Monday, January 8, 2018

From the Handbook: Manufactured Runs, Productive Outs and Unproductive Outs

It's Dan Gladden's favorite play, or so I deduce from how often he praises hitters for it and complains when it doesn't happen: the groundball out to the right side of the infield with a runner on second and nobody out.

It is a longstanding staple of sabermetrics that the "productive out" is a fallacy. No out is productive. Production comes from avoiding outs.

Baseball Info Systems has been tracking the actual numbers for a few years now.  BIS has a six-part definition of a manufactured run, but it's rather commonsencial. You know one if you see one.

The Twins last season manufactured 164 runs. Only three teams had more. One of them was the World Series champs (Houston), and another was the Boston Red Sox, who won 93 games. The third was the San Francisco Giants, with the worst record in the National League.

Brian Dozier was involved in 26 manufactured runs, most on the team and ninth most in the majors. Byron Buxton was involved in 21, and Eddie Rosario in 18.

The Twins had 243 productive outs -- outs that advanced one or more runners. Seven teams had more (and another had the same number). The Twins with the most productive outs were left-handed hitters who pull a lot of ground balls: Rosario (31), Joe Mauer (30) and Jorge Polanco (29) -- Polanco, of course, being a switch-hitter.

Polanco and Rosario also led the team in unproductive outs, 88 and 77 respectively. (With relatively low on-base percentages, they make a lot of outs, period.)


  1. You have me mixed up on the Twins and manufactured runs: 1) your comment "2017 Twins were among the worst; and later, 2) The Twins last season mfd 164 runs, only three teams had more..."

    Which is it?

  2. The second. When I wrote the first, I was looking at the wrong chart.