Tango brings up an interesting point. Why show the number of RBI when a player comes to bat when there’s nobody on base? I’ve always wondered why they show the same damn thing each time the batter comes up, but he makes a better point. The stats they show when the batter comes to bat can be much improved. Here are my suggestions for just a few situations, and I’m going to leave off batting average because it tells us little about what we really want to know. I’m sticking to three statistics as some networks still show only 3.
Leadoff batter each inning: OBP, Pitches Per Plate Appearance, HR
All three statistics tell us something important about and useful to batters leading off. We want the first batter each inning to get on base. Getting on base is king to begin the inning. Is the player patient or a hacker? Pitches per plate appearances doesn’t necessarily answer that question as contact hitters will see fewer P/PA than a high strikeout guy, but we get an idea how much he may work the pitcher. Home runs tells us how many times he drives himself in.
Runner on base: OBP, RBI%, HR
I want to see OBP all the time. It tells us something very important: the percentage of times the batter reaches base safely, which is what batters try to do. Let’s forget RBI. If a guy has 27 RBI while another has 30, what exactly does that tell us? Without knowing the number of plate appearances, the number of runners and where they were located, it tells us nothing of importance. RBI% tells us the percentage of runners driven in (show us the average too). If they want to get fancy, show us the RBI% when there’s a runner at 1st, 2nd and 3rd and of course the league average. A singles hitter with a man on first base is going to drive runners in less frequently than someone who hits doubles, triples and home runs.
Other situations may make it necessary to show other stats. A runner on 3rd with less than 2 outs we might want to see OBP, RBI% and K%. Strikeouts are most costly in that situation so if you want to show us strikeouts, show them in that situation.
There are 24 base/out situations in baseball. Some of them are similar enough we could use the same stats, but many of them are quite different and we should be seeing different stats. There’s also no reason to keep telling us the same information with the exception being OBP. One other thing: the tv crews that put these stats together need to keep sample size in mind. I don’t really care what a better has done with a runner on 3rd and less than 2 outs if he’s come to the plate only 92 times in that situation. Tell me what he’s done over his career in that situation.