Hunter: Joey Votto and the value of a walk

From Matt Hunter at FanGraphs on November 4, 2013:

Joey Votto is a fantastic player. There is absolutely no denying this fact. Any and all arguments regarding the quality of Votto’s offensive ability should be, and generally are, made in terms of whether he is simply an excellent hitter, or one of the very best hitters currently playing baseball today.

The argument “against” Joey Votto commonly refers to his “inability” to “drive in runners”. In other words, Votto had a low RBI total in 2013, given his salary, place in the lineup, and position. Votto’s 73 RBI ranked 17th in baseball among first-basemen, and 65th overall.

We all know that RBI is not an effective way of measuring offense, or even the ability to drive in runners, because of it’s dependence on the offensive quality of the rest of the team. To rectify at least this flaw of the RBI, let’s look at a variant of the statistic, one that is reflective of its purpose, but more effectively measures said purpose. We’ll call it RBI per  Opportunity, or RBI/Opp. Simply, it is the percentage of runners, on base while a player is up, that are driven in by said player, removing plate appearances in which the player is intentionally walked

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Originally published: November 4, 2013. Last Updated: November 4, 2013.