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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