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Lowest RBI per HR ratios in history

Posted by Andy on April 21, 2011

Reader Tony C. wrote in to ask for this old favorite.

Let's ease in. First here are the lowest RBI totals for a player with 30 HR in a season:

Rk Player RBI HR Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B BB SO GDP BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Rob Deer 64 32 1992 31 DET 110 448 393 66 97 20 1 51 131 8 .247 .337 .547 .884 *9/D
2 Felix Mantilla 64 30 1964 29 BOS 133 470 425 69 123 20 1 41 46 12 .289 .357 .553 .910 47/9568
3 Hanley Ramirez 67 33 2008 24 FLA 153 693 589 125 177 34 4 92 122 5 .301 .400 .540 .940 *6/D
4 Brad Wilkerson 67 32 2004 27 MON 160 688 572 112 146 39 2 106 152 6 .255 .374 .498 .872 *3789
5 Chris Young 68 32 2007 23 ARI 148 624 569 85 135 29 3 43 141 5 .237 .295 .467 .763 *8
6 Brook Jacoby 69 32 1987 27 CLE 155 620 540 73 162 26 4 75 73 19 .300 .387 .541 .928 *5/3D
7 Alfonso Soriano 70 33 2007 31 CHC 135 617 579 97 173 42 5 31 130 9 .299 .337 .560 .897 *78/4
8 Jose Valentin 70 30 2004 34
CHW 125 504 450 73 97 20 3 43 139 5 .216 .287 .473 .760 *6/D
9 Curtis Granderson 71 30 2009 28 DET 160 710 631 91 157 23 8 72 141 1 .249 .327 .453 .780 *8
10 Rocky Colavito 72 30 1966 32 CLE 151 614 533 68 127 13 0 76 81 25 .238 .336 .432 .767 *9
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/20/2011.

Tony also asked for a list of players with fewer than 60 RBI and at least 20 HR. Turns out that this is quite common lately:

Rk Player Year HR RBI Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Jim Thome 2010 25 59 39 MIN 108 340 276 48 78 16 2 60 82 .283 .412 .627 1.039 *D
2 Mike Stanton 2010 22 59 20
FLA 100 396 359 45 93 21 1 34 123 .259 .326 .507 .833 *9
3 Edwin Encarnacion 2010 21 51 27 TOR 96 367 332 47 81 16 0 29 60 .244 .305 .482 .787 *5/D
4 Tyler Colvin 2010 20 56 24 CHC 135 394 358 60 91 18 5 30 100 .254 .316 .500 .816 978
5 Russell Branyan 2010 25 57 34 TOT 109 428 376 47 89 19 0 46 131 .237 .323 .487 .810 D3
6 Mike Napoli 2009 20 56 27 LAA 114 432 382 60 104 22 1 40 103 .272 .350 .492 .842 *2D
7 Jay Bruce 2009 22 58 22 CIN 101 387 345 47 77 15 2 38 75 .223 .303 .470 .773 *9
8 Chris Davis 2009 21 59 23 TEX 113 419 391 48 93 15 1 24 150 .238 .284 .442 .726 *35/D
9 Jonny Gomes 2009 20 51 28 CIN 98 314 281 39 75 17 0 26 85 .267 .338 .541 .879 79/D
10 Garrett Jones 2009 21 44 28 PIT 82 358 314 45 92 21 1 40 76 .293 .372 .567 .938 937
11 Carlos Quentin 2009 21 56 26 CHW 99 399 351 47 83 14 0 31 52 .236 .323 .456 .779 *7/D
12 Alfonso Soriano 2009 20 55 33 CHC 117 522 477 64 115 25 1 40 118 .241 .303 .423 .726 *7/45
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/20/2011.

Following are the 20 seasons with the lowest RBI per HR ratios for players with at least 20 HR. Each season has no more than 2.13 RBI for each home run hit.

Rk Player HR RBI Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Barry Bonds 73 137 2001 36 SFG 153 664 476 129 156 32 2 177 93 .328 .515 .863 1.379 *7/D
2 Mark McGwire 70 147 1998 34 STL 155 681 509 130 152 21 0 162 155 .299 .470 .752 1.222 *3
3 Mark McGwire 58 123 1997 33 TOT 156 657 540 86 148 27 0 101 159 .274 .393 .646 1.039 *3
4 Alfonso Soriano 46 95 2006 30 WSN 159 728 647 119 179 41 2 67 160 .277 .351 .560 .911 *7
5 Barry Bonds 45 90 2003 38 SFG 130 550 390 111 133 22 1 148 58 .341 .529 .749 1.278 *7/D
6 Hanley Ramirez 33 67 2008 24 FLA 153 693 589 125 177 34 4 92 122 .301 .400 .540 .940 *6/D
7 Alfonso Soriano 33 70 2007 31 CHC 135 617 579 97 173 42 5 31 130 .299 .337 .560 .897 *78/4
8 Chris Young 32 68 2007 23 ARI 148 624 569 85 135 29 3 43 141 .237 .295 .467 .763 *8
9 Brad Wilkerson 32 67 2004 27 MON 160 688 572 112 146 39 2 106 152 .255 .374 .498 .872
*3789
10 Rob Deer 32 64 1992 31 DET 110 448 393 66 97 20 1 51 131 .247 .337 .547 .884 *9/D
11 Adam Dunn 27 57 2003 23 CIN 116 469 381 70 82 12 1 74 126 .215 .354 .465 .819 *73/9D
12 Mark Bellhorn 27 56 2002 27 CHC 146 529 445 86 115 24 4 76 144 .258 .374 .512 .886 *4536/7
13 Ron Gant 26 54 2000 35 TOT 123 487 425 69 106 19 3 56 91 .249 .335 .492 .827 *7/D
14 Ken Phelps 24 51 1984 29 SEA 101 360 290 52 70 9 0 61 73 .241 .378 .521 .898 *D/3
15 Ruben Rivera 23 48 1999 25 SDP 147 475 411 65 80 16 1 55 143 .195 .295 .406 .701 *8
16 Chris Duncan 22 43 2006 25 STL 90 314 280 60 82 11 3 30 69 .293 .363 .589 .952 *793/D
17 Garrett Jones 21 44 2009 28 PIT 82 358 314 45 92 21 1 40 76 .293 .372 .567 .938 937
18 Kevin Maas 21 41 1990 25 NYY 79 300 254 42 64 9 0 43 76 .252 .367 .535 .902 *3D
19 Carlton Fisk 21 43 1984 36 CHW 102 395 359 54 83 20 1 26 60 .231 .289 .468 .757 *2/D
20 Chris Hoiles 20 40 1992 27 BAL 96 371 310 49 85 10 1 55 60 .274 .384 .506 .890 *2/D
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/20/2011.

This list is populated mainly by years from the recent high-offense era. That's interesting--I presume that with more homers per game in the years 1994-2009, there tended to be fewer runners on base for each homer. (I'm going to check that in a minute, so read on.)

In case you're curious, here are the 20 lowest RBI/HR ratios, minimum 20 HR in the season, prior to 1994.

Rk Player HR RBI Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Willie Mays 52 112 1965 34 SFG 157 638 558 118 177 21 3 76 71 .317 .398 .645 1.043 *8/97
2 Harmon Killebrew 45 96 1963 27 MIN 142 596 515 88 133 18 0 72 105 .258 .349 .555 .904 *7
3 Hank Aaron 44 97 1969 35 ATL 147 639 547 100 164 30 3 87 47 .300 .396 .607 1.003 *9/3
4 Frank Robinson 38 83 1956 20 CIN 152 668 572 122
166 27 6 64 95 .290 .379 .558 .936 *78
5 Rob Deer 32 64 1992 31 DET 110 448 393 66 97 20 1 51 131 .247 .337 .547 .884 *9/D
6 Brook Jacoby 32 69 1987 27 CLE 155 620 540 73 162 26 4 75 73 .300 .387 .541 .928 *5/3D
7 Felix Mantilla 30 64 1964 29 BOS 133 470 425 69 123 20 1 41 46 .289 .357 .553 .910 47/9568
8 Rickey Henderson 28 61 1990 31 OAK 136 594 489 119 159 33 3 97 60 .325 .439 .577 1.016 *7D
9 Ron Kittle 26 58 1985 27 CHW 116 417 379 51 87 12 0 31 92 .230 .295 .467 .762 7D
10 Rick Monday 26 56 1973 27 CHC 149 651 554 93 148 24 5 92 124 .267 .372 .469 .841 *8
11 Fred Lynn 25 56 1988 36 TOT 114 432 391 46 96 14 1 33 82 .246 .302 .478 .780 *897/D
12 Ken Phelps 24 51 1984 29 SEA 101 360 290 52 70 9 0 61 73 .241 .378 .521 .898 *D/3
13 Tony Conigliaro 24 52 1964 19
BOS 111 444 404 69 117 21 2 35 78 .290 .354 .530 .883 *78/9
14 Kevin Maas 21 41 1990 25 NYY 79 300 254 42 64 9 0 43 76 .252 .367 .535 .902 *3D
15 Gary Matthews 21 46 1986 35 CHC 123 432 370 49 96 16 1 60 59 .259 .361 .478 .839 *7
16 Carlton Fisk 21 43 1984 36 CHW 102 395 359 54 83 20 1 26 60 .231 .289 .468 .757 *2/D
17 Art Shamsky 21 47 1966 24 CIN 96 271 234 41 54 5 0 32 45 .231 .321 .521 .842 79
18 Chris Hoiles 20 40 1992 27 BAL 96 371 310 49 85 10 1 55 60 .274 .384 .506 .890 *2/D
19 Fred McGriff 20 43 1987 23 TOR 107 356 295 58 73 16 0 60 104 .247 .376 .505 .881 *D3
20 Oscar Gamble 20 44 1973 23 CLE 113 432 390 56 104 11 3 34 37 .267 .329 .464 .793 9/78
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/20/2011.

These guys are all under 2.25 RBI per HR.

Now, as far as number of guys on for home runs, here are the 2001 numbers:

There were 5,458 homers hit in total. There were 3,212 with the bases empty (58.8%), 1,552 with 1 runner on (28.4%), 560 with with 2 runners on (10.3%), and 134 with the bases loaded (2.5%).

Now, to pick another year, here are the 1992 numbers:

There were 3,038 homers hit in total. There were 1,735 with the bases empty (57.1%), 863 with 1 runner on (28.4%), 356 with 2 runners on (11.7%), and 84 with the bases loaded (2.8%).

So, yeah, you can see that in 2001 (as compared to 1992) a lot more homers were hit with the bases empty and fewer were hit with runners on.

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 21st, 2011 at 7:41 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

51 Responses to “Lowest RBI per HR ratios in history”

  1. Library Dave Says:

    So are we going to get the follow-up on the highest ratios? Jeff Cirillo's surprisingly average (100 OPS+ despite a .326 BA and 53 doubles) 2000 season comes to mind as a contender for top honors.

  2. Interesting post Andy. I think it might be more instructive to look at baserunners on per at bat or PA though.

    The third list seems to be populated with a lot of very high HR guys and moderate HR guys with low BA. Basically guys who weren't getting a whole lot of hits or RBIs when they weren't hitting home runs. There is a distortion, though, I think in the modern era, call it the IBB era, because many of the best HR hitters are most apt to be pitched to in either the 3 or 0 runners scenarios. Hence these two categories might be inflated by these strategic decisions.

    And so that I can contribute something other than questions and suggestions to the conversation:
    In 2001 MLB had 22088 RBI and 5458 HR = 4.05 RBI/HR
    In 1992 MLB had 16282 RBI and 3038 HR = 5.36 RBI/HR

  3. So, yeah, you can see that in 2001 (as compared to 1992) a lot more homers were hit with the bases empty and fewer were hit with runners on.

    This statement is untrue. Yes, there were 2400 more homers hit, but the ratios are the same. Maybe you meant to write something else?

  4. The ratios are not the same. There is a shift towards solo home runs and away from those with men on base. Yes the shift is only about one and a half percentage points but that represents the better part of 100 homers shifted, meaning a difference of as much as a couple of hundred runs.

  5. bluejaysstatsgeek Says:

    Andy: that difference isn't statistically significant at 5%, but it would be at 10%. The alpha is 0.0596.

  6. bluejaysstatsgeek Says:

    Sorry, I just realized my comment might be too value.

    The difference in proportions of HRs hit with the bases empty is in the statistical gray area, with a level of significance between 5% and 10%.

    This will appear on one of my future stats exams.

  7. bluejaysstatsgeek Says:

    Somebody get me a coffee: value above s/b vague.

  8. bluejaysstatsgeek Says:

    And for the heck of it, since I was making up the exam question anyway, I tested to see if the two distributions of numbers of runners on when HRs hit had changed. That is an emphatic "no". The chi-squared statistic has an alpha of 0.133.

  9. Bluejaystatgeek, I'm sure you're right but if I added up all the data for 1994 to 2009 and a similar set of earlier years, I expect the difference to still be there over a much larger number of games.

  10. I thought Dave Kingman would have shown up on one of these lists.

  11. bureaucratist Says:

    Re @1's suggestion, I would also love to see this. Have to think that Tommy Herr's severely underrated 1985 8 homer / 110 RBI / 123 OPS+ / 6.1 WAR season would have to be up there.

  12. John Autin Says:

    I think there are two different discussions going on here about ratios of RBI to HRs. One is about RBI specifically from HRs; the other is about total RBI.

    In terms of total RBI to HRs, Herr's 1985 season is notable in the context of the expansion era -- there's been just one other season of 100+ RBI with single-digit HRs (Molitor, 1996). But seasons like that were quite common up to 1950, even in the live-ball era.

  13. JA, I tried to email you to the address you used here but I don't think you received it--can you drop me an email? andy at baseball dash reference dot com

  14. John Autin Says:

    Andy -- I'll check my e-mail ... which is not something I do every day. :)

  15. John Autin Says:

    BTW, I think BJSG is right that the average number of RBI that each HR produced during the steroid era was not significantly different from other eras. I find the numbers of runs scored per HR was 1.59 in 1981, 1.61 in 1991, 1.56 in 2001, and 1.59 in 2010.

    We do see more of the extremely low individual RBI/HR ratios during the steroid era, but I think that's just because of a larger pool of big-HR seasons; plus, of course, the avatar of that era routinely had very low RBI/HR ratios because he was walked whenever first base was open.

    But there were many other big-HR seasons that featured normal or even high RBI/HR ratios, whether measured against overall-RBI or RBI-on-HRs. For instance, in 2000, Sammy Sosa had 50 HRs and 138 RBI, an overall-RBI/HR ratio of 2.76 and a RBI-on-HRs ratio of 1.78. And Manny's famous 165-RBI season came with a mere 44 HRs, an overall-RBI ratio of 3.75 and a RBI-on-HRs ratio of 1.84. And Mike Sweeney in 2000 had 144 RBI and a mere 29 HRs, for an overall-RBI ratio of 4.97, though his RBI-on-HRs ratio was a normal 1.59.

  16. this trend is something i noticed casually even as a little kid, whenever i mapped out my future big league stats, i always made sure i had at least 3 rbi per hr cause i didn't want to envision myself as just a slugger. i just always thought a player was incomplete if he couldn't manage 3 rbi per homer, stupid but that's what i thought. nice post.

  17. The problem with doing this list the other way, highest RBI to HR totals, is that anyone with 0 HRs and at least 1 RBI will have a ratio of infinity. There are 20 players in history who hit 0 HRs and had at least 75 RBI.

    As impressive as Herr's 8 HR, 110 RBI season is, Lave Cross drove in 108 without hitting a HR in 1902. Granted, runs were more scarce in 1985 than in 1902, but still ...

    Adding to JA's comment @12, of those 20 seasons with 0 HR and 75+ RBI, only one of those has come in a season since 1940 (Ozzie Smith in 1987). And Ty Cobb alone had 5 seasons where he hit less than 10 HR and drove in 100+ (and two more where he hit less than 10 HR and drove in 99).

  18. John Autin Says:

    Speaking of Tommy Herr ... anyone know why he's listed as "Tom Herr" on B-R? I never heard him called anything but Tommy in the baseball world.

  19. So, check this out. This post is the 1,425th I've written for this blog. (Excuse my language, but holy shit!) The 4th post I ever published here was about Tom Herr's 1985 and other similar seasons.

    See here:
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/10

    Onetime contributor Sky wrote a similar post a ways back too:
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/392

  20. JA, I think Herr preferred "Tom" later in his career. I think many of his baseball cards later in his career (like Phillies onward) referred to him as Tom.

  21. John Autin Says:

    We should also note that a very high ratio of overall-RBI to HRs does not, in and of itself, connote a good performance. In 1987, Herr had 83 RBI and just 2 HRs. But it wasn't a good offensive year for him; he batted .263, slugged .331, and his OPS+ was 80. He did about the same with runners in scoring position. He got 83 RBI because he batted 3rd most of the time, and Coleman & Ozzie were often in scoring position.

  22. David Huemer Says:

    @11--Tom Herr finished 5th in the MVP voting in 1985, so contemporaries knew he had a good season. Given the stats of the players who finished behind him, you could make the case that Herr's season was overvalued in the voting.

  23. dukeofflatbush Says:

    Check out McGwire's '97 #'s.
    148 H + 101 BB + 9 HBP = 258 TOB - 58 HR = 200 TOB
    86 R - 58 HR = 28 R.
    28 R in 200 chances or 14%.

  24. The Royals this year: 92 RBI (tied for AL lead), 12 HR (fourth-worst in AL)

    Including Wilson Betemit (1/9 HR/RBI), Melky Cabrera & Mike Aviles (1/10), Jeff Francoeur (3/15), and Alex Gordon (1/14).

    Gordon is paced for 9 HR and 126 RBI this season.

  25. Couldn't we figure out RBIs/HR for entire seasons? And then RBIs on HRs for entire seasons?

  26. Nash Bruce Says:

    For now, and forever, Rob Deer shows up on every list, worth looking at.

  27. John Autin Says:

    @24, Garth -- A few factors behind the Royals' high ratio of RBI to HRs:

    -- They are 2nd in the AL in OBP at .339, 21 points above the league average. This leads to more scoring chances. They have 177 AB with RISP, which is 28 more than the league average.

    -- They have batted .277 with RISP, 24 points above the league average.

    -- They're 2nd in the AL with 38 doubles (+6 vs. league avg.) and 5 triples (+2).

    -- They lead the AL with 24 SB, and have been caught just 4 times. Nine different Royals have swiped a base.

    Given the track record of most of their regulars, these rates will be pretty hard to maintain. And while Alex Gordon's hot start may carry on to be that breakout season we've all been waiting for, his 5-1 K/BB ratio so far is troubling.

  28. 20 years ago if you told me that in 15 years there would be more than one Rob Deer-like hitter in the league I would have said:

    A. You're crazy.
    B. What went wrong with our development of hitters?
    C. Are pitchers throwing 120 mph now?

  29. [...] Lots of research by Andy K. of B-R on RBI to HR ratios. Link [...]

  30. John Autin Says:

    @28, Kenh -- How many Rob Deer-like hitters would you say there are in the majors now?

    My own estimate is, four: Russell Branyan, Carlos Pena, Mark Reynolds and Jack Cust. Branyan, with the lowest career BA of the four (.235), is still 15 points higher than Deer.

    Based on similarity scores, there have been few Deer-like hitters in all of MLB history. The highest similarity score is 900 by Pete Incaviglia, who played at the same time as Deer. Of the 10 batters scored as most similar to Deer, Carlos Pena (896) is the only one who played after 1998.

  31. John Autin Says:

    Further to #28/30 ...

    The average career OPS+ of that group of 4 "Deer-like" hitters is 116.

    So, how are the "anti-Deer" hitters doing?

    There are 14 active players with at least 2,000 career PAs and strikeouts in less than 10% of their PAs. Their poster boys are Albert Pujols, Joe Mauer, Ichiro Suzuki and Dustin Pedroia -- all fine hitters. But the rest? The next best OPS+ in that group is 98 by Placido Polanco. The median OPS+ for that group of 14 is 85; the average is 97.

    What if we lower the contact threshold to, strikeouts in no more than 15% of career PAs? The median OPS+ for that group is 98.

    OK, but my original group of 4 hitters who are similar to Deer was not a fair comparison group, since they were selected specifically for hitting HRs and drawing walks. What about the entire group of hitters who've struck out in at least 20% of their career PAs? The median OPS+ for that group is 112.

    Summing up the median OPS+, by contact rate:
    20% strikeouts: 112.

    A high contact rate, by itself, does not constitute good offensive performance.

  32. John Autin Says:

    A line got deleted from my last post -- must have been read as HTML code. I'll try again:

    The median OPS+ for active hitters with less than 15% strikeouts is 98.
    The median OPS+ for active hitters with more than 20% strikeouts is 112.

  33. JA,
    You make a reasonably compelling argument to ignore the SO percentages of the Pete Incaviglia's and the Rob Deer's of this world as long as they hit home runs.

    I agree that a strike out registers negatively in the minds of fans out of proportion to its impact on the game.

    The factor that is difficult to measure for a high-SO % hitter vs. a contact hitter, even if their median OPS+ is close, is the advancement of baserunners on an out and the possibility of ROE for the contact hitter. A ball in play forces the defense to execute whereas a strikeout does not.

    A strikeout does not force the defense to "earn" the out, something akin to a walk issued by a pitcher not forcing a batter to execute.

  34. Yes JA you make a compelling argument. If only there were a way to harness such power.

  35. Nyet Jones Says:

    Surprised no one has mentioned that Barry is the only guy with 25+ HRs to go 2.00 or lower - and he did it twice! Clearly he was only being pitched to those years when no one was on, but still, sheesh.

  36. Brook Jacoby was either the only decent hitter on the Indians that year, or he hit about .450 with the bases empty. I remember seeing that seeing and thinking, "How did THAT happen?".

  37. John Autin Says:

    @33, Neil L -- ROE are a factor in theory, but in practice their impact is minimal. Last year, just 1.37% of balls in play resulted in a batter reaching on an error. That's one out of every 73 times the ball was put in play without leaving the yard. Errors are just too infrequent to justify changing a batter's approach.

    As for baserunners advancing on outs ... sure, it happens. But how often it makes a difference in scoring is something that I think tends to be much exaggerated.

    Consider one of the biggest sources of fan frustration: Runner on 3rd base, less than 2 outs, batter strikes out. All we asked for was a sac fly, dang it! OK, so what if we could swap half of last year's 1,648 strikeouts in those situations for balls in play? Based on last year's figure of 18.9% sac flies on balls in play in those situations, the net result per team would be about 10 extra runs for the year. Win value? About 1 win.

    Now, one win is nothing to sneer at. But we haven't looked at any costs of that tradeoff. How many of last year's 766 extra-base hits in those situations would be lost with an extreme contact-oriented batting approach? We can only guess. But if the cost of cutting the strikeouts in half would be to also cut the XBH in half, there would be far more runs lost than gained.

  38. With Barry Bonds in 2001, if he came up with runners on base, the other team walked him. If the bases were empty, he got pitched to.

    That's why his RBI/HR is so low.

  39. John Autin Says:

    Further to #37 ... If all that is too theoretical, consider this:

    In 1960, with a runner on 3rd and less than 2 out, 14.6% of ABs resulted in strikeouts. The average situation produced 0.729 runs.

    In the same situations in 2010, the strikeout rate was up to 18.8% -- a rise of almost 30% -- but the scoring average a hair higher, 0.734 runs.

  40. @30

    My guess would be there are less than when in the steroid era. By 15 years I meant from 92-07, the unofficial steroid era. Since 07, there have been Mark Reynolds, Hanley Ramirez and Soriano. But I would not include Ramirez and Soriano in the same category as Deer. Deer was very one dimensional. Ramirez and Soriano contribute many other skills to their teams, namely defense, speed and good base running. Even Reynolds plays a solid third base.

  41. @37 and @39
    Not too theoretical, John A., thanks!

    I will reply back here a little after I've processed all you've written. You cram a lot of good stuff into a single post.

    It's still hard for me to give my (entrenched) belief that a strikeout is more harmful than an attempted single or even an out or any kind of contact.

  42. @1....Tommy Herr in 1982 I believe...from memory (Strat-O-Matic days) he had like 8 homers and 110 RBI.

  43. @36 - Brook Jacoby's 1987 season is one of my favorites. He had some "fantastic" OBP guys hitting ahead of him in that order, so he didn't really have all that many guys on base, especially since those guys hitting in front of him happened to hit HRs.

    He normally hit 6th or 7th, and while he did not do well with RISP (.221/.362/.295) and only OK with men on base (.274/.383/.393) he didn't do much than Joe Carter with RISP (.246/.297/.377) and men on base (.241/.278/.396). Yet Carter drove in 106 runs with the same amount of HR (32) and only a .264 AVG. But Carter had 60 more PAs with men on base, and he didn't walk at all (which helps his RBI total but hurts ... Brook Jacoby's chances of having men on base).

    Carter (.304 OBP), Mel Hall (.309) and Cory Snyder (.273) were the guys who regularly hit in front of Jacoby looking at the 1987 Indians batting order.

    The 1-2-3 hitters on the Indians - Brett Butler (.399), Julio Franco (.389) and Pat Tabler (.369) all gave the regular 4-5-6 hitters (Carter, Hall, and Snyder) ample opportunities to drive in runs. But the 4-5-6 guys didn't really do all that much to help out Jacoby's chances.

  44. Nice analysis Artie. Plus I love anything that points out how overrated Joe Carter was.

    See also:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/300

  45. Johnny Twisto Says:

    It's still hard for me to give my (entrenched) belief that a strikeout is more harmful than an attempted single or even an out or any kind of contact.

    Well, we all start in Little League, where strikeouts are very harmful. If you just get the ball in play, there's a good chance you will reach base safely. The fielders are not good. And there is a wide range of ability at that level. Good hitters put the ball in play almost every time and get on base most of the time. Bad hitters will hardly ever get on base, and will strike out most of the time. So yes, we are indoctrinated to believe Strikeouts = Bad.

    To a certain extent, this was also the case in the earlier days of professional baseball. The fielders may have been more coordinated than the average 8-year-old, but their gloves were tiny and the fields weren't well-kept. Even on a "routine" grounder, there was a reasonable chance of reaching base safely. There was a benefit to putting the ball in play.

    But this is 2011. The gloves are much improved, the fields are improved, the players' skill level is much improved. Dinking the ball into play is useless -- it will most likely be turned into an out. The best way for most players to reach base consistently is to hit the ball hard. This requires swinging hard, which leads to a greater possibility of missing the ball entirely. This is *one* of the reasons strikeouts have increased.

    It's all well and good to say that putting the ball in play gives the opportunity for an error, or for runners to advance. Yes, there is that possibility, but most of the time it doesn't happen. As Autin noted, there are not that many ROE. Anyone watching a game can see that on most outs, runners do *not* advance. The average strikeout therefore is only marginally costlier than the average non-K out. You can try to measure this yourself, or you can accept the run-expectancy tables and linear weights values of events which have already been calculated for us.

    This being the major leagues, the talent spread has been severely compressed. All the hitters are very good, and yet they all get out most of the time. Some hitters will strike out more than others, but they all strike out. Usually, additional strikeouts will be the cost of additional extra-base hits and walks. Unless we are looking at a specific situation, how often a batter strikes out does not mean that much on its own. Look at his overall production -- including the strikeouts. If a guy struck out 300 times in a season, but got a hit every other time up, and half of them were homers, who would complain about the strikeouts?

  46. Great stuff, JT.

  47. 2 things:

    1) I read all of JT's post, but anything after the first paragraph is a blurr since reading about my Little League failures sent me into a tailspin.

    2) Kevin Maas

  48. @45
    JT, there is no arguing against your logic.

    For some reason it is still hard for me to say that bat control is overrated. Advancing a runner from 2nd with a grounder to the right side, hitting a fly ball to score a run from 3rd instead of swinging for the fences, executing a hit-and-run. Shortening a swing with two strikes.

    All these "littleball" things are out of place in today's offensive context, I guess.

  49. Hello,
    this was also the case in the earlier days of professional baseball. The fielders may have been more coordinated than the average 8-year-old, but their gloves were tiny and the fields weren't well-kept. Even on a "routine" grounder, there was a reasonable chance of reaching base safely. There was a benefit to putting the ball in play.
    ..............
    allen

  50. [...] Lowest RBI per HR ratios in history (Baseball-Reference). Hey, I can see the holes in Ruben Rivera’s swing from here. Meanwhile, in this corner we have a Dan Walters reference. [...]

  51. "Surprised no one has mentioned that Barry is the only guy with 25+ HRs to go 2.00 or lower - and he did it twice! Clearly he was only being pitched to those years when no one was on, but still, sheesh."

    Barry batted leadoff those seasons in PIT.