Run Shares: measuring offensive value in a team context

While there can be many ways to measure a position player’s offensive value, one method could be to evaluate the proportion of his team’s runs that are attributable to his own offensive contributions, a quantity that might be described as “Run Share”. That approach identifies these players as most valuable to their teams in 2013.

Those selections were based on FanGraphs‘ version of Runs Created (wRC), represented as a proportion of the actual runs that the player’s team scored. After the jump, more on Run Shares as a measure of offensive value.

As neither Trout’s Angels nor Goldschmidt’s D-Backs were serious contenders in 2013, a valid complaint about this method could be that a player’s contribution to a losing season is largely irrelevant in that the team still lost. The rebuttal would be that a player can only work within his own context. If he’s on a lousy team, even his most herculean effort will not make his team a winner. Nonetheless, the contribution a player makes to his team’s success (however modest that success may be) ought to be recognized, and this is one way to do it.

Here are the league leaders in Run Share for each season since 1901 (only seasons played for a single team are considered). First for the AL.

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And for the NL.

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For those keeping score, here are the players to lead their league on multiple occasions.

Leader AL  NL Total
Rogers Hornsby   8 8
Ted Williams 8 8
Babe Ruth 7   7
Barry Bonds 6 6
Stan Musial   6 6
Willie Mays 6 6
Albert Pujols   5 5
Hank Aaron 5 5
Jimmie Foxx 5   5
Frank Thomas 4 4
Mickey Mantle 4   4
Mike Schmidt 4 4
Frank Robinson 2 2 4
Frank Howard 3 3
Gavvy Cravath   3 3
George Stone 3 3
Joe Jackson 3   3
Lou Gehrig 3 3
Nap Lajoie 3   3
Ralph Kiner 3 3
Rusty Staub 1 2 3
Babe Herman 2 2
Carl Yastrzemski 2   2
Dale Murphy 2 2
David Ortiz 2   2
Dwight Evans 2 2
Eddie Murray 2   2
Harry Lumley 2 2
Jeff Bagwell   2 2
Johnny Mize 2 2
Jose Bautista 2   2
Mel Ott 2 2
Miguel Cabrera 2   2
Rickey Henderson 2 2
Rocky Colavito 2   2
Ron Santo 2 2
Tony Gwynn   2 2
Ty Cobb 2 2
Wade Boggs 2   2
Ken Singleton 1 1 2

For consistency in ranking among the league leaders, these are the players appearing most often in their league top 10 in Run Share. First, the top 25 and ties for the AL.

Player 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th Total
Tris Speaker 1 3 2 4 4 1       1 16
Ty Cobb 2 6 1 2 2 1 1 15
Ted Williams 8 2 1     2 1       14
Lou Gehrig 3 4 1 1 2 1 1 13
Mickey Mantle 4 1 1 1 2 1 1   1 1 13
Babe Ruth 7 2 1 1 1 1 13
Eddie Collins   1 1 1 3 3 1 1   1 12
Sam Crawford 1 2 1 1 4 1 1 11
Harmon Killebrew 1 2 2 1 1     1 1 2 11
Jimmie Foxx 5 1 1 1 1 1 10
Luke Appling 1   1 1 2 2 1   1 1 10
Carl Yastrzemski 2 1 1 1 1 2 2 10
Bob Johnson 1   1 1 2 2   1 1 1 10
Al Kaline 2 1 1 2 1 3 10
Charlie Gehringer   1 1   1 4   1 1   9
Rafael Palmeiro 2 2 2 1 2 9
Frank Thomas 4 2 1   1 1         9
Alex Rodriguez 1 2 1 1 1 2 1 9
Edgar Martinez 1 1 2         1 1 2 8
Eddie Yost 1 3 1 1 1 1 8
Eddie Murray 2   1 2     1     2 8
Al Simmons 1 1 2 1 2 1 8
Nap Lajoie 3   1 1 1   2       8
Ken Griffey Jr. 1 1 1 1 3 1 8
Harry Heilmann   1 4       1 1   1 8
George Brett 1 1 1 3 1 1 8

And, the same for the NL.

Player 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th Total
Stan Musial 6 3 1   3 2         15
Hank Aaron 5 2 1 3 1 1 1 1 15
Mel Ott 2 4 2 3 1 1 1       14
Mike Schmidt 4 1 1 4 1 2 13
Barry Bonds 6 1 3 1   1   1     13
Willie Mays 6 2 1 2 1 1 13
Rogers Hornsby 8 2 1 1             12
Paul Waner 1 2 1 2 2 1 1 1 1 12
Honus Wagner   2 1 4 1     1 1 2 12
Eddie Mathews 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 2 11
Zack Wheat   2   1 3 3   1     10
Albert Pujols 5 2 1 1 9
Johnny Mize 2 1 2 1   1   1 1   9
Jeff Bagwell 2 2 1 2 1 1 9
Billy Williams 1 2 3   1 2         9
Chipper Jones 1 2 2 2 1 8
Richie Ashburn   1 1 1   1 1 2 1   8
Ralph Kiner 3 2 1 2 8
Edd Roush     1 1 1   2 1   2 8
Max Carey 1 1 2 3 1 8
Sherry Magee 1 2   1 1 1   1   1 8
Jake Daubert 1 1 2 1 1 1 7
Ron Santo 2   2 1           2 7
Dale Murphy 2 2 2 1 7
Wally Berger 1 2   1 1     1 1   7
Babe Herman 2 1 1 1 2 7
Frank Robinson 2 1     1 1 1 1     7
Pete Rose 2 1 1 1 2 7
Lance Berkman   2 1     2   1 1   7
Cy Williams 1 2 1 1 1 1 7
Willie McCovey   1 1   1   3     1 7
Arky Vaughan 1 3 2 1 7
Tony Gwynn 2   1   1       2 1 7
Joe Morgan 2 3 2 7
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John Autin
Editor
9 years ago

Cool beans, Doug. A question: Is the wRC formula team-dependent? The Bill James Runs Created formula, as I understood it, was meant to be mostly independent of team performance. I ask because, while most of these Run Share leaders are truly great seasons, a few are just good years for horrible offenses, e.g.: — Red Murray, 1908: 77 Runs Created (B-R formula) for a Cardinals team that scored 2.42 R/G. Murray was 4th in NL RC; Wagner led with 126. — Amos Strunk, 1916: 85 RC for an A’s team that scored 2.90 R/G. Strunk was 6th in AL RC;… Read more »

John Autin
Editor
9 years ago
Reply to  Doug

Just thought I’d update my top-44 list of league-leading Run Shares, to include the team’s Runs Created (B-R formula) 25.6% — Babe Ruth, 1923 NYY — Team 784 RC 25.0% — Barry Bonds, 2001 SFG — Team 891 RC 24.7% — Rogers Hornsby, 1928 BSN — Team 649 RC 24.6% — Nap Lajoie, 1910 CLE — Team 521 RC 24.2% — Babe Ruth, 1924 NYY — Team 765 RC 23.9% — Chuck Klein, 1933 PHI — Team 636 RC 23.6% — Rogers Hornsby, 1924 STL — Team 724 RC 23.6% — Ted Williams, 1947 BOS — Team 713 RC 23.5%… Read more »

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
9 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

@3/JA, Comparing individual Runs Created to team Runs Created, makes more sense than comparing individual Runs Created to actual team runs – better to use the same metric for both numbers in a computation. I do recall that in making the case for George Brett as the 1985 MVP, Bill James in his 1986 Baseball Abstract showed that the % of actual runs Brett contributed to the Royals total was the highest of any AL player. This was: (player Runs Produced {Runs + RBI – HR})/ (team Runs Scored) It’s good to see that in this case, advanced stats (as… Read more »

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
9 years ago
Reply to  Lawrence Azrin

As of the end of the 2011 season Colbert did hold that record of 22.74% of his team’s RBI.

Others with at least 20% of their team’s RBI.
Wally Berger, 1935 Braves, 22.61%
Ernie Banks, 1959 Cubs, 21.25%
Sammy Sosa, 2001 Cubs, 20.59%
Jim Gentile, 1961 Orioles, 20.40%
Bill Buckner, 1981 Cubs, 20.27%
Bill Nicholson, 1943 Cubs, 20.25%
Frank Howard, 1968 Senators, 20.23%
Babe Ruth, 1919 Red Sox, 20.18%
Frank Howard, 1970 Senators, 20.13%

Lawrence Azrin
Lawrence Azrin
9 years ago
Reply to  Lawrence Azrin

@6/Doug,

Good point, you don’t wish to penalize good players too much for inefficient team offenses.

I think this is one case where using the actual individual Runs Produced and team Runs Scored totals has some value (as I tried to point out in #4 with George Brett/1985).

Richard Chester
Richard Chester
9 years ago
Reply to  John Autin

John: Just a point. If you use the PI Split Finder it shows 783.6 RC for the 1923 Yankees, which agrees with your list. But if you go to the 1923 Yankees team page and search under More Stats it shows 822 RC for them.