Which Batter is More Productive?

JM3

often quoted
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Dec 14, 2019
17,424
Intentional walking the batter with the bases loaded has happened, to my knowledge, three times since WWII: Barry Bonds in 1998, David Hamilton in 2008, and Corey Seager in 2022. Some interesting facts:

* All three times, the team issuing the intentional walk won the game.
* In the 2022 case, the team issuing the intentional walk was already losing when they issued it, and still came back to win (!).
* 2/3 of these intentional walks were ordered by Joe Maddon. (The first was ordered by Buck Showalter.)

Okay, carry on!
Josh. Not David. I think we're a long way away from a David Hamilton IBB - based loaded or otherwise.
 

TomRicardo

rusty cohlebone
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Feb 6, 2006
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The players are exactly equally valuable.

In an abstract scenario where the only criteria are abstract, the judging is similarly abstract, and in this case the criteria are even. Trying to decide who is more productive between a hitter who will hit more singles and one who will walk more with more XBH, can’t be answered without giving the context.
I mean the .260 hitter might be a bit more valuable since his P/PA would likely be higher.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Mar 11, 2007
6,863
A no-outs walk with a guy on a 3rd (thereby not advancing the runner) being more valuable than driving in a run via a single and having one out seems like more context-needed situations to me.
Is Bobby Dalbec hitting behind the guy who just took the BB (was Devers just IBB’ed?). Does the batter behind Dalbec have a high rate of ground balls…. Can a situation pitcher come in and be likely to then induce a poor contact ground ball? Thereby going- man on 1st and 3rd…. K. One out. Runners don’t advance. Double play. Inning over. No runs scored. Total waste.
I’ll always take the run scored unless there are elite hitters coming up.

It’s the Wade Boggs conundrum again.
 

Martin and Woods

New Member
Dec 8, 2017
83
Thanks for the interesting question and explanation. The Run Expectancy chart reminds me of a question I've long had.

The values in the chart sum up the total number of expected runs among all instances of each outs-runners combo over the measurement time period, which includes all the "low leverage" (early innings, lopsided score, etc.)situations over that time period. I assume this kind of chart is used to derive late-game strategy which suggests that teams should (almost) never bunt. However, in late game situations a team may be looking for just a single run to tie, take a lead, or win. Has anyone ever counted the number of times for each of the outs-runners combos that at least one run has scored, i.e. a Run Probability chart? I assume so, but I ran an admittedly quick search and only found Run Expectancy charts.
 

Frisbetarian

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Dec 3, 2003
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Thanks for the interesting question and explanation. The Run Expectancy chart reminds me of a question I've long had.

The values in the chart sum up the total number of expected runs among all instances of each outs-runners combo over the measurement time period, which includes all the "low leverage" (early innings, lopsided score, etc.)situations over that time period. I assume this kind of chart is used to derive late-game strategy which suggests that teams should (almost) never bunt. However, in late game situations a team may be looking for just a single run to tie, take a lead, or win. Has anyone ever counted the number of times for each of the outs-runners combos that at least one run has scored, i.e. a Run Probability chart? I assume so, but I ran an admittedly quick search and only found Run Expectancy charts.
This is kind of a cool run probability chart I found which may help.
 

OCD SS

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I mean the .260 hitter might be a bit more valuable since his P/PA would likely be higher.
Again, not by the terms @Frisbetarian laid out. We can make assumptions about other stats and general offensive characteristics/ tendencies and how they might play out in a more specific context, but those contexts were declared even, so they effectively cancel each other out in the exercise's comparison.

More importantly I think we're applying our own bias and frankly annecdotal descriptions towards the different hitting styles when we make these comparisons, and these don't necessarily correlate to reality. Using the P/PA model we can find lots of different hitters next to each other on the list (i.e. Dalbec & Soto). We can just as easily point to a hypothetical high-contact hitter who would hang in and foul off lots of pitches, driving up his P/PA. I don't think we should be looking to ascribe extra generalities to these profiles if it's not supported by the data.

In this instance I guess Dalbec has an "empty" P/PA, the way other players have an "empty" batting average...
 

effectivelywild

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Jul 14, 2005
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Fangraphs recently had an article that sort of looked at this issue in a different way----looking at how the triple slash numbers (AVG/OBP/SLG) correlated to runs scored, either individually or in combination, across various "eras" of baseball. To quickly summarize, looking at all three statistics together only barely correlated better with runs scored than looking at just the OBP/SLG combo. I think the takeaway from this article (although its admittedly a little hard for me to parse) is that when moving beyond our theoretical hitters and instead looking at actual players (*in aggregate, which is I think an important detail/caveat) that batting average at most matters only a tiny tiny amount in terms of scoring runs. And this is for all "eras" of baseball, not just our current one.
 

dhappy42

Straw Man
Oct 27, 2013
15,841
Michigan
So is the upshot of all this that when judging a batter’s productivity we can (should) ignore BA and instead look only at OBP and SLG?