They hit well with runners on base but their pitchers do very poorly with runners on base and both the hitters and pitchers do poorly when it is close and late. This post was inspired by what David Pinto wrote at "Baseball Musings." See WPA I Can Use. David's post was based on Tango's post WPA insights which in turn linked to Dave Studeman's article Detailed standings at the all-star break.
Here is what I posted at "Baseball Musings."
"They actually hit well with runners on base and RISP. Here are their BA-OBP-SLG-OPS with
This year the Nationals are 3rd in the NL in strikeouts per 9 IP with 8.3 and they have an ERA of 3.21. Last year they were 15th in the NL in strikeouts per 9 IP 6.5 and they had an ERA of 3.58. So it actually seems like they are striking out more batters and their ERA is lower.
"To look at this, I calculated the batting average and slugging percentage in the
AL in 2010 on contact. For contact, I used AB - K + SF. I assumed that sacrifice
hits (bunts) and their attempts rarely end up in strikeouts. So in the AL last
year when a plate appearance ended in contact, the AVG was .320 and the SLG was
How many runs per game might this lead to? To approximate this, I
used the equation
R/G = 16.04*OBP + 11.595*SLG - 5.52
from regression analysis based on the 2007-2009 seasons.
Last year the AL
had a leage OBP of .327 and a league SLG of .407. The equation predicts that
would lead to a runs per game of 4.44 (it was actually 4.45). But if we used
.320 for OBP and used the .501 for SLG, we get 5.44 runs per game. That seems
like a big difference.
I am not sure if this approximation works. It
would be quite a different game with no walks and the denominator for OBP and
SLG is not the same in each case. But even with that said, I am skeptical that
pitching to contact (or not trying to cause batters to miss the pitch) is a good
This was posted to SABR-L on June 24 by David Vincent.
Jim Thome 13 Babe Ruth 12 Jimmie Foxx
12 Stan Musial 12 Mickey Mantle 12 Frank Robinson
12 Tony Perez 11 Dick Allen 10 Reggie
Jackson 10 Mike Schmidt 10 Harold Baines
10 Barry Bonds 10 Sammy Sosa 10 David Ortiz
10 Albert Pujols 10
Update: After the July 3 game, he is up to 3.5. That is tied for the 51st best fielding season ever. If he stays on this pace, he would end up with 7.0, beating the old record by 29.6%. It looks like he had 5 assists and a putout last night. In his career he now has a defensive WAR of 5.1 in just 120 games. The single season record for a 3B man is 4.5 by Brooks Robinson in 1968. It looks like Lawrie is already in the top 10 seasons for 3B men.
The table below shows some key percentages. For the percentages, I divided by PAs (with IBBs and SHs being taken out). I included HBP in walks.
Strasburg has the big edge in SO% while Sale is ahead in HR% and BB%. Now let's say they each face 36 batters in a 9 inning game and we use the values from the fielding independent ERA. At 1.4 runs for a HR, Sale is just about .2 runs better. On walks, at .33 runs for a walk, he is also about .2 runs better. But using about .2 runs for strikeouts, Strasburg is about .41 better. That makes him about .1 better.