Stat of the Day: Run Batted In
Abbreviation: RBI. All Time Leader: Hank Aaron (2297). Single Season Leader: Hack Wilson (191 in 1930). Active Leader: Alex Rodriguez (1950). 2012 Leader: Miguel Cabrera (139).
The RBI is one of the three triple crown stats in baseball. To me, it is the least important of the three because it has too much to do with teammates' success and should be replaced by total bases or stolen bases. However, it is still a vital stat in offensive production. What value is a player if he can't drive in runs? The first great "RBI Guy" was Cap Anson, who might as well be the first big guy for every offensive stat. Anson lead the NL in RBI eight times in his 22 year career (which he started at age 24 because the National League was not created until that time), including six out of seven years from 1880-1886. In 1886, he set the record for RBI in a season at 147, a record that would be broken the next year by Sam Thompson, who drove in 166 runs for the Detroit Wolverines. He was the next big RBI Guy, driving in 126 runs in 1893, 141 in 1894, and 165 in 1895. The RBI experienced its golden age the 1920's and '30's, directly correlating to the popularization of the home run. In fact, each of the top eleven RBI seasons of all time occurred between 1921 and 1938. Babe Ruth kicked it off in 1921 by driving in 171 runs, and players such as Lou Gehrig, Hank Greenberg, Hack Wilson, Jimmie Foxx, Charlie Klein, and Joe DiMaggio quickly followed suit. In 1930, Hack Wilson became the first player with at least 180 RBI in one season, knocking in 191 for the Chicago Cubs. As part of one of the greatest offensive seasons of all time, he also hit 56 home runs and batted .356. Here is the big kicker: he was only 5'6". After Wilson, Lou Gehrig became the first American League player with 180 RBI in a season, knocking in 184 runs for the 1931 Yankees. Hank Greenberg rounded out the list of 180 RBI men in 1937 by knocking in 183 for the Tigers. Manny Ramirez holds the post-golden age record with 165 RBI in 1999. In 1954, Hank Aaron, the greatest RBI man of all time, broke into the bigs. Even Barry Bonds, who controversially broke Aaron's home run record, could not reach his 2,297 RBI (Bonds finished with 1996). Aaron averaged almost exactly 100 RBI per year over his 23 year career, despite knocking in just 95 runs over his final two years. On an interesting note, Aaron never knocked in more than 132 runs in any season, but rather tallied eleven seasons with at least 106 RBI and nine with at least 118. Manny Ramirez can be called today's great RBI man, as he posted nine straight seasons of at least 102 RBI. Of course, he was doing steroids, but he still put up the numbers. In 1999, as I previously said, he knocked in 165 runs, which were the most since Jimmie Fox knocked in 175 runs in 1938, 61 years earlier. Miguel Cabrera, who is currently on a stretch of nine straight seasons of at least 103 RBI, posted a career high last year with 139. He averages 112.3 RBI per year for his career.
Three men were inducted into the Hall of Fame on the pre-integration ballot. Jacob Ruppert, one of the first Yankee owners, Hank O'Day, an early umpire, and Deacon White, a 19th century catcher, were voted in.
Former Phillie Brad Lidge announced his retirement after eleven years in the majors. He is 35 and saved 225 games with a 3.54 ERA over his career.
Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez needs hip surgery and could be out until June.
The GIBBY Awards were announced, and three Nationals won awards: Michael Morse's pantomime home run (Oddity of the Year), Bryce Harper's "That's a clown question, bro" comment (Twitter Topic of the Year), and the Nationals' rise to the playoffs (Storyline of the Year).
Deacon White, who I think should not have made the Hall of Fame by any means, was a very interesting player. He played professional baseball from 1871-1890, was the first batter in National League history, and even played all nine positions during his career. He pitched a pair of games, tossing ten innings and giving up eight earned runs (a 7.20 ERA). The Caton, New York (west of Binghamton) native was primarily a catcher and third baseman, and was known for catching without a mask or even a glove, though pitchers did pitch underhand for most of his career. Offensively, he had arguably his best year in 1877 for the Boston Beaneaters (now the Atlanta Braves), hitting two home runs and batting .387 over 59 games. As the schedule started to include more games, his average dipped. Among full seasons, his best year was 1884 for the Buffalo Bisons, when he hit five home runs and batted .325 with 74 RBI over 110 games. Not including his stats from 1871-1875, which were played in the National Association, rather than National League, he hit 20 home runs and batted .303 over his 15 year career.
Free Agent Signings
Nationals agreed to terms with Dan Haren (12-13, 4.33 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 2013 age: 32) on a one year, $13 million deal.
Red Sox agreed to terms with Mike Napoli (24 HR, 56 RBI, .227 AVG, 1 SB, 2013 age: 31) on a three year, $39 million deal ($13 million per season).
Giants agreed to terms with Angel Pagan (8 HR, 56 RBI, .288 AVG, 29 SB, 2013 age: 31-32) on a four year, $40 million deal ($10 million per season).
Padres resigned Jason Marquis (8-11, 5.22 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 2013 age: 34) to a one year, $3 million deal.
Nationals also agreed to terms with Bill Bray (0-0, 5.19 ERA, 2.31 WHIP, 2013 age: 30) on a minor league deal.
Nationals also agreed to terms to resign Zach Duke (1-0, 1.32 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 2013 age: 30) on a one year deal.
Rangers resigned Geovany Soto (11 HR, 39 RBI, .198 AVG, 1 SB, 2013 age: 30) to a one year deal.
Rays agreed to terms with James Loney (6 HR, 41 RBI, .249 AVG, 0 SB, 2013 age: 29) on a one year, $2 million deal (plus up to $1 million in incentives).
The Nationals made their second big addition of the year, signing Dan Haren to a one year deal. Haren, who will likely replace Edwin Jackson in the four spot in the rotation, stumbled a bit last year despite high expectations. The SoCal native was coming off of a five year stretch in which he won at least 12 games and kept his ERA under 4.00, but lost 13 games last year and posted a 4.33 ERA. He broke out in 2005 with the A's, going 14-13 with a 3.73 ERA. In 2007, Haren had one of the best years of his career, going 15-9 with a 3.07 ERA. The next year, his first with the Diamondbacks, Haren was 16-8 with a 3.33 ERA, tossed his first shutout, and posted a 1.13 WHIP. In 2009, he was 14-10, but posted a 3.14 ERA and dropped his WHIP down to a National League leading 1.00. He even struck out 223 batters in 229.1 innings and limited opponents to a .224 average. 2010, which he split between the Diamondbacks and Angels, was interesting. It was one of his worst years on the mound, as he was just 12-12 with a 3.91 ERA, but he raked at the plate, homering, driving in seven runs, and garnering 20 hits in 55 at bats (.364 AVG). In 2011, his first full year with Los Angeles, he bounced back to go 16-10 with a 3.17 ERA and dropped his WHIP to 1.02. Along the way, he completed four games and tossed three shutouts. Last year, expected to form an integral part of the Angels' 1-2-3-4 punch of Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Haren, and Ervin Santana, he instead stumbled out of the gate (6-8, 4.86 ERA pre-break) and never quite got going. He did post a strong September, where he was 3-2 with a 3.07 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. Over his career, he has been known as a workhorse on the mound. 2012 was the first year since 2004 that he failed to make 33 starts, but still made 30 to stretch his streak to eight straight 30-start seasons. His 267 starts since 2005 are the most in the MLB. Over his ten year career, he is 119-97 with a 3.66 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over 296 games (286 starts).
Mike Napoli, one of the top catchers on the market, will probably not catch for the Red Sox in 2013, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, David Ross, and Ryan Lavarnway already behind the plate. Rather, he will probably play first base, filling the position departed by Adrian Gonzalez (via trade) and James Loney (via free agency). Last year was not a typical Napoli year, as he set a career low in batting average at .227 and doubles at nine. The Florida native, who has come into his own with increased playing time, has always had light tower power. He hit 46 home runs over his first three major league seasons, despite playing in just 252 games (about 1.5 full seasons). Napoli then hit 20 home runs in his first full season, 2009, then bumped his number up to 26 in 2010. In 2011, his first with the Rangers, he exploded offensively. Over just 113 games, he hit 30 home runs, knocked in 75, and batted .320 with four stolen bases. The season was highlighted by his scorching second half, in which he hit 18 home runs, knocked in 42, and batted .383 with three stolen bases in just 61 games. Last year, however, he mired in a season long slump. Over 108 games, he hit 24 home runs, which isn't a bad mark, but batted .227 and hit only nine doubles. He also struck out 125 times in 352 at bats (35.5% strikeout rate). This is compared to 2011, when he struck out only 85 times in 369 at bats (23% strikeout rate). Over his seven year career, he has hit 146 home runs, knocked in 380, and batted .259 with 26 stolen bases through 727 games.
Bill Bray is a small addition to the Nationals, but nonetheless important. The 6'3" lefty out of Virginia Beach will likely claim Michael Gonzalez' spot as a late inning lefty specialist. Bray, who pitched 19 games for the Nationals in 2006 before being traded to Cincinnati in the Austin Kearns/Felipe Lopez deal, pitched another 239 games for the Reds before becoming a free agent after the 2012 season. Bray's best year was 2011, when he was 5-3 with a 2.98 ERA and 1.08 WHIP through 79 appearances. Lefties batted just .180 off of him and struck out 29 times in 25.2 innings. Righties, on the other hand, batted .226 and struck out 15 times in 22.2 innings. He missed most of last year due to injury. Over his six year career, he is 13-12 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.38 WHIP over 258 appearances.
Blue Jays claimed Eli Whiteside (0 HR, 2 RBI, .091 AVG, 0 SB, 2013 age: 33) off waivers from the Yankees.
Teams followed in this update: Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Colorado Rockies
If your team is not included, please leave a comment.
HR: home runs. RBI: runs batted in. AVG: batting average. SB: stolen bases. ERA: earned run average. WHIP: walks/hits per innings pitched. K's: strikeouts. WPCT: winning percentage