MLB Players: Defining Productivity in America’s Pastime

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 27: Josh Bell #55 of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits a two-run home run in the third inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on June 27, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 27: Josh Bell #55 of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits a two-run home run in the third inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on June 27, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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MLB Players
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

As we review the performance of MLB players this year or any other year, the statistical leaders, especially in the case of RBI do not nearly tell the entire story of productivity.

When it comes to MLB players, It has always been my contention that not all batting averages are the same. For example, a player may hit .300 for the season, but only .170 with runners on base and .330 with no runners on base.

Compare that to a player who also hits .300 but hits .300 in every situation. To me, this second player is more productive, as he not only gets on base via a hit similar to the first player but when he hits he generally produces more runs. This is not a complicated concept but it is one that I’m extremely passionate about, and it is one you won’t easily find in leaderboards.

As an example, Dominic Smith Jr., the young New York Mets 1B/LF is hitting .328, with a .418 on-base and a .590 slugging percentage. Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich are the only other MLB players to have reached those numbers this season.

However, Dominic Smith is probably one of the most unproductive hitters in baseball.  He has 14 RBI with 8 home runs, all solo shots. 84 men have been on base when Dominic Smith comes to the plate, and only 6 scored. He has a very impressive .435 average with no men on base, but .167 with men on base.