Photo courtesy of nytimes.com
With Baseball’s Winter Meetings two weeks away in Dallas, Texas, it’s perfect timing to dive into the free agent pool. This is the first of a nine-part series entitled Set You Free* that will take a position-by-position look at this offseason’s free agency market. Today, Jesse Behr starts us off with designated hitters.
It was Opening Day, April 1973. Ron Blomberg sat in the visitor’s dugout at Fenway Park in what was likely utter confusion. Blomberg didn’t have a number penciled next to his name on the Yankees lineup card but rather two letters “D-H.” American League owners had voted to in introduce a “designated hitter” to every lineup for a three-year trial run. Blomberg, an underwhelming outfielder by trade, had committed 13 errors at first base for the Bronx Bombers in 1972. He had no position to call home because he wasn’t really cut out to play any position. Knowing that, Blomberg was the perfect test subject for the American League DH.
by Tyler Wasserman | @tylerwasserman | email@example.com
It is common sense: The more runs a team scores, the more likely they will win. But how can you tell how many runs a player contributes? Runs scored is clearly a function of the hitters batting behind the player to drive him in, and ignores runs driven in by the player himself.Runs Batted In is a function of the hitters batting before the player gets on base, and ignores whether the player gets on base himself – with the exception of a home run, of course.This is where Runs Created comes in. Runs Created is an attempt to measure a single player’s total run contribution over the course of an entire season.
There are three variations of the Runs Created statistic. The first one appeared in Michael Lewis’s Moneyball and was created by statistical guru Bill James. It is based on total hits and walks, total bases, and at bats. A more advanced version of the statistic adds in factors such as Stolen Bases, Caught Stealing, Hit by Pitches, and Sacrifices, all of which impact the likelihood of scoring a run. Tom Tango has developed a variation of the stat called weighted Runs Created (wRC). It is based on wOBA, which assigns a weighting to different offensive results based on the likelihood that the specific event results in a run.
I like to talk. I like to talk a lot. Most of the time, I have things worth saying. Sometimes, it just flies right over people’s heads. Regardless of what I’m saying, how I’m saying it never comes out quite perfect. Doesn’t matter whether I’m talking baseball or chatting with a babe from the SU Volleyball team (which, come on folks, it’s clear there isn’t much of a difference for me at this point), the chances I exactly what I want to say are not high.
However, this is not the case with statistics.
Elite Defenders is one of many projects already underway at FoI that allows statistics to speak for both us and speak up for themselves. I’ve sat down with my buddy Tom Barrile countless times this semester, arguing for hours on end whether or not baseball is the superior sport over football (obviously, as everyone deep-down knows, it is). What we CAN’T ARGUE is the number of television viewers that watch the MLB postseason compared to the NFL playoffs.