Monday, May 19


I can't be the first person to notice this. Heck, I'm not even sure this means anything, but it seems like some of the Fox affiliates have added LOB to the typical R/H/E display they'll show at the end of innings. It's not all of the Fox affiliates - heck, Fox itself doesn't show it, IIRC - but some of them have.

- Actually, I have no idea if Fox is showing it; I'm too scared I'll turn it on one day and hear Tim McCarver finally implode in a black hole of suck. I don't know what Joe Buck would do. Or what that would sound like.

Since baseball moves at a glacial pace with respect to ...well, everything, it's somewhat of a surprising change. Granted, it's surprising in the sense of "hey, they did that", not "hey, they did that and it's a good thing." LOB really doesn't mean a lot in the grand scheme of things; you don't really get a feel for how a team's performing over a week, month, year, decade, whatever by looking at their total LOB and going "well damn, they left a lot of guys on base." Every team does that, really; the only real benefit you get is seeing how many opportunities a team whiffed on in a game. That's not a bad thing given the context of the line score; after all, seeing LOB in a one-game sense should give you exactly that approach, which is a good thing. (Not to mention the line score tells you about that game; you never see a season R/H/E line score for a good reason.) However, to some degree you can extrapolate that from the R/H line. If a team's runs are way less than the hit total, they've sucked getting guys in, and if they're about equal, they've done well.

Really, you get two large things and a small thing from getting LOB.

Large Thing 1: you get a feel for how often a team has walked over the course of the game. This is a big deal for all the obvious reasons - walks are good, get a feel for pitch count (if you're into that soft of thing), etc. This also helps to eliminate some of the R/H noise; a high R/H ratio (lots of runs, relatively few hits) could either mean low LOB totals or plenty of walks making up for the baserunners.

Large Thing 2: you get a better feel for DPs. This is kind of the converse of Large Thing 1, and actually will drive you nuts if you try and figure both of them out in tandem. Realistically, you can probably assume 1-2 DPs a game and be okay 80-90% of the time. The other 10-20% of the time will kill you, though.

Small Thing 1: it'll pick up any CS. Whoop dee doo; there's normally 2 a game at max, and normally it's 0.

Really, there's a lot of noise in LOB if you're trying to figure out any kind of components from it, but it's a step in a direction networks really haven't been willing to go. What's even cooler than this is some networks are also showing OBP to go with BA - I'd argue they should be showing OBP instead of BA, but hi, I'm on the fringe, relatively speaking - but I haven't seen that often enough for it to really mean anything. If more networks start showing OBP, great; I'll probably write about that when it happens, too.

- As an aside, I've never understood why they keep track of LOB for individual players. I think it's defined as "any runner the hitter doesn't advance by a base", which ...really, that doesn't help us at all. You can't sum up everyone's individual LOB to get the team LOB - that's separate. Some guy hits a rocket at the third baseman with the bases loaded? He left three on base - unless it turned into a DP, in which case he left two, which: what? I'd be lying if that made any sense to me. Besides, unless it's the third out of the inning - and not to go all John Madden on you, but it doesn't happen that often; you can probably figure out the frequency - those runners are still on base. They're not stranded, someone else is coming up to bat!

So does this mean anything? Probably not, but it's at least some concession that the ways people normally keep track of games may not be the best. It'll probably be another decade at least before networks start showing some of the even mildly interesting stats - we might get OPS by then, but we're certainly not getting OPS+ - but every little bit helps. I'll take the minor victories.