Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Olney and Productive Outs

After the Angels won the World Series in 2002, the interest in productive outs seemed to sky rocket. Guys like Buster Olney began endlessly talking up the value of productive outs. ESPN even started to publish a productive outs metric in 2004. That would be the only year they would update that data, however. Why? Because productive outs had a negative correlation to run scored that year. It appeared that productive outs not only didn't help, but they actually supressed scoring runs.

Fast forward to 2006. In his latest blog entry, Olney once again brings up productive outs, but his stance seems to have softened considerably. It was refreshing to see him present the subject in a balanced fashion. Here's the data he presented:

All the players in the big leagues with 25 or more productive outs:
Tadahito Iguchi, White Sox, 32
Luis Castillo, Florida 31
Omar Vizquel, S.F. 31
Coco Crisp, Clev. 29
Edgar Renteria, Boston, 28
Juan Uribe, White Sox, 27
Johnny Damon, Boston, 27
Miguel Cabrera, Florida, 27
Russ Adams, Toronto, 26
Randy Winn, Sea.-S.F. 25
Darin Erstad, Angels, 25
Jack Wilson, Pitt., 25

Top 5 Productive Out Pct., AL (Minimum 40 attempts)
Bengie Molina, L.A., .522
Juan Uribe, White Sox, .509
David DeJesus, K.C., .488
Johnny Damon, Boston, .482
Russ Adams, Tor., .456

Top 5 POP, NL (Minimum 40 attempts)
Yadier Molina, St. Louis, .500
Luis Castillo, Fla., .492
Miguel Cairo, Mets, .488
Abraham Nunez, St. Louis, .450
David Eckstein, St. Louis, .444

Top 5 National League, Total
San Francisco, 211
Atlanta, 208
St. Louis, 205
San Diego, 205
Washington, 204
Florida, 204

Top 5 American League, Total
L.A. Angels, 187
Minnesota, 184
Detroit, 184
Boston, 184
Kansas City, 183

Offenses can rack up productive outs by attempting a million sacrifices (Washington) or by simply having alot of runners on base (Boston). It's hard to muster up the energy to delve into those numbers deeper when their significance has been debunked so many times before.

The higher the run scoring environment, the more valuable an out is. While I would choose an out that advances a runner over one that doesn't, I would almost never give outs away. That's not to say that a productive out doesn't have it's place, but it should be used very sparingly, in my opinion.


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