Nearly Name-change Worthy

The Cy Young Award.

The Jackie Robinson Award.

The Kenesaw Mountain Landis Memorial Baseball Award.

Players dream of earning these awards during their career. To be a part of the prestige and history of the game in that manner is the stuff that dreams are made of.  Then, we have the award named after baseball contemporaries.

Matt Klaassen started the Carter-Batista Awards (CBA) in 2009 to recognize those players whose offensive value is exaggerated by their RBI totals.  Joe Carter‘s name is listed first because not only does he own the highest CBA score since 1990, he owns three of the top seven.

Season Player RBI wRC CBA
1990 Joe Carter 115 65 1.77
2004 Tony Batista 110 66 1.67
1999 Richie Sexson 116 70 1.66
1997 Joe Carter 102 62 1.65
1993 Ruben Sierra 101 63 1.60
1992 George Bell 112 72 1.56
1994 Joe Carter 103 68 1.51
1996 Derek Bell 113 75 1.51

The naming of the award works well in that Carter owned the best score of the 90’s while Tony Batista had the highest score in the proceeding decade. If Klaassen decides to rename the award by 2020, there is a new early leader for the current decade in Brandon Phillips.

Phillips completed the 2013 season with 103 runs driven in and 69 weighted runs created. His 1.67 score trails only Batista’s since the year 2000.

Season Player RBI wRC CBA
2004 Tony Batista 110 66 1.67
2013 Brandon Phillips 103 69 1.49
2010 Alex Rodriguez 125 89 1.40
2005 Jorge Cantu 117 85 1.38
2006 Jeff Francoeur 103 75 1.37
2008 Ryan Howard 146 107 1.36
2001 Garret Anderson 123 92 1.34
2004 Vinny Castilla 131 98 1.34
2013 Pedro Alvarez 100 75 1.33
2003 Torii Hunter 102 77 1.32

Phillips enjoyed the benefits of hitting behind Joey Votto and Shin-Soo Choo who had the second and fourth highest on base percentages in baseball in 2013. Votto was on base 101 times when Phillips was at the plate and scored 16 times. Choo was on base 56 times, scoring 32 times. In all, the duo accounted for 48 of the 103 runs that Phillips drove in last season. Phillips had a total of 492 base runners when he came to hit last season which was the third-highest total in the league. Prince Fielder led the league with 536 while Jay Bruce, the batter behind Phillips in the lineup most of the season, had an even 500.

Phillips had his best results hitting with runners in scoring position as he hit .338/.404/.469 last season in 195 plate appearances while hitting .255/.292/.395 in all other situations. Those outcomes allowed Phillips to maximize his run production in RISP situation as only Miguel Cabrera, Chris Davis, Paul Goldschmidt, Freddie Freeman, and Allen Craig drove in more runs in identical situations.

2014 presents new challenges for Phillips and his teammates as the team will no longer enjoy so many runners on base with the departure of Choo to Texas. The Reds had more baserunners than any other team in the National League last season, but finished just fourth in runs scored due mainly to poor lineup construction. Rather than maximize the potential of the lineup at the top, Dusty Baker preferred to utilize sub-optimal players for the role and that group hit a collective .228 with a .281 OBP. Both figures were the worst in all of baseball. Overall, the Reds return just two regular players to their lineup that had better than league-average OBP’s – Votto and Bruce.

New manager Bryan Price has that challenge in front of him as he heads to Arizona to start framing out his lineup. Last season, Baker had the luxury of a superb leadoff batter and self-inflicted wounds out of the second spot in the lineup. This season, Price is left with the hopes that Billy Hamilton can somehow get on base enough to utilize his game-changing speed. That would allow Price to set up the top half of his lineup in this manner:

  1. Hamilton (S)
  2. Votto (L)
  3. Phillips (R)
  4. Bruce (L)
  5. Ludwick (R)

Votto’s ability to hit to all fields and make strong contact opens up opportunities to put Hamilton in motion beyond just the straight steal. More importantly, Votto hitting second offers more lineup protection to the lineup itself. If Hamilton is only getting on base 30% of the time, repeating the sins of last season by putting the likes of Zach Cozart in the second spot would, more often than not, leave Votto up to bat with nobody on base.  Having Phillips bat third at least leaves him in a spot where he is most likely to have men on base in front of him if not in scoring position and afford the best hitter on the team more plate appearances over the course of the season.

The Reds can ill-afford to waste the scoring opportunities in 2014. Last season, they were afford the luxury of having two players near the top of their lineup that excelled in getting on base. This season, no such luxury exists. If the Reds want to help compensate for the change in talent at the top of their lineup, they need to maximize the production of their best batters. Phillips has one of the better wRC totals over the past three seasons with runners in scoring position and it would behoove the Reds to set up their man for success. That could mean hitting between the team’s two best hitters, or if Hamilton proves he is not ready for the job, setting the table for them barring any roster changes in the coming months.

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36 Responses to “Nearly Name-change Worthy”

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  1. Fausto Carmona says:

    I, for one, support the name change.

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  2. waynetolleson says:

    Sometimes, I wish this site would stick to stats analysis and leave the comedy routines to others. Can the snark. Give us the facts. If you can’t understand that Joe Carter was a much, much, much better player for a much longer time that Tony Batista, just stop writing about baseball. Seriously.

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    • buddybiancalana says:

      Carter also had a zillion times more grit.

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    • KCDaveInLA says:

      The point wasn’t to drag down Joe Carter’s entire career, but to assert that he benefitted in standard stats in certain years almost entirely by who hit in front of him. In 1990, he had Bip Roberts (at his peak), Roberto Alomar, and Tony Gwynn hitting in front of him. He should’ve gotten 100 of those RBI’s with his eyes closed. In every other offensive facet, he kinda stunk. Jason is making the same point that Brandon Phillips should be praying that Billy Hamilton can stick.

      And I like the snark.

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      • tz says:

        KCDave, I remember that Carter season very well. I don’t know about getting 100 RBI’s with his eyes closed, but with a great high on-base, low power trio in front of, even Willie Bloomquist should have been expected to get 100+ RBIs that year.

        Or maybe 98+.

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    • Book_Worm says:

      waynetolleson, I would seriously recommend reading the first couple chapters of the book Baseball Between the Numbers (linked below). It was a great primer for several topics featured regularly on this site. There was an early chapter that called Joe Carter overrated by certain measurements, and my knee-jerk reaction was that they were wrong and unfairly singling out Carter.

      But seriously this book gives a great breakdown on an issue-by-issue. And Carter is merely a representative case, but one that causes you to stop and re-evaluate things. It’s a fair book that isn’t snarky but gets a lot of important points across using historical and contemporary examples.


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      • waynetolleson says:

        Look, I’m not blind to what the stats say about Joe Carter. I also don’t think it’s fair, or wise, to say that anybody could just walk up there with his eyes closed and drive-in 100 runs. Were that the case, you, me, Willie Bloomquist, and a whole lot of others would have a few 100-RBI seasons under our belts.

        Carter knocked-in 121 runs in 1986. He basically knocked-in 100 runs every single year through 1997. The two times he missed were when he had 98 RBI in 1988, which was a a down year for the entire league. And 1994, when he knocked-in 76 runs in the strike-shortened seasons. So, that would have probably been another 100-RBI year.

        Look, you’re all right that Carter had a bad OBP and wasn’t the best outfielder. (He seems like he was Alfonso Soriano with fewer strikeouts, a lower BA, and worse defense.) I’m just saying that you don’t drive-in 100 runs for a dozen straight years without some level of skill. He might not be as great as a lot of people imagine him to be, but he wasn’t Tony Batista, either.

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        • tz says:

          lol – I bet Soriano has driven in lots of runs with his eyes closed. Not 100 in a season, but it seems like 30-40 at his peak is not unlikely.

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    • agam22 says:

      Yes, how dare we assail a player that had 6 years of -.5 WAR or worse, was rated as being worth -175 runs defensively and had a career .306 OBP? Clutch HR though

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    • waynetolleson says:

      “Yes, how dare we assail a player that had 6 years of -.5 WAR or worse, was rated as being worth -175 runs defensively and had a career .306 OBP? Clutch HR though.”

      See, this is what happens when people just parrot things because they think they sound cool but actually haven’t the slightest clue what they’re talking about.

      Joe Carter didn’t hit “one clutch HR.” Joe Carter hit 396 regular season HR’s and 432 regular season doubles. He also hit six more HR’s in the postseason. So the guy had 400 career HR’s. He’s 55th all-time.

      He’s also 60th all-time when it comes to RBI’s. I know, I know. You guys here are complete geniuses, and RBI’s are a completely useless stat that have no bearing on the game whatsoever. With today’s modern metrics, runs just score all by themselves. They don’t need to be driven in.

      And really, Joe Carter is in the exact same category as Tony Batista. It’s such a great comparison. Joe Carter had ten 100-RBI season and eleven 98+ RBI seasons. Tony Batista had three 100-RBI seasons and four 98+ RBI seasons. Carter had 175 more career HR’s and 727 more RBI – more than twice as many – as Tony Batista.

      But other than that, the comparison is perfect. You guys must be so proud of yourselves. You’ve completely reinvented the game all over again. I’m in awe. Everything I ever knew about baseball has changed after reading about Fangraphs make fun of Joe Carter for the 1,678th time. I can’t wait for the next article. The joke gets funnier every time.

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      • agam22 says:

        Yes, Joe Carter had great power. Tremendous power. He also had a little bit of speed early in his career. He did nothing else well. Carter’s counting stats are all much higher than Batista’s, because Carter played twice as long. Including an awful stretch at the end of his career. He was terrible defensively, he was awful at getting on base. Still, he lasted for 9,000 career at bats as an average hitter. That is nothing to sneeze at. But he had a triple slash of .265/.306/.465. Batista was .251/.299/.453. Given run environents, Carter was a better hitter. He was also worse defensively so that in terms of WAR/600 Batista rates better.

        Carter’s peak was much better the Batista, the difference was, given the eras in which they played teams weren’t willing to keep giving Batista chances, but Carter was getting them long after he should been sat down. So there are a lot more ABs and counting stats but also negative WAR seasons where he was horrendous.

        Carter was more talented than Batista. He was also grossly overrated much of his career and isn’t so far ahead that the comparison is ridiculous.

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      • Dave says:

        You’re not helping your case with all this snark. If you could comment without being so snarky that would help.

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      • Eric Lutz says:

        I couldn’t agree with you more about the snark on this site. You can conjure up any new age stat all by yourself in that little hovel Fangraphs authors call a basement or room, but have never played baseball in real life. Fangraphs gets all excited over rate stats, when in terms of offense, the game is about consistent production. Joe Carter was that. Dam right someone needs to drive runs in, they just don’t score themselves! Joe Carter was a wonderful player and by all accounts an excellent teammate. 10-100 RBI seasons, and he was durable! are you kidding me? 140 games or more 12 times and in 1994 he played in 111/112 games. There are so many players these days that break a body part when they sneeze, or trip over their dog…geez.

        Rate stats, are good, in perspective. Oh this pitcher had 10 K’s per 9 innings pitched, oh but wait he pitched 20 innings this year, because he was out injured. Never mind he also walked 15 guys, har dee har har.

        You want snark, here ya go: Here are some stone cold stat facts for you geeks out there.

        Since 2000, looking at TEAM stats, of the 28 teams that made it to the World Series, 19/28 had an offense in the top ten! The lowest ranked team offense to win a World Series, 17th. The same cannot be said for fielding defense!! Do you realize there were 5/28 teams with a fielding defense of 20th OR LOWER that made it to the World Series, yet 3 of those five actually won the World Series. One of those five was ranked 27th in fielding out of 30 teams that year. 27th!!. All kinds of leeway on the fielding side of the ball, unlike offense. Spotlighting the fact if you want to make it to the world series Offense is more important that fielding (hey sure handed Red Sox Dustin Pedroia made 3 errors in the six games of the 2013 World Series (Sox had 6 errors total), but the Red Sox won, why? they had the #1 offense)

        You cannot do that on offense, because there is not anywhere near as much leeway on O as there is D. Now all you kiddies out there, realize this, of the 3 aspects to baseball, hitting (offense), fielding (defensive positions 3-9) pitching and catching (which begins the defense), FIELDING DEFENSE is dead last in priority if you want to win a World Series. MLB has always been and always will be, “if you can hit, if you can flat out rake, we will find a defensive position for you!!”

        Case in point, in 2013 the Orioles and Rays had the #1 and #2 STINGIEST fielding defenses, not only in 2013, but in the entire last 14 years, since 2000! The Orioles didn’t sniff the playoffs, and Tampa Bay got the early exit that comes with their token wild card for a small market team. Because why? Because pitching and catching is #1 in importance, 679/1313 or 53% of all MLB players are pitchers, because that STARTS the defense, the more batters pitchers and catchers strike out and less walks, less pressure on fielding defense. Orioles had sucky pitching except for Tillman. That is why I actually am a fan of the new age sabermetric DIPS, it is the best stat out there for evaluating pitchers. See? I am not necessarily “old school”

        #2 is hitting offense, because there is only one type of offense, Hits, BA, OBP, SLG, SB.

        Whereas there are two ways to get good defense, 1) out of pitchers and catchers, or 2) fielding with positions 3-9. Dead last, or #3 in importance, fielding.

        That’s why the Yankees and Red Sox are the two teams consistently in the playoffs year in year out, They spend the cash on the guys with the big bats and star prospect pitchers, whereas small market teams don’t have that kind of $$ and luxury, so they try to make up for it with better fielding teams and it doesn’t pass the sniff test.

        Don’t EVER rip on Joe Carter again. He has more merit than you think.

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        • nd says:

          I’m sorry, but this post is so off base I’m sure where to begin. Over the course of his career, Carter was a league average hitter at his position (let’s ignore baserunning and defense since you spent several paragraphs haphazardly claiming they don’t matter).

          Here’s what I mean: in just over 9000 PAs he drove in about 1450 runs and bopped 400 dingers – almost identical to Jim Rice’s output. However, Rice’s slash line of .300/.350/.500 is far superior to Carter’s .260/.305/.465. No advanced metrics here, just rate stats over a large sample – leading to hundreds more baserunning opportunities and extra bases for Rice in his career. Isn’t it obvious which player was more valuable to his team in the long run? Rice got on base more and hit for as much power as Carter, but had the same number of RBI. This should make you suspicious of Carter’s ability. Was he driving in runs at a high rate because of his performance at the plate or because of his ample opportunities with RISP?

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    • Visitor says:

      Where does someone even say that Joe Carter and Tony Batista were equal players? You’re railing against this statement, but I do not see it anywhere.

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      • tz says:

        In fact, it’s the Carter-Batista Award, not the other way around.

        Poor Batista is being presented as just the John Oates of this duo, from where I’m sitting.

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        • waynetolleson says:

          While John Oates might not have had all the tools – the charisma, the good looks – of a Daryl Hall, he was solid and workmanlike. He showed up to work every day ready to play. Not the most talented guy, but solid fundamentals. Really gritty player. And his intangibles were off the charts.

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    • Los says:

      Carter was worth 17 wins over 16 (some partial) big league seasons.

      Batista was worth 12 wins over 11 (some partial) big league seasons.

      I fail to see how this qualifies as “much, much, much better player for a much longer time”.

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      • Eric Lutz says:

        I don’t necessarily believe that WAR is such the end all be all stat that it is purported to be. I am not claiming to know of something better to use, but I feel its pretty tough to know for certain, that player X is only worth 2.3 wins, or 9.0-10.0 wins like Trout or something. It is a team sport after all, and to say 1, 2, 5, or 10 wins is all up to one single player somehow seems kind of tough to definitively say to me.

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  3. Llewdor says:

    I love Tony Batista’s 2004 season, and I support anything that memorialises it. It was arguably the worst 30 HR 100 RBI season of all time.

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  4. CWint says:

    Gotta love the Joe Carter.

    In 1987 he was so much better than Brook Jacoby. We can measure his betterness as being 37 RBI’s better. He was 54% more player than Jacoby. 54% awesomer.

    We really need an inverse Joe Carter award. Jacoby had 69 RBI’s that year with a .300 average and 32 HR’s. His WRC+ that year was 144. That would leave his ratio at 0.48

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  5. CWint says:

    DUR, WRC+ =/= WRC… I don’t have his WRC.

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  6. CWint says:

    Strangely enough… Jacoby was hitting coach of the Cincinnati Reds this year (team of one Brandon Phillips).

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    • Eric Lutz says:

      I will admit Brandon Phillips is awesome on D, and certainly better than Joe Carter, no matter what position he played, but Joe was way better on offense than Phillips will ever be. I remember this year when Brandon finally drove in over 100 for the first time in his career, he was so happy and I was happy for him. Now multiply that feeling by 11 for Joe Carter.

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      • nd says:

        Joe was better on offense than Phillips, but they are both just average offensive players. That’s the point of the article.

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  7. Dead Opera Star says:

    Pure curiosity, because I think I’m missing something: Why wRC and not wRC+?

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    • Trev says:

      wRC is a counting stat like RBI. And it also has no baseline like RBI.

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      • Eric Lutz says:

        Here is your baseline, I will give it to you. Anyone who has looked up baseball stats of the last ten years will know this:

        OF all MLB FULL TIME offensive players that qualify for the batting crown every year, the average number of RBIs driven in by these players floats typically between 74-78.

        Joe Carter played 14.12 years of full, on the field seasons.

        How did I get that?

        The average MLB game on offensive is 4 plate appearances in a standard 9 inning game. Joe Carter had 9,154 plate appearances, divided by 4 a game =2288.5 games (about 100 more games than he actually played in due to 648 plate appearances equaling a year), take the 2288.5 divided by 162 game season, 14.126 years.

        So in 14 years Joe Carter had 1,445 RBIs, that’s 102 averaged a Year, when the typical full time player gets only 74-78 a year NOW, not when Joe played!?!?

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  8. Eric Lutz says:

    first off, I wasn’t comparing Joe Carter to Jim Rice or anybody for that matter, just simply stating he is way better than you think. Its about production. Plate appearances per run PA/R, or (PA/((Runs+RBI)-HR)), the fewer PA per run or production the better. In terms of production, Joe Carter is way better than Brandon Phillips and most baseball players for that matter. Most players don’t have the productivity he had. He is not the average player in terms of the offense he provided.

    How many players from 1985 to the present had 11 years or more of 100 RBI? or 100 RBI as an average for a entire career? Very few. You can probably count them on two hands. Cabrera and Pujols for sure. There are only about twelve players a year in MLB that hit that total. Now you have to do that for 11 years? pretty tough. Everyone will disagree with me on this site I am sure, but Carter is better than Paul Konerko. Konerko’s higher BA and OBP didn’t net better production AND on top of it, Konerko’s playing career is longer. Joe Carter had a more compact career. An underrated quality of pro athletes everywhere is durability, being able to stay on the field. Ask Stephen Drew, He fields awesome, so does Jacoby Ellsbury, but in six to eight years they have been injured for 3-4 years of it. Drew is without a contract still because of it, and Ellsbury’s home run pop is gone.

    Second off, I never said stolen bases or fielding defense doesn’t matter. Do you also realize Joe Carter stole bases too, at a 75% clip too, Konerko never did.

    You need reading comprehension. I said of the three pieces to a major league team, fielding defense matters least, out of offense, (hitting), pitching (pitchers and catchers start the defense) and fielding defense (positions 3-9).

    And by the way, if you want to have a healthy debate, then allow people to respond to your comments directly. I see below your up and down vote icons there is no REPLY button. I am not trolling either. I just think people need to have an open mind. See ya ND.

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    • nd says:

      I’m sorry that my comments aren’t “replyable”, I assure you I had nothing to do with that. I’m also sorry I accused you of trolling and cherry picked your arguments to critique the parts I found dissatisfactory. I’m going to explain this as best I can, because I want to spread baseball knowledge and I think you have just been misinformed or haven’t really thought about it.

      I’m going to ignore the discussion about the relative importance of defense, offense, and pitching. I’ll also push to the side anything about longevity of careers or durability. Mostly because I want to give you the spiel on why people on this site would rather look at something like WAR and would prefer to leave RBI and runs scored alone.

      In order for a hitter to drive in a run, he must either hit a home run or have runners on base to drive in. Carter was really good at the first one, hitting home runs in 4.3% of his PA. He was also really good at the second one, but this wasn’t up to him. He had almost no control over how often his teammates got on base. Sure he was a great teammate and leader, but if the guys in front of him don’t get on base he can hit doubles all season and never drive in a run. The same logic goes for scoring runs. If I hit a triple every time but Grandma Edith, Grandpa Joe, and Little Cousin Billy are hitting behind me I’m going to be very hard pressed to score any runs.

      This is why we prefer to let the outcomes of the given player’s PAs determine his value. Sure, there is something to be said for making the most of your opportunities – which Carter undoubtedly did – but simply looking at RBI or run totals obscures how many opportunities a player had to drive in or be driven in. The point is that the context is important for these statistics so if we want to be honest with ourselves we must consider this context. I didn’t watch all 2200 games that Carter played in so I’d be lying if I said I knew how much he had to do with the 1450 RBI and how much credit I should give to his teammates. Thus, citing his RBI total as a measure of his skill is pretty meaningless.

      Now if we consider Carter’s total number of walks, singles, doubles, triples, and home runs we can be pretty sure that no one else from his offense was responsible. (There is context based on the quality of pitchers and defense he faced, but that is there when talking about RBI too.) All of these factors go into the calculation for wOBA, which is then normalized to the league and other things to yield an oWAR contribution.

      I’m not bashing Carter at all – he was a slightly above replacement MLB player for 15 years which is plenty impressive – I just want you to realize that the RBI he produced have to be considered in context.

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