Three True Outcome Leaders 2007-2009 (Corrected)

[Authors Note Added, 7:42 p.m. EST: Thanks to the commentators below who spotted the obvious error… You all are great. Fortunately (for me) the revised standings for the top five remain almost the same. It was a simple Excel mistake on my part, silly and embarrassing. Some good came out of it: there is now a bidding war between San Francisco, Houston, Kansas City, and New York (NYN) to hire me as Head of Research and Analysis.]

The so-called Three True Outcomes are the walk, the strikeout, and the home run. They are called “true” outcomes because they reflect the pitcher-hitter relationship without the mediation of defense, luck on balls in play, etc. The celebration of three true outcome (TTO) hitters is a classic staple of sabermetric writing on the internet. In that tradition, let’s take a look at the leaders in TTO rate from 2007-2009. The pool of players are those defined as qualified over the past three calendar years by the FanGraphs leaderboards. The definition of Three True Outcome rate I’ll use is (HR+K+BB-iBB)/(PA-iBB). I’ve excluded intentional walks since they are out of the hitter’s control.

In reverse order, your top five members of the Rob Deer Fan Club from 2007-2009:

5. Jim Thome
TTO%: 47.0
TTO: 728
PA-iBB: 1549
HR: 92
uBB: 232
SO: 404

Although Thome is a sure DH-only at this point, I’m surprised his name hasn’t popped up more frequently this offseason in hot stove rumors. Thome still has something to offer, but teams seem to be more circumspect regarding the relative value of designated hitters than in the past. Moreover, it’s one thing to have old player skills, and another to simply be old.

4. Carlos Pena
TTO%: 48.0
TTO: 845
PA-iBB: 1761
HR: 116
uBB: 258
SO: 471

It bears repeating: for all the (uninformed) talk of Tampa Bay’s rapid ascent being due to years of high draft picks, smart acquisitions like that of Pena have had as much or more to do with their recent success. I’ve heard that during the 2006-2007 offseason, one of his suitors was the Kansas City Royals, and that part of the reason he didn’t sign with the Royals was that they wanted him to complete with Ryan Shealy for a starting spot.

3. Adam Dunn
TTO%: 48.4
TTO: 926
PA-iBB: 1914
HR: 118
uBB: 302
SO: 506

For all the (justified) talk of Dunn’s dreadful performance in the field, there is no doubting his offensive value. Dunn is arguably the most miscast player in baseball — he’s one of the few guys who could actually carry the DH spot, yet he’s stuck in the NL… Remember way back in 2008, when then-Blue Jays GM J. P. Ricciardi put down Dunn’s abilities, leading to general mockery and vilification of Ricciardi all over the internet? A fired up Adam Dunn responded by finishing 2008 with monstrous 1.2 WAR and following it up with an equally impressive 1.2 WAR in 2009. Interesting.

2. Mark Reynolds
TTO%: 48.5
TTO: 815
PA-iBB: 1682
HR: 89
uBB: 170
SO: 556

Reynolds may not be much of a defender on the hot corner, but he’s Adrian Beltre compared to the rest of this group. Particularly interesting in this context is that Reynolds is the only member of this group not in his 30s, and as the youngest of the five, he reflects much what we generally known about player aging: he has the most defensive skill, the lowest walk rate, the highest three-year batting average (.257), the most steals, and the highest speed score.

1. Jack Cust
TTO%: 54.4
TTO: 929
PA-iBB: 1707
HR: 84
uBB: 299
SO: 39.3

What, you were expecting Howie Kendrick? As has been said before, perhaps they should rename this category the “Three True OutCusts.” Cust outstrips even Dunn in his extremity. Cust is known for his old player skills, and his down year in 2009 did nothing to change that perception. However, CHONE projects Cust’s 2010 context-neutral runs above average per 150 games at +23, second-highest in this group to Pena’s +30. Oakland recently resigned Cust for $2.65 million guaranteed as part of their goal of fielding one Adam Dunn and eight Endy Chavezes, and if he’s anywhere close to +23 as a hitter, that will be a bargain.

Later this week: The 2007-2009 trailers

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Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.

33 Responses to “Three True Outcome Leaders 2007-2009 (Corrected)”

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  1. Chris Davis seemed poised for this list thru the all-star break of last year. Thru June 22, Davis TTO’d 58% of his PA only because he never walked. Pena was the highest TTO guy last year thru June 22, TTOing 60.3% of the time. And yet, as ridiculous as it sounds, neither can touch Cust’s 3 year average. That is just Sick.

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  2. PS, the rob deer fanclub was invented by Baseball Prospectus. Still an interesting articl.

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  3. An interesting piece from 2000, showing the highest TTO by career thru 2000.

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  4. Matt B. says:

    Surely Pena is a better defender than Reynolds!

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  5. Adam W. says:

    As I recall, JP wasn’t ridiculed for putting down Adam Dunn’s ability per se. He was ridiculed for his stance that Adam Dunn is not worth a roster spot because he doesn’t love the game of baseball.

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    • Sure… It wasn’t the specifics that interested me, that right after everyone jumped on J.P. and went off on how “it didn’t matter because Dunn is awesome,” well, defensive stats gained a new currency and it turns out that Dunn’s problem wasn’t missing the ball when he was a the plate, but in when he was in the field…

      Anyway, not to defend J.P.’s silliness, it’s just an interesting coincidence that makes for goofy rhetorical flourish.

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  6. Dave says:

    Matt – maybe I’m missing something but if Cust had 929 TTO from 07-09 (excl. 10 iBB) and 1717 PA (from which the 10 iBB should be subtracted) then don’t you get 929/1707=54.4 TTO%?

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  7. Matt Klaassen says:

    Sorry all… Made a mistake on the spreadsheet… Cust still”wins,” but I want to redo the figures. On my mobile now, I will have to do it later tonight.

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  8. Brian says:

    I guess this is a more general question I have about sabermetrics but why aren’t their weights attached to the three components? In the runs created metric, the magnitude of the HR’s value is significantly more than the magnitude of a strikeout’s or BB’s value. It seems like this metric is just attached to clean-up guys.

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  9. Is “NYN” intended as NYM or short for New York Nation?

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    • “NYN” is the abbreviation for the Mets used by most databases, etc. “NYA” is for the Yankees. “CHA” is for the White Sox, “CHN” is for the Cubs, etc.

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    • Ahhhhhh. Makes sense.

      Side question then: why classify like this? I noticed this in the xBABIP calc. as well, actually. Why not use CHW, CHC, NYM, NYY, etc etc>. It seems slightly more “universal”

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    • JoeR43 says:

      Yankees refer to themselves as a universe.

      Because of the ongoing battle of arrogance between Red Sox and Yankee fans, the Yankees couldn’t be satisfied with just being a Nation like the Red Sox. They have to be a whole damn universe.

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  10. crix says:

    Either way, NYN or NYM you should still get New York Mets. I know it’s been explained but, N=National A=American. The only Nation I know of is Red Sox Nation. What else would “n” stand for? C’mon brotha, get wit da program haha. I’m not trying to hammer ya but, you seem to think it’s pertinent, hense my response. I do however agree that CHW, CHC, NYY, NYM should be used. (To prevent confusion.)

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  11. JoeR43 says:

    I like how they call Deer a “notorious free swinger” on wikipedia.

    Actually, no I don’t. He wasn’t a free swinger. His contact just sucked. He still had a 92 OPS+ the year he hit .179.

    Obviously only so much praise to give a .220/.324/.442 career hitter, but it’s fun to show that Juan Pierre and his .301 BA has been way less valuable an offensive player than Rob Deer (.547 OWn% vs. .482 OWn%, a team of 9 Rob Deer’s on offense can be expected to win 10-11 more games a season than the same team w/ 9 Juan Pierre’s on offense).

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  12. Mike K. says:

    Ryan Howard? 46.3%.

    So close.

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  13. Alireza says:

    I realize this site publishes UZR, but it isn’t the only measure of defense. Pena has put up very nice Plus/Minus scores and is generally considered at least above average.

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