New Stat: ATB

Yes, the kid is me. I get it.

Remember how I reserved the right to bring up modern baseball? Well, here we go, and yes, it involves the Braves. At least, it was inspired by the Braves. Going into this season, no one knows who will play center field, but it’s down to three candidates: Josh Anderson (the presumed favorite), Jordan Schafer (the young, hot-shot), and Gregor Blanco (the overlooked dark horse). Each brings something different. Anderson hits for a really good average and steals lots of bases, but he doesn’t walk much. Schafer could be the next Grady Sizemore, but he’s young and inexperienced. Blanco gets on base, but he has zero power and doesn’t steal bases, even though he has great speed. The problem isn’t a bad one as all three are talented, but there is a debate over which should be the center fielder.

Well, that got me to thinkin’. How can we come up with a way to decide between the three? The answer came while doing a Hall of Fame post. I looked at the stats of whoever and saw TB, or total bases. But something occurred to me? Is it really total bases? I decided to improve on it with ATB, or Actual Total Bases (someone give me a better name for it). The formula is simple:

TB (Total Bases) + BB (Walks) + IBB (Intentional Walks) + SB (Stolen Bases) – CS (Caught Stealing) + HBP (Hit By Pitch)

This is my reasoning. Total bases tells you how many bases someone gets on their hit, presumably because it’s what the player does by himself. The thing is that it doesn’t encompass everything a hitter can do himself. I’ve always wondered why walks weren’t included. They’re not always as good as singles, but they earned that base. So why steals? Well, a player gets a stolen base without the aid of another hitter. If he gets a single and then steals a base, what’s the difference between that and a double? Okay, a double is a hit and could potentially move runners over. I get it. Also, when a stealer is caught, he hurts the team and should lose the base he had gained (this doesn’t exactly work for stealing third — should lose two bases –, but it doesn’t happen much and is kind of negligible). If that’s the case, then being a good base stealer should be appreciated, and walks should also be. This should (in theory, but I’m probably completely wrong; I was good at math, but I gave it up a while ago) account for each’s strengths. The one who has the most Actual Total Bases should be the winner, all other things being equal (by most accounts, all are very good outfielders, though Blanco doesn’t have the arm of the other two). What’s more important — OBP or BA and SB? My hypothesis is that Josh Anderson wins.

For this first spot, I’ll only look at Anderson and Blanco’s major-league career, as Schafer can’t be compared here. I’ll look at all three and their minor-league stats after. I adjusted their stats to 162 games (God, I love baseball-reference.com) to make things even, but yes, it isn’t exact. I get it, but it’s what I have to work with. Anderson has 586 PA, and Blanco has 583.

Anderson
134 (1B) + 26×2 (2B) + 2×3 (3B) + 7×4 (HR) + 34 (BB) + 5 (IBB) + 7 (HBP) + 29 (SB) – 5 (CS) = 290

Blanco
101 (1B) + 15×2 (2B) + 4×3 (3B) + 1×4 (HR) + 83 (BB) + 2 (IBB) + 6 (HBP) + 14 (SB) – 5 (CS) = 247

So, Anderson wins and by a healthy margin. He hits more extra base hits and steals more (at a better rate), which theoretically puts him in scoring position more. If he’s getting in scoring position more, he should score more. The stats say Anderson scores 82 times and Blanco 58. Not sure if that means anything, but it’s interesting.

Okay, now for their minor-league stats. Schafer has had about half as many at-bats, so I’ll multiply by two at the end. Again, I’m not sure if that’s kosher, but it seems to make sense. The main problem here is that Schafer hasn’t played AAA yet, and therefore, he hasn’t played against the same competition that Blanco and Anderson (who both have spent significant time in AAA). But considering there’s plenty wrong with the conversion to the majors anyway, let’s just take a look for fun. If anything, it at least continues to look at Anderson and Blanco, who again have roughly the same number of at-bats (Blanco 2776 but has more walks and Anderson 2967)

Anderson
698 (1B) + 120×2 (2B) + 36×3 (3B) + 19×4 (HR) + 180 (BB) + 280 (SB) – 69 (CS) = 1513

Blanco
577 (1B) + 108×2 (2B) + 46×3 (3B) + 29×4 (HR) + 423 (BB) + 181 (SB) – 86 (CS) = 1565

Schafer
230 (1B) + 94×2 (2B) + 26×3 (3B) + 36×4 (HR) + 146 (BB) + 63 (SB) – 35 (CS) = 814×2 = 1628

Well, Schafer wins, but I think he should get penalized some for not having played at AAA, so Anderson and Blanco win there. Blanco tops Anderson, but because of the larger sample size, it isn’t by too much. He seems to have had substantially more power in the minors, but the Braves asked him to stop trying to hit home runs before he reached AAA. I have no idea if that did anything, but he only hit 3 HR in his last two minor-league seasons (I guess it did). Also, I know IBB and HBP weren’t in the above formulas, but they weren’t on baseball-reference.com and I doubt anyone would intentionally walk or hit any of them significantly more than the others.

Okay, but what about projection? It’s one thing to know where they’ve been, but it’s another to know where they’re going. I’ll use the CHONE predictions from FanGraphs (another amazing site) for each player. Schafer plays about 14 games less than the others, so they’ll get docked 10% (132 – (132 x .1) is about 118) to make it fair.

Anderson
124 (1B) + 27×2 (2B) + 5×3 (3B) + 4×4 (HR) + 33 (BB) + 5 (HBP) + 33 (SB) – 10 (CS) = 270-2.7 = 267

Blanco
89 (1B) + 21×2 (2B) + 5×3 (3B) + 3×4 (HR) + 75 (BB) + 3 (HBP) + 19 (SB) – 10 (CS) = 245-2.5 = 241

Schafer
71 (1B) + 22×2 (2B) +5×3 (3B) + 10×4 (HR) + 42 (BB) + 2 (HBP) + 14 (SB) – 7 (CS) = 221

CHONE was not friendly to Schafer, giving him a .238 BA, so he seems the inferior of the group. I was slightly amused it projected HBP, so I included it for shits and giggles. Anderson again wins the competition. He gets more hits, more extra-base hits, and steals more bases, which seems to overcome the loss of walks. So, this proved my hypothesis, but I’m not sure this is real science. It just seems cool, and I put a lot of work into it. If it doesn’t pan out, just tell me. It won’t hurt my feelings. It was just an idea I had, and I thought I would see how far down the rabbit hole it went.

So, does this prove or say anything in general? Stolen bases are valuable as is more power, but I think we knew that. Maybe it says Willy Taveras is better than we give him credit for (nah). I need a spreadsheet to make a leaderboard, but I’m not that technologically advanced. But for this competition, it says Anderson is the superior offensive player to Blanco. He may not get on as much, but his additional extra-base hits and stolen bases should count for something. When he gets on, he’s more likely to be in scoring position, making him more likely to score. Just because Blanco gets on, it doesn’t mean he puts himself in position to score. What’s the use in getting on if you don’t score? If only Blanco stole more bases. I mean, like 40 of ’em.

Again, I don’t know if this proves anything, but I thought it was an interesting way to look at the battle between the three players. I don’t think my formula unfairly biases either Anderson or Blanco (I think Schafer ends up in AAA, so I’m not including him here, though I think he’s the best choice of the group — that .238 average is a jip). What does everyone think about my first amateur crack at being like Bill James (okay, a nerd who spent too much of Thirsty Thursday worrying about this)?

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5 Responses to “New Stat: ATB”

  1. Ron Rollins Says:

    You would have to add in GIDP, as that takes a runner off of base.

    In my opinion.

  2. tHeMARksMiTh Says:

    That’s a good point. Anderson has hit into 1, and Blanco 3 in double the at-bats at the major-league level. For them, it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference, but you’re right that I should have included it.

  3. tHeMARksMiTh Says:

    Actually, scratch that. For the purposes of this exercise, we’re looking at what the players do for themselves to get on and score. If we start including GIDP, then we also need SH, SF, and to figure out how each contact moved runners over. All of that may very well lead to a higher truth, but especially the third part, that would be beyond the realm of my capabilities at the moment. Those stats affect other players, and that brings in even more luck (how many are on in front, how many times, etc.) than these stats. I’m trying to isolate the specific player’s contribution.

    However, thank you for bringing up that point. It is something I should have addressed in the post.

  4. Ron Rollins Says:

    Fair point.

  5. lar Says:

    It’s a good stat. i don’t know how ready people are to add another stat to the mix, but I think it’s a pretty good thing to note and take a look at every now and then.

    On a similar note, I was going through some pitching stats yesterday and looking at the Total Bases given up by the pitcher. (it’s actually an annoying stat to find… Hardball Times includes it, and the new sandbox version of baseball-reference has it)..

    Anyhow, it seemed that TB allowed per inning (TB/IP) was actually a really good indicator of a good pitcher. Sure, it’s affected by park effects and things of that nature, but, looking at a pitcher’s full season, it gives you a pretty good idea of which pitchers are really good.

    I know, it’s not a whole lot different than slugging percentage. but that doesn’t make it worthless. It’s nice that it kind of looks like WHIP, which is easy to understand. Now, if you use this ATB stat of yours instead of regular TB/IP, it might be even better.

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