The Measure of a Team's Run-Scoring Efficiency

by Brian Greene

It has been said that the bottom line to scoring runs in baseball can be boiled down to the simple concept of "getting 'em on and getting 'em in".

Well we have a stat to measure "getting 'em on"... it's called On-Base Average. However there is no stat to measure the crucial second component of "getting 'em in". Batting avg. with runners in scoring position only tells a fraction of this story. What about a team's ability to get runners INTO scoring position? What about a teams ability to get scoring fly balls?... clearly not measured in the Batting avg. w/ runners in scoring position.

"Scorability" is the perfect complement to the On-Base Average stat. It IS, quite simply, a team's efficiency at "getting 'em in".

If you first look at the rankings for Runs by-team, you don't know how many baserunners each team had in order to score their runs. (Just as total hits is not as informative as batting avg. ... a rate is always more informative than a stand-alone number). So Scorability is calculated as follows:

Runs / Baserunners (where baserunners= hits + BB + hit batters)

(For this purpose, batters reaching by errors, catcher interference, or dropped 3rd strike are disregarded.)

This stat demonstrates that a team may have a solid team OBA but not efficiently score its runners. The best example I could come up with is Florida:

OBA of .346... 2nd in NL

but only 740 runs scored... 8th in NL.

In comparison the Dodgers scored almost the same runs (742) but with an OBA of .330... 8th in the NL.

So L.A. gets runners on at a significantly lesser rate than Florida, but actually creates the same runs. The team stat, which I call "Scorability", quantifies this fact where L.A. is 6th in the NL and Florida is 12th despite the similarity in runs. The Dodgers therefore appear to have been more efficient in scoring runners than Florida.

Here are the final NL Scorability standings for 1997:

Col .413
NY .378 (5th in runs!)
SF .373
Atl .370
SD .368
L.A. .368
Mtl. .361
Hou .360
Pitt .359
Chi .356
StL .346
Fla .343 (same Scorability as lowly Phillies but 2nd best OBA saves them)
Phi .343
Cin .334

This begs the question of "Why?". Well sure enough, Florida is 10th in the NL in SB's, 10th in sac hits, 9th in sac flies, and only Philly and Cincinnati had lower Slugging. Wow. Florida was able to finish 8th in runs because of their stellar OBA (2nd in NL), but clearly they didn't reach their offensive potential, and the Scorability stat measures this.

This stat also would quantify the seemingly unquantifiable, but often referred to, concepts of "timely hitting" (which may include stringing hits together and moving runners over) and "smart baserunning" (knowing when to take the extra base).

First and last on the list are not surprising given where Colorado plays 81 games a year, and given that the Reds are last in Batting and 13th in Slugging.

Another thing that can be drawn from this stat is the likelihood that the Marlins will score a given baserunner... 34%... not so good compared to the Rockies 41%.

One can also use this stat to determine the # of baserunners a certain team will need in order to score a critical # of runs. Through May, the Dodgers were 15-1 when they scored 4 runs or more. Well given their .310 Scorability at that time... they needed a steep 13 baserunners to accomplish that. Colorado, on the other hand, would only need 9.7 baserunners (~1 per inning) in order to score the same 4 runs.

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