This is an extension of my “Enlighten Me!!” Post. Someone mentioned that they would rather have Cabrera or Ortiz than Dunn right now despite Dunn having a higher OPS. My question would be why? cause he has a higher BA? More RBI?


Cabrera has 45 RBI Dunn has 37. Cabrera’s OPS is .933 and Dunn’s is .963. Cabrera’s batting average is .333, Dunn’s is .247.

So why does Cabrera have 45 RBI and Dunn have only 37. Common sense says batting average. I think the real answer is in Dave Miley’s lineup.

Dunn has 116 ABS PAs with runners on base, Cabrera has 142. So in 26 more ABS PAs with runners on base Cabrera has 8 more RBI, despite almost 100 points in batting average.

Dunn and Cabrera are clearly producing at almost exactly the same rate, despite cabrera hitting 100 points better in BA. Dunn is slightly better, but not by much. Batting order account more for Dunn’s RBI total than his ability.

Ortiz has 141 PA with Runners on. He is also outhitting Dunn by about 50 points of batting average, yet trails Dunn .946/.963 in OPS.

So in 25 more PA, Ortiz has 20 more RBI. Clearly Ortiz has taken advantage of his opportunities, but he clearly gets more opportunities than Dunn does with Runners on.

Ortiz has been on base 112 times and scored 45. Cabrera has been on base 104 times and scored 45 times. Dunn has been on base 105 times and scored 46 times.

They are all essentially producing EXACTLY the same for their teams. The difference for Ortiz and Cabrera is their coach understands where the best hitter on the team belongs in the lineup.

18 Responses

  1. Pinski

    Would I rather have Cabrera than Dunn? Yes. Why nothing to do with production, but rather Cabrera makes 375k and Dunn makes 4.6 million and has 2 years on Dunn. That difference is enough to get another Wilson or Ortiz (oh wait we don’t really need another one or two of those).

  2. Jeremy

    You are being inconsistent with the use of PA and AB, which one are you using? I would submit that you should use PA and RISP for this comparison. Using ABs obscures the times when a batter could knock someone in and didn’t, even though they didn’t get out, and just using runners on when looking at RBI, means that you are including those times when someone is on first and a single gets them to third. That’s better than a walk which gets the runner to second, but obviously no rbi is awarded. RISP is more to the point because runners from second often score (hence the title) and a walk, although an extension of the inning, forces the hitters lower in the order to produce.

    So with risp, Cabrera has been up 90 times and Dunn 70. Dunn has 18 rbi, and at that rate if he had 90 PA with RISP, he’d have 23 rbi. That would bring his season total to 42, which is still less than Cabrera’s. Cabrera has 38 RBI with RISP, and the rate of .422 rbi/pa with risp I think is attributable to the fact that he’s hitting .337 in those situations. That’s one of several reasons why I would take him over Dunn despite a lower OPS.

  3. Matt

    I fixed my writing error above. They are all PAs not ABs. My bad.

    And no, you shouldn’t use RISP only. You should, use with Men ON Base. Which more clearly reflects RBI opportunities. If you take out Solo Home Runs (dunn 10, Cabrera 7) then you can see Dunn has fewer opportunities to knock in runners. You are still missing the point, that Cabrera’s higher batting average is STILL not giving him more RBI?

    Dunn is outhitting cabrera. And give Dunn 26 more PAs with Men on, he would have more RBI than Cabrera.

  4. Matt

    and OPS gives a slight edge to a hit over a walk, WHICH it is, a SLIGHT edge.

  5. Brian Erts

    Fun fact… The Reds with the most AB’s with the bases empty is Adam Dunn… who has 22 EBH and a .543 slg% in that situation.

    With bases empty is also the situation that Dunn is has his lowest OB% (for situation stats ) Which says he’s getting challenged more in that situation and hitting it hard when he connects.

  6. Jeremy

    “If you take out Solo Home Runs (dunn 10, Cabrera 7) then you can see Dunn has fewer opportunities to knock in runners.”

    Point taken on the runners on angle, but it still works out (by the numbers you posted) that keeping solo shots the same, if Dunn had as many PA with runners on, he’d still have FEWER rbi than cabrera overall. And that’s with dunn’s OPS at nearly 1.100 with runners on. I still think my point holds up.

    Dunn has 27 rbi with runners on. that’s .232 per PA. if he had 142 PA at that rate he’d have 33. Add his 10 solo shots and it’s still less than cabrera (45), and that’s just giving him 10 extra PA. It’s close, but i’d still say cabrera is out hitting dunn (whatever that means).

  7. Chris

    A lot of this washes out with larger sample sizes. The question should be this: What scores runs? Because scoring runs is the ultimate goal. The best way to evaluate the value of a particular stat is to look at how that stat correlates with runs scored. Studies show that OPS is much more strongly correlated with run scoring than is BA. In simplest terms, a team with a 900 OPS is likely to outscore a team with a .300 BA, all other things being equal (and I picked those numbers as representative of “very good” – they may be wrong).

  8. Chris

    One other thing: Even looking at “RBI per opportunity,” you might not be learning anything. I suspect (and may have read) that this is due more to luck than an actual skill. They way to prove it is to look at players over time. If certain guys have a higher rate of RBI/chance, AFTER accounting for the difference in their hitting, generally, then the “stat” is essentially worthless. Comparing this aspect Cabrera and Dunn’s April-May 2005 is unlikely to tell us anything about which guy is likely to be more valuable in the future.

    (That said, I’d trade Dunn for Cabrera today – if only for the differences in age, salary, and defensive flexibility).

  9. Pinski

    Fine lets say he is out-hitting Dunn. But production isn’t just about getting hits. The MOST IMPORTANT thing on offense is runs. So explain why Dunn who bats 5th (with the scrubs who bat behind him) score as many runs as he does?

    Lets look at Sean Casey and compare him to dunn. Hes the guy you were crowing about before – lots of singles and a couple doubles instead of lots of walks and HRs.
    Casey hits 355/413/849 with runners on.
    Dunn hits 246/496/1098 with runners on.
    Dunn has 8hrs and 27 RBI in 121 PAs.
    Casey has 1hr and 29 RBI in 122 PAs. Thats great they basically are producing the same. But what about when there is no one on? Thats important too.
    Casey 296/349/771
    Dunn 236/323/866
    So Dunn doens’t do as well as Casey, but he still has more RBI and runs in those kind of situations. Making him much more important, thus his OPS his higher.

  10. Jeremy

    Dunn doesn’t have scrubs behind him, Felipe has been behind him a lot and he leads NL SS in OPS, with a high average.

    “[Casey’s] the guy you were crowing about before”

    First, if “you” is me, i didn’t bring up Casey, (the OPS is so different that it shouldn’t even be a comparison, it should be embarassing to Dunn that he’s producing just slightly better than someone with an OPS 160 points lower than his) someone else did.

    Second, I never said that BA was more important than OPS, in fact i said the opposite. i just said that BA is important too. If someone has a high OPS and a low batting average, they will be less productive than someone with the same OPS and a high average. If you throw out things like situational hitting and BA all together, you’ll start thinking That Adam Dunn is better than Ortiz and Edmonds, and on the same level as Tejada and Pujols, and just watch a game for pete’s sake. Do you really think that’s true?

    Dunn is good, for sure, but he hasn’t reached that level yet.

    If you want a good comparison, i say hold him up to Felipe this year, and ajust for the difference in games since Felipe had to sit so much.

    At his current pace Felipe’d have 47 RBI and 41 runs scored, and he’s batted in worse RBI spots (1st, 2nd, 7th). I think that this superior production is attributable to a higher batting average and less k’s. His OPS is nearly 100 points lower, but he has been a bigger offensive producer for the team. That means that you have to look at other things when evaluating people. There are just too many examples to ignore.

  11. Matt

    If you throw out things like situational hitting and BA all together, you’ll start thinking That Adam Dunn is better than Ortiz and Edmonds, and on the same level as Tejada and Pujols, and just watch a game for pete’s sake. Do you really think that’s true?

    From a PURE hitter perspective, throwing out fielding and age, and salary, etc. Dunn is hitting AS good or better than Ortiz and Edmonds. Pujols and Tejada are both over 1.000 OPS, so right now they are both hitting better than Dunn. For his career Pujols is better than Dunn, but for his career Dunn is a much better hitter than Tejada.

    and bTW, I watch about every game, and I absolutely think Dunn is as good a hitter as Ortiz, Cabrera, and Edmonds.

    In fact I once saw a study that said .300/.350/.500 guy is LESS valuable than a .250/.350/.500 guy.
    The guy with the .250 batting average was hitting the ball harder yet less often which in the long run produced more runs.

  12. Jeremy

    There’s no one stat that defines offense, and if you cling to one stat then you have blinders on There’s no point in me throwing up more stats to show you that Dunn isn’t as productive as those guys if you just want to look at OPS. By OPS yes he’s better, but that’s it.

    And yes, i know that as far as teams go, OPS predicts team runs better than any other traditional stat. But there are also studies that show it helps to have a high OPS team with a heterogeneous lineup, that is, with a lineup with diverse elements in it (average, OBP, SLG). OPS is great as a team stat, but in different situations it’s better to have guys with different abilities, and thus different OPSs.

    It would be better for example to have a leadoff hitter with a .600 OBP, even if his OPS was .850, than a leadoff man with an OPB of .450 and a OPS of .900.

    Anyway, that’s enough of this for me. I like Dunn, i don’t want to start knocking him too hard. I just think he should get more hits. If he got on base the same amount, but with a .280 BA, i think he’d be a lot more productive. But that’s just me. My original point was to show that batting average is still useful in some situations, and i think i did, whether or not dunn is better than cabrera.

  13. Chris

    I wish you wouldn’t use “production” as a synonym for RBI. It’s confusing as all get-out, not to mention being wrong (as we’ve been discussing).

    IMO, “production” should be defined in terms of “helping your team score runs.” That could be measured by OPS, EQA, RC, RC/27, VORP, or several other metrics. RBI ain’t one of them, though.

  14. Chris

    Jeremy said: “there are also studies that show it helps to have a high OPS team with a heterogeneous lineup.”

    This is a fair point (assuming those studies say what Jeremy says – I haven’t seen them). But this goes back to what I wrote a week or so ago: Why is all the focus on changing Dunn? Why not let him be what he is (take & rake), and focus on acquiring quality hitters with complimentary skills, AND putting together a logical and coherent lineup?

  15. Chris

    But Jeremy also said: “There’s no point in me throwing up more stats to show you that Dunn isn’t as productive as those guys if you just want to look at OPS. By OPS yes he’s better, but that’s it.”

    OPS: 6th in NL
    Adjusted Equivalent Average: 7th in NL
    Adjusted Equivalent Runs: 8th
    Adjusted Runs Above Position: 8th
    Runs Above Replacement Players (NL LF): 3rd
    Runs Created: 7th in NL
    RC/27 Outs: 6th in NL
    Isolated Power: 1st in NL
    Secondary Avg: 1st in NL

  16. Chris

    Offensive Win Shares: 8th in NL
    (Behind: Lee, Pujols, Abreu, N.Johnson, L.Gonzo, Kent, Delgado; tied w/ Edmonds, Burrell)

  17. Brian Erts

    FWIW 21% of Felipes AB’s have been in slot 6 or lower, 81% of Dunns ab’ s have been in slot #5,

    In the #5 Slot Cincinnati leads all NL teams in OPS, slg%, OB%, HR’s, 3rd in RBI’s 1st in Runs, and 12th in Batting average.

  18. Mike

    I think OPS is a great stat to compare the productivity of a player, I’ll definitely agree that it’s the best stat, but it is not fool proof. That is my only problem with a lot of people who live by the stat. They automatically look at it and determine that if one player has a higher OPS than the next guy, then that determines that he is a better producer. Can you count on it more than BA? Yes, but too many times guys are looking at it to defend a guy that’s batting .240. Dunn is still the most productive player on this team, despite his low average, but it doesn’t mean he’s the guy you want up to bat over anyone else. There are times when BA should still be looked at. There are times when you need a hit, not a walk, not a HR, just a hit and in these cases I think you’ll find that guys with higher averages drive in more runs when given the same opportunities as a guy with a lower average who walks more. It doesn’t mean overall that they’ll be more productive, but it does go to show that all of these stats are useful in their own right.