The Baltimore Orioles’ Chris Davis is proving that the strikeout is a mismanaged stat.
The Baltimore Orioles spent a lot of money this Off-Season resigning slugger Chris Davis to a 7-yr $161 million dollar contract. This news created mixed reviews as analysts throughout baseball felt Baltimore overpaid for Davis and used his high volume of Strike Outs as their crutch. Well after doing some number crunching I have come to realize they don’t have a crutch to lean on as Chris’ 2015 campaign completely devalued the SO as a statistic all together.
There’s discussion every year over which statistics are aged and hold less meaning and how some of the new statistics, mainly discussing Sabermetrics, better track a player. All last year there was discussion over whether Pitchers should be tracked for Wins and that the Win holds less value. I of course disagree. One statistic I do believe holds no bearing, at least for the batter, is the Strike Out.
At one point the capacity of a batter to Strike Out primarily reflected the batters over patience at the plate and typically reflected a low batting average and lower overall production. That’s far from the case now. If anything, I would prefer a batter strikeout than ground-out, there are less chances to create multiple outs. In regards to the modern slugger, the Strike Out has been rendered meaningless and I’ll use Chris Davis as an example.
Call to the Pen
Last year Chris Davis led all of MLB with 47 total Home Runs, 3rd in Runs Batted In with 117, and came across the plate 100 times. These are all extremely impressive numbers but only enough to end up 14th in the AL MVP voting, receiving 8% of the vote. Largely this was due to his .262 BA and 208 total strike outs, but if we look deeper into the numbers Chris actually proves that, at least in his case, the Strike Outs shouldn’t play any role at all in his evaluation.
In MLB there seems to be a statistic for everything but there are only a few that can really be looked at in black and white to see how effective the player is. One of my favorites is SLG%, total bases divided by At Bats. This is the statistic that defines your typical power hitter. Last year Chris Davis was 7th in the league in SLG% below Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Josh Donaldson, and Nelson Cruz.
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I have my own calculation that I would use to better define a players ability to produce runs and define their value to the team. If you look at what you really want out of a batter, its how many times he steps into the batter’s box and it results in production. So if we take the average number of times he gets a hit and it results in an RBI and average it with the percentage of times he gets on base and results in a run, that should tell us what percentage of his plate appearances (PPA) he’s productive in.
Last year Chris hit 117 RBI’s in 573 At Bats. That means he was productive in .204 percent of his at bats. Chris was also on base 242 times which resulted in 100 Runs, which was .413 percent of the time. Therefore, if we average these two statistics out, that means that Chris Davis had a PPA rating of .309, meaning one out of every three times Chris steps into the batter’s box a run is going to score. That doesn’t suck.
If we look at the reigning MVP winner, Josh Donaldson, and the man who came in second in votes, Mike Trout, we can see where Chris lands in comparison. Donaldson hit 123 RBI’s in 620 AB, so that’s a .198 percentage. He was also on base 264 times which resulted in 122 Runs, .462 percent. Averaging the two, he had a (PPA) Productive Plate Appearance rating of.330 PPA, better than Davis. Again, every third At Bat a run is scoring. I’d say that’s the kind of production that deserves an MVP.
Last year Mike Trout had 90 RBI’s in 575 At Bats, so that’s a .157 percentage. He was on base 274 times that resulted in 104 Runs, .380 percent. Averaging the two, he had a (PPA) Productive Plate Appearance rating of .269. So this means for every fourth time he stepped into the batter’s box a run would score. Therefore, Davis was a more productive player than Trout yet Chris was 8th in MVP voting.
If you look what Chris Davis has accomplished with his time in Baltimore and compare his ability to be productive to his peers, it’s clear that he deserves the contract that he was given. In reality, some could say he may have even deserved more, especially if we remove Strike Outs from the equation all together. If we would have seen Donaldson or Trout receive the very same contract there would be no arguments over whether or not the money was right.
By looking at PPA as a statistic of a player’s production, it completely removes the Strike Out because the strikeout doesn’t define how productive a player is going to be and when measuring the monetary value of an ball player it should only include production, defensive ability, and the ability to be a leader while having a positive influence in/on the clubhouse.