I love statistics. I think that statistics can tell you just about everything you need to know about both teams and players. Today, I want to focus in on some of baseball’s most underrated statistics that can help, even a layman, understand what is going on when a certain player appears at the plate.
The most underrated statistic, in my opinion, is the percentage of walks per at bat. The chance that a player walks is an easy determinate of how patient a batter is at the plate. Of course, this is an imperfect statistic, but it is easily teased out and can be quite telling. Two Cardinals stand out on this statistic. Matt Carpenter walks 14.5% of the time his is at bat. Even more impressive is Matt Holliday’s 15.3% walk rate. These players are extremely patient at the plate and have no problem letting balls go by. They both wear down pitchers especially compared to the chance that they strike out.
Holliday strikes out 17.6% of the time he bats which is extremely low for a player that faces so many pitches. The ratio of walks to strikeouts for Holliday is 15.3/32.9 meaning that he walks almost as much as he strikes out. That’s not just a “good eye” that’s incredible. For a comparison, Matt Adams walks only 2.3% of the time he bats but strikes out almost 20% of the time. However, neither player compares to Bourjos, who strikes out in 31.5% of his at bats. Percent chance of striking out is important because the ability to make any form of contact with the ball is essential to batting but is often overlooked by sports analysts. Kolten Wong leads the team in lowest strikeout ratio- only striking out in 11% of his at bats.
Another statistic that I like to look at to determine the power of a player is the ratio of extra base hits to singles that any player gets. To calculate it, add the number of doubles, triples and homeruns that a player has and divide it by his total number of hits. This statistic, teamed with the infamous batting average, can tell fans a lot about what kind of a batter they are watching. Peralta, for example is a power hitter. When he gets a hit, the odds are 47.5% in favor of him getting more than a single base. The average ratio is between 28% and 33% of any batter. Those numbers contrast the sluggish Mark Ellis who has only a 15.8% extra base hit ratio.
With simple manipulation of famous statistics, fans can have strong indicators of which players to look out for.