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Highest ratios of runs scored to times on base

Posted by Andy on May 31, 2011

Following on my earlier post about Yovani Gallardo, here are the players since 1901 with the highest ratios of runs scored to times on base.

Each of these guys has a runs scored total that's at least 55% of their times-on-base total, minimum 400 PAs:

Rk Player Year R TOBwe PA Tm G AB H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO HBP SH SF GDP SB CS BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Kazuo Matsui 2007 84 152 453 COL 104 410 118 24 6 4 37 34 1 69 0 8 1 1 32 4 .288 .342 .405 .746 *4
2 Raul Mondesi 2000 78 140 426 TOR 96 388 105 22 2 24 67 32 0 73 3 0 3 8 22 6 .271 .329 .523 .852 *9
3 Jim Edmonds 1995 120 218 620 CAL 141 558 162 30 4 33 107 51 4 130 5 1 5 10 1 4 .290 .352 .536 .888 *8
4 Robin Yount 1980 121 206 647 MIL 143 611 179 49 10 23 87 26 1 67 1 6 3 8 20 5 .293 .321 .519 .840 *6/D
5 Jake Wood 1962 68 117 404 DET 111 367 83 10 5 8 30 33 0 59 1 2 1 5 24 3 .226 .291 .346 .637 *4
6 Al Dark 1953 126 228 693 NYG 155 647 194 41 6 23 88 28 0 34 6 12 0 19 7 2 .300 .335 .488 .823 *647/591
7 Joe DiMaggio 1936 132 234 668 NYY 138 637 206 44 15 29 125 24 0 39 4 3 0 0 4 0 .323 .352 .576 .928 789
8 Pepper Martin 1935 121 196 575 STL 135 539 161 41 6 9 54 33 0 58 2 1 0 7 20 0 .299 .341 .447 .789 *59/87
9 Al Simmons 1930 152 251 611 PHA 138 554 211 41 16 36 165 39 0 34 1 17 0 0 9 2 .381 .423 .708 1.130 *7/8
10 Mark Koenig 1927 99 177 568 NYY 123 526 150 20 11 3 62 25 0 21 2 15 0 0 3 2 .285 .320 .382 .702 *6
11 Jack Smith 1924 91 164 502 STL 124 459 130 18 6 2 33 33 0 27 1 9 0 0 24 16 .283 .333 .362 .694 *978
12 Jack Smith 1923 98 155 444 STL 124 407 126 16 6 5 41 27 0 20 2 8 0 0 32 11 .310 .356 .415 .771 *798
13 Jack Smith 1922 117 211 578 STL 143 510 158 23 12 8 46 50 0 30 3 15 0 0 18 7 .310 .375 .449 .824 *897
14 Jack Smith 1921 86 156 439 STL 116 411 135 22 9 7 33 21 0 24 0 7 0 0 11 6 .328 .361 .477 .838 *98
15 Tommy Leach 1909 126 221 682 PIT 151 587 153 29 8 6 43 66 0 50 2 27 0 0 27 0 .261 .337 .368 .705 *85
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/30/2011.

Quite an eclectic group, huh?

I suspect that most of these guys hit in front of big run-pruducers. Matsui, for example, spent most of the year hitting ahead of Holliday & Helton, and later bumped up one spot to be ahead of Tulowitski as well.

Mondesi hit right ahead of Carlos Delgado.

And how about Jack Smith, who makes this list 4 times? Well most of the time over those 4 years, he was hitting ahead of Rogers Hornsby.

Note, too, that most of these guys had a lot of stolen bases--that helps. There are also a lot of high doubles and triples totals--that helps too.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 at 10:03 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.

32 Responses to “Highest ratios of runs scored to times on base”

  1. Does a HR count as a time on base? I assume not, but I'm not sure if we're using the numerator in OBP to determine this or another count. If it is the latter, does it include reaching on error?

  2. And rookie Joe D., with 59 doubles and triples, hit in front of Lou Gehrig.

    Would be interesting to see what the career marks look like for, say, 3000+ PAs.

  3. I like that Jack Smith is on this list 4 times. This is what happens when you have a really excellent hitter behind you in the lineup. In his case Rogers Hornsby, one of the all-time greats who peaked during those 4 seasons.

  4. @1.

    Its H + BB + HBP.

    So does include HR but doesn't include ROE, or reaching on an FC, or a dropped 3rd strike, or CI or however else you might reach base.

  5. Actually this list DOES include ROE. You have both options when doing the search.

  6. @5.

    Are you sure, Andy? If so, not a single guy on this list had even one ROE, which seems pretty weird.

    Do we really have consistent ROE data all the way back to 1901?

  7. Richard Chester Says:

    @2

    That year DiMaggio also hit ahead of Dickey, Selkirk and Lazzeri, meaning he hit ahead of 4 guys who had 100 RBIs.

  8. Doug, that's a good point. I certainly selected TOBwe (Times on Base with Errors, i.e. ROE) but I don't know how much data there is. I find it hard to believe that, for example, Matsui, didn't ROE at least once that year.

  9. Richard Chester Says:

    @8

    A search of Matsui's 2007 game log reveals 8 ROE.

  10. Morten Jonsson Says:

    Note that none of these guys walked very often (except Tommy Leach, whose 66 walks in 1909 was sixth in the league). That makes sense--the less you walk, the less you start from first. So even though you might score fewer total runs than someone who walks more, you score a higher percentage of the time when you do reach base. That helps explain why only two of the runs scored figures on the list led the league.

  11. fredsbank Says:

    would have expected to see rickey henderson on here at least once...

  12. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Do we really have consistent ROE data all the way back to 1901?

    No. We should have it since 1950, for games where we have play-by-play logs.

  13. Morten Jonsson Says:

    @11

    Henderson walked too much to make this list; too many of his times on base started on first. So even in those years when he hit for power, played on good teams, and stole a ton of bases while hardly ever getting caught, he still managed to score only a little over 50% of his times on base. In 1985, for instance, he started from scoring position (via an extra base hit) in 57 of his 274 total times on base. There was just no way he was going to score as often per time on base as Robin Yount in 1980, who started from scoring position in 82 of his 206 total times on base.

    In 1980, for instance, he reached base 301 times, but only 35 times did he start from scoring position. So even though he stole 100 bases, he scored "only" 111 runs. That same year, Robin Yount reached base 206 times, but scored 121 runs.

  14. Am I correct in believing that a HR is not considered a time on base, so proflific HR hitters are eliminated from the discussion here?

  15. @13. In the case of Henderson (and a handful of other guys) who pretty much stole at will, many times when they got to first, they would also quickly get to second. And, with Henderson hitting leadoff, he probably came up a lot with bases free ahead of him. So, I don't think just looking just at his XBH gives a complete picture of how often he "started" in scoring position.

    @14. HRs are considered times on base (and, of course, runs), so HR hitters will score well here, at least as far as their HRs are concerned.

  16. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    Most of these performances happened during years when league run-scoring levels were very high (1920s/1930s, 1995 to present), or at least above-average (1953, 1962, 1980). The one exception is Tommy Leach and 1909, in the middle of the dead-ball era. The NL averaged 3.65 runs/game, but the Pirates led the NL with 4.55 R/G, almost half-a-run better than the 2nd best team.

    What makes Leach's runs total most curious is that he had a very good but not great year at getting on base (7th in times on base) or getting into scoring position (5th in XBH, not in the top-10 in SB) , and the Pirates had only one great hitter in Wagner. Yet he scored more runs in a single year than anyone else during the deadball era of 1904 to 1919, except for Ty Cobb in 1911 and 1915, and Collins and Speaker in 1912, which was a mini-"spike" in run levels. Maybe he was really good at taking the extra base that year?

  17. @16.

    My guess about Leach is that his true TOB may be understated. His line shows 27 stolen bases - indicating he probably had decent speed. So, he probably had some ROE that aren't showing here. Combine that with 27 sacrifice hits and it's probably a reasonable supposition the some portion (possibly a sizable portion) of his sacrifice hits may have resulted in him reaching base.

    Also, Pittsburgh led the NL in doubles, triples and total bases, and were second (by 1) in HR, so it would seem he certainly had opportunity to take advantage of his TOB.

    Or, since he scored 29 more runs than anyone else on his team, maybe it was just a fluke and he was just in the right place at the right time a lot that year.

    Or, maybe it was just a

  18. Morten Jonsson Says:

    @15

    It's true that Henderson would often quickly move on from first to second--he was probably in scoring position as often as anybody who ever lived. But even if you're Rickey Henderson, you're less likely to score if you start on first and try to steal second than if you start on second. For a variety of reasons: Because you might get thrown out. Because you might not steal until the next batter has made an out, giving your team one less out to work with. Because the batter, to give you a chance to steal, might take a strike or two, making it harder for him to get a hit. This list is based on a very narrow criteria, and Henderson simply doesn't happen to fit them.

  19. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @17/ Doug Says: "...@16. My guess about Leach is that his true TOB may be understated... ...Or, since he scored 29 more runs than anyone else on his team, maybe it was just a fluke and he was just in the right place at the right time a lot that year."

    Yeah, a fluke, just like "Chief" Wilson hitting 36 triples for the Pirates in 1912.

  20. John Autin Says:

    Interesting post, Andy.

    Re: Jack Smith -- As great as Hornsby was during that span, I'm not sure that fully explains Smith's high ratios

    Consider 1923, when Smith scored 98 runs in 124 games, and scored 63% of his times on base:
    -- Hornsby was great when he played, but he only played 107 games and had 83 RBI.
    -- The Cards were just average offensively, scoring 4.84 R/G. (In fact, they're one of the most consistently average teams I've ever seen, in both rate stats and counting stats.)
    -- Neither Smith's OBP (.356), stolen bases (32 SB, 11 CS) nor XBH (5 HRs, 6 triples, 16 doubles) were at all noteworthy.

    Here's what I've noticed about the 1923 Cards' batting order:
    -- Extraordinary concentration of production in the #2, #3 and #4 spots, with OPS of .840, 1.021 and #4 (.924). No other spot in the order was over .745 OPS.
    -- Hornsby batted 3rd in 106 games, but when he was out, Specs Toporcer (!) and Jim Bottomley were almost as productive in that spot.
    -- Their #3-4 hitters were on base so much that the #5 spot (mostly Milt Stock) was able to amass 96 RBI with just 1 HR, a .298 BA and .376 SLG. (For a frame of reference, only 4 players ever had 95+ RBI in a season with SLG of .376 or below.)

    I still feel there’s something missing from this Jack Smith story.

  21. Another part of the Jack Smith story is that he (mostly) played only against RH pitchers, and the Cards hit righties better than lefties (even Hornsby). I've got an unpublished (unfinished) article on this subject that I hope to complete one of these days. If you take out home runs, you'll find that Red Rolfe had a very high ratio, too.

  22. John Autin Says:

    @21, Cliff -- When you mentioned the platooning of Jack Smith, it reminded me of what I'd read long ago but forgotten over the years: Branch Rickey, who managed the Cards from 1919-25, was one of the pioneers of using statistical analysis in strategy. Per Wikipedia:

    "[Rickey] hired statistician Allan Roth as a full-time analyst for the Dodgers in 1947. After viewing Roth's evidence, Rickey promoted the idea that on-base percentage was a more important hitting statistic than batting average. While working under Rickey, Roth was also the first person to provide statistical evidence that platoon effects were real and quantifiable."

  23. Is a caught stealing a bigger negative than a successful steal is a positive?It often seems so.

  24. Steve @ 23 Very much so. Generally, if your successful in less than about two-thirds of your stolen base attempts you are costing your team runs so that means an out from being caught stealing has about twice the impact as a successful stolen base.

  25. @17.

    Actually, yes, Lawrence, it could have been a fluke in the sense that Wilson had only that one year where he mashed triples - his triples totals for his 6 seasons in Pittsburgh were 7, 12, 13, 12, 36, 14. Yes, it was the peak year of his career, but it was only a touch better than the year before when he had only 12. Also, he almost certainly wouldn't have had those 36 triples in 1912 anywhere except Pittsburgh.

    There was a post yesterday or the day before where John explained that the dimensions in Forbes Field in those days were highly conducive to doubles and, especially, triples, much more so than other parks. He even found a reference to a local rule in Pittsburgh for ground-rule triples, employed when there was a big crowd (such as for double-headers) and the overflow fans stood in the outfield behind a rope, with balls bouncing beyond the rope going for triples.

    Back to Leach ... you can surmise all you want about why he scored so many runs in 1909, but you can't discount that it might have included a good measure of luck - he just wasn't left on base as often as would usually happen. Looking at his numbers for that year, he scored far more runs than any of his teammates on a powerhouse club that won 110 games. And, in this particular year, Leach scored 24 more runs than in any other year of his career, even with stats that look remarkably similar to his other better years. For example, Leach's 1908 numbers are virtually identical if not a touch better than 1909, but he scored 33 fewer runs in 1908.

  26. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @25/ "Doug Says: @17... Back to Leach ... you can surmise all you want about why he scored so many runs in 1909, but you can't discount that it might have included a good measure of luck - he just wasn't left on base as often as would usually happen... ...And, in this particular year, Leach scored 24 more runs than in any other year of his career, even with stats that look remarkably similar to his other better years. "

    Yes, Doug, I agree with you, it could just be "one of these things", i.e., a random fluke occurence. Still, it is rather mind-boggling that Leach's runs scored total ranks _5th_ in the deadball-era, behind four of the greatest single seasons in that era (Cobb 1911, 15/ Speaker 1912/ E. Collins 1912). Leach's 1909 season was very good adjusted for context, but not even close to the level of the other four seasons I mentioned, and not even close being the best NL performance that year.

    Speaking of Rogers Hornsby, who was mentioned a few posts back, compare his offensive totals for 1924 and 1925, and tell me why he had nearly fifty more RBI in 1925 - it should be fairly close, if not better in 1924... I admit I did not look up the #1/ #2 Cardinals batters for those years, and situational splits for ROB are not available.

  27. John Autin Says:

    @25 -- Giving credit where it's due, it was loyal reader Richard Chester who found the reference to crowds behind a rope in the Forbes Field outfield and ground-rule triples:
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/11353#comment-116979

  28. stan cook Says:

    It would seem like lead off hitters would do better here because they bat with no outs more often. Kaz is quite a surprise to me. As I recall he mostly batted second behind Taveras and ahead of Holliday and Helton.

    Have you done this for careers?

  29. Richard Chester Says:

    @27

    John: Thanks for the acknowledgment.

  30. I thought this might be another quirky list that Rob Deer would make since almost all of his hits were for extra bases & he often scored himself by hitting a home run. Unfortunately he walked a little too often & almost always hit in the bottom of the order so the best he could do were a couple of seasons around 45%

  31. With regard to Leach in 1909, I suspect what we might find, were the information readily available, is that Fred Clarke (the Pirates #3 hitter) and/or Honus Wagner (#4 hitter) had a freakishly high BA with runners in scoring position that year. That would be a reasonable explanation for Leach's (who was the #2 hitter, at least if the WS box scores reflect where the players batted all year) very high run scored vs. times on base %.

  32. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    #31/ Brent Says: "With regard to Leach in 1909, I suspect what we might find, were the information readily available, is that Fred Clarke (the Pirates #3 hitter) and/or Honus Wagner (#4 hitter) had a freakishly high BA with runners in scoring position that year..."

    Brent, (yes I know I am replying well after this discussion wound down), thanks for the BOP info; that's probably as good an explanation as any...