An Overlooked and Flawed Stat

The second best Cardinals player ever

With the end of the season pending it’s time to look over the current crop of players and note both their seasonal and career statistics and see how they compare to each other and to the greats of the game. One of my favorite stats is total bases. It’s often overlooked and shouldn’t be.

For those unfamiliar with the stat it goes TB (total bases)=singles x 1 + doubles x 2 + triples x 3 + home runs x 4. So if you hit for the cycle in one game you get 10 total bases. Got it?

Essentially total bases tells us how many bases a player touched in a game/week/season/career or whatever period of time you choose while the guy is playing. I like it because, quite simply, the more bases you touch, the more likely you are to score a run. Now that doesn’t always work. For instance a player can get 100 singles and no one ever advances him a base and no runs score (which is why I still think RBIs are a worthwhile stat). But deep down I know the stat is flawed, because it doesn’t take account of how many bases a player touches by means other than a hit. Mostly its bases on balls that are missing, but so are bases gained by a steal and bases advanced by another player moving you along by a hit or a walk. And of course you’re missing catcher’s interference and hit batsmen, but neither occurs very often. So I’d like to see the stat corrected to add in at least the walks (so you get TB= singles x 1 + doubles x 2 + triples x 3 + home runs x 4 + walks x 1) and maybe even the stolen bases.

I really like total bases because it’s an easy way to quickly note how often a player gets on base and how far he gets without benefit of another player helping him out (except of course walks are left out). There are other stats that measure important things like this, but I like this simple one. It’s easy to calculate and easy to understand. And for those curious, the current all time leader is Henry Aaron at 6856. The current active leader is Albert Pujols at 5455 (good for 10th all time). And Charlie Blackmon of Colorado is this year’s current leader at 376.


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2 Responses to “An Overlooked and Flawed Stat”

  1. Miller Says:

    Yes, total bases is flawed since slugging percentage is just about as easy to calculate (just add one bit of division), but it’s still a fun counting stat. I have to disagree about runs batted in. The difference in opportunity is just huge. For example, check out Albert this season with Trout in the lineup and without him. In other words, Pujols, now a below average hitter, drove in runs at a great pace with Trout and a lousy one without him. I think runs batted in confuses in a way total bases doesn’t.

    Fun post. Thanks for keeping us thinking!

  2. wkkortas Says:

    I agree with you on RBIs; I know it’s a stat dependent on situations, but people want to give a hitter no credit for his RBI numbers, which strikes me as pretty damn nonsensical.

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