Daily Notes: Prince Fielder’s RBI Total with Every Team

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of the Daily Notes.

1. Prince Fielder’s RBI Total with Every Team
2. Today’s MLB.TV Free Game
3. Today’s Complete Schedule

Prince Fielder’s RBI Total with Every Team
On Monday, during the SportsTime Ohio broadcast of the Detroit-Cleveland game, Indians color commentator Rick Manning referred to Detroit first baseman Prince Fielder as a “good RBI man.” Nor is Manning mistaken in this assessment, at all. Indeed, entering play on Monday, Fielder had recorded the ninth-highest RBI total (76) in the major leagues this season — and is fourth overall by that same measure since his rookie season in 2006.

FanGraphs readers, of course, will harbor a natural suspicion about the value of a player’s RBI total as a tool for assessing his value. Nor are they (i.e. those readers) mistaken for doing so: RBIs are reliant not only on a specific batter’s skills, but also on the opportunities he’s afforded by his teammates (as baserunners) for producing those RBIs. In point of fact, a brief inspection of the data reveals that Fielder’s RBI totals this season, at least, are likely influenced more by the latter factor than former. To wit: while Fielder’s 117 wRC+ places him at only about the 60th percentile among the league’s qualified batters by park-adjusted offense, no batter has benefited from a greater number of baserunners aboard this season than Fielder, whose total figure of 373 is first in the majors*.

*As of Monday.

“What,” one wonders — or is being forced to wonder, at least, for the sake of advancing this narrative — “what would be Fielder’s RBI total were he to play for a different team?” The answer, naturally, is one that only a wizard or very smart child in a wizard costume is actually capable of answering. With a view towards estimating the answer, however, the author has prepared the following — namely, a table of Fielder’s hypothetical RBI totals were he to play on every different major-league club.

So far as methodology is concerned, there are limitations, of course. What the author has done is to begin by finding Fielder’s RBI rate per baserunner aboard. As Fielder has recorded 76 RBI while benefiting from 373 baserunners aboard during his plate appearances, his RBI rate is 76 divided by 373, or 20.4%. Next, the author identified the batters from every major-league club who’d made the most starts as their respective teams’ cleanup hitters (i.e. Fielder’s most common spot in the Detroit lineup). For each cleanup hitter, the author calculated his rate of baserunners per plate appearance. Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips, for example, has recorded 454 plate appearances with a total of 358 runners aboard, or 0.79 per plate appearance; Kansas City’s Billy Butler, on the other hand, has recorded 436 plate appearances with just 251 baserunners board, or 0.58 per plate appearance. Finally, the author used those baserunner/plate appearance rates to calculate how many baserunners Fielder would have driven in for each team had he recorded his actual total of 485 plate appearances for that team and maintained the same 20.4% RBI rate in every case.

Below are the results of those calculations.

Using the methodology described above, here are Prince Fielder’s hypothetical RBI totals for each team in the majors. Team represents the relevant team; Cleanup indicates the player who’s recorded the most starts at the cleanup spot in that team’s batting order; PA indicates how many plate appearances that batter has recorded overall; BR indicates the number of total baserunners aboard while that player has batted; BR/PA is the rate of baserunners relative to plate appearances; and, finally, Fielder is the estimate of RBIs Fielder would have recorded batting cleanup for the relevant team over his actual total of 485 plate appearances.

Team Cleanup PA BR BR/PA Fielder
CIN Brandon Phillips 454 358 0.79 78
DET Prince Fielder 485 373 0.77 76
MIL Aramis Ramirez 209 156 0.75 74
MIN Justin Morneau 438 325 0.74 73
BOS David Ortiz 401 291 0.73 72
NYY Travis Hafner 293 207 0.71 70
COL Troy Tulowitzki 328 224 0.68 68
STL Allen Craig 450 302 0.67 66
BAL Adam Jones 480 320 0.67 66
SFG Buster Posey 422 280 0.66 66
TEX Adrian Beltre 471 306 0.65 64
ATL Freddie Freeman 424 275 0.65 64
MIA Marcell Ozuna 291 188 0.65 64
NYM Marlon Byrd 383 247 0.64 64
PHI Ryan Howard 317 204 0.64 64
PIT Garrett Jones 339 216 0.64 63
WSN Adam LaRoche 411 259 0.63 62
CLE Nick Swisher 410 258 0.63 62
SDP Carlos Quentin 320 200 0.63 62
TBR Evan Longoria 467 287 0.61 61
ARI Miguel Montero 376 230 0.61 61
CHN Alfonso Soriano* 413 251 0.61 60
LAD Hanley Ramirez 209 127 0.61 60
TOR Edwin Encarnacion 474 287 0.61 60
OAK Yoenis Cespedes 391 235 0.60 59
HOU Chris Carter 398 238 0.60 59
LAA Mark Trumbo 469 280 0.60 59
CHW Adam Dunn 427 253 0.59 59
SEA Kendrys Morales 451 265 0.59 58
KCR Billy Butler 436 251 0.58 57
Avg 395 256 0.65 64

• As the table indicates, Fielder would have a higher RBI total were he batting cleanup for only one other club (Cincinnati) — this, likely due to the influence both of Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto‘s excellent on-base skills.

• Kansas City’s Billy Butler has seen the lowest rate of baserunners aboard among all of the sport’s cleanup hitters — this figure likely due to the .298 on-base percentage recorded by all of Kansas City’s number-two hitters

Alfonso Soriano‘s baserunner rate includes not only his plate appearances with the Cubs, but also the Yankees — mostly because the author lacks the combination of know-how and can-do spirit required for separating them (i.e. those plate appearances).

Data from Baseball Reference was essential to this brief study.

Today’s MLB.TV Free Game
Oakland at Cincinnati | 19:10 ET
Dan Straily (96.0 IP, 107 xFIP-, 1.2 WAR) faces Mat Latos (138.2 IP, 87 xFIP-, 3.1 WAR). A brief inspection of the latter’s player page here at the site reveals that he (i.e. Latos) has now recorded four consecutive season with three-plus wins. Even further inspection reveals that Latos presently owns the fourth-highest swinging-strike rate among all qualified starters at 11.9%.

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Oakland Radio.

Today’s Complete Schedule
Here’s the complete schedule for all of today’s games, with our very proprietary watchability (NERD) scores for each one. Pitching probables and game times aggregated from MLB.com and RotoWire. The average NERD Game Score for today is 6.3.

Note: the following table is entirely sortable.

Away   SP Tm. Gm. Tm. SP   Home Time
Julio Teheran ATL 8 7 7 3 7 WAS Gio Gonzalez 19:05
Edwin Jackson CHN 5 5 4 0 3 PHI Kyle Kendrick 19:05
Justin Verlander DET 6 8 7 7 8 CLE Justin Masterson 19:05
Hen. Alvarez MIA 6 2 5 7 3 PIT Jeff Locke 19:05
Tyler Chatwood COL 7 7 9 6 12 NYN Jenrry Mejia* 19:10
Dan Straily OAK 6 6 7 3 9 CIN Mat Latos 19:10
Steven Wright* BOS 10 8 7 4 5 HOU Jordan Lyles 20:10
Andrew Albers* MIN 6 3 5 6 5 KC James Shields 20:10
Hiroki Kuroda NYA 5 3 6 1 10 CHA Chris Sale 20:10
Clayton Kershaw LAN 10 3 7 4 5 STL Joe Kelly 20:15
Jeremy Hellickson TB 5 10 6 2 6 AZ Wade Miley 21:40
Yu Darvish TEX 10 3 8 8 7 LAA Garrett Richards 22:05
Bud Norris BAL 3 8 4 6 3 SD Edinson Volquez 22:10
Josh Johnson TOR 7 6 8 5 10 SEA Felix Hernandez 22:10
Wily Peralta MIL 6 4 5 5 5 SF Matt Cain 22:15

To learn how Pitcher and Team NERD Scores are calculated, click here.
To learn how Game NERD Scores are calculated, click here.
* = Fewer than 20 IP, NERD at discretion of very handsome author.

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Carson Cistulli occasionally publishes spirited ejaculations at The New Enthusiast.

20 Responses to “Daily Notes: Prince Fielder’s RBI Total with Every Team”

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  1. MikeS says:

    Chris Sale is pitching for CHC, not CHA? Did he get traded or did the White Sox get kicked out of the American League?

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  2. Brian C says:

    How does Fielder’s RBI rate per baserunner aboard (20.4%) compare to those other cleanup hitters?

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    • kdm628496 says:

      looks like mr cistulli’s data is a day old, but taking current PA and RBI numbers and extrapolating BR, fielder is below the clean up hitter average of 22.1%.

      swisher is bottom at 12.7% and encarnacion is tops at 30.4% with cespedes being almost exactly average.

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    • David says:

      This may be bad form, and if so I apologize in advance, but there is a competing baseball stats site that has an RBI Opportunities report:


      Of players with >400PA, regardless of lineup position, the top-10 in %BR driven in are:

      Carpenter (!)
      M. Cabrera

      …Prince is all the way down at #40 !

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  3. James Atkins says:

    RE: “Prince Fielder’s RBI Total with Every Team”, the data you provided seems to refute the claim that Fielder is a “good RBI man” relative to the rest of the league’s cleanup hitters. Maybe that was the point?

    I didn’t investigate all, but for example while Fielder projects to have driven in 78 in 485 PA with the Reds’ supporting cast, Phillips actually has 83 RBI (in only 454 PA)! Even without considering his glove and baserunning abilities, it seems like Brandon Phillips is doing a better job batting 4th for the Reds than Prince Fielder would. Even Billy Butler has managed 57 RBI (same as Fielder’s projection, but in less plate appearances). Of the cleanup hitters listed with comparable plate appearances, Adam Jones and Edwin Encarnacion have 77 and 88 RBI respectively (Fielder would have managed 66 for Baltimore, 60 for Toronto).

    Fielder’s RBI total is ranked top 10 in MLB so he is clearly doing something right, but just imagine what one of the league’s other cleanup hitters could do if hypothetically inserted into the Tigers’ batting order…

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  4. Buzz Lightyear says:

    Woohoo! I LOVE invigorating sequels! And so fitting that this would involve the Tigers. After all, Miguel Cabrera’s counting stats are going up to infinite AND BEYOND!

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  5. Matt says:

    It won’t make any difference to the order, only to the actual totals, but your methodology is flawed. Fielder has had 373 baserunners, but he has only driven in 59 of them, at a rate of 15.8%. 17 of his RBI are HRs. Apply that to KC, and instead of a hypothetical total of 56.89, you actually get (251/436)*485*(59/373) + 17 = 61.16

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  6. Matt says:

    If you did the reverse, and checked all cleanup hitters’ numbers when taking their current rate, giving them 485 AB and 373 BR, it’d make a difference to the order, as well. Marcell Ozuna has 32 RBI from 188 BR, 17%. That’d give him 63 RBI if he took Fielder’s ABs. But he only has 3 HR, he’s actually driven in 29 out of 188, a 15.4% rate that’s almost identical to Fielder’s. Give him Fielder’s ABs with that rate, and he gets 60 RBI with 5 HR.

    At the other extreme, Hafner has 37 RBI from 207 BR, 17.9% rate. But take out the HR, and it’s 25/207, 12.1%. He’d only have 53 RBI given Fielder’s chances, and giving him his current HR/PA pace. But he’d have 67 RBI if you just gave him 17.9% and 373 BR.

    Ozuna would go from 4 behind Hafner by counting HR as BR being knocked in to 7 ahead.

    Be interesting to see the success rates of all the other batters, and their RBI totals given 485 Pa and 373 BR.

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  7. Matt says:

    Actually, since I’m bored and all the data about number of BR is sitting there already, I just plug the HR/RBI totals into a spreadsheet, and get the following:

    Dunno if the format will work, first number is % of BR driven in, with Fielder 15th. Second number is RBIs they’d have as Fielder, and Fielder is equal 17th, 30 behind Encarnacion and 31 ahead of Nick Swisher.

    Team Cleanup (RBI-HR)/BR % Detroit RBI
    TOR Edwin Encarnacion 20.56 106
    STL Allen Craig 24.5 103
    LAD Hanley Ramirez 20.47 102
    COL Troy Tulowitzki 18.75 100
    ATL Freddie Freeman 21.82 96
    CHW Adam Dunn 16.21 90
    BOS David Ortiz 17.18 89
    CIN Brandon Phillips 19.55 87
    NYM Marlon Byrd 17.41 86
    BAL Adam Jones 17.19 86
    LAA Mark Trumbo 15.71 84
    SEA Kendrys Morales 17.36 83
    SDP Carlos Quentin 16 79
    KCR Billy Butler 18.33 78
    SFG Buster Posey 16.43 77
    OAK Yoenis Cespedes 14.89 77
    CHN Alfonso Soriano* 14.74 76
    DET Prince Fielder 15.82 76
    PHI Ryan Howard 15.69 75
    HOU Chris Carter 13.87 75
    TEX Adrian Beltre 13.4 74
    TBR Evan Longoria 13.24 71
    PIT Garrett Jones 13.89 66
    MIN Justin Morneau 14.46 65
    WSN Adam LaRoche 12.36 65
    NYY Travis Hafner 12.08 65
    MIA Marcell Ozuna 15.43 63
    MIL Aramis Ramirez 13.46 62
    ARI Miguel Montero 10.87 52
    CLE Nick Swisher 8.53 45

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  8. eddiegaedel says:

    God I can’t stand when Manning calls people “RBI MEN” … he also thinks that switching Swisher and Cabrera from 2 to 4 in the order has proven to make all the difference in a week long sample size. what a joke

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  9. G-foz says:

    I wonder how many RBI Miguel Cabrera would have if he batted cleanup hitting behind Miguel Cabrera.

    +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Hank says:

    too bad the THRILLING stephen wright, knuckleballer extraodinaire, who has been unhittable in the minors recently, has to see his game’s NERD score mercilessly dragged down by the houston astros.

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  11. Harb says:

    Kluber to the DL. My life has no meaning anymore.

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