The Most Important Stat in Baseball

Probably more than any other sport, baseball reveres stats in the highest regard. Maybe it’s because there are so many games. Or maybe it’s because there are so many things you can measure. Or maybe it’s because there are so many variables, like the starting pitcher, and the outdoor conditions, and all that.

But it’s all secondary.

The point of any game is to win. Winning in baseball is determined by who has the most runs. Therefore . . . .

The most important stat for a batter in baseball are the runs scored.

The second most important stat for a batter are runs batted in.

Everything else – batting average, home runs, slugging, on-base – EVERYTHING – should just be a means to that end. A tactic. A cause and not the effect.

But you rarely hear the league leader in runs scored praised, at least for their ability to score runs. RBIs are a little more popular, but they are definitely the Holy Spirit equal in baseball’s trinity (batting avg. and home runs being much more popular). And I’ve never heard of many contracts that have bonuses based on runs scored.

But that’s really all that matters. More runs = more wins.

p.s. – We’ve got something special happening this year, as the leader for Runs Scored and Runs Batted In is the same person – Alex Rodriguez. That’s the ultimate production; how could anyone else be the MVP this year?

5 responses to “The Most Important Stat in Baseball

  1. Runs scored is not the most important stat. The #1 hitter usually scores the most runs. He gets the most AB’s and is guarranteed at leat 1 of them with 0 outs. According to you, Ricky Henderson was more valuable than Babe Ruth.
    The Sultan on Sports

  2. Hello ERA? And the hardest thing to do in all of sports is hit a home-run. Thus the excitement over the home-run record. And rightly so… Having a massive head, and boat like feet do not make a home-run hitter. It takes skill and timing in addition to strength, and more skill and timing at that. That’s why I say to people “lay-off Berry” He IS the home-run leader of ALL TIME. Did he juice? I don’t know, and I don’t really care (much), a home-run is just that hard, roids or not… But back to the stats. Just behind the home-run is the rock-star of baseball, that’s the pitcher. The stat of all stats for pitchers = ERA. So, for my money, it goes ERA, then Batting Average, as the top two. After all, you’ve got to get on base, and that means constant hits AND the ability to shut-down the other team. Okay, it’s late…

  3. OK, I did say the most important stat for BATTERS, so please forgive ignoring the pitchers. You’re right, for them, it’s ERA.

    Also, I’m not discussing skill. I’m discussing results. Games are won when more runs are scored. The skills used to hit, especially home runs, are just used to score those runs.

    As for the Babe Ruth vs. Ricky Henderson debate, get real. Of course I’m not saying that. To argue your point, the leadoff hitter is normally put into that position because they have the tools necessary to score runs (speed, on-base percentage) and the batters behind them have the ability to move the runners around the bases and drive the runs in (RBIs). It’s called manufacturing runs, and it’s what the game is about (and what the pitcher is trying to event).

    FYI – Ricky Henderson only scored about 100 more runs than Babe Ruth, and Ruth drove in a ton more RBIs than Ricky. So according to my stats, Ruth is the more valuable player.

  4. hmm…interesting take. I hadn’t really thought about runs scored because you are right, few people mention it.

    would this be comparable to the player who makes the most 1st downs in football?

    or touchdowns? or is that more like a HR?

  5. Well, I’d say on the level of individual achievement, hits are the only thing that can be fairly measured. In other words, if a batter gets a hit 1/2 the time he gets to the plate (hello Ichiro Suzuki) but the rest of his team can’t get on the bases, then no runs are scored, but the batter did his job. Right? RBIs are a good stat, and I know it’s important, but it’s possible to hit a triple every time, and your no-good teammates not be on the bases = no runs… Just a thought. Overall, I think Craig Biggio might be a good example of a great all-around player…

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