What Do Allen Craig's Peripheral Stats Tell Us About the St. Louis Cardinals' RBI Machine?

Dilip Vishwanat

Allen Craig is having an incredible season when batting with runners in scoring position. What do the slugger's batting peripherals tell us about his production?

On Sunday afternoon, Allen Craig dug into the batter's box at Busch Stadium with the Cardinals trailing the Padres 1-0 and runners at first and second base. Craig laced a frozen rope into center field that plated leadoff man extraordinaire Matt Carpenter. Craig's 77th RBI of the season made it a 1-1 ballgame as Dan McLaughlin declared that Craig "is the RBI machine."

"RBI machine" is a fitting title for Craig, even if the Cardinals lineup itself is the run-scoring machine with Matt Carpenter firing the device's ignition. Craig is there on the assembly line, dutifully whacking baseballs to the outfield grass so that another runner earns the label "Batted In" in the scorebook. Craig has been remarkably proficient this season at his spot in the Redbirds' offensive apparatus.

Today, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how Craig has put up such gaudy offensive stats with men on base so far this season.

ALLEN CRAIG 2013 SITUATIONAL BATTING SPLITS

Split

PA

BABIP

BA

OBP

SLG

ISO

OPS

wOBA

wRC+

Bases Empty

209

.315

.272

.321

.431

.159

.751

.329

111

Men On

181

.449

.407

.442

.562

.154

1.004

.430

181

RISP

93

.506

.484

.495

.677

.194

1.173

.493

225

*All stats are through play on Saturday, July 20, 2013

Looking at Craig's line, it is easy to zero in on his Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP). The league-average BABIP is typically around .300. This year, the MLB average BABIP was .296 entering play on Sunday. With runners on-base, it's a bit higher at .301. The MLB average BABIP with RISP is .297. The shorthand of a BABIP being over .300 as "lucky" has become a lazy person's shorthand for explaining away a player's production. It ignores the reality that there is skill involves in a player's BABIP. In order to get a better idea of whether a batter's line is more reflective of skill or good fortune, it is helpful to evaluate his peripherals.

ALLEN CRAIG 2013 SITUATIONAL PERIPHERAL BATTING STATS

Split

PA

BB%

K%

BABIP

LD%

GB%

FB%

IFFB%

HR/FB

IFH%

Bases Empty

209

5.3%

19.1%

.315

25.8%

41.3%

32.9%

2.0%

11.8%

4.7%

Men On

181

5.5%

13.8%

.449

27.5%

45.8%

26.8%

5.3%

10.5%

4.6%

RISP

93

3.8%

11.4%

.506

32.6%

43.0%

24.4%

0.0%

14.3%

5.4%

*All stats are through play on Saturday, July 20, 2013

Craig's peripherals are pretty amazing. Craig cuts his strikeout rate (K%) from 19.1% with the bases empty to just 11.4% with RISP. MLB batters have struck out in 19.7% of their PAs in 2013. Buster Posey has struck out in 11.5% of his 2013 PAs, which the 22nd lowest in MLB this season. Essentially, Craig goes from striking out at an average rate with the bases empty to striking out at the same rate as the 2012 National League MVP with RISP.

When evaluating a player's BABIP, I always start at line drive rate (LD%). The rule of thumb for batted baseballs is that, the harder they are struck, the more likely they are to land for a hit. MLB players have the highest BABIP on line drives (.692), second highest on grounders (.231), and the lowest on fly balls (.223). So a player with an above-average LD% has earned a higher BABIP.

The league-average LD% is typically around 20% and 2013 is no different with MLB players hitting liners 20.9% of the time. The MLB average for GB% is 44.6% and FB% is 34.5%. IFFB% is the share of infield pop-ups a batter has hit; the 2013 league average is 9.5%. Lastly, the MLB's HR/FB rate is 10.8% this season.

Craig's peripherals are those of a skilled hitter. His LD% is above-average and his IFFB% is well below average. What's astounding about his 2013 season to date is that his LD% skyrockets with RISP and IFFB% falls off to nothing. Craig has not hit an infield pop-up with RISP this season. Craig's RISP LD% and IFFB% have been like Joey Votto's but with more line drives. That's incredible.

What should Craig's BABIP be, given his peripherals?

Jeff Zimmerman developed a Quick Calculator for Expected BABIP (xBABIP) that is available in a post at Fangraphs. Essentially, the spreadsheet takes into account a player's batted-ball profile and calculates what his BABIP should be; that is, his xBABIP. Despite Craig's impressive peripheral stats, he has still been quite lucky with men on base generally and RISP in particular.

ALLEN CRAIG SITUATIONAL xBABIP

Split

BABIP

xBABIP

dBABIP

Bases Empty

.315

.357

+.042

Men On

.449

.361

-.088

RISP

.506

.396

-.110

It is unlikely that Craig will continue hitting at a .484/.495.877 clip with RISP. Of course it is. We all knew that already. Such a pace would be unsustainable even without factoring in BABIP luck evening out some. Even though Craig almost assuredly won't finish the season with the otherworldly batting line he currently has with RISP, it doesn't mean that his batting in such situations to date should not be celebrated. Craig's performance has been a lot of fun to watch.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Viva El Birdos

You must be a member of Viva El Birdos to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Viva El Birdos. You should read them.

Join Viva El Birdos

You must be a member of Viva El Birdos to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Viva El Birdos. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker