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The 2009 Alternate Universe Carter-Batista Award: RE24 (and Sitch?)

Most of us are still recovering from this week’s Big Awards Euphoria, especially from Monday’s announcement of the 2009 Carter-Batista Award winner (I recommend reading that post before this one), which found that Ryan Ludwick was the 2009 player whose RBI total most exaggerated his offensive contribution.

Personally, I feel that the RBI/wRC system is the best way for figuring out how much RBI totals reflect true offensive contribution. But I also understand that some prefer a more “contextual” approach. As I did at greater length in an earlier series, let’s revisit the same ground using one of FanGraphs’ more context-sensitive stats — RE24 (Cf. Part Two of my Driveline Series) — to discover an “Alternate Universe” winner.

RE24 might appeal to those who believe situational hitting is a repeatable skill (I’m currently agnostic on this). The basic difference between RE24 and traditional linear weights (e.g. wRAA) is that it takes base/out state into account. For traditional linear weights, a double with two men on and two outs “counts” the same as a double with none on and no outs. RE24 recognizes that in those situations, the run expectancy both before and after the plate appearance are different. To quote myself:

There are 24 base-out states (hence the “24” in “RE24″): eight different combinations of baserunners (e.g., runner on first, bases empty, runners on second and third, etc.) multiplied by the three out states in which hitter might have that situation (no outs, 1 out, 2 outs). RE24 measure the difference in Run Expectancy from the beginning of the play until the next play.

For our purposes, the application is obvious — RE24 might identify players who were particularly good in situations with high run expectancy, and thus “earned” their RBI more than wRAA lets on.

To convert RE24 to an “absolute” measure like wRC, subtract the wRAA from wRC and add RE24. I call this “24RC“. Divide RBI by 24RC to get the comparison of real (situational) production to RBI. [Note that it’s not quite apples-to-apples, RE24 is park-adjusted, and the RBI are not, although it’s not a big problem.] The players are ranked by RBI/24RC. I’ve also included a number that sort of isolates situational contribution by subtracting wRAA from RE24. I dubbed it “Sitch.” Clever, huh?

Here are the 2009 Alternate Universe Carter-Batista Award leaders (among qualified hitters with at least 90 RBI).

5. David Ortiz, 1.134 RBI/24RC. .340 wOBA, 99 RBI, 6.40 Sitch
4. Alex Rodriguez, 1.138 RBI/24RC. .405 wOBA, 100 RBI, -10.03 Sitch
3. Michael Cuddyer, 1.141 RBI/24RC. .370 wOBA, 94 RBI, -17.48 Sitch
2. Cody Ross, 1.188 RBI/24RC. .342 wOBA, 90 RBI, -3.02 Sitch
1. Jose Lopez, 1.202 RBI/24RC. .325 wOBA, 96 RBI, 3.72 Sitch

Congratulations, Mr. Jose Lopez! You may have been just outdone by Mr. Ludwick on Monday, but here in the alternate universe, You’re the Man. Maybe in that alternate universe you’re on Shaq Vs., too. Kate Hudson works wonders, I wonder what B-list actress Big Papi is dating? Michael Cuddyer is showing that it’s not his Sitch (or defense) that got him resigned, but those awesome RBI. And what can I say about Cody Ross? Seriously, what can I say?

2009 “Trailers”

47. Adrian Gonzalez, .772 RBI/24RC. .402 wOBA, 5.29 Sitch
48. Joe Mauer, .751 RBI/24RC. .438 wOBA, 0.32 Sitch
49. Chase Utley, .727 RBI/24RC. .402 wOBA, 4.14 Sitch

Someone recently asked me what it would take for Chase Utley to win the NL MVP. I said to wait a couple years for Pujols to reach free agency and come home to Kansas City. I guess I didn’t realize how terrible Chase is at maximizing his RBI opportunities.

2007-2009 Leaders and Trailers (qualifed, 250 RBI minimum):

1. Jeff Francoeur, 1.30 RBI/24RC. .313 wOBA, 252 RBI, -17.62 Sitch
2. Bengie Molina, 1.28 RBI/24RC. .317 wOBA, 256 RBI, 23.29 Sitch
3. Robinson Cano, 1.28 RBI/24RC. .346 wOBA, 254 RBI, -53.47 Sitch
4. Garrett Atkins, 1.19 RBI/24RC. .339 wOBA, 258 RBI, -6.31 Sitch
5. Mike Lowell, 1.18 RBI/24RC. .359 wOBA, 268 RBI, -4.79 Sitch
6. Ryan Howard, 1.16 RBI/24RC. .385 wOBA, 423 RBI, 22.80 Sitch

43. Lance Berkman, 0.80 RBI/24RC. .397 wOBA, 288 RBI, 25.32 Sitch
44. Albert Pujols, 0.80 RBI/24RC. .440 wOBA, 354 RBI, 15.22 Sitch
45. Hanley Ramirez, 0.72 RBI/24RC. .409 wOBA, 254 RBI, -27.34 Sitch

Note how much the Sitch scores fluctuate on both ends of the rankings and draw your own conclusions. Any list with Frenchy and Bengie on one end and Pujols and Han-Ram on the other speaks for itself. Other than noting Cano’s Sitch issues (!), I’ll leave it to you all to fill in the blanks. Perhaps this spreadsheet with complete rankings will help.