We wonder how the Padres Win without a good OPS team? Short answer is they are playing to the underdog small to medium market historical norm from before the end of the pitchers era. I know people will ask me to back that up
with stats. That is the subject for a different post. In short the Padres have two guys now who can hit for power.(Gonzales & Ludwick) Several mediocer contact/power bats that don't add up to a negative. (Headley and basically the rest of their outfield) Some grinders or pests. (Eckstien & the Hairstons) and a catching platoon that bares down when the game is on the line. Hundley and Torrealba.
- Many SABRE lovers are in love with OPS and are overly enamored with the slug end of that equation. They view the pests as empty uniforms. They say productive outs are a waste and an Oxymoron because it's not quantified. Well it is Quantified. Baseball Reference via Elias has these Stats for players post 1988. Under situational hitting are the following stats relevant in most particular to smallball players. The categories are Sacrifice Hits (SH) Ground into Doubleplay (GIDP) Productive Outs (no abreviations) Base Runners (BR) and Advances (no abbreviations) I am going to compare only three players for space considerations. I am only useing 2010 stats due to Herrera's small sample size and Eckstien's abbreviated season actually represents a microcosm of his career. Barmes is included because he is the antithesis of them as a mid level player. I'm not very computer skilled so please pardon my amateurish attempt here.
SH GIDP Productive Outs ATT Success % MLB AVG OPP DP % MLB AVG OPP Success % MLB AVG Herrera 7 5 71% 69% 32 2 5% 11% 16 10 60% 32% Eckstein 6 5 83% 69% 49 3 6% 11% 28 14 50% 33% Barmes 3 2 66% 67% 72 4 7% 11% 32 6 19% 35% Base Runners Advances br brs brs% MLB AVG <2 out 3B Scored % MLB AVG 0 outs 2b adv adv% MLB AVG Herrera 96 14 15% 15% 9 6 70% 51% 6 4 56% 43% Eckstein 162 23 14% 15% 10 7 70% 51% 18 11 61% 43% Barmes 278 44 16% 15% 22 9 41% 51% 23 8 35% 43%
Herrera performed at or above the major league averages for all hitters in these categories by using his head and making the most of his opportunities. He compares well to Eckstien who is the current epitome of a MLB level pest. True they won't score many runners from 1b. That's not their job. Look at what they do with runners at third with less than two out and what they do with no outs and runners on second compared to Barmes. They do as well or better with their opportunities than without the extra base hit power as Barmes does with it. Runners advance at a better rate. GIDP is a conundrum with Barmes because of his popouts where as Eckstien and Herrera are more apt to put the ball on the ground or get a base hit.
I cannot account for the league average being different on productive outs. I just repeated the numbers there. I still think it's instructive to see what happens when runners are on base and an out occurs. Herrera and Eckstien move the runner to scoring position much more often for the opportunity than Barmes. This creates more opportunity for Cargo and Tulo or AGone and Ludwick to bat in runs than a twenty something HR, low average, low OBP guy like Barmes.
So you can see we weren't imagining the "fairy dust" of Johnny's run. Singles hitters whose power is measured in doubles and not total bases can have value in the game. They can knock in runs and they do create opportunities for the Mashers. They do it differently and they have more ways to do it against good pitching.
Just to be fair I'm going to throw out the one small ball stat that Barmes excels at; Xb% which is taking the extra base successfully per opportunity. A lower percentage does not mean that an out occured but that you did not try for it. Barmes does this at a 66% rate Eckstien at 45% and Herrera at 41% Considering Eckstien is older and and the fastest way for someone with Herrera's skillset to get fired is to run into outs; I'll take their slightly lower than league average 47%.