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While watching last night's Mets-Tigers game, I realized I no longer even look at a player's RBI total when the BA/HR/RBI (and sometimes OBP and OPS) listing appears on screen during an at-bat. The same goes for any perusal of leaderboards at FanGraphs or Baseball Reference. The flaws of the stat are obvious and well documented, and most saber-oriented folk have long stopped using it as a measure of a player's true talent level. It has always been there though, and even as I descended into spreadsheet mania over time I was still somewhat aware of players' RBI totals. This is no longer the case, and while I know David Wright is at or near the top of the NL RBI leaderboard because it's frequently blabbered about on teevee, the number of RBI for the rest of the Met players is a mystery. This is a minor epiphany -- the realization that a stat I had spent years valuing is basically dead to me. And I'm totally fine with it. Inferior stats should be eschewed for superior ones. That goes for front offices as well as fans.

The RBI is probably here to stay, like it or lump it. However, if by chance it fades into obscurity in the mainstream, my preferred "teevee at-bat stats" would simply be the BA/OBP/SLG slash line. Maybe home runs would be included as well. The slash line is so simple yet so descriptive of a batter's skill set. Take a line like .251/.383/.522. The batter walks a lot and hits for power. He's probably a first baseman or corner outfielder. A .311/.346/.490 hitter derives little to no value from drawing walks and has some pop. He would be useful anywhere on the diamond but especially at a premium spot like catcher, middle infield or center field.

The BA/OBP/SLG concept might still be foreign to many fans but the "give a man a fish vs. teach a man to fish" cliche applies. It's easy to look up league averages (this year in the NL it's .257/.327/.403) and use them as a baseline when evaluating a player. It trumps results-based, context-dependent stats like RBI or W-L record for pitchers. Regardless, I don't regret all the time spent memorizing RBI totals on the back of Topps cards as a young'n. It's simply part of my evolution as a fan, blogger and "analyst".