Responding to a reader’s email regarding hitter comparisons

One of my blog’s readers wrote recently and asked how Adam Dunn could be ranked in the top 10 while only hitting .236, while Michael Young is only ranked 21st while hitting .322.  A fair question, and the answer lies in the fact that the rankings utilize a formula that looks at six areas for its data inputs:  (1) batting average, (2) runs scored, (3) home runs, (4) RBI’s, (5) stolen bases, and (6) on base percentage plus slugging percentage (OPS).  Why these categories?  Because most people who like to compare players are doing so primarily for fantasy baseball purposes, so this ranking system would provide you with an idea of which player is contributing most to your fantasy team.  To put is another way, if you had to choose between Michael Young and Adam Dunn for your fantasy team as of today, which would you choose?  Let’s look at the numbers:

  TEAM AB R H HR RBI SB AVG OPS Rating
Adam Dunn CHW 106 16 25 9 23 0 0.236 0.921 6.31
Michael Young TEX 115 13 37 3 19 2 0.322 0.791 5.68

Young far outpaces Dunn on batting average, but look at the remaining numbers.  Dunn has outscored Young by 3 runs, has 6 more home runs, 4 more runs batted in, 2 less stolen bases, and his OPS surprisingly is .130 higher.   If both players had been on your team, Dunn would have contributed more to your total stats.  Batting average is nice to have, but it is not a major contributor to the total points in your league.  I would much rather have a .275 hitter who hits a ton of home runs and drives in a lot of runners over the .320 hitter who gets half the production in the HR and RBI category.   Think of it this way:  a home run is a hit, a run scored, and an RBI, thus, the slugger has the ability to contribute in at least three categories.

Now, on the right team, a .320 hitter with little pop in the batter can still contribute in 3 categories if he has enough speed to steal bases.  Such a hitter would likely be one of the top three hitters so he’ll also be in position to score a lot of runs as well as the sluggers drive him in.   Accordingly, if you do like to go for players who hit for average, make sure they have some speed as well or you’ll have someone who likely isn’t contributing a lot to your team.

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