Who is the Astros most productive hitter?

Not too long ago I wrote an article discussing the increased use of SABR-metric statistics. Judging from the poll at the end of that article, most of our readers find some SABR-metrics to be useful. But some of the secret formulas associated with stats like WAR don’t exactly inspire widespread acceptance. In an effort to determine which Astros hitter has been the most outstanding run producer, I created my own metric — with an easy to understand formula.

According to Baseball-Reference.com Jason Castro has been Houston’s most valuable offensive player in 2013. Castro’s 3.1 oWar at B-R.com is far and away the best on the team. Jose Altuve comes in next at a measly 1.1. It would be hard to argue against Castro, but I’m not a big fan of WAR, so I based my new metric solely on run production. After all, runs are what wins games.

My formula is simple. I add up a player’s runs scored and RBI’s — then I subtract his homeruns. This gives me his total number of runs produced. I subtract out the HRs because the player already gets both a run scored and an RBI for each HR and that run only counts once. Then I divide that total into the player’s number of plate appearances. The result of that calculation tells us how many plate appearances it takes for a player to produce a run. I’m calling it plate appearances per run produced, or PA/RP for short. Like ERA, lower is better.

PA/RP formula — PA / (R + RBI – HR)

I performed the calculation for the entire American League through Thursday’s games. The league average came out to 5.11, meaning the average player will produce a run every 5.11 plate appearances. The Astros as a team have a mark of 5.83, putting them well below average. The Detroit Tigers, led by Miguel Cabrera‘s ridiculous 2.61 PA/RP, are tops in the league at 4.49.

Chris Carter (Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

As for the individual leaders on the club, the results might surprise you.

Chris Carter 5.18

Matt Dominguez 5.28

Brett Wallace 5.29

Jason Castro 5.33

J.D. Martinez 5.41

Although Carter leads the team, his total comes in slightly below the league average. Another shocker, for me, was the fact that Jose Altuve didn’t crack the top five. In fact, Altuve’s 5.93 mark was slightly behind the 5.91 posted by Carlos Pena.

I also looked back at last season’s individual totals for the sake of examining consistency. Justin Maxwell was head and shoulders above the rest of the team with an impressive 4.34 PA/RP. Chris Johnson was second at 5.33, and Jed Lowrie was third with a 5.60 mark. Those three guys all have something in common. They’re no longer with the team!

J.D. Martinez ranked fourth on the club last season at 5.62 and Jason Castro was fifth with a 5.67. On the bright side, both of those players are producing at a better rate this season. But, the move to the American League could be partly responsible. Last year the Astros posted a 6.12 PA/RP overall. Non-pitchers produced at a rate of 5.95.

And there you have it. Plate appearances per run produced. My new stat probably isn’t going to replace WAR any time soon as something players and agents refer to when negotiating contracts. But it was fun to take a look at the numbers. I hope you enjoyed it too.

Topics: Chris Carter, Houston Astros, Jason Castro, Justin Maxwell

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  • Joshua Nathanael Stallings

    Its a neat start but has some obvious drawbacks. In that it doesnt reward guys who get on base and dont score. Like Altuve who gets stranded at 2nd every game.

    • astrosince1975

      Not scoring could be equated to not winning. Besides, we already have a stat for on-base percentage. I’m thinking about a modified stat that would use at-bats instead of plate appearances, thereby removing walks and sac. bunts from the equation.

      I appreciate the input. Thanks for reading.

      • Joshua Nathanael Stallings

        As long as there isn’t a way to factor in hits that dont score this fromula will always favor home run hitters.

        For example Chris Carter, if someone in his slot batted 300 and had 15 less homeruns dont you think its likely Altuve would have 15 more runs scored?

        It really seems like this is a two part start.

        1. How well you hit for extra bases per at bat.

        2. How well the guy behind you advances the runners.

        • astrosince1975

          Not really. I mean, if Altuve is on base when Carter homers he is guaranteed to score.
          He wouldn’t always score on a single by the cleanup hitter, no matter how many singles the guy hit.
          Don’t get me wrong. I like Altuve and I think he is a valuable player. I just wanted to see which players were producing the most runs and was a bit surprised that Altuve didn’t rate higher.