If there’s one thing this world needs more of it’s baseball statistics.
At the current moment stat heads can track everything from old school “batting average” and “runs batted in” to new school “launch angle” and “spin rate” and everything in between right down to crotch scratches and sunflower seeds spit.
Of all the myriad of sports baseball is the one that lends itself the most to statistical analysis. Hell there is some among us (you know who you are) that would almost rather read a spreadsheet summary than watch an actual game.
Stats and “sabermetrics” are de rigeur in today’s game. All sorts of new maths and models have been developed to attempt to analyze and summarize a player’s contribution to his team. There’s some good ones, some bad ones and some completely unnecessary ones but of all the statistical categories and computations there has never been a truly all encompassing stat that tells you the story of a hitters day at the plate.
Batting average can be deceiving. RsBI are great but you don’t get a real sense of the total day at the plate. OBP, Slugging, OPS+ – sure they’re great but do they really capture everything in an understandable way?
Bill James, the godfather of todays numbers obsession did develop something called the Game Score that can be used to rate a pitcher’s day on the mound. It’s a score that starts at 50 then adds and subtracts points for various categories thus giving you an overall score for the pitcher’s outing. A score of 60-70 is a good day. 70+ is great and so on. The highest ever record in the Bigs was Kerry Woods 20K 1 hit no walk game for the Chicago Cubs that scored a 108. Anything under 50 is bad.
It is this Bill James creation that was the basis for the development of Hi-Top’s revolutionary HIT SCORE. It’s the same idea, an easy to understand scale that tells you just how good was a hitter’s day but applied to batters instead of pitchers. Here’s the breakdown:
Seems simple enough, right? Well that’s the beauty. Keep it simple stupid but make it work. So does it work? Let’s take a look at a test case.
One of the most famous day’s at the plate in baseball history took place in the 1977 World Series. Mr. October Reggie Jackson hit 3 home runs with 3 swings of the bat.
What would Jackson’s HIT SCORE be:
3 HRs – 12 points, 1 walk – 1 point, 4 Runs – 8 points, 5 RsBI – 15 points, 3 Hits with runners on – 3 points, with no subtractions for a total of 39 points. Add in the starting value of 50 for a total of 89 Points
If we look at our scale where 50 is average and 60 is good, 70 great and 80+ is exceptional I would say a 3-3 3HR 5RBsBI day is pretty exceptional.
So the formula works, now what? Well we are going to start by workshopping our revolutionary statistic with Hi-Top’s latest and greatest obsession – college baseball.
The first weekend of college ball had some wild swings and some exceptional performances by college hitters. Let’s take a look and see how they fair when measured by our HIT SCORE:
Reese Albert FSU – Albert went 3-3 with 2 Runs and 2 RsBI vs James Madison.
HIT SCORE – 68
Albert had a fine day and the HIT SCORE reflects that. It’s not a game he will remember for the rest of his life but it was a solid day at the plate so he gets a solid 68 score.
Tommy White NC State – White hit 4-5 with 3 HRs, 5 Runs, 6 RsBI but he also struck out once with runners on base
HIT SCORE – 88
So while White had more hits, runs and RsBI than Jackson he scored 1 point lower due to the strikeout with runners on.
The true value of our HIT SCORE is the fact that it measures a complete picture of the hitter’s performance by giving proper weight to the outcomes that really matter when trying to win a baseball game. You win by scoring runs. As a hitter you help your team the most by producing with runners on base so the values (both positive and negative) are adjusted accordingly.
Now while a hitter can’t determine whether or not his teammates get on base themselves he can make the most of the opportunities presented to him. So when runners are on base the values of the outcomes increase. Get a hit and you are rewarded, fail to get a hit and you are penalized.
But that’s not fair the Negative Nancy’s scream. You can’t fault a player for his teammates performance! Well Nancy we aren’t. If a player goes 5-5 with 5 solo home runs they’d have a HIT SCORE of 95. That accurately reflects just how amazing he hit and there’s no penalty for his teammates not doing their part.
Facts is facts and the fact is that the HIT SCORE is the best complete representation of a hitter’s performance that has ever been devised. Thank me later and welcome to the HIT SCORE ERA.