Fun With Numbers


Numbers don’t lie.

In baseball, it’s how you keep score and how players are judged.

Sure, with sabermetrics taking a more mainstream role in baseball writing and analysis, the jargon can get a bit crazy.  It’s a deeper way to look at the game and results of the games themselves and can tell us a lot.

Sometimes, though, I like to step back and look at the basics, free from the noise of ballpark factors and leverage indices and the like.  Who’s doing what, and where does it rank in the rest of the league?

I found a few encouraging and interesting nuggets:

For being just a singles hitter, Billy Butler has 19 doubles, enough to tie him for 10th in the American League.  He also sits behind just three other batters – Jose Bautista, Miguel Cabrera, and Adrian Gonzalez – in on base percentage.  He’s made it on base 129 times – fifth most in the AL.

Of course, more extra base hits would be welcomed and if Butler were faster, his on base skills would become  more valuable, but playing in Kauffman Stadium, the Royals can’t rely on home runs to score and will have to have players on base and string together hits to get runs across the plate.

When looking at the leaderboards, Alex Gordon shows up over and over.  Maybe he’ll never become the next George Brett, but after three solid months in the big leagues, it’s reached the point where we should be safe to say he’s figured it out.  His 2.8 WAR (combining 2.3 offensive and 0.5 defensive wins above replacement according to Baseball-Reference.com) has him just outside the top ten in the American League.

He ranks third in doubles (22), sixth in triples (4) and sixth in extra base hits (35), ninth in total bases (144) – where he’s in good company.  He had more bases entering today than Mark Teixeira and was just behind Robinson Cano.  He’s seventh in base hits; ninth in times on base.

And he leads the majors with 11 outfield assists.

I guess that transition to the outfield was a good idea.

Now, if you want to look at fancy statistics, Gordon still ranks among the best in the league in 2011.  His 52 runs created ranks eighth best in the AL, while carrying a 134 OPS+.

If you want your Kansas City Royals 2011 All-Star representative, I think you look no further than Alex Gordon.

Eric Hosmer came up in May and despite struggling over the last few weeks, has still been one of the best hitting rookies in the AL.  His .308 OBP entering Saturday’s games was behind just Casper Wells .319 and only Mark Trumbo has more hits.  I expect him to lead both of those categories by the end of the year, and probably by the end of July if he makes the right adjustments.

Other fun stats:

  • Aaron Crow is seventh in the AL in win probability added (1.6).
  • Luke Hochevar is ninth in innings pitched (105) but has surrendered the second most earned runs and is fourth in home runs allowed.
  • Alcides Escobar leads the majors in assists with 267 entering Saturday.  Second place is Alexei Ramirez with 221.  Escobar also leads AL shortstops in total zone runs which measures runs above average based on number of plays made.
  • Eric Hosmer leads the AL in range factor among first basemen (that’s putouts + assists divided by games played).
  • Alex Gordon hasn’t committed an error all season as an outfielder.

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Tags: AL Central Alcides Escobar Alex Gordon Baseball Billy Butler Eric Hosmer Kansas City Royals KC MLB Royals