Sunday, May 23, 2004

Do you believe in productive outs? Baseball management doesn't

One of the findings of Sabermetrics is that offensive production is mainly controlled by on-base percentage (OBP) and Slugging Percentage (SLG). But to baseball teams really organize themselves this way? After all, this year we've been hearing about productive outs, and how it's sometimes better to have a player that will give himself up for the club rather than one who will get on base. If baseball teams really believed that, then you shouldn't see a correlation between OBP, SLG, and the defensive spectrum. If, however, baseball management really believes that OBP and SLG are important, then you'd expect players on the left-hand side of the spectrum to have higher values.

I did a brief study to see what baseball management really believes. Basically, I looked at the production of players in different parts of the defensive spectrum. The idea is, baseball will get the best hitters available, provided they aren't bad fielders for their positions.

You know what? Baseball values the hitters who can get on base and get extra-base hits. If you can only ground out to first, you'd better be a good fielder, otherwise you're not going to play. Thus, it seems, baseball management doesn't really believe the productive outs are all that productive.