Sunday, September 07, 2008

Of Course, There's Football

Today I witnessed a wonderful thing. The Chicago Bears b-slapped the Indianapolis Colts. It was beautiful. After the torture of watching their pre-season comedy skits, they came out and played like the Bears we all hope to see every stinkin' year. Though their first series began horribly, they ended up controlling clock with the fine running of rookie running back Matt Forte. He's the first rookie to start the first game of a season since Sweetness, Walter Payton did it. But Walter carried 8 times for no yards. Forte ran about 20 times for around 120 yds. and a TD. Kyle Orton didn't dazzle, but he made no mistakes and ran the offense in a more than competent manner, which was made to look relatively easy through the fine work of a make-shift O-line. If Forte can run like this throughout the season, the defense won't be overworked, and they can beat the crap out of opponents like they did tonight. And as long as Devin Hester doesn't make any more bonehead plays by being overly cocky, our special teams will continue to be as special as they have been for quite a while. Next week, at Carolina. We'll see.

In the meantime, both Chicago baseball teams are in first place in their respective divisions. The Cubs have been losing a lot, but so have Milwaukee and St. Louis (thanks guys). And the Sox have been spinning their wheels and though they've gotten a bit of breathing room (2.5 games in front since this morning. Didn't see anything baseball related today), they've basically been matching the Twins loss for loss and win for win. That's OK as long as we're in 1st. Tough break losing Carlos Quentin's bat for a while. Prolly won't be back until deep in playoffs. (36 HR/100RBI) Both teams in the playoffs would be way cool. The deeper they go, the cooler it will be.

Sports are cool.


Les said...

I'm just happy I traded Brady away last week in my fantasy league.


Ben said...

Can we just put the RBI thing to rest already? Its really an eyesore.

Marshall Art said...


What incredibly good fortune on your part! What made you do that in the first place?

Marshall Art said...


Some stats are truly worthless, such as assists in basketball. A good guard will always get the ball to the best possible option, but that option has to make the shot. Even passing yards in football isn't a good indicator of a QB's ability if receivers don't catch the ball or run far after the catch.

But RBI's show that the hitter can deliver when it's most advantageous. A .320 batting average is OK on it's own, but when accompanied by impressive RBI numbers, you know the guy really helped the team win ballgames. I almost think more highly of a good RBI number than I do a batting average.

Les said...

In a league that rewards rushing stats much more than passing stats, I had no backfield to speak of, so I traded away Brady and Cadillac Williams in return for Matt Hasselbeck and Larry Johnson. Risky at the time, ingenious in hindsight.

Marshall Art said...

A shrewd move. I hope it pays off big for ya.

Mark said...

Wouldn't an all Chicago World Series be fun?

As a Royals fan, I couldn't care less about who wind up in the series. It won't be KC.

But wouldn't an all Chicago series be fun?

Mark said...

Les, as a Chiefs fan, I hope your trade for Larry Johnson is ingenius, but I fear his best years are behind him already. Hope not. He could be a real help to the Chiefs if he can get back on the track.

Les said...

"I hope it pays off big for ya."

Considering the fact that one of the players I traded away is out for the year and the other is out until mid-season, it already HAS paid off big for me.

Ben said...

I'm sorry Marshall, but stats passed you by about twenty years ago. If you're thinking of picking up a new book, try something by Bill James. RBIs are about as helpful as a Republican in the White House :)

Marshall Art said...


If you'd pass up a player averaging over 60-70 RBIs per year, you won't have a job with that ballclub very long beyond collecting their dirty jocks. Between your dismissal of the importance of the RBI and your lame attempt at political humor, you continually demonstrate how challenged you are in the area of "clever".

Ben said...

Marshall, a funny bone is a terrible thing to waste. Perhaps one day Mark can remove his stick from up your ass. Until then, please join the rest of the world in baseball statistics or sabermetrics.

Lets all take a moment with our thinking caps on. Runs Batted In. The bulk of these numbers originate from another player already being on base.

For example, Theriot singles to left. Gotta love the kid from Baton Rouge. Next up, Lee. He crushes a double. This scores Theriot all the way from first. Lee gets the RBI!! The RBI has several sources. It took Theriot being on base. It took the speed of Theriot. And, it took the hit from Lee. These factors all contribute to the RBI. Why give all the credit to Lee? He is only 1/3 responsible for the Cubs taking a lead in the first inning.

I'm just saying that there are far better ways to measure the greatness that is Derrek Lee (or anybody else that gets an RBI). On-base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs and extra-base hits are all better ways to measure a hitter.

Ben said...

Just found this from one of my baseball websites. I hope this helps you get over the 60-70 RBI thing:

Player A and Player B both have 500 AB. Both have 65 RBI. Player A and Player B are the same, in terms of run production, right? Wrong! You fell into my trap. I am a diabolical genius who totally just outsmarted you so bad.

Because what you don't know is that Player A hits clean-up for the Awesome City Athletics, and the three guys in front of him all have .950 OBPs, so in his 500 AB he had like 1450 guys on base and only drove in 65. He struck out like 400 times, never walked, and generally acted like a sullen dick. He is terrible. The only reason he is hitting clean-up is that his dad owns the team. It's totally unfair.

Player B hit lead-off for the North Suckington Suck-Cubs. He was an excellent baseball player who walked all the time and hit like .450 with a .700 OBP, but in his 500 AB, his stupid sucky teammates had only gotten on base 20 times, total, in front of him, and he was so good he drove all of them, and also hit 45 solo bombs. (Why was he batting leadoff, am I right? Maybe it's because his manager saw that the Cubs were hitting Soriano leadoff and followed suit.)

Anyway, here's the undeniably true thing: Player B is better than Player A. Player B will create more runs than Player A 10 seasons out of 10, assuming their seasons were not total flukes.

Now here's something that will blow your mind. Player A is Mickey Mantle. Player B is Dustin Pedroia!!!!!!

(Just kidding. I made them up.)

Mark said...

I've always felt the true measure of greatness in Baseball was the ability to hit in clutch situations. RBI's are part of that, because if you can hit with men on base, it demonstrates you can perform under pressure. But even then, hitting with men on base is sometimes misleading. If a player hits good with men on base but the runs he bats in are superfluous, such as when his team already has a 5-6 run lead late in the game vs if he can hit well with men on base when the scoring of that one run will decide the ultimate outcome of the game.

For example, I remember when Johnny Damon forst came up to the Major Leagues back in KC. He was a good hitter, but couldn't seem to come through very often when the game was on the line. He hit better with men on base but his team was already way ahead. When we (the Royals) really needed him to bat a run in to get back into the game, he usually just hit into an out or worse, a double play.

In short, being able to hit under pressure is the ultimate measure of a great hitter.

blamin said...


I'm more of a college football fan. But I do follow the Panthers a wee bit.

I noticed Carolina is playing Chicago this weekend...perhaps we should make a small wager. Vegas has da Bears as 3 point underdogs, I'm willing to give ya the 3.

Cameron said...

"Why give all the credit to Lee?"

We don't. Theriot gets a runs scored. Which for his place in the lineup, and the type of player he is, reveals his value.

Theriot's job is to get on base and eventually score. Lee's job is to hit double's and homers that cause Theriot to score. One gets the runs scored stat, the other gets the rbi stat.

Ben said...

"We don't." then.. you say Lee gets the RBI. You almost completely agree with me. Only to pull back at the end. Why deny us all that moment of solidarity?

Cameron would you rather take player A over player B? Marshall, Im guessing, would do just that. I'm sorry you need to update your baseball library. RBI is based on opportunity.

"Which for his place in the lineup, and the type of player he is, reveals his value."

Why do I get the feeling that you would take David Eckstien over Albert Pujols?

"Theriot's job"

.... is the same as Lee's job. It is to create runs (while on offence). Hopefully, this is more runs than the other team. At the end of the game, the team with the most runs wins!!

Doc said...

First of all, no one said that the RBI was better than OBP, slugging, or BA. It is part of the triple crown of baseball, so you can take it up with Cooperstown of just the MLB.

My thoughts on stats: "I led this team in ninth inning doubles in the month of August." - Mr. Baseball.

More importantly, though, this is a post about football! It is time for the pastoral past-time to be replaced by the gridiron game. And to that end, I'll add, Go, Steelers!

Cameron said...

"Why do I get the feeling that you would take David Eckstien over Albert Pujols?"

I don't know, reading comprehension problems?

Pujols can drive the ball for extra bases. Eckstein can bunt and hit singles.

Now try to stay with me here...

Eckstein's job is to get on base however he can - a walk, a bunt, a bit-by-pitch, whatever.

Pujols' job is to drive him in.

Now comes the easy (but apparently complicated) part.

Eckstein's value in this equation is measured by how many runs he scores.

Pujols' value is measure by RBIs.

So, yes, it takes collaboration to score runs. So we measure the run scored and the run driven in.

Marshall Art said...

Seems to me that a guy with 100 RBIs has shown he makes the most of the opportunities he gets. The sports channels I watch give out stats regarding batting average with men on base. I would view this stat in the same manner as RBIs because it says the same thing from a slightly different perspective. 100 RBIs with twenty games left to play (about what Carlos Quentin had when he went out) and you can safely assume he made the most of his opportunities and likely holds a decent batting average with men on base. Take his 36 homers out of the equation and he's still got 64 runs batted in. That's productive. That's putting runs on the board. That's a high value stat any way you look at it.

Ben said...

Much better Marshall. It warms my heart to know you're looking at other stats. Even batting avg. is a better measure of a player than RBI. But, BA (or OBP or SLG or OPS) with RISP or Runners on would be the best!

Cameron, so so very close. I'm not sure why you're so fixated on runs. But, if you think Eckstien is better than Pujols, thats your problem. If I had a team of hitters only, Pujols and his DNA clones would be the only players. Its the "job" of the team (and the players) to score as many runs as they can. At least that is how the winner is determined in every game I have seen. Perhaps the rules will change in the future.

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blamin said...


I'll give you 4.

Marshall Art said...


OK. You're on. Nothin' on it but braggin' rights at this point.

Marshall Art said...


What made you think I don't look at other stats? You're back-peddling. You dismissed RBIs and I defended them. RBI is more important that batting average in demonstrating one's value for a team. You can hit .400 lifetime but only hit singles with no one in scoring position. Hopefully those behind you in the order can drive YOU home.

Les said...

Zambozo didn't really just pitch a no-no in my house, did he?

Freakin' Cubs.

Ben said...

I'm back peddling because you look at other stats? Alright Marshall? First, RBI is not more important than batting Avg. But, I wouldnt use that stat either. And thats not the point anyway. You used RBI as a measure of how good Carlos Quentin is. All the RBI stat tells us is that guys tend to be on base when hes up.

"You can hit .400 lifetime but only hit singles with no one in scoring position."

This is exactly the point.

Doc said...

"You can hit .400 lifetime but only hit singles with no one in scoring position."

What have you guys got against Ichiro?

Marshall Art said...

"All the RBI stat tells us is that guys tend to be on base when hes up."

That's an incomplete statement. It should be quickly followed up with, "and then he drives them in".

Thus, when compared to the .400 batting average described below, Quentin is obviously the more valuable player, because he causes runs to score. What good is a high average if no runs score as a result? High RBIs are indiciative of a productive hitter, hitting when it's the best time, the times most likely to result in a win because of high run total. This is so elementary.

Take Sammy Sosa (please). He hit a lot of homers, but not enough when they would have really counted. Many home run hitters have had low(ish) batting averages. If we just speak of them, those that hit their few hits, which were homers, with men on base, are infinitely more valuable than those that hit homers scoring only themselves.

Now, if your whole pitching staff are absolute killers, low RBI, batting average, on base percentage, average with runners in scoring position, none of these matter as much if the staff is striking people out or causing them to hit crappy infield dribbles or pop-ups.

But offensively, I'll take a high RBI guy anytime because he's likely getting on base a lot as well as driving in others. A great hitter is one that hits when the hits are really needed and when they are the most likely to score the most runs. High average with low RBIs? Not a first pick for my team.

Mark said...

Was'nt it the Yankees a few years ago that won the World Series with a less-than-great roster?

What won them the World Series was the fact that they hit well with men on base.

Ben said...

"I'll take a high RBI guy anytime because he's likely getting on base a lot as well as driving in others."

This is why organizations use OBP when evaluating a player. RBI involves more than just the hitter. How many times do I have to write this?

"High average with low RBIs?"

All this tells us is that OTHER players tend not to be on base.

I had written something else. But, this "argument" is like dealing with Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb. There is not an organization in baseball that is as clueless as you.

Les said...

You're missing an important point, Ben. RBI's can also be viewed merely on a team-by-team basis. For example, if a player is on a team with a high-powered offense whose management has built said team on the concept of a lot of runs being scored, then a hitter's RBI tally most certainly comes into play. Why? Because it shows he can produce on a team for which he's EXPECTED to drive in runs. Baseball is, after all, a numbers game, and they play 162 of 'em a year. These stats, more often than not, tend to show hitting trends that scouts, managers, whatever are looking for in their players. RBI's, within that context, are an excellent indicator of a hitter's value to any particular club. It's not the only indicator, of course. But it's a crucial one that offers production insight based on the team for which any given hitter plays.

Marshall Art said...

Well said, Les.

High average and low RBI could also mean that he chokes when the opportunities arise. Some singles hitters are indeed placed early in the order before the power guys because at least they get on base to be moved around by another. But if there's no one to drive him home, what good is his high average? And high average usually goes hand in hand with high on base percentage (with walks thrown in as well). It's true that high RBIs indicate there were men to drive home, but even a lower batting average guy can produce runs if he's a slugger, and if he slugs with men on, he's productive. Take Quentin. With his homers alone he has 36 RBI.

Here's a question for anyone: If you walk with the bags full, do you get credited with an RBI?

Mark said...


Yes, you do.

Marshall Art said...

That's cool. I thought so. Frank Thomas used to draw an absolute ton of walks when he played for the Pale Hose. I wonder how many drove in runs.

Ben said...

This just gets more dumb by the min.

Les is painfully wrong. I'm glad that he's doing well in his football league. For starters, now I'm supposed to imagine the quality of a lineup before looking at RBI? Just right there, you have moved the fences from simply evaluating RBI to include overall team performance. Just where do I rank a team like the Yankees or Angeles? I remember them winning the WS once. What you really want to say is how well a player hits with RISP or on base or with 2-outs or some other SPLIT.

Here is a fun thing to do. Go to and find your fav. player. Now, start clicking on all the links on the page. They break things down very well.

"And high average usually goes hand in hand with high on base percentage"

One word for you.... Ichiro.

Turns out, not all players are created equal (just as not all lineups are not equal). They even have different walk rates. Wanna see something freaky? Check out Jack Cust. 220 BA with a 360+ OBP. Yes, over 100 walks. Remember that Ichiro guy? 310 BA with a 360 OBP. Or what about Quentin? Kind of a low BA to be a top guy in OBP, acording to Marshall.

Its amazing that Marshall can be so clueless on so many issues. Yet, cling to this idea that he has the slightest idea what he is talking about.

Marshall Art said...

Are you saying Ichiro has a high BA and low OBP, or the reverse? In either case, it doesn't negate my statement in the least. If anyone hits over .300, he's obviously getting on base more than the .250 guy if we're talking only hitting. I did allow for walks, BTW, so I don't know where your problem is. I mean your problem with my statement. It's plain as far as your real problem.

You still haven't refuted the original statement regarding the value of the RBI stat in determining productivity of the player. You started all this by diminishing the stat when I spoke of Quentin. Since then, a lot of talk, but no point to seal your deal. So why don't YOU go find a clue and then we'll talk.

Marshall Art said...

It just dawned on me, and I just have to point it out. I don't know whether to celebrate the fact that it's finally happened, or breath a sigh relief that he gets it, his last comment, Ben actually provided a link. How 'bout a round of applause.

Ben said...

Thats right...
Source Support Update Score...
Ben 1 (Do I get the RBI on that Too?)
Marshall 0

Yes, you dont seem to understand the downfall of RBI. Thats not my fault. Please, blame your ignorance on somebody else. I've given you a short list of stats that are superior to RBI. Since this time, you have failed to put together a coherent thought. It is amazing to me that you fail to think for yourself.

Have you even heard of Sabermetrics?

Mark said...

Do you guys realize you're arguing about a game?

The Mortgage industry is going topsy-turvy, Liberals are hacking into Sarah Palin's private E-mails and publishing them online, it's been discovered that Obama has tried to prolong the withdrawal of troops in Iraq to benefit his political career, and you guys are arguing about a stupid game!

blamin said...

Sometimes it's "the game" that keeps us from going insane.

Mark said...

I don't know, blamin, hurling insults at each other over whether RBI's ia a significant stat seems pretty insane to me.

It's not the argument that bothers me, it's the fact that it's turning so mean spirited.

Les said...

" I'm supposed to imagine the quality of a lineup before looking at RBI?"

In the unique case of RBI's, sure. It's part of the whole picture. Again, I get the impression you're treating the RBI stat as if we're trying to say it's the do all end all stat by which a hitter should be judged. Uh uh. Not even close. It's just another stat - which can be appreciated more or less dependent upon its context - used to evaluate one's value to a ball club.

Here's a situation where the RBI stat might prove helpful:

A hefty power hitter is signed to help score some runs. He's not expected to have a high batting average. He's big and slow, so he's not expected to steal a ton of bases. Nor is he expected have a high OBP, per se. He just needs to drive in runs. Given his physique, he's the kind of guy that really puts some wood on the ball most of the times he's at the plate. When he's got a runner at third, this hitting characteristic becomes handy in increasing his RBI's, because even though he might not jack one out of the park, he can still get a long sacrifice fly as opposed to a strikeout, double play ball, or even a useless walk, depending on the situation. The serendipitous benefit, of course, is that more often than not, those long drives are going to clear the fences, increasing his RBI value even more - even though his overall BA might not be the best.

Can't look at every player the same way, nor can you look at every stat the same way. It's baseball, Ben - a wonderful game of delicious nuance.

ben said...

"It's not the argument that bothers me, it's the fact that it's turning so mean spirited."

Ummm.. Mark.. Nobody cares. I'm sure Marshall can handle it. I know I can.

As for our political or economic climate.. well.. its the Republicans fault anyway (j/k, its just about everybodys fault). Besides, I've never had a disagrement with Les before.

Speaking of which..

"A hefty power hitter is signed..."

If you want to find out how this player actually does in "presure" situations. Please access those statistics. They do exist in great number and detail. RBI happens to be one statistic that does not measure this very well. This stat tells us about the hitter and those in front of him in the lineup. I would even take everybody's faviorite orphan, Batting Average, over RBI when evaluating a player. At the very least BA is a measure of the player we are attemting to evaluate. It is not a measure of those hitting in front of the player.

"a wonderful game of delicious nuance"

Now some agrement! I [Heart] my college, AAA and MLB teams. I hope Les or Marshall or somebody is interested in stats enough to read something about them. It really can be fun stuff. Well, at least its more fun that looking at the stock market.

Les said...

"This stat tells us about the hitter and those in front of him in the lineup."

And if any one of those players in front of him in the lineup happen to be baserunners when it's his turn to bat, what do we call that situation? If you guessed a "pressure situation", give yourself a big pat on the back.

"I would even take everybody's faviorite orphan, Batting Average, over RBI when evaluating a player."

Give yourself another pat on the back, Captain Obvious.

Care to go for three?

Marshall Art said...


It's called a diversion. It's similar to my post on books, or yours on your vacation. Sports discussions often escalate to arguments. Not a problem here. I'm still giddy that Ben provided a link for a change. I understand your sentiments regarding trying to make sense to the senseless, and that certainly applies here to Ben, but you know me. I like to carry on as best I can in hopes of bringing sight to the blind. One never knows.

Marshall Art said...

Regarding Ben's link, I took a gander and for the limited time I spent checking it out, I saw nothing that rated one stat as superior to others. So far, it seems to be a site with, uh, STATS!!! I assume they're posted to be used as the reader desires. Thus, Ben's scorecard, like his argument, is worthless.

In fact, I offer the following sources for my position:

1) Baseballreference,com---on the first page it shows stats of the best hitters of the day. Take a look and see what categories are listed. If RBIs were passe, why are they listed and not slugging percentage? More to the point, if RBIs are meaningless, why are they listed at all regardless of any other stats that could be listed?

2) All of the newspapers I read in my area---I don't always see RBIs listed, but I never see average with RISP or OBP unless it's attached to a story on the subject.

3) Every network showing MLB games that my tube picks up---the first appearance of a batter will usually mention RBI, but other stats that float Ben's boat only get mention situationally.

I'd say a more accurate score would be:

Marshall Art-3

We're in the late innings, pal. It appears, ya got nuttin! The importance of the RBI is self-evident (except to Ben's self).

Ben said...

And.. Marshall continues the ignorance. It was you, Marshall, that claimed Baseball Ref. was a source. Yes, it is like many websites that compile statistics. Noting more. Nothing less. If you want to have a take-back, go for it. You have yet to provide one source for any one of your outrageous claims.

This whole notion of "pressure" is a figment of your imagination. After 600 PAs per season, do you really think there is "pressure" Besides, it sounds like Les and I agree. I just knew he would come around. If BA is more important than RBI. And, BA is a poor indicator for estimating run production. Then what is the usefulness of RBI? Les... give yourself a pat on the back..

Marshall uses RBI as an important measure of a players ability. It is evidenced by him using the statistic to define Carlos Quentin in the post. I would be amazed if an organization in baseball used this stat. They do use other stats. Some of these you may be able to find at Baseball ref. Some people might compare RBI to an assist in basketball or passing yards in football? An assist depends on making a pass to another player who converts the opportunity. Passing yards depend on the QB throwing the ball and the receiver catching and running with it. These statistics depend on events outside the player as a measure of performance.

Marshall.. your points #2 and #3 might be more meaningless than RBI. Have you ever heard of the Boston Red Sox? Well, check out how they evaluate players. One day, you will learn something.

Marshall, you are right about one thing. It is getting late in the game. I've given logic. You have carefully balanced your argument on magic. If only a professor from Hogwarts was around to judge. Then you might have something.

At this point, we all agree. Les thinks BA is better than RBI. And, Marshall thinks assists and passing yards are no better than RBI. Sounds like this argument is done.

Marshall Art said...

Now Ben thinks he dictates when a discussion is on or over at someone else's blog. What a piece of work!

Let's look at ignorance: I didn't offer baseballreference as a source, you did. I just looked at it, as I assumed you had intended, and found that it did not support the only outrageous claim made here, which was by you, that RBI has no use in baseball. What did you call it? "An eyesore". So it was you, oh ignorant one, who began with an outrageous claim, and have yet to support it. Baseballreference certainly didn't. You've offered nothing else but your opinions about the stat and more opinions about teams might think of it.

In the meantime, I've made no claims whatsoever except to say that RBIs still tell a tale that informs us of a batter's productivity. Assumptions about some of the stats that pop your little cork can be made by observing a batter's RBI numbers. As Les said, we're not saying it's THE stat or the best stat or anything like it. And I've shown that it is still used by both the source you've offered as well as media and, at the risk of sticking my neck out, kids collecting baseball cards everywhere. Why you decided to start this whole thing is beyond me, but you've begun it indeed, not supported your position in the least, and now wish to end it at once. Sounds like you've lost. Typical for a loser. And if you think RBIs is a stat that doesn't attract attention of people in the game, I think that makes you an idiot.