September 30, 2014

2012 Milestones (And Beyond): Runs Scored

December 12, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Ten days ago I wrote that we won’t be witnessing any real milestones in wins for a long time unless Jaimie Moyer makes a successful comeback, and even that’s no guarantee.  Using Bill James’ “Favorite Toy” at ESPN.go.com (called “Career Assessments” now), I deduced that CC Sabathia has a 45% chance of reaching the 300-win mark, with Justin Verlander and Roy Halladay at 21% and 17%, respectively.  Then Bill reminded me that the formula was never meant to be used with pitchers: “I have never applied the Favorite Toy to pitchers, and I would say absolutely that you can’t.”  Whoops!

So I purchased Bill’s The Bill James Handbook 2012 and his formula that does apply to pitchers gives Halladay a 49% shot at 300 wins, Sabathia a 48% chance, Verlander a 31% chance and Cliff Lee a 24% chance.  No one else is above 19% (Dan Haren).  Since this series is based on the Favorite Toy and said Favorite Toy wasn’t designed to be used with pitchers, the rest of my articles will focus strictly on batters.  So what better way to kick them off than by focusing on the all important runs scored category.

After looking at the all-time list, I’m pleased to announce that the constant glare of the media’s spotlight will no longer shine on the Mariners, Padres, Pirates and Rays, but instead the oft-ignored New York Yankees will be the center of the baseball universe in 2012.  And it’s only a little ironic that the guy most likely to forge milestone headlines is the one most often accused of not being a “true” Yankee (whatever that means).  As of this writing Alex Rodriguez ranks 15th on the all-time runs scored list with 1,824, just behind Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, who’s five runs ahead of A-Rod.  Based on Rodriguez’s career average (113 per season), he’d pass Lou Gehrig for 10th place by the end of the 2012 campaign and fall just short of Stan Musial at #9.  He’s averaged only 73 runs per annum since 2008, but that number would still put him in 10th place, so it’s likely that A-Rod will crack the top 10 sometime next year.

Let’s take a look at his odds of reaching various milestones, including passing Rickey Henderson and becoming the all-time leader in runs scored:

Player
Age
3-Yr Avg
To Date
Proj. Car. 1889 2000 2100 2200 2296 MAX (1%)
Alex Rodriguez 35 74.8 1,824 2,085 97% 97% 45% 20% 5% 2,342

It looks like Rodriguez is a lock to pass Gehrig (1,888) and eventually become only the eighth player to score at least 2,000 runs.  He also has a very good chance of passing Willie Mays (2,062) and a one-in-five shot of becoming only the fourth player to reach 2,200.  ESPN’s calculator gives A-Rod a 5% shot at the all-time mark with a max high of 2,342; James’ handbook gives him a 3% shot at Hendu’s record (apparently ESPN needs to update their formula because it doesn’t quite jibe with what James has in the glossary of his handbook).  Rodriguez began his career at 18 and was a full-time player at age 20, so he already has 18 seasons under his belt and they’re getting tougher to get through with each passing year.

He hasn’t had 600 at-bats since 2005, and since 2008, he’s averaged only 124 games and 462 at-bats per season.  But he’s also scoring 81 runs on average, which means he’d need to play another six years to pass Henderson.  We’ll see if he can stay healthy and out of trouble that long.  Either way, there’s a good chance he’ll crack the top 10 by the end of the 2012 season, and he’s projected to finish his career just ahead of Mays at #7.

If not, we can always rely on his former good buddy and current teammate Derek Jeter, who ranks 21st on the all-time runs scored list, just behind Charlie Gehringer, and with a typical season could crack the top 12 by the end of the year.  Since becoming a full-timer in 1996, Jeter has averaged 110 runs a year and has only slowed a little in his “old age,” averaging 101 tallies over his last three seasons.  Of course, he scored a career-low 84 last year, so this might be a trend that will continue until he retires.

Player
Age
3-Yr Avg
To Date
Proj. Car. 1889 2000 2100 2200 2296 MAX (1%)
Derek Jeter 37 104.5 1,769 2,030 97% 63% 29% 11% 0% 2,286

Jeter doesn’t look to be on pace to catch Henderson (or Rodriguez if he claims the top spot), but he has a one-in-three shot at 2,100 and an outside chance to join the 2,200 club.

Others of Note:

Johnny Damon currently ranks 35th in runs scored and is only 57 runs shy of 1,700.  The last time he failed to score at least 57 runs in a season came in his rookie year when he played in only 47 games, so it’s a good bet he’ll reach 1,700 and become only the 27th player to do so.  Despite turning 38 last month, there’s no reason to believe Damon won’t continue to pile up runs; he’s averaged 89 a year over his last three seasons, and his 111 OPS+ in that same span suggests he’s still a valuable hitter.

Player
Age
3-Yr Avg
To Date
Proj. Car. 1700 1800 1889 2000 2100 MAX (1%)
Johnny Damon 37 93.7 1,643 1,877 97% 97% 45% 16% 1% 2,106

A projected career total of 1,877 would put Damon right behind Tris Speaker (#11), but he has a 45% chance of passing Gehrig and a 16% shot at the 2,000 club.  I always considered Damon a good ballplayer, but never thought I’d mention his name in the same sentence with Speaker and Gehrig.

Jim Thome (1,566) and Chipper Jones (1,561) are on the cusp of 1,600, and it’s likely they’ll both make it if they stay healthy and log enough playing time.  Thome will be 41 when the season starts and has averaged 45 runs per season since 2009 (although he scored only 32 last year); Chipper turns 40 in late April and has averaged 61 runs over his last three seasons.  Omar Vizquel is 68 runs away from 1,500 and it’s doubtful he’ll get there, considering he’s a soon-to-be 45-year-old who’s averaged only 30 runs a year since turning 40; and Bobby Abreu is 88 runs from 1,500 and much more likely to achieve that milestone, considering he’ll be “only” 38 in 2012 and has averaged 79 runs over his last three seasons.  He might not make it to 1,500 next year but he’ll get there early in 2013 at the latest.

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Comments

One Response to “2012 Milestones (And Beyond): Runs Scored”
  1. David says:

    Of course Jim Thome only scored 32 runs. He played for the Twins and Indians. He knocked himself in 15 times. He had 16 doubles. If he scored on all of those (probably didn’t, but let’s pretend). That leaves only one more run when he didn’t put himself in scoring position. Pretty sad.

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