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Michael Cuddyer Really This Good? Slugging Percentage Plus June Update
The simplest form of baseball statistics is batting average. It’s been around since they invented the game. But since Bill James and the sabermetrics nerds of the world have really let their voice be heard, new and more complex stats have been invented and slowly integrated into the contemporary baseball rhetoric. Still, I’m ready for the more complex to be more readily available. My campaign continues with a stat that I thought up last June in an attempt to quantify what exactly speedy guys like Dee Gordon, Juan Pierre and Jose Reyes bring to a game that is lost in our obsession with how far a guy can hit the baseball. Admittedly, chicks dig the long ball, but not everyone can be Miguel Cabrera or Chris Davis (note that last June this sentence had references to Adam Dunn and Josh Hamilton. Miggy and Crush Davis are the new home run champs).
The impetus for Slugging Percentage Plus was that a single or walk immediately followed by a steal of second base is basically like hitting a double. When there’s real speed guys out there (think Rickey Henderson or Mikey Perrone or Billy Hamilton), a walk turns into a triple rather quickly. With that, shouldn’t we quantify slugging percentage as (Total Bases + SB) per Plate Appearance? A year of tinkering with it, and the SPP equation incorporates caught stealings and intentional walks, but the basic thought remains the same.
SPP = ((TB + SB + Walks + HBP+IBB-CS) / (PA))
Over the past year, I’ve learned that SPP has a way of providing some insight into who is compiling surprisingly good offensive seasons. It’s meant as a mode of quantifying how good you are on offense, baserunning included. Now, I’ve tinkered with the idea of standardizing SPP so that the average fan knows exactly what it means, but I’ve found that SPP can be conceptualized on the Slugging Percentage scale with most scoring somewhere near 100 points better in SPP than traditional Slugging Percentage.
Here’s your updated June 2013 SPP Standings:
|92||Alejandro De Aza||0.476|
Haha Jeff Keppinger.
As I typically do, I’ll use the SPP leaderboard as a vehicle to discuss the early season surprises or disappointments.
First, Michael Cuddyer. The Rockies outfielder is currently in the midst of a 27 game hit streak and he’s a long way off from Joe Dimaggio’s 56 gamer (I really just wanted an excuse to mention the fact that Dimaggio hit in 56 straight games. 56!). Still, Cuddyer has only recently made noise thanks to his elongated hitting streak and he also missed a few weeks in Mid-May thanks to injury so his status as a first half hero went unnoticed by much of the national media. However, SPP noticed him. Cuddyer comes in 5th, ahead of guys like Mike Trout, Joey Votto, and Robinson Cano.
Chris Davis beat out Miguel Cabrera. Last year, SPP helped me to decide that Mike Trout should have been the MVP. This year, Chris Davis beating Miguel Cabrera sure makes the second half MVP discussion interesting. Miguel Cabrera is an all time great compiling his finest season at the plate, but Chris Davis is also driving the ball at a rate never before seen. If Chris Davis continued at this pace, he’d have a single season SPP that ranked 30th all time. 15 of the seasons ahead of him belong to Bonds or Ruth. To Miguel Cabrera’s credit, this season would rank him 55th all time. Cabrera’s best SPP years, in order (all time rank): 2013 (55th), 2010 (118th), 2011 (246th), 2006 (313th), 2012 (326th). So last year, when he won the MVP, it was his (statistically) 4th best complete season and this year he’s on pace to do even better.
Note Mike Trout is sixth. He hasn’t gotten the publicity that he received last year and frankly he has not quite deserved it, but he’s still compiling a great season. Figuring his first half numbers across the full season, Trout’s on pace for 26 home runs and 40 steals while hitting .315. Oh yeah, and he’s currently fourth in the Majors in total bases. That’s damn good.
If you were looking for Manny Machado anywhere in the top 64 places in the standings, good luck. Despite the record setting doubles pace, a few home runs, and the ability to steal, Machado may not be putting together the offensive season we think. He’s got just 15 walks, fewer than Placido Polanco and has been successful on 60% of his steal attempts. SPP values Machado less than Johnny Peralta, Allen Craig and Marlin Byrd. I’m not ready to extinguish his star flame just yet as Machado’s value also lies in his defense and age (he’s 20).
Stat of the Day: I compiled a 10,708 row excel file and have the SPP ranks of every qualifying season ever. Of note, the best season ever was Bonds 2004 (when he had 120 intentional walks), followed by Bonds, Bonds, Bonds, Ruth, Ruth, McGwire. Also of note, Hal Lanier holds 3 of the 5 worst seasons ever. Sounds like OTBB readers need more info on Hal Lanier.