Run totals have been down throughout baseball this spring. One must not look any further than Dustin Pedroia in Boston. He has been hitting in the .240s for a while. When can you remember that happening with him this late in the season?
Walks and hits per innings pitched is an essential tool for the fan to utilize when analyzing his favorite pitchers’ performances. Color commentators consistently recycle lines from others before them, and one familiar cliche relates to base runners who’ve reached base by walks always score.
One of the reasons that this is more noticeable than a hit is because the gentlemen that try to garner walks are fleet of foot. Some of the current Whip leaders are no surprise. Yovani Gallardo of the Milwaukee Brewers and Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers are talented at keeping this number down. It not only means that they have tremendous velocity, but also command of their repertoire.
The command aspect also allows them to get some of the borderline calls from umpires. If a pitcher is all over the place, he is less likely to receive the benefit of the doubt. Pitchers successful in this area are also able to fully concentrate on the hitters because there are less base runners. The wind-up provides the necessary repetition to achieve more success.
Another statistic of note offensively that is under -utilized is OPS. This takes into account on base percentage combined with slugging percentage. Like whip, this statistic marries a couple of other ones to provide a fuller picture of someone’s production or lack of it.
To give you an idea of the credibility of this tool, the top five all time leaders in this category are: Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Barry Bonds, and Albert Pujols. Surprisingly, a slight majority of the career top ten list is right handed. Achieving above a one in this area puts these men among the all-time greats.
The total bases divided by the number of at bats calculates the slugging percentage. This ensures that singles aren’t overvalued. Slugging percentage can also be a statistic to assess when a player’s home runs aren’t as high as one might think. Playing in a stadium like Petco Park or Comerica Park could take away the long ball, but it might provide the opportunity for more triples and stolen bases for astute runners.
Like all measurements though, OPS is not perfect. It doesn’t account for the ground ball to second base that may score a runner or advance one from second to third. There will always be a place for situational hitting in baseball, whether it is rewarded officially or not.