FanGraphs Baseball


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  1. When I saw the title, I thought this would be another article about David Eckstein.

    Comment by Heather — January 12, 2011 @ 4:09 pm

  2. I’m very interested in the quantification of the ‘little things’ and enjoyed reviewing the best and worst on this list from a visual standpoint.

    The 2 names that stuck out to me on this list from my eye test were Kelly Johnson and BJ Upton (but of whom, incidentally, were on my fantasy team last year).

    With an ample catalog of both their at-bats throughout their seasons thanks to, I can recollect a number of situations where Upton kept innings/rallies alive by taking a walk rather than knocking a hit. It seemed that the bases loaded came up a handful of times for Upton and he eventually took the free pass. His speed and penchant for dribblers down the 3rd base line when beat by an offspeed pitch undoubtedly neutralized the double play ball from negatively impacting this metric with multiple runners on (and in theory a higher leverage index, or affect on ‘winning’).

    On the other hand, Johnson’s approach always appeared to be taking the XBH and his early success at the plate in 2010 may have contributed to an aggressive approach as the leverage index increased. What’s interesting is that Johnson hit into 1 fewers DPs than Upton. I guess they moreso occurred when it mattered the most by comparison?

    Comment by MTK — January 12, 2011 @ 4:11 pm

  3. I like this a lot. Is data available for years prior to 2008 so we could get a more telling sample size without having to wait decades?

    Comment by Matt — January 12, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

  4. Yeah. I did three-year leaders last season. I just wanted to cover 2010. Down the road I’ll do career leaders if people are interested.

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — January 12, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

  5. What are the year-to-year correlations here? Is it a skill or luck?

    Comment by Travis L — January 12, 2011 @ 4:50 pm

  6. This is cool, but I don’t think your interpretation is right. “Little things” get lots of credit in Run Expectancy. Getting on base and having decent power are good; double plays are bad.

    The difference in the two stats is *when* you do those things. Linear weights don’t take timing into effect at all. WPA/LI does. It takes out the inning, but leaves in the non-inning-specific context of each event for each player. It’s just like Clutch, only on a different level.

    You’ve got an interesting number, but it’s hard to know what it’s really saying without more explanation.

    Comment by studes — January 12, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

  7. agreed. i think we have to leave the fact that there are some things in the game that can’t be measured. it’s part of the beauty of it

    Comment by will — January 12, 2011 @ 5:11 pm

  8. I’ll take Billy Butler’s GIDP’s

    The following are the only 10 players in the last 60 years to have 125 doubles, 50 homers, 500 hits and 200 runs scored at the age of 24:

    1. Hank Aaron

    2. Orlando Cepeda

    3. Carl Yastrzemski

    4. Eddie Murray

    5. Albert Pujols

    6. Miguel Cabrera

    7. David Wright

    8. Grady Sizemore

    9. Hanley Ramirez

    10. Billy Butler

    Comment by MoreHR's&LesNorman — January 12, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

  9. I’m not sure if this has come up in the past or not, but is there historical information on RISP data? I like to think that hitters may have a significant difference to their approach with runners on, or the bases empty; but would not have as much of a significant difference with RISP, whether it be the first or the ninth.

    Comment by Vaga — January 12, 2011 @ 6:35 pm

  10. Yes please!

    Comment by Patrick — January 12, 2011 @ 6:41 pm

  11. Huh… Um.

    Cherry picking much? Butler’s fine – he’s pretty good, in fact – but he’s nothing amazing. He’s the worst player on that list by a lot.

    Comment by Patrick — January 12, 2011 @ 6:43 pm

  12. By the way, my “non-inning specific” explanation isn’t technically correct. This is a complex subject. But it’s definitely not about “the little things.”

    Comment by studes — January 12, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

  13. Pena had a bad season, but his plate approach, while generating tons of strikeouts, also means he does a good job at avoiding the double play, which is probably a factor here.


    Pena did a good job of avoiding GIDP’s …. by striking out.

    As a batter, this was BY FAR my best skill. With a runner on 1st with 1-out, I could strike out with the best of them … and keep the inning alive.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — January 12, 2011 @ 7:01 pm

  14. I avoided hitting into double plays by sitting on the bench.

    Comment by Travis Snider — January 13, 2011 @ 12:36 am

  15. Earl Weaver would be proud.

    Comment by bluechipper22 — January 13, 2011 @ 3:09 am

  16. I’m wondering If BJ Upton’s speed has anything to do with this. I know he’s tagged as a “lazy player” who doesn’t always hustle, but his ability to beat out infield singles came to mind. Couldn’t find any stats readily available, but it could be a jumping off point.

    Comment by Bud — January 13, 2011 @ 5:06 am

  17. Well, the name might be a bit problematic (I simply took it from the commenter who originally suggested it), but like Tango, I do think it _might_ tell us something about whether or not a player is adapting to the base/out/score/inning state (i.e. being more willing to take a walk in the situation described in the post, there’s a great example of Amos Otis forcing on back in about 1980 that Bill James likes to bring up), which is the main thrust.

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — January 13, 2011 @ 8:41 am

  18. Isn’t that the point of those kind of lists? To make people think someone who clearly isn’t, is a peer of a bunch of HOFers?

    Comment by Jon — January 13, 2011 @ 8:53 am

  19. definitely cherry picked!


    most similar thru age 24 (per BB Reference):

    John Olerud (954)
    Kent Hrbek (942)
    Nick Markakis (922)
    Chet Lemon (915)
    Carlos May (912)
    Delmon Young (912)
    Carl Yastrzemski (911) *
    Ellis Valentine (910)
    Tony Horton (910)
    Keith Hernandez (909)

    No Aaron, Pujols, etc on it… but still… a pretty good list.

    Comment by Dave S — January 13, 2011 @ 9:43 am

  20. Using retrosheet data I get Upton with 52 ground balls when there is a runner on first in 2010. Of those he grounded into a double play 38% of the time. The league average was 20.5% of the time.

    Comment by Barkey Walker — January 13, 2011 @ 10:37 am

  21. Argh, wrong Upton. Anyway, it was 28% of the time for BJ Upton in 2010 with a runner on first and he hit a ground ball.

    Comment by Barkey Walker — January 13, 2011 @ 10:39 am

  22. @Matt, but doesn’t it also then “adapt” to how often they come up to bad when there is a runner on first (allowing a DP)?

    Comment by Barkey Walker — January 13, 2011 @ 10:59 am

  23. Yes, retrosheet keeps complete play by plays (from which you have to find the runners on base) back to… well, I’d have to look, but off the top of my head, I think the 1950s. I don’t know what the quality is that far back.

    Comment by Barkey Walker — January 13, 2011 @ 11:01 am

  24. There lots of “buts” here. i.e. why not look at the first four years as a batter, I don’t remember 125 doubles being a big milestone. And why penalize a faster runner who doesn’t get stuck at third? I mean even Jim Thome hit more triples last year than Butler.

    Comment by Barkey Walker — January 13, 2011 @ 11:13 am

  25. Right. We had a discussion along these lines in my 2008 version of this post at the now-closed Driveline Mechanics. That’s why I present this more informally with qualifications about skill, etc.

    Comment by Matt Klaassen — January 13, 2011 @ 11:18 am

  26. No love for Werth’s 186/353/314 RISP?

    Comment by neuter_your_dogma — January 13, 2011 @ 11:49 am

  27. That would be the Gritty Little Things article.

    Comment by ptbnl — January 13, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

  28. This list isn’t even right. Just off the top of my head, it seemed as though Griffey Jr and A-Rod would have to be on the list…and they both should be. They easily had these numbers.

    Comment by Jason — February 21, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

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