PHOENIX - JULY 20: Jason Bay #44 of the New York Mets reacts after striking out against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on July 20 2010 in Phoenix Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Piggybacking off of Eric's post about grading the batters in the first half of the season, I thought it would make sense to look at how the Mets are doing at driving runners in - but not by RBI, but by how many runners they knock in by percentage. Actually, I lie. I'm downright stealing this idea from Tommy Rancel over at SBN brother site DRaysBay, who robbed it from Tom Haberstroh, who makes a great twitter follow if you like basketball. Phew. On with it then.
If the flaw behind RBI is the fact that anyone that can make contact like a major leaguer and is stuck in the four or five spot can produce RBI (Jeff Francoeur and 2004 Tony Batista, I'm looking in your direction), then perhaps a statistic that broke RBI down into a rate stat would have some value, eh? Good thing that Baseball Reference has such a statistic. It's called BRS% for short, which is good because the long version is "percentage of all baserunners who scored on the batter's play but not necessarily with an RBI." Wonder why that name didn't catch on.
You calculate BRS% by simply taking all the base runners that score when a certain batter is at the plate and dividing by the total number of base runners on base when a that batter is at the plate. The average across all of baseball is 15% in any given year, another one of those beautiful numbers that tends to stay the same when you zoom out enough (like BABIP, HR/FB and LOB%). So, let's look at the Mets.
You guys are smart enough to know that Josh Thole's career numbers are not yet significant, nor are Carlos Beltran's season stats. It's temping to read into both numbers, though, and say that Thole's ability to make contact will serve him well in this regard, and that Beltran's knee is manifesting itself here. Let's avoid doing that just yet though.
Hey, look at that, David Wright is pretty good at knocking runners in when given the chance! Crazy. As a point of reference, Ryan Howard, King of the RBI, has knocked in 19% of his baserunners over his career. Current RBI leader Miguel Cabrera is knocking in 21% of his baserunners this year, but also owns a 19% career number. So we got a couple of run producers here, on par with the elite.
What Jason Bay teaches us is that he's doing the same as he's ever done. If we want to blame him for low RBI totals, we're going to have to blame the rest of the Mets lineup. He knocks about 16% of his baserunners in this year and career. Sure, that number leapt to 19% last year, but he also had a legit AL team around him. In other words, he got to bat with runners on base 70% of the time in Boston - here, that number has dropped to 67%. And anyway, when a guy knocks in 16% over his career, and 17% for three straight years in Boston, I wouldn't use that 19% number to predict his time in New York. He's been an above-average run producer - over his career, and yes, this season. There have been problems in his game so far with the Mets, but let's not all tear our hair out just yet.
Jeff Francouer, well here's just another way to show his average- or below-average-ness.