Monday, July 12, 2010

All Star Break Thoughts

Heading into the break, I'm surely not alone in wondering where the first half of the season went? Not where it went wrong, but where it went in general. 89 games down already? Crazy. That means there are fewer Blue Jays games remaining than we've already seen. That's a bummer.

You know what else is a bummer? The Jays offense. Sure, home runs are fun and all, but the good people at Sportsnet put up a simple graphic during yesterday's game that sort of blew my mind. The Jays offense, for all its ding-donging, is performing worse than last year. As a team the Jays have scored 30 runs fewer than they scored at the exact same point last year, despite hitting an extra 35 home runs. That is....messed up.

How is that possible? Oh RIGHT, the outs. Making all the outs. Hitting the solo jone runs and what not. It got me thinking: which stat has the most direct relationship to runs scored? Rather than do actual, valuable research, I think I'll make a graph!

Here's what I did: I took all runs scored totals for each team thus far in 2010 and graphed it against their on-base, slugging, OPS, and weight on-base average (wOBA.) Then I added a trendline and took the R-squared or coefficient of determination. Basically I'm using this small, noisy sample to show which rate has the strongest relationship to runs scored. The higher the number (closer to 1), the stronger the relationship between that stat and scoring runs. Hardly scientific or ironclad, but worth a look either way. The results are below, click to enlarge.

Man, those nerds aren't just talking out of their collective, square-shaped asses. Does the Jays offense reflect this? They rank 15th in runs scored, 27th in OBP, 2nd in slugging, 9th in OPS, and 12th in wOBA. The conclusion? Despite what we all learned as starving bachelors; man cannot live on tater tots alone.

A couple interesting asides: the Jays are victims of the worst BABIP in baseball, though luck isn't the only one to blame. The incredible number of fly balls they hit make them easy to defend efficiently. Also having one of the lower line drive rates in baseball makes it hard to get people on base. The HR/FB% is super high but, as I've mentioned before, that might be by design.

The other exciting finding from this little experiment has to do with batting average. I gave good old baseball card average the same treatment against runs scored, and guess what I found? A R2 of 0.4815. A mere 60% of the relationship between OPS, wOBA & runs scored. This surely isn't news to anyone who'd be interested in this kind of information but it certainly lays waste to the value of average for basically anything, doesn't it?

Image courtesy of Happy Hour Valley, data courtesy of Fangraphs


  1. Holy cow, I knew batting average was useless but I wouldn't have expected the R squared to be THAT low, mostly on the basis that I'd expect a high batting average to spill over into both OBP and SLG since getting hits contributes to both of those categories as well.

    Also, I might strangle someone the next time I hear Pat Tabler and Buck Martinez say "Whelp, the Jays have a terrible OBP, but that doesn't matter because they're doing great in the production categories."

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  3. I was a little surprised that OBP was so low. It's all about balance, really. And the Jays offense doesn't have it.


  4. I'm reading this as saying "fcuk OBP....slg, ops and woba have a higher correlation to runs than obp and the Jays are just fine in those categories".

  5. I don't read it that way at all. I read it as "you can't put all your eggs in one basket."

    Should the most prolific home run team really rank 15th in runs scored?

  6. The struggles of Aaron Hill and Adam Lind in the middle of the line-up for most of the year are the biggest reason for the teams production struggles. I wonder where the team would be if they had a repeat performance of last season?

  7. Should the most prolific home run team really rank 15th in runs scored?

    bad luck?

  8. Just to expand, it could be bad luck or it could be low OBP.

    One way to tell would be to go back and look at teams in history that had a high slugging to OBP ratio and determine the coefficients of determination for that sample group.

  9. No Scutaro, and the miserable displays of Lind and Hill probably have a lot to do with that OBP. It's like AA only took half of the wisdom from Money Ball. He took the cheap HRs part, but forgot that you need to complement that with a few guys who'll get on base.

  10. Hill's OBP isn't likely to win any awards at the best of time. I just hope Citocity hasn't infected Lind's patient, take first approach.


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