Which Players Are the Most Out-Prone in Baseball?
As a baseball hitter, there's one thing that you want to avoid doing at all costs when you step into the batter's box.
You want to avoid making outs.
As I mentioned in my Joey Votto piece last week, you only get 27 outs a game with which to score as many runs as possible. Every time a batter (or a base-runner) makes an out, it shortens the game, leaving you less opportunities to score more runs.
So, batters want to avoid making outs. Of course, this is easier said than done, as Major League pitchers do a pretty good job of forcing batters to make outs against their will. You see, they are throwing the hard ball very fast and making it very curvy or slider-y or change-up-y, so as to miss the hitters' bats altogether.
Below is a list of the batters who made the most total outs in baseball last season, with a minimum of 400 plate appearances (numbers courtesy of Baseball Reference).
Outs made include any at-bat that did not result in a hit, walk or hit-by-pitch, including sacrifice bunts, sacrifice flies, double plays (which count as two outs made), and outs made on the basepaths (including caught stealing).
Detroit's Ian Kinsler made more outs than anyone in baseball last season at 528. Of course, he also led baseball in plate appearances with 726, so it's understandable that he would be atop this leaderboard. In fact, there are some quality players at the top of this list, including Los Angeles' Albert Pujols, San Francisco's Hunter Pence, Tampa's Evan Longoria, Baltimore's Adam Jones and Minnesota's Brian Dozier.
Of course, total outs isn't the best way to determine who has been the least productive with their plate appearances. So, I created another list which looks at outs made per plate appearance, or, Out% (minimum 400 plate appearances).
As you can see, Houston's Matt Dominguez, Baltimore's Jonathan Schoop and Seattle' Mike Zunino had the highest percentage of outs per at bat, with all three making an out in 78% of their plate appearances. Of course, everyone on this list made an out at least three-quarters of the time, with the common theme of low batting averages and low on-base percentages ever-present.
But how about the other side of the coin? Who made the fewest outs in 2014?
Boston's Daniel Nava made fewer outs than anyone in baseball last season, just 274. Sam Fuld made the second-fewest, however once again, the more accurate barometer would be Out%, which factors in the number of plate appearances these players had.
Interestingly, Sam Fuld was far and away the best at avoiding making outs last year, even though he only hit .239 with a .321 on-base percentage. Sometimes numbers are strange. But MVP candidates litter this list, which seems to indicate that the batters who avoided making outs the best on a per-plate appearance basis were the most productive in the league.
As for looking ahead to 2015, the best way to use this stat as a predictive measure is to take a longer view, say five years, and see who has been the worst at making outs over a longer stretch.
Hey! What do you know! Cincinnati's Joey Votto is at the top of this list! Hmmmmmmm.
The bottom line is the most successful players make the fewest number of outs per plate appearance. As for the other guys, chances are you're not drafting them for your fantasy teams this year.