# Why batting average IS a key stat.

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• 05-08-2014, 07:59 PM
Don Votto
Why batting average IS a key stat.
Batting average is a key stat--BECAUSE it shows how the ratio of how many times a hitter successfully puts a ball in play when the hitter is NOT WALKED, HBP... or hitting a "sacrifice" such as scoring a runner from third base and/or bunting a ball to advance a runner.

Where batting average can HOSE or not tell the true numbers is when a runner advances a base because of an out... that is deemed as a wasted at bat, and unfortunately, that out is treated the same as a strikeout--when it is much more productive, and a fundamental part of the game.

For example:
1. if you have a hitter that has a man on second base, and he comes up and hits a ground ball to the right side of the infield, the runner advances, and the hitter is out. --Now, this is no different than a sacrifice bunt; however, the hitter is charged an at bat.
2. if you have a hitter, and he hits a fly ball that is caught, but the runner tags up at first and advances to second, then the result is the same thing as a sacrifice bunt; however, the hitter is charged an at bat.
3. If a batter hits the ball to the shortstop, on a hit and run, and the runner advances to second, but the batter is thrown out.... again, this accomplishes the same thing as a sacrifice bunt HOWEVER, it counts for an extra at-bat.

That is what is flawed by just judging a hitter by their batting average.

For example: Let's say Adam Dunn has two games....
In the realistic game he has a man on second base with no outs each time he comes to the plate, and he strikes out every time. Now, the next hitter has to get the runner in from second with one out with a base hit. The runner really can score no other way. Thus, Dunn should be charged an 0/4 because his at bats failed to put him on base OR... move the a runner with less than two outs.

However, let's say Fantasy Adam Dunn he has a man on second base with no outs each time he comes to the plate, and he takes his full swings, and hits long fly balls to right in two at-bats.... and two ground balls to deep first, well then... Adam Dunn advanced the runner to third with one out... and now Konerko can clean-up. Advance that... and say Konerko grounds out to second base with the infield back... and the run scores... Konerko should be charged with an RBI, but no at bat... In this scenario, Dunn should be charged an 0/0 because his at bats advanced the runner with less than two outs.

Now, there are some proponents that say... a strike out is just the same as any other out. Technically, sure.. ok... they will even argue it's better because then Donkey will not hit into a double play. But, of the above, which outcome would you prefer?

What could be done is a stat that identifies these situations. They are important situations, but go unnoticed.
Batting Average could be better re-configured, and reward an overall, well rounded baseball player if it were computed in the following way:

Any time a runner advances and the defensive team makes one and only one out on the play...AND the player put out is the batter, then no at bat is charged. (Essentially, if the situation is 1st and 2nd and either the lead or trailing runner is out, then the batter gets no credit.)

This is a part of fundamental baseball that is lacking. BIG TIME.
It was a mainstay for teams in the big leagues when I was growing up, and you hear Welsh and Brennamen talk about it ALL of the time.

If the players were not penalized for at the minimum of ADVANCING a baserunner, (when there are two plays in the sacrifice bunt and sac fly that show precedence in not penalizing the hitter for moving runners over...) then it is something that could be done to show the quality of the player.
• 05-09-2014, 03:17 AM
dougdirt
Re: Why batting average IS a key stat.
Batting average has nothing to do with how often you put the ball in play. It has to do with how often you get a hit per time you go to the plate and don't walk, get hit or make a sacrifice of some kind (it still confuses me how a sac fly doesn't count as an at bat... as if that player wasn't trying to get a hit and just happened to mess up good enough to still plate the runner).

I do find it funny that you started the thread with a title about how batting average is a key stat, then show why it isn't all that key and there are better options out there.

Look, batting average isn't meaningless. It is a strong base for both on-base percentage and slugging percentage, but it hides too much information. That makes it less valuable than other things like on-base percentage. Or OPS. Or plenty of other stats.

You are trying to make things far more complicated than they are with all of your re-working batting average. Just stop using batting average. Use on-base percentage and just deal with that fact that it is only 95% of the way teams score runs and that the 5% left over is just those little things. It's not worth the hassle for the extra 1-2% those little things make up (with the rest that is left just being chance/luck).
• 05-09-2014, 10:37 AM
RedlegJake
Re: Why batting average IS a key stat.
Don, as Doug said, you are actually arguing for many of the reasons why BA is NOT a key stat. It doesn't tell us how many hits were for extra bases. It doesn't include sacrifices. The difference in that, from advancing a runner by hitting to the right side, is that you are knowingly giving yourself up to an out 99% of the time when you sacrifice bunt. Which is why SF's make little sense. In comparison to a sacrifice a SF is a hitter driving a deep enough fly to plate a runner on third - Hitters aren't trying to hit a fly for an out, though, they are trying to drive it off the wall or over the wall, no different than trying to hit it through the right side for a hit. The batter isn't trying for a productive out - he is trying for a certain placement of a hit.

I do agree there could be an efficiency average for outs - ie, the number of runners advanced by outs divided by the number of total outs with runners on base. Only outs with runners on would count in the average. I suspect, though, it would be a lot of work for little added info. I am fairly SABR oriented, but I don't eschew BA. I look at it right after OBP to get an idea of how often a guy makes hard contact but OBP is the key stat and BA is a modifier and informer for it. Then I look at SP to get an idea of power. OPS+ is misunderstood but perhaps my favorite single stat. It compares a player against the park adjusted league average in a given year where:

OPS+ = 100 *(obp over lgOBP + SP over lgSP -1). If you think of 100 as the runs produced baseline, an OPS+ of 150 means the batter produces proximately 50% more scoring opportunity than league average. It also compares against peers in a given era and adjusts for parks.
• 05-09-2014, 12:33 PM
dfs
Re: Why batting average IS a key stat.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Votto
It was a mainstay for teams in the big leagues when I was growing up, and you hear Welsh and Brennamen talk about it ALL of the time.

You do hear the Brennaman's drone on about this unceasingly when ever a red strikes out. Frankly it's tiresome.

The interesting question isn't if contact hitting is neglected, but why contact hitting might be a lost art. The notion that Billy Beane/Moneyball/Michael Lewis suddenly convinced everybody in baseball that walks were more important than hits is just tinfoil hat thinking. Why is it becoming so?

If players are trading off contact for power then there must be legitimate reasons for it or you would see teams deliberately foster and teach making contact at the expense of power. Cardinal mythology aside, why don't we see that?

I don't have an answer, I just think it's a far more interesting question to address than to parrot announcers who attribute moral failing to the way players are playing ball.
• 05-09-2014, 03:22 PM
Don Votto
Re: Why batting average IS a key stat.
A player does not get PAID unless he produces power. It seems to me that every hitter 1-8 seems to think they can go yard from the first pitch to strike three.
• 05-09-2014, 05:42 PM
dfs
Re: Why batting average IS a key stat.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Votto
A player does not get PAID unless he produces power. It seems to me that every hitter 1-8 seems to think they can go yard from the first pitch to strike three.

If that's the case then why wouldn't front offices fill their teams with low paid guys who made productive outs?

Seriously, if productive outs were half as important as Marty, mini-Marty and their cronies make them out to be, wouldn't teams let high priced "loser sluggers" go and fill up the roster with guys who had that specific skill set?

Probably 10 years ago, maybe more, Bill James noted that we don't see players like the Alou brothers that had a little pop but made a living by putting wood on the ball and avoiding outs. James didn't go so far as to say why this would be, but lets think about reasons why this might be....

#1 The pitching is just too good to do that anymore. There never were a lot of low power/high average guys. They were clearly operating at the edge of their skill set or everybody would have been doing it. Maybe with the increase in velocity and bullpen guys and such this skill set just cannot exist at the major league level.

#2 The fielding is better. Heck, think of the mid - 80 dodger teams with Sax at second and Geurerro at third ...Mariano Duncun kicking the ball around at shortstop and guys like Franklin Stubbs and Mike Marshall stumbling around the outfield. That team managed to compete for the pennant year after year. Nobody would build a team like that these days because you're giving away so many outs that you would burn up your pitching staff. Perhaps the increase in the quality of fielding (which has pretty much been going on since the reds first turned professional) has just reached the point where smart slap hitters just can't survive.

#3 Players are willful creatures and despite what the coaching staff tells them to do, chicks dig the long ball. I just can't get behind this explanation. If making productive outs were that easy and that important then salaries and coaching staffs would continually be funneled that way. This is "the moral failure of the current baseball player" theory and I included it for completeness.

#4 Such players never really existed. I started watching in the late 60's and like many got spoiled by the talent on display at Riverfront during the 70's. I started trying to actually understand what I was watching during the late 80's. I think the king of the productive out during my period of reds viewing was Barry Larkin. Barry Larkin always did at least the minimum during his at bat and he noticeably took pride in that when the press pointed it out to him. I can't believe such players ....never....existed. We can quible about how common they were, but it's easy to point out a counterexample.

#5 Some combination of the above.

I don't really know. Frankly I refuse to believe that Sabre has somehow driven baseball away from a winning strategy.

Chicks may dig the long ball, but Maddux and Glavine made their money by not walking guys and keeping the bases empty so that when the long ball came, it didn't hurt them too much.
• 05-09-2014, 06:02 PM
westofyou
Re: Why batting average IS a key stat.
This continued assumption that a certain type of analysis is sullying the the game is a J O K E.

Explain the Red Sox success the last 10 years then please.
• 05-14-2014, 01:54 PM
dfs
Re: Why batting average IS a key stat.
Here we go.... A test case. Jeff Keppinger was just released by the white sox. Jeff is king of bat control and the productive out.

If the productive out is that important, then there should be several teams eager to hire Jeff at a low cost.
• 05-14-2014, 04:30 PM
SlimJim11
Re: Why batting average IS a key stat.
Joel Luckhaupt ‏@jluckhaupt 2h
So, the #Reds have the 2nd lowest K% in the NL and the highest rate of productive outs & they can't seem to score runs...
• 05-14-2014, 05:27 PM
jojo
Re: Why batting average IS a key stat.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Votto
Batting average is a key stat--.................................. player.

I think you'd actually prefer BABIP except that it removes HRs....it's stil closer to what you describe as key than simple BA.
• 05-14-2014, 05:28 PM
jojo
Re: Why batting average IS a key stat.
Quote:

Originally Posted by westofyou
This continued assumption that a certain type of analysis is sullying the the game is a J O K E.

Explain the Red Sox success the last 10 years then please.

Steroids.
• 05-17-2014, 06:16 PM
Tracy Jones
Re: Why batting average IS a key stat.
Quote:

Originally Posted by jojo
Steroids.

And the junk on their pitchers' arms and gloves.

Attachment 7172

Attachment 7173
• 05-18-2014, 07:35 AM
Kai Slater
Re: Why batting average IS a key stat.
Wow, we've really complicated the stats mill around here lately:)

Batting average is one of the easiest metrics to use when glancing at a player's offensive status. Average Joe sports fan can check out a batting average and have a good idea of how a player is batting at any given time. For most fans, that's good enough along with the HR/RBI/BB stats.

True, BA doesn't tell the whole story as there are just so many variables and moving parts that determine a player's overall productivity. Die hards like us can break down all that other stuff, but most just won't put in the energy or time to care on that level.

• 05-18-2014, 09:52 AM
Tracy Jones
Re: Why batting average IS a key stat.
Quote:

Originally Posted by SlimJim11
Joel Luckhaupt ‏@jluckhaupt 2h
So, the #Reds have the 2nd lowest K% in the NL and the highest rate of productive outs & they can't seem to score runs...

"Productive outs" and "small ball" are nice concepts to use when you're trying to scratch together a run or 2, but the bottom line is this...

If you want to be a good, consistent offensive team, you need to A) string hits together, and B) get the timely hit.

It's really no more complicated than that.
• 05-24-2014, 08:10 PM
Redeyecat
Re: Why batting average IS a key stat.
I agree with the notion that OBP is a better metric than BA if you can only choose one. However, I haven't completely abandoned batting average as a metric as it gives a context for OBP (e.g. does the batter get on base mostly via base hits or does he often utilize other means i.e. walks, HBP - or more generically is the batter a "free swinger"?) at a fairly quick glance. It doesn't matter much when the bases are empty, but it does factor in when there are runners on base - especially in scoring position.
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