It's been a statistical kind of week for me.
First I spend Friday learning about the deficiencies of Prospectus' Fielding Runs Above Replacement, and the better path shown by the Probabilistic Model of Range, now, I spend (some of) my Sunday looking at BPA.
Although Ray Kerby's Astros Statistical Software remains my statistical tool of first resort, the fact that its data files only cover the Houston team leaves a niche for Lee Sinins' Complete Baseball Encyclopedia.
It's very Astro-centric around here, and most times I don't care which Phillies OPSed over 1.000 in their rookie year, or whatever. But from time to time I wanna check out the statistical doings of major league players outside the great city of Houston, and although I'm not happy about the price, and think that maybe its interface is a little too complicated for its own good, Mr. Sinins' Encyclopedia otherwise fits the bill.
The preceding has been my own long-winded way of introducing to you the fact that I received my 2006 copy of the Encyclopedia last week, and that I went ahead and installed today.
And when I did so, I noticed a stat included in the interface that I never noticed all last year: BPA, or Bases per Plate Appearance. The formula looks complex,
but the concept is simple, like slugging percentage if slugging counted walks and hit by pitches and stolen bases, or like OBP if OBP cared when you walked and stole second (not that anyone on the Astros does that).
BPA seems a simple concept that also seems to convey a good deal of information, and by now I'm saying to myself, why didn't I think of that?
But having spent half of my previous post griping about accountability in quoting stats, my next step was to see whether the numbers churned out by Mr. Sinins' Encyclopedia in this BPA stat made any kind of sense. So I took a look. Here are 2006's major league leaders in BPA, minimum 450 plate appearances:
Player BPA 1 Travis Hafner .703 2 Ryan Howard .700 3 Albert Pujols .694 4 David Ortiz .681 5 Carlos Beltran .667 6 Jim Thome .659 7 Lance Berkman .658 8 Manny Ramirez .654 9 Barry Bonds .647 10 Jermaine Dye .637
Do you see that one of the things that's nice about BPA vs. OPS is that it's not double counting batting average?
So anyway, at that point having concluded that this BPA stuff might be worth looking at, my thoughts turned, as they so often do, to the Astros.
Here's your 2006 Astros, minimum 200 plate appearances, so we could see Luke:
BPA PA 1 Luke Scott .667 249 2 Lance Berkman .658 646 3 Morgan Ensberg .562 495 4 Aubrey Huff .510 261 5 Mike Lamb .485 421 6 Chris Burke .484 413 7 Jason Lane .458 345 8 Craig Biggio .442 607 9 Willy Taveras .420 587 10 Preston Wilson .403 417 11 Adam Everett .390 566 12 Brad Ausmus .318 502
This BPA business is showing me that it wasn't just Morgan's defense that we've been underrating. What the table above shows pretty clearly is that even in a year where he kind of sucked, Morgan still brings more to the table offensively than the ex-Devil Ray who was imported to try and supplant him. Aubrey hit .250 and slugged .478, while Morgan hit .235 and slugged .463, yes, and the difference is the walks.
Everyone (including myself) was saying forget the walks, Ensberg needs to show power, but when all of it was said and done, Ensberg had provided almost 19 homers worth of bases over what Aubrey did. 75 extra bases--101 to 26--through the walk. Last year's team needed an RBI guy after Lance. And Morgan wasn't it after April. But we shouldn't have taken that to mean he didn't make contributions.
Now, I also don't want to let Morgan skate for having lied to the team. And I don't want to sound as if I don't understand the deep offensive doldrum he went into May and June where even the walks stopped coming so quickly. I don't want to gloss over that. But the point is, even in categories where it appears Huff has the advantage, he doesn't.
Tim Purpura, if you're reading this, you need to install Morgan Ensberg as your 2007 third baseman.
(Some more BPA numbers after the fold)
Ensberg's "crappy" 2006 season is actually 34th in BPA in franchise history among the 254 qualifiers with a minimum 450 plate appearances. Here's your Franchise Top Ten:
Year Player BPA PA 1. 1994 Jeff Bagwell .768 479 2. 1997 Jeff Bagwell .682 717 3. 1999 Jeff Bagwell .676 729 4. 2000 Richard Hidalgo .661 644 5. 2001 Lance Berkman .658 688 6. 2006 Lance Berkman .658 646 7. 2000 Jeff Bagwell .652 719 8. 1996 Jeff Bagwell .651 719 9. 1999 Carl Everett .640 535 10. 2004 Lance Berkman .636 687
Year Player BPA PA 1. 1994 Jeff Bagwell .724 468 2. 1972 Cesar Cedeno .679 617 3. 1969 Jim Wynn .678 652 4. 1973 Cesar Cedeno .657 579 5. 1968 Jim Wynn .640 664 6. 1997 Jeff Bagwell .639 699 7. 1965 Jim Wynn .635 668 8. 1967 Jim Wynn .626 682 9. 1996 Jeff Bagwell .617 710 10. 2001 Lance Berkman .608 674
You may recall that Wynn's 1969 season was also the one where he reached base in 52 consecutive games, and one thing I implore you not to do, is do not mess with Jimmy Wynn in 1969. He was the absolute shit.
As an afternote, I feel as if I need to apologize for my long-windedness. I aways get the feeling that a better writer could convey the same info in half the space. Please understand, I do my best. . . .