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Thread: RBI Overrated?

  1. #1

    RBI Overrated?

    I always hear people saying that the RBI (Runs Batted In) is the most important statistic as far as determining who the best players are, because it helps your team win.

    *I know alot of people disagree with the statement above, however its just something I hear alot*

    However, I was thinking and I came up with a hypothetical situation.

    (note: this is a pretty extreme situation)

    Lets say there is a baseball player, lets call him Ned. Ned has a season with 25 Home Runs, a .350 batting average and only 60 RBI. However, Ned is playing for the worst team in the history of baseball, hardly anybody else on the team gets a hit during the game besides him, and almost all of his home runs are solo shots.

    Now, on a completely different team is Bob. Bob plays for the best team in baseball, they win all the time, and they are constantly competing for World Series titles.

    Lets say, for the purposes of experiment (this situation will never, ever, happen) that Bob has the exact same amount of at bats. And every single pitch has the same outcome as Neds. Basically, they do the exact same thing during every at bat. The only difference is, that Bob has alot more people on base, because his team consists of better hitters.

    Now lets compare statistics, with this assumption(in order stats are AVG, HR, and RBI)
    Bob: .350, 25, 125
    Ned: .350, 25, 60

    Now, looking at the statistics only, who would you say had a better season? You would probably say Bob had a better season, considering he has 65 more RBIs than Ned.

    Is this really fair? Ned has done the exact same thing as Bob did in every At-Bat. And somehow he is the worse player? Why? Because I think RBIs are far too team dependant to be considered a key factor in how good a player is.

    This is just my opinion, I really dont care if you think otherwise, or if you agree with me.

    Well, im a statistics newb, so you can rip on this theory if you may.

  2. #2
    I think for the most part you are preaching to the choir. RBI is not a very good stat for evaluating/comparing player(s). Niether is a stat like runs scored. You need more info like slugging percentage, on base percentage and what kind of park each player plays in to make a good comparison.
    vr, Xei
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  3. #3
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    RBIs may be among the most overrated stat, I think. Not as bad as the ill-conceived "game winning RBI" was about 20 years ago. Remember that useless stat?

    I also think saves is a bit overrated as a statistic. If a pitcher comes in the game with a 3-run lead and gives up 2 runs, he can still get the save just as a closer coming in for one inning. "Quality starts" is another stat (not official, I don't think??) that's too arbitrary for me to take too seriously. I mean, how did they decide how many innings constitutes a quality start? And who got to make that decision?

    Anyway, yes, RBIs are overrated, IMO.
    Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't come to yours. - Yogi Berra

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    I don't feel like typing up all of the things wrong with the RBI statistic. In fact, I can't think of even one good thing about it. So, in a word... are RBI overrated? Yes.
    Bleeding Cardinal Red since 1985
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Xeifrank View Post
    I think for the most part you are preaching to the choir. RBI is not a very good stat for evaluating/comparing player(s). Niether is a stat like runs scored. You need more info like slugging percentage, on base percentage and what kind of park each player plays in to make a good comparison.
    vr, Xei

    Exactly what I was implying

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beefstew2011 View Post
    Exactly what I was implying
    May I suggest you go to your local library and check out a book called "Baseball Between the Numbers" and read the first chapter. It's a SABR approach to RBI written by BBPRO's Christina Karhl. Some very good reading and she/he puts into words exactly what I've been saying about RBI for 10 years.


    EDIT: Just to clarify the she/he part. Christina Karhl is a woman who was born a man. So... draw your own conclusion on that one.
    Bleeding Cardinal Red since 1985
    In the stands for every home playoff game since then -- 2006 and 2011 were well worth the wait!

  7. #7
    Ill try and find that.

    Thank you.

  8. #8
    If you respect Christina, she's a woman and should be referred to as such.

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    I am 'borrowing' a tidbit from my latest entry on the Random Trivia thread as it fits well on this thread:

    On Sept 20, 2000, Colorado catcher Ben Petrick collected 4 RBIs without the benefit of a single hit. In a wild 15-11 loss to the visiting San Diego Padres, Petrick grounded out in the 2nd inning to score Todd Hollandsworth from third, hit a sacrifice fly to center in the 4th inning to again score Hollandsworth, grounded out in the 8th inning to plate Hollandsworth yet again and to put a cap on a successful (?) day at the plate, Petrick walked with the bases loaded in the 9th, forcing in Todd Walker for his fourth RBI (nope, not Hollandsworth this time, but at least he got the first name right!). This performance, alone, should serve to show how overrated RBIs are!
    Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't come to yours. - Yogi Berra

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    Karhl is an excellent writer and usually on the mark.
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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by cardsfanatic View Post
    Some very good reading and she/he puts into words exactly what I've been saying about RBI for 10 years.

    EDIT: Just to clarify the she/he part. Christina Karhl is a woman who was born a man. So... draw your own conclusion on that one.
    Did you just summarize the issue in one line and asking us to draw a conclusion on a person? When did this board turn into The O'Reilly Factor?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dodgerfan1 View Post
    RBIs may be among the most overrated stat, I think. Not as bad as the ill-conceived "game winning RBI" was about 20 years ago. Remember that useless stat?

    I also think saves is a bit overrated as a statistic. If a pitcher comes in the game with a 3-run lead and gives up 2 runs, he can still get the save just as a closer coming in for one inning. "Quality starts" is another stat (not official, I don't think??) that's too arbitrary for me to take too seriously. I mean, how did they decide how many innings constitutes a quality start? And who got to make that decision?

    Anyway, yes, RBIs are overrated, IMO.
    Saves, a bit over-rated? Try "completely" or "thoroughly."
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  13. #13
    I personally think wins are the most overrated stat.

    I mean, cmon, you can get 500 wins (although this is not ever the case, im just being extreme) without facing a single batter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beefstew2011 View Post
    I personally think wins are the most overrated stat.

    I mean, cmon, you can get 500 wins (although this is not ever the case, im just being extreme) without facing a single batter.
    A team can score 1,458 runs without playing an inning.

    I say look deeper than extreme cases to judge a stat.
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  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by BoofBonser26 View Post
    A team can score 1,458 runs without playing an inning.

    I say look deeper than extreme cases to judge a stat.


    Yeah, its only happened a few times in history, so I guess I cant use wins as an extreme, as pitchers with 20 wins or more are generally very very good. It is a tad overrated, but not as bad as RBI.

    RBIs are different, as there are easily over a thousand cases where players have had 3 or 4 in a game by means of only flying out or grounding out.

    And my theory above happens very often, where a player plays for a bad team, and compiles a low amount of Ribbies while a very, very similar player statisticwise compiles over 100 because he is on a good team.

    I dont think thats extreme at all.

    I do agree that I should refrain from using extremes that have happened very little. My mistake.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beefstew2011 View Post
    Yeah, its only happened a few times in history, so I guess I cant use wins as an extreme, as pitchers with 20 wins or more are generally very very good. It is a tad overrated, but not as bad as RBI.

    RBIs are different, as there are easily over a thousand cases where players have had 3 or 4 in a game by means of only flying out or grounding out.

    And my theory above happens very often, where a player plays for a bad team, and compiles a low amount of Ribbies while a very, very similar player statisticwise compiles over 100 because he is on a good team.

    I dont think thats extreme at all.

    I do agree that I should refrain from using extremes that have happened very little. My mistake.
    Well, it's very commonplace for a reliever to get the win because the offense took the lead, and the starter, who could have gone 7+ shutout innings, gets nothing. Run support in general makes wins highly transient.

    But I think we're in agreement, as with everyone else here. Wins and RBIs are almost meaningless.
    CLEVELAND INDIANS Central Division Champions

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    Quote Originally Posted by BoofBonser26 View Post
    Wins and RBIs are almost meaningless.
    Tell that to Early Wynn! An above average pitcher who magically turned into a Hall of Famer as soon as he FINALLY won #300!
    Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't come to yours. - Yogi Berra

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beefstew2011 View Post
    I always hear people saying that the RBI (Runs Batted In) is the most important statistic as far as determining who the best players are, because it helps your team win.

    *I know alot of people disagree with the statement above, however its just something I hear alot*

    However, I was thinking and I came up with a hypothetical situation.

    (note: this is a pretty extreme situation)

    Lets say there is a baseball player, lets call him Ned. Ned has a season with 25 Home Runs, a .350 batting average and only 60 RBI. However, Ned is playing for the worst team in the history of baseball, hardly anybody else on the team gets a hit during the game besides him, and almost all of his home runs are solo shots.

    Now, on a completely different team is Bob. Bob plays for the best team in baseball, they win all the time, and they are constantly competing for World Series titles.

    Lets say, for the purposes of experiment (this situation will never, ever, happen) that Bob has the exact same amount of at bats. And every single pitch has the same outcome as Neds. Basically, they do the exact same thing during every at bat. The only difference is, that Bob has alot more people on base, because his team consists of better hitters.

    Now lets compare statistics, with this assumption(in order stats are AVG, HR, and RBI)
    Bob: .350, 25, 125
    Ned: .350, 25, 60

    Now, looking at the statistics only, who would you say had a better season? You would probably say Bob had a better season, considering he has 65 more RBIs than Ned.

    Is this really fair? Ned has done the exact same thing as Bob did in every At-Bat. And somehow he is the worse player? Why? Because I think RBIs are far too team dependant to be considered a key factor in how good a player is.

    This is just my opinion, I really dont care if you think otherwise, or if you agree with me.

    Well, im a statistics newb, so you can rip on this theory if you may.

    "You see? You can do it. You've taken your first step into a larger world."


    Congratulations, my friend. You, by yourself, have figured out what the vast majority of baseball fans and pundits cannot seem to get their tiny minds around: RsBI are worthless beyond worthless way to evaluate individual talent.

  19. #19
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    Any cumulitive stat that relies (heavily) on other players is worthless in evaluating an individual.

    Wins for pitchers, RBI for hitters, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beefstew2011 View Post
    Lets say there is a baseball player, lets call him Ned. Ned has a season with 25 Home Runs, a .350 batting average and only 60 RBI. However, Ned is playing for the worst team in the history of baseball, hardly anybody else on the team gets a hit during the game besides him, and almost all of his home runs are solo shots.

    Now, on a completely different team is Bob. Bob plays for the best team in baseball, they win all the time, and they are constantly competing for World Series titles.

    Lets say, for the purposes of experiment (this situation will never, ever, happen) that Bob has the exact same amount of at bats. And every single pitch has the same outcome as Neds. Basically, they do the exact same thing during every at bat. The only difference is, that Bob has alot more people on base, because his team consists of better hitters.

    Now lets compare statistics, with this assumption(in order stats are AVG, HR, and RBI)
    Bob: .350, 25, 125
    Ned: .350, 25, 60

    Now, looking at the statistics only, who would you say had a better season? You would probably say Bob had a better season, considering he has 65 more RBIs than Ned.

    Is this really fair? Ned has done the exact same thing as Bob did in every At-Bat. And somehow he is the worse player? Why? Because I think RBIs are far too team dependant to be considered a key factor in how good a player is.

    This is just my opinion, I really dont care if you think otherwise, or if you agree with me.

    Well, im a statistics newb, so you can rip on this theory if you may.
    From a logical, and statistical point of view, I agree with you. BUT, I think the reason that the guy with more RBI's gets a little more respect is that there is a mental factor involved. A lot of guys thrive under pressure and hit well with runners in scoring position, and others choke.

    A twist on your hypothetical, is to ask how would Ned do if he was given all the same opportunities to get an RBI, as Bob was given. I agree that just comparing total RBI's is not worthwhile. The stat; hitting with runners in scoring position is better. It aids in determining the hitters mental toughness, and ability to focus. An overall .400 hitter isn't much help, if he hits .100 whenever runners are in scoring position.

    And the .400 hitter who gets on with nobody else on, needs teammates to get him in. It's a team game.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jbooth View Post
    From a logical, and statistical point of view, I agree with you. BUT, I think the reason that the guy with more RBI's gets a little more respect is that there is a mental factor involved. A lot of guys thrive under pressure and hit well with runners in scoring position, and others choke.
    I find it very hard to believe that this is anything other than a very, very minute factor.

    And the .400 hitter who gets on with nobody else on, needs teammates to get him in. It's a team game.
    Yeah, but you can only control what you do. Not your teammates.

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    Quote Originally Posted by philkid3 View Post

    Originally Posted by jbooth
    From a logical, and statistical point of view, I agree with you. BUT, I think the reason that the guy with more RBI's gets a little more respect is that there is a mental factor involved. A lot of guys thrive under pressure and hit well with runners in scoring position, and others choke.


    philkid3
    I find it very hard to believe that this is anything other than a very, very minute factor.
    Are you kidding me?! The mental factor at the MLB level is HUGE. A lot of guys change their whole approach to the at-bat when runners are on base. They think too much about where they want to hit it, or try to hit it harder than normal, or swing less than normal, or just try to get the bat on the ball, or any number of things that gets them out of their thought process and swing that they use when nobody is on base.

    They all have great swings and can hit the ball. Obviously, some better than others, and some with more power than others, But, a big difference between the great ones and the rest, is the mental aspect, and their "at-bat plan" and the chess game between batter and pitcher.

    With nobody on base, most hitters just think about looking for a good pitch and hitting it hard when they see it. When runners are on base, often they start thinking of other stuff, and they end up not making a good swing when they get their pitch, or they try to hit a pitch that isn't their best, or try to make the ball go to a certain place, which subtlely changes their swing, etc. etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jbooth View Post
    Are you kidding me?! The mental factor at the MLB level is HUGE. A lot of guys change their whole approach to the at-bat when runners are on base. They think too much about where they want to hit it, or try to hit it harder than normal, or swing less than normal, or just try to get the bat on the ball, or any number of things that gets them out of their thought process and swing that they use when nobody is on base.

    They all have great swings and can hit the ball. Obviously, some better than others, and some with more power than others, But, a big difference between the great ones and the rest, is the mental aspect, and their "at-bat plan" and the chess game between batter and pitcher.

    With nobody on base, most hitters just think about looking for a good pitch and hitting it hard when they see it. When runners are on base, often they start thinking of other stuff, and they end up not making a good swing when they get their pitch, or they try to hit a pitch that isn't their best, or try to make the ball go to a certain place, which subtlely changes their swing, etc. etc.
    Heh, I hear this all of the time and I still don't buy it. Why? Well, some ball players said it best. To paraphrase a couple:

    Ted Williams: "If I could "hit better" in certain situations than other's, I'd just approach every at bat like that."

    Tony Gwynn: "Hitting isn't something you just turn off and on. It's not something you can magically get better at in the blink of an eye. Like everything else in life, sometimes the chips just fall your way and make you look smarter than you are." -- when asked about clutch hitting.

    If a guy could "hit better" or "pitch better" in certain situations why wouldn't he just approach every single at-bat (on either side) that way? It'd make no sense to purposely hit worse in non-RBI situations when the object is to ALWAYS get a hit. So, I don't buy what you're selling at all.

    Besides, have you seen RISP and CLUTCH, LATE and all the other situational stats for players? They are _wildly_ erratic from year to year. Players will hit .474 one year with RISP and .187 the next. If it were truly a "skill", wouldn't key "suddenly a better hitter, RBI machines" constantly be atop the RISP boards? Well, they're not.
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  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by cardsfanatic View Post
    If a guy could "hit better" or "pitch better" in certain situations why wouldn't he just approach every single at-bat (on either side) that way? It'd make no sense to purposely hit worse in non-RBI situations when the object is to ALWAYS get a hit. So, I don't buy what you're selling at all.
    A batter's approach is different when their is a runner on base. Any who has ever played baseball should know this. It's not so much as trying to "hit better" as it is to hit differently. You'll still try to get a hit, but one that will give the runner a better chance of scoring. The batter may try to hit opposite field or maybe toward an outfield with a weaker arm. They may even "hit worse", as in take a single instead of a double in order to give the runner a better chance of scoring. You found some quotes, but I can find some others where batters say they have a different approach with others on. I think Carlos Lee said he changes his approach with runners on in an issue of Sports Illustrated just a few weeks ago.

    I understand where some may say RBIs are overrated. In the scenario above they are. But I don't think they can be completely discounted. For the reason that batters take a different approach to drive runners in. I'm surprised stat guys haven't developed a stat to make RBIs "usefull". Like take a percentage of the runners batted in out of total runners on base. I'm not much on Sabermetrics, so I'm not sure how to make it work.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldSchoolFan View Post
    They may even "hit worse", as in take a single instead of a double in order to give the runner a better chance of scoring.
    I may be totally misunderstanding here, but under what circumstances does a single give a runner a better chance of scoring than a double?
    Patrick

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