Bill James Expected RBI and Apologizing For Shit You Shouldn’t Have to Apologize For

I bought Solid Fool’s Gold by Bill James this morning and I always like writing about some of the things he discusses. Not everything he writes has a lot of practical value, but I find much of it entertaining and this was one of them.

James found a way to estimate a player’s RBI. It’s surprisingly simple.

Total Bases (TB) / 4 + HR

Of the 427 hitters in 2010 with 10 or more RBI, 166 of them had their actual RBI total within 3 of their expected total. You then have guys like Alex Rodriguez who drove in 29 more than expected and Ichiro who drove in 30 less than expected, but it works for the most part. And since it’s not of much value, working for the most part is good enough for me.

James states that research has found that about 50% of the reason RBI total is higher than expected is because the batter had more RBI opportunities than expected and the other 50% is because the batter hit better with men on base. I don’t know how true that is, but it makes perfect sense.

I thought I would look at the 2011 Cubs expected RBI and actual RBI just for fun (only players with 10 or more RBI).

Player RBI eRBI Diff
Alfonso Soriano 88 82 6
Jeff Baker 23 22 1
Tyler Colvin 20 22 -2
Blake DeWitt 26 29 -3
Aramis Ramirez 93 98 -5
Carlos Pena 80 85 -5
Darwin Barney 43 49 -6
Reed Johnson 28 34 -6
Geovany Soto 54 60 -6
Starlin Castro 66 83 -17
Kosuke Fukudome 13 30 -17
Marlon Byrd 35 53 -18

It’s not too surprising to see the Cubs came in well below their expected total. Only Soriano and Baker drove in more than expected using this simple formula. Castro, Fukudome and Byrd drove in significantly less.

Remember though, this doesn’t mean a player isn’t clutch or anything like that. It means that part of the reason is because of the opportunities and part of it may be that he performed worse with men on. It could just be random luck.

Needlessly apologizing for stupid shit

The above was the first chapter of the book. I told you I just added it to Kindle. I took a break thinking I was done with this post, but then read the next chapter. These are short chapters. If I wasn’t lazy I’d probably be half way through the book. Anyway, the second chapter made me laugh so I figured it’s worth reposting some of it.

On January 11, 2010, Mark McGwire acknowledged in multiple venues that he had, in fact, used steroids and Human Growth Hormone. 

The funny part starts after that.

And in a related story, former New York Yankee outfielder Roger Maris has apologized in a televised interview, broadcast early Wednesday morning on HVEN TV, for using eight extra games and expansion pitching to break the single-season home run record of previous record holder Babe Ruth.

[. . .]

“It was the worst thing I have ever done, and I am so ashamed,” Maris sobbed.

“Everybody else in the league was hitting home runs off of Pete Burnside,” Maris said. “I figured, why shouldn’t I? If any young hitter ever asked me about it, I would plead with them not to hit any home runs off of Pete Burnside or Ed Palmquist. It’s just not worth it, what it does to your soul.”

There’s more…

And in another related story, Babe Ruth has requested an interview, in which it is rumored that he will acknowledge using a corked bat for most of his career, taking advantage of outrageous favoritism from the umpires, and being an unworthy role model for America’s youth due to his widely reported drinking and whoring. That interview is being delayed while Ruth tries to figure out who held the home run record before he did, as he needs to call somebody’s widow or children and apologize in vague, unintelligible terms. Among the candidates for Ruth’s apology are the widows and descendants of Gavy Cravath, Buck Freeman, Roger Connor and Ned Williamson. If you know where any of these people can be located, please call 1-800-RAPTURE or contact Rick Warren personally with details.

That’s about right.


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