Hidden Value Within Slash Lines

Rick Yeatts

While the normal slash line tells us a lot about a hitter, there are results that can deceive someone using only those metrics. How much do those results affect a player's value?

When looking at a hitter's stats, the first thing I go to is their slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG). This gives me a good proxy for how often they get hits, how much power is behind those hits, and how often they can get on base in other ways. However, two hitters can get to the same line in very different ways, and it's possible to see a significant difference in the value of the two lines.

Double plays are one of the two major stats that cause a significant difference in run value. While it's an 0-for-1, it's clearly more debilitating to an offense than a strikeout, flyout, or any other single-out outcome. Using B-R's wRAA explanation page, they say the extra out is the same value as a caught stealing, which was about -0.387 runs this past season. Using B-R's DP Opps stat, I found that double plays were turned on 10.96% of all opportunities, so using that rate, I found the expected number of double plays, then runs saved/cost, for each player. Here are the Top and Bottom 5:

Name Opp DP xDP DPDiff DPRuns
Jason Heyward* 145 4 15.9 -11.9 4.6
Curtis Granderson* 140 5 15.3 -10.3 4.0
Brandon Belt* 99 2 10.9 -8.9 3.4
Garrett Jones* 108 3 11.8 -8.8 3.4
Mike Moustakas* 115 4 12.6 -8.6 3.3
James Loney* 85 21 9.3 11.7 -4.5
Miguel Cabrera 146 28 16.0 12.0 -4.6
Derek Jeter 102 24 11.2 12.8 -5.0
Howie Kendrick 115 26 12.6 13.4 -5.2
Michael Young 106 26 11.6 14.4 -5.6

As you can see, all of the Top 5 are left-handed hitters, while the bottom four are all right-handed. Also, all of the Top 5 had a K rate above 20%, while four of the bottom five had K rates below 15%. While none of the Top 5 are exactly revered by saber-savvy fans (except maybe Heyward), four of the five bottom guys are among the most scrutinized players, with Kendrick caught in the mix.

The other major discrepancy occurs with reaching via the error. Again, this is an 0-for-1, but an ROE is actually 0.018 runs more valuable than a single, 0.468 runs last season. Using AB-H as a denominator, I found that 1.446% of the 0-for-1's resulted in an ROE, so in a similar fashion to the DPs, I found an expected ROE, then run, total. Here are the top and bottom 5:

Name ROE Outs xROE ROEDiff ROERuns
Michael Cuddyer 13 265 3.8 9.2 4.3
John Mayberry 13 333 4.8 8.2 3.8
Norichika Aoki* 13 370 5.3 7.7 3.6
Nelson Cruz 13 433 6.3 6.7 3.2
Rickie Weeks 13 453 6.5 6.5 3.0
Chris Davis* 1 376 5.4 -4.4 -2.1
Ike Davis* 1 401 5.8 -4.8 -2.2
Josh Hamilton* 1 402 5.8 -4.8 -2.3
Torii Hunter 0 367 5.3 -5.3 -2.5
Alex Gordon* 1 453 6.5 -5.5 -2.6

This is essentially the inverse of the double play category, as hitting hard groundballs to the left side of the infield is the most common cause of each outcome. The range of values isn't quite as high, and there is much more subjectivity to this ranking, but 3-4 runs by one player can add up on a team.

Not every single is of the same value. B-R determined that infield singles are about 0.08 runs less effective than outfield singles, able to influence value by up to two runs in a season. Erick Aybar lost the most value at -1.7 runs, with Norichika Aoki and Ben Revere 0.1 runs behind him. Adrian Gonzalez gained 1.2 runs of value, with Paul Konerko and Miguel Cabrera the others above a run.

Strikeouts are actually the least affected stat with run value. A strikeout is determined to be about 1/80th of a run worse than the standard out. Using a similar method to the ROE chart, I found Jose Reyes and Marco Scutaro each gained one run by having nearly 80 fewer strikeouts than expected. As a shock to no one, Adam Dunn struck out nearly 100 times more than expected, costing the White Sox about 1.2 runs.

Putting it all together, 18 players with at least 100 PA were able to put together a positive value in all four categories, while 20 had negatives for each. Here are the top and bottom 5 cumulative totals:

Name TotRuns DPTest Ktest IFBTest ROETest Sum
Nelson Cruz 5.4 1 0 1 1 3
Jason Heyward* 4.7 1 0 1 1 3
Dustin Ackley* 4.6 1 1 0 1 3
Jose Reyes# 4.0 1 1 0 1 3
Alberto Callaspo# 3.9 1 1 1 1 4
Miguel Cabrera -4.2 0 1 1 0 2
James Loney* -4.3 0 1 1 0 2
J.D. Martinez -4.4 0 0 1 0 1
David Freese -4.5 0 0 0 0 0
Derek Jeter -5.3 0 1 0 1 2

There isn't as much of a common theme to these players, due to the complementary nature of these statistics. However, who doesn't love a list with Derek Jeter at the bottom? While this isn't a game-changing stat, these minute differences can add up when moving to the team level.

  • Do you think the denominators for each variable is optimal?
  • Are you surprised by any names on any of the lists?

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