Total Base Value, Made Easy

Brad Pitt surely made sabermetrics sexy.  Unfortunately reading them is not.  That being said, we encourage you to imagine that the following words be read to you by Mr. Pitt himself.

As a follow up to our post on Next Base Value, or NBv, we look to determine an overall offensive value for a player by combining both running and hitting abilities.  Although there are advanced statistics such as Wins Above Replacement, or WAR, that give a player an overall value, we want to strictly limit the value to offense and keep that value in terms of bases.  Therefore we have created Total Base Value, or TBv, so that we can compare two seemingly incomparable players such as Ichiro Suzuki and Adam Dunn as well as both players and teams across the different baseball eras.

With NBv, we can place a value on the base running ability of a player and get a sense of what they are doing once on the base paths.  NBv, however, is only one aspect of a player’s offensive ability.  The other aspect, of course, is hitting.  There is a multitude of statistics to measure a player’s hitting ability, however we need a measurement in terms of bases since NBv is in terms of bases.  Fortunately we already have this in Total Bases, or TB.  TB is the total number of bases derived from each hit.  That is, a single is one base, a double is two bases, a triple is three bases, and a home run is four bases.  Since TB is only bases gained from hits, we have to add in single bases gained from walks (BB), hit-by-pitches (HBP), and reached on an error, strikeout or fielder’s choice.  From a box score, we can only pull numbers for BB and HBP, therefore:

True Total Bases (tTB) = TB + BB + HBP

From our previous formula of NBv, we can use Total Bases Gained, or TBg, and add that to tTB to determine Total Offensive Bases:

NBv = TBg / Base Appearances (BA)

Total Offensive Bases = TBg + tTB

We can determine TBv by dividing the Total Offensive Bases by Plate Appearances (PA):

TBv = (TBg + tTB) / PA

In other words, the value of a player per plate appearance is determined by the combined bases gained from hitting and running.  Once a hitter steps in the batters box, the least amount of bases a player can gain is zero and the most is four.  In our formula, one player who hits a home run and another who reaches on a single and comes around to score are theoretically equal.  That is, both players scored a run by contributing four bases in their separate plate appearances.

When one looks at, for example, the top five candidates for AL Most Valuable Player in 2014 in terms of TBv, Mike Trout clearly stands apart:

Player                            TBv

1. Mike Trout               .889

2. Victor Martinez       .820

3. Michael Brantley     .836

4. Jose Abreu                .773

5. Robinson Cano       .744

Interestingly, Trout had his worst season last year in terms of TBv, having a TBv of .934 in 2013 and an amazing TBv of 1.081 in 2012.  You read that correctly: for every plate appearance in 2012, Trout gained more than one base of offense.

When we compare Trout to Miguel Cabrera, the AL MVP of 2012 and 2013, and their respective TBv of the last three seasons, one wonders if Trout was robbed of two more MVP trophies:

Player      2012      2013     2014

Trout       1.081    .934     .889

Cabrera    .868     .920     .815

Trout shows through TBv that he contributed a greater overall offensive value than Cabrera the last three seasons as TBv takes into account both aspects of an offense, running and hitting.  Admittedly, an MVP should not be determined simply through statistics, however TBv shows that Trout contributed more than his bat to his team.

With TBv, we can go up and down a lineup and determine an offensive value for each player regardless of their individual strengths, whether it be speed, contact or power.  In a sense, we made it easy to compare players such as Suzuki and Dunn.  Unfortunately we can’t make it sexy.  Leave that to Brad Pitt.

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