Friday, May 27, 2005

How about those Twins?

Posted by Craig Westover | 12:52 PM |  

There is an old cliché (can there be a “new cliché?”) that “In life as in baseball, it is the number of times you reach home safely that counts.” Well, if that’s true, then let me add a new statistic to the pantheon of baseball statistical fodder -- the ABR (official At Bats required to produce a run).

ABR is calculated by taking official at bats (which does not include walks, sacrifice bunts and flies) and dividing it by the total of runs scored and runs batted in.

The astute baseball fan will note that the ABR captures a player’s contribution to the ultimate goal of baseball -- scoring runs. It rewards a player for taking a walk (ultimately scoring). Although not a mathematical factor, the ability to steal a base and get in scoring position accounts for a higher ABR.

At this point, the uninitiated that have yet to realize that the baseball box score is the most perfect mathematical expression ever devised by man have gone to other things. For the enlightened, consider a few revelations of the ABR.

First, there’s a reason power hitters make the big bucks (or someday will). Despite a recent slump, through today, Justin Morneau leads the Twins with an ABR of 2.59. In other words, Morneau accounts for a run in just over two-and-a-half official at bats. Mathew LeCroy is the only other Twin with an ABR under 3.00 at 2.93 official at bats to produce a run.

Some other fun with ABR. Who’s having a better season -- Joe Mauer or Torii Hunter? Well, despite grounding into inning-ending double plays with the base loaded in two consecutive innings the other day, through today, Hunter had an ABR of 3.30 compared to Mauer’s 3.77. The other Twins counted on for some power, Jacques Jones has an ABR of 4.18.

Improving in the past week or so, Lew Ford, who led the Twins much of last year in ABR, stands at 3.76. Michael Cuddyer has an ABR of 4.47 for the season.

At the top of the order, Shannon Stewart has an ABR of 3.84 . Nick Punto currently stands with an ABR of 4.29 There’s a reason Juan Castro and Luis Rivas hit at the tail end of the order -- ABRs of 6.00 and 7.67 respectively.

In terms of a career, Babe Ruth has the best ABR I’ve found at 1.98 official at bats to produce a run and the only career ABR under 2.00. In his 60-homerun season of 1927, Ruth’s ABR was 1.68.

Other notable career ABRs include Lou Gehrig at 2.06, Ted Williams at 2.12, Barry Bonds at 2.33, Mark McGwire at 2.40, Mickey Mantle at 2.54 and Henry Aaron at 2.77.

In Twins’ history, Harmon Killebrew comes out on top with a career ABR of 2.84. Another “who’s better” question -- Kirby Puckett or Kent Hrbek -- takes a twist looking at ABR. Hrbek’s career ABR is 3.11; Puckett’s is 3.36. Torii Hunter’s career ABR coming into this season was 3.37. Rod Carew finished his career with a 3.82 ABR.

Twins perennial Hall of Fame snub Tony Oliva has a career ABR of 3.47 -- exactly the same as Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente.

The ABR is kind of a fun statistic to throw around -- more fun than the cost of a retractable roof.