ton, still get 500+ chances to hit the ball.

mace
11-03-2011, 07:18 PM
Of course the guys with higher OBP also generate more RBI chances for your other hitters.

Of course they do. But the guys in the middle of the lineup are the ones who, foremost, have been charged with driving in the guys at the top of the lineup.

If a walk to the power hitter with men on base is so wonderful, why does the opposing team offer it intentionally? You don't see many managers ordering intentional singles with runners on second and third.

At any rate, this is an ancillary point. The topic is the merit of the RBI. Somebody has to drive in the run.

dougdirt
11-03-2011, 07:24 PM
Of course they do. But the guys in the middle of the lineup are the ones who, foremost, have been charged with driving in the guys at the top of the lineup.

If a walk to the power hitter with men on base is so wonderful, why does the opposing team offer it intentionally? You don't see many managers ordering intentional singles with runners on second and third.

At any rate, this is an ancillary point. The topic is the merit of the RBI. Somebody has to drive in the run.
And the more chances you create on the team level (OBP) the more chances you get to drive the run(s) in.

A hit is always favorable to a walk. No one is arguing otherwise.

mace
11-03-2011, 08:13 PM
And the more chances you create on the team level (OBP) the more chances you get to drive the run(s) in.



Right. But still, I repeat, somebody has to do it. You can't keep deferring the job. There is value to the guy whose M.O. is such that he can drive in the run at a more prolific clip than others.

camisadelgolf
11-03-2011, 08:22 PM
I think RBIs have plenty of meaning because they incite arguments between members of message boards.

dougdirt
11-03-2011, 09:24 PM
Right. But still, I repeat, somebody has to do it. You can't keep deferring the job. There is value to the guy whose M.O. is such that he can drive in the run at a more prolific clip than others.

The job won't keep being deferred. Eventually the pitching staff is going to stop walking guys.

RedsManRick
11-03-2011, 10:22 PM
Right. But still, I repeat, somebody has to do it. You can't keep deferring the job. There is value to the guy whose M.O. is such that he can drive in the run at a more prolific clip than others.

Runs are produced by outs deferred.

mace
11-03-2011, 11:22 PM
Runs are produced by outs deferred.

And somebody coming through with a hit (or a sac fly or a ground ball . . . but mostly a hit).

dougdirt
11-03-2011, 11:33 PM
And somebody coming through with a hit (or a sac fly or a ground ball . . . but mostly a hit).

Or a walk or HBP with the bases loaded. Both of which extend the inning, unlike the sac fly or groundball would. Both of which also are acceptable mistakes that a player wasn't trying for in 99% of the cases.

RedsManRick
11-03-2011, 11:54 PM
And somebody coming through with a hit (or a sac fly or a ground ball . . . but mostly a hit).

True. But most balls in plays are outs that don't score runs.

The way offense works in baseball is that everybody has the exact same opportunity. The most valuable thing a player can do is to get on base and not make an out. Pretty much the only time that's not true is when you are in a walk off situation. Everything else is secondary. If you build an offense where a certain guy has to be the one to get the hits with men on base, you failed at putting together a good roster.

defender
11-05-2011, 05:18 PM
Rbi is a good stat, because it is so simple and well understood. It is easy to see, when RBI is not useful to evaluate particular players. When it is relevant, it is simple to see when/why it does not tell the whole story. We know it is team dependant, playing time and lineup position matter. The transparency of a stats weaknesses, is a strength.

All stats have weaknesses. They are best at evaluating people good at the stat, and become less effective the worse the player is at the stat. All stats (wOBA for example) are affected by team, playing time and lineup position. What wOBA tells us may be more important than RBIs, but it is also harder to see when wOBA is less useful or does not tell the whole story.

RBI is useful, because runs have to be driven in. To say the most important thing for a player to do is not make out, ignores the fact, that most players are bad at OBP. Teams must take advantage of the runners they get on base.

Overall, the players best at the combination of OBP and SLG will be the best at driving in runs (given the opportunity), however there will be a distribution of the “RBI Skill” among those players. RBI’s can be used to find players who are probably good at OPS and can be used to identify players good at OPS who may not be good at driving in runs.

RedsManRick
11-05-2011, 07:42 PM
Rbi is a good stat, because it is so simple and well understood. It is easy to see, when RBI is not useful to evaluate particular players. When it is relevant, it is simple to see when/why it does not tell the whole story. We know it is team dependant, playing time and lineup position matter. The transparency of a stats weaknesses, is a strength.

All stats have weaknesses. They are best at evaluating people good at the stat, and become less effective the worse the player is at the stat. All stats (wOBA for example) are affected by team, playing time and lineup position. What wOBA tells us may be more important than RBIs, but it is also harder to see when wOBA is less useful or does not tell the whole story.

RBI is useful, because runs have to be driven in. To say the most important thing for a player to do is not make out, ignores the fact, that most players are bad at OBP. Teams must take advantage of the runners they get on base.

Overall, the players best at the combination of OBP and SLG will be the best at driving in runs (given the opportunity), however there will be a distribution of the “RBI Skill” among those players. RBI’s can be used to find players who are probably good at OPS and can be used to identify players good at OPS who may not be good at driving in runs.

If players are bad at something, that makes it important? Oh contraire. That getting on base is hard to do is what makes it so valuable. Simply hitting flyballs with a guy on 3B, by comparison, is pretty easy and doesn't indicate any particularly valuable skill. A valuable event, yes. But you don't need to be a good player to get an RBI while making an out. Getting an RBI while producing an RBI opportunity for the next guy? Now that's skill. It makes you think, why do we care more about the guy who drove in the run than the guy who scored it?

757690
11-05-2011, 09:26 PM
If players are bad at something, that makes it important? Oh contraire. That getting on base is hard to do is what makes it so valuable. Simply hitting flyballs with a guy on 3B, by comparison, is pretty easy and doesn't indicate any particularly valuable skill. A valuable event, yes. But you don't need to be a good player to get an RBI while making an out. Getting an RBI while producing an RBI opportunity for the next guy? Now that's skill. It makes you think, why do we care more about the guy who drove in the run than the guy who scored it?

Actually, the NL league average for driving in a runner from third with less than two outs has been around 55-60% for decades. When everyone in the stadium knows that's what you want to do, it's much harder than you think.

RedsManRick
11-06-2011, 02:01 PM
Actually, the NL league average for driving in a runner from third with less than two outs has been around 55-60% for decades. When everyone in the stadium knows that's what you want to do, it's much harder than you think.

So it's twice as easy as getting base. Exactly. Put a guy at the plate with a guy on 3B and less than two outs and odds are he'll drive that guy in. Why should we give a player so much credit for an event that is likely to occur?

If a guy gets to 3B, the work of producing that run is mostly done already.

wlf WV
11-06-2011, 03:41 PM
At least the sac that moves or drives in a player makes his manager and teammates happy.

Being happy is priceless.

defender
11-06-2011, 08:26 PM
When you look at all runs over a season, getting on base is the most important thing. Statistical analysis of all runs, removes the grouping of outs into 3 out innings/ 9 inning games, essentially ignoring the out.

The format of the game, is what makes it compelling and the RBI important. It would be boring to watch a team, try to score as many runs as possible before making 3,374 outs. Statistical analysis that ignores the out will undervalue all of baseball that is not OBP (especially the productive out).