Anyone who has read my articles for any length of time knows I am not a strong advocate of Sabermetrics.
I have argued tooth and nail with the young bucks in the baseball community about it.
I am a big fan of Jonny Gomes, so when I saw that he is third in the National League in Secondary Average, at .444 I decided to give it a look.
Even though Gomes trails only Lance Berkman and teammate Joey Votto in this category, he is currently batting only .193.
That is below the Mendoza line. The two numbers blend about as well as oil and water.
Understanding that everybody is not a Sabermetrician, let me explain the difference in the formulas.
Of course, the batting average is obtained by dividing the number of hits by the number of times at bat (not plate appearances). For example 200 hits in 600 at bats = a .333 average.
The secondary average, another concoction of Bill James, takes more than just base hits into account.
The formula looks like this: TB - H + BB + SB - CS / AB
Notice that the SecA rewards a batter for extra base hits. Total Bases are computed with a double counting as two bases, a triple three bases and a home run is four bases. Walks and stolen bases are also included in the formula.
Gomes’ batting average is 40 points below the next lowest on the list, Wright, yet his SecA is 57 points higher. Go figure!
Of the Top 10, five are batting above .300 and five are below it.
Why so much discrepancy? A hitter who slaps singles and does not steal bases or draw walks will find himself way down on this list.
On the other hand, a man like Gomes who hits home runs and doubles, draws a lot of walks (he is third in the league), steals a few bases and doesn’t have as many AB (because of the walks, HBP and SF), comes across like the third best in the league.
Andre Either who is hitting .366 is only 59th in the league in SecA at .248.
Cubs’ outfielder Marlon Byrd is a rare breed. He is batting .306 but has a SecA of only .116, which places him in the 94th position. This is due to the fact that of his 45 hits only seven have been for extra bases. He has only drawn five walks and stole one base and was caught stealing the other.
So, if you are a manager, which guy do you want? Do you want Gomes who can hit with power, draw walks and steal a few bases? Or would you rather have Byrd who is a pure singles hitter?
I don’t know how important a stat like this is, but I at least know how it works and what exactly it measures for each player.