Reaching on error: Should it be part of Mike Trout’s OBP?

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My idea of must-see TV includes watching the estimable Brian Kenny on Clubhouse Confidential, the great program on the MLB Network. When Mr. Kenny speaks, I listen, learn, and try to do a little follow-up.

Kenny was leading a fascinating discussion comparing the two leading AL MVP candidates: Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout (again).

In looking at the stats of these two great ballplayers, Kenny made the point that when looking at the numbers reflected by On Base plus Slugging, that grounding into a double play and reaching on an error (ROE) are not reflected in the numbers. He explains that while you might say ROE that reaching on an error is luck, in his words, “you’d be largely wrong.” Kenny indicates that reaching on error is largely a product of a hard hit ball hit to the left side of the infield and good speed for the baserunner. In his argument for Trout as the MVP, he shows that the Angel reached on 11 errors while the ponderous Miggy only reached once. And as a result the E should be considered as a positive means of reaching base.

Kenny, as per usual, makes a reasonable point, however, in this case, the balls hit were mainly top spin grounders and while speed might have been a factor, it is stretching the reality a tad to prove the point. We have Trout reaching on 10 errors as opposed to 11 (apparently ESPN.com and Baseball-Reference.com has the same discrepancy and it’s based on a July 2 error by Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter. As David Schoenfield wrote on ESPN.com: “With a runner on first, grounder up the middle that Carpenter bobbled and then threw to first, too late to get Trout. This is the play that Baseball-Reference classifies as a ROE but ESPN doesn’t (if he fields the ball cleanly he probably gets the force play at second”).

After reviewing the 10 (agreed upon) errors, not one of the balls hit was smoked and while Trout’s speed may have been a distraction, if handled cleanly or thrown properly, all but two should have been easy outs, including an Endy Chavez E-9, and two top spin grounders that Miggy himself erred on. The two other balls hit in question were grounders hit between first and second that some official scorers would have classified as hits as opposed to giving Ryan Franklin, in both cases, the E-4. So in Mike Trout’s case his reaching on base should not be considered in this AL MVP argument as more frequently, it was having runners on base that seemed to be more distracting than Trout’s speed.

However, overall I agree with Kenny and Joe Posnanski that ROE should be counted toward OBP.

Who do we talk to?

So who were the ROE leaders?

The ROE leaders are in many cases guys with better than average speed. The most interesting is Elvis Andrus who reached four times on poorly fielded sac bunts.

2013 Reached on Errors Leaders
PA AB RBI WH# Grnd# Fly# Line# Pop#
Andrelton Simmons (ATL) 12 11 1 4 10 0 2 0
Norichika Aoki (MIL) 11 11 1 1 10 0 1 0
Mike Trout (LAA) 10 10 2 1 8 1 0 0
Elvis Andrus (TEX) 10 6 2 1 10 0 0 0
Alexei Ramirez (CWS) 9 8 1 1 7 1 0 1
Starlin Castro (CHC) 8 8 0 1 5 3 0 0
Robinson Cano (NYY) 8 8 0 1 7 0 1 0
Jay Bruce (CIN) 8 8 0 0 5 1 0 0
Dustin Pedroia (BOS) 8 8 1 1 8 0 0 0
Austin Jackson (DET) 8 8 0 1 5 0 0 0
Todd Frazier (CIN) 7 7 0 1 6 1 0 1
Ryan Doumit (MIN) 7 7 0 1 6 0 0 0
Pedro Alvarez (PIT) 7 7 0 2 5 0 2 0
Mark Trumbo (LAA) 7 7 1 1 6 1 0 0
Jon Jay (STL) 7 7 0 0 5 1 1 1
Jean Segura (MIL) 7 7 0 1 7 0 0 0
Ian Kinsler (TEX) 7 7 0 1 6 1 0 0
Howie Kendrick (LAA) 7 7 0 1 7 0 0 0
Eric Hosmer (KC) 7 7 0 1 5 1 1 1
Chris Denorfia (SD) 7 7 1 0 7 0 0 0
Brandon Phillips (CIN) 7 7 1 1 5 1 0 0
Brandon Moss (OAK) 7 7 0 1 3 3 1 1

  • robert bingham

    What about removing errors from OBP and AVG. They don’t count for or against the players. We could just look at them as inconclusive data from that at bat.