Letters to the Editor

Fresh statistic gauges ability better

Stay calm and don't get carried away over statistics as Major League Baseball again embraces the hopes and dreams of the American faithful from coast to coast.

It happens every year, so get ready to hear that the statistician never lies when he presents the facts and figures that are such an exceedingly and perplexingly entangled reality of our National Pastime. Of course, we're referencing batting average, on base percentage, runs batted in, home run totals and slugging percentage, along with any number of other mathematical calculations that are fabricated to make players look good (or bad) in the eyes of the fan base.

Although it's been decisively established during recent seasons that earned run average is more decisive in evaluating a pitcher's performance than are games won as opposed to games lost (pitching record), baseball's top offensive resume remains a contentious recapitulation.

Historically, these statistics play vital roles in determining most valuable player awards, even when those making the choices would lead you to believe otherwise. That said, the crowned MVP in each league is generally the league's most outstanding player and not the most valuable at all.

Let's face it: Runs alone are what win baseball games. The team with the most runs on the board after nine innings is always the winner, and those producing the runs are truly the players of merit. I, therefore, devise a new statistic known as the Run Production Average that will simplify matters while encompassing all the heretofore-referenced statistics, along with defensive fielding play, to establish a player's individual analytical accomplishment and value to his respective team. One figure covering all areas of play engenders a better comparison among all baseball counterparts as well.

A player's RPA is simple to calculate. Add his runs scored and runs batted in. From the figure obtained subtract any home runs he has hit (to avoid a double tabulation total or runs scored and runs batted in) and also subtract any runs allowed to the opposition as a direct result of that player's fielding error(s). Finally, divide the resulting figure by the number of times the player has come to the plate to bat. The resulting figure is the player's RPA.

This is a more revealing stat and a truer reflection of a player's overall performance. Let's draw a few comparisons during the opening days of the season wherein each player has made 10 trips to the plate.

Player 1 has three hits for those 10 at bats, but has accounted for no runs produced. His early batting average may be 0.300, but his RPA is a big zero.

Player 2 has only one hit, but has knocked in three runs and scored another. His batting average is a meager 0.100, but his RPA is an impressive 0.400.

Player 3 has five hits and knocked in two runs, but committed a costly error on the field allowing an enemy team an unearned run. His batting average is a hefty 0.500, but his RPA is a mere 0.100.

Player 4 is hitless and has actually gone down on strikes five of his 10 at bats. He has twice come to the plate with the bases loaded and on both occasions drew bases on balls forcing in a pair of runs. Each time on base he eventually came around to score as well and has played errorless ball on the field. Thus, he has a 0.000 batting average and an on-base percentage of 0.200, but an RPA of a stirring 0.400. Draw your own conclusions.

The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.

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