I’m no obnoxious and irritating SABR evangelist like Brian Kenny has become since his arrival on Twitter, and yes I do believe the RBI statistic is overvalued these days. Open your eyes and you’ll see Cabrera’s RBI total is so astronomical at this point, because he’s had a viable #2 hitter in front of him through 3+ months – as opposed to Boesch & Co. last year – in addition to Austin Jackson being as productive as he was in 2012 AND until he went down two weeks ago, Omar Infante was hitting .300 just 3 batters before Cabrera’s place in the order.
There may be one out there already on Fangraphs, or Baseball Prospectus or another stat-centric baseball site, but I think I’ve devised an easy to accept potential replacement for the RBI.
MLB is average friendly, right? Batting AVERAGE. Earned run AVERAGE. Etc…
Averages are percentages, you know that, right? Miguel Cabrera is hitting .365, which means he’s getting hits in 36.5% of his at bats. He’s reaching base in nearly 46% of his plate appearances, and so on.
To replace RBI, may I offer percentage of runners driven in. Or runners driven in percentage.
RD% makes for a nice clean stat.
I realize it’s not perfect.
Are we going to dissect it and isolate into further nuances? For instance RD% with RISP? Or will it live simply as a stat with any runner on base.
The advanced stats industry often likes to eliminate the batter from the HR. I suppose my new RD% would need to do that also. So we’ll have to count traditional RBI’s from home runs in the conventional or potentially add a layer of match to my RD%
Look, I know this creation isn’t perfect, BUT, I think it does a nice job marrying the old and new worlds. Which is really all I’m trying to do, live with one foot in the ‘I WATCH THE GAMES(!!!!!!!)’ crowd, and one in the unstoppable and soon to be ubiqitous world of analytics.