Mathletics: How Gamblers, Managers, and Sports Enthusiasts Use Mathematics in Baseball, Basketball, and Football

By Wayne Winston | Go to book overview

2
NOMAR GARCIAPARRA OR ICHIRO SUZUKI?

The Runs- Created Approach

In 2004 Seattle Mariner outfielder Ichiro Suzuki set the major league record for most hits in a season. In 1997 Boston Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra had what was considered a good (but not great) year. Their key statistics are presented in table 2.1. (For the sake of simplicity, henceforth Suzuki will be referred to as “Ichiro” or “Ichiro 2004” and Garciaparra will be referred to as “Nomar” or “Nomar 1997.”)

Recall that a batter's slugging percentage is Total Bases (TB)/At Bats (AB) where

We see that Ichiro had a higher batting average than Nomar, but because he hit many more doubles, triples, and home runs, Nomar had a much higher slugging percentage. Ichiro walked a few more times than Nomar did. So which player had a better hitting year?

When a batter is hitting, he can cause good things (like hits or walks) to happen or cause bad things (outs) to happen. To compare hitters we must develop a metric that measures how the relative frequency of a batter's good events and bad events influence the number of runs the team scores.

In 1979 Bill James developed the first version of his famous Runs Created Formula in an attempt to compute the number of runs “created” by a hitter during the course of a season. The most easily obtained data we have available to determine how batting events influence Runs Scored are season- long team batting statistics. A sample of this data is shown in figure 2.1.

-11-

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