Bobby Bragan is a name not very many baseball fans remember today. He had a not very memorable major league career from 1940 to 1948 for the Phillies and Dodgers. He had a .240 lifetime batting average and a .282 on-base percentage (back when nobody paid attention to OBP). He went on to become a major league manager for the Pirates, Indians, and Braves. He enjoyed modest success with the Milwaukee Braves from 1963 to 1965 and was the Braves manager when they moved to Atlanta in 1966, where he was fired mid-season. However, Bobby Bragan’s most memorable feat was a quote he made about baseball statistics when he said, “Say you were standing with one foot in the oven and one foot in an ice bucket. According to the percentage of people, you should be perfectly comfortable.”

Well, don’t look now, but those “percentage people” are running baseball. Every team has an analytics department. Every manager is at their mercy when they make the lineup. The number of statistics in baseball has not only rapidly multiplied over the past few years. Still, it has relied upon more than ever by front office personnel, on-field managers, players, and fantasy baseball managers alike. It used to be that one only had to pay attention to the “Triple Crown” statistics for both hitters (Home Runs, RBIs, and Batting Average) and pitchers (Wins, Strikeouts, and Earned Run Average). Occasionally, one might’ve taken a look at Stolen Bases, Runs Scored, Hits, Complete Games, and Shutouts. But then gradually, some newfangled statistics started to enter the common lexicon of baseball observers. It became important how often a hitter got on base, hit or not. A hitter’s On Base Percentage became paramount, along with his OPS, which combined On Base Percentage with Slugging Percentage to reveal a hitter’s overall skill and impact. A pitcher’s wins became obsolete. That’s right, whether or not a pitcher won a game didn’t matter anymore. Quality starts became all the rage, and complete games became extinct. A favorite pastime of mine is to talk to any baseball fan under 30 years old and watch his eyes grow wide with amazement when I tell him Catfish Hunter had 30 complete games in 1975. Baseball also turned their statistical hungry attention to those poor souls who lived between the starting pitcher and the closer. They had no statistic they could call their own. No problem. Holds were invented.

But now it’s gotten completely out of control. Baseball entered the wonderful world of acronyms. BABIP, FIP, WHIP, SIERA, and ISO were born. Bobby Bragan’s “percentage people” exercised their might and came up with Hard Hit %, Barrel %, BB%, K%, Line Drive %, Ground Ball %, and Fly Ball %. Then they confused a hitter on a baseball field with a fighter pilot on an aircraft carrier when they came up with launch angle and exit velocity. Of course, who can forget when we first heard of all those statistics with the funny little lower case letter at the beginning of the name. Suddenly we needed to understand wSB, wRC, wOBA, wRC+, xFIP, and xFIP- to draft a halfway decent fantasy team. So who needs another baseball statistic?

#### We do!

I am introducing a new statistic. It’s called Total Bases Accounted For (TBAF). It doesn’t place any emphasis on one particular facet of a hitter’s worth. It doesn’t just focus on power like ISO and Slugging Percentage or focus on how often a hitter gets on base like OBP and BB%. It evaluates how often and how efficiently a hitter contributes to the very object of the baseball game—to advance as far as possible on the bases from home plate and advance the runners that are already on base as far as possible. Furthermore, it penalizes hitters who do not advance the runners on base in front of them.

Simply put, TBAF gives the hitter a point for every base he accounts for. If there’s no one on base and the hitter gets a single, walk, or HBP, he gets one point. Obviously, if the hitter gets a double, triple, or home run, he gets 2, 3, or 4 points. But the hitter also gets a point for every base any runner ahead of him advances. So if the hitter gets a single with a man on first and the runner makes it to third, the hitter gets 3 points. If the hitter gets a double with a man on first and the runner scores, the hitter gets 5 points. The maximum number of points a hitter can get in one plate appearance is 10. That would be a grand slam home run. If the hitter gets on base or advances the runner by way of an error, there are no points awarded. But remember, a hitter would also get points for making an out. If there’s a man on first and the hitter’s ground out advances the runner to second, the hitter gets a point. If there’s a man on third and the hitter hits a sacrifice fly to score him, the hitter gets a point. If there are men on first and second and the hitter’s ground out advanced them to second and third, the hitter gets two points.

So TBAF rewards hitters for advancing men on base even if they make an out. Before TBAF, such a hitter would merely get a high five in the dugout for doing his job and advancing the runner. But now, with TBAF, he gets a point for every runner he advances! Now it’s true that the runners aren’t getting any credit here. There are no points for stolen bases, and there are no points for runners taking an extra base. But TBAF is a measure of a hitter. And besides, how many extra bases a runner takes usually depends on how far and where the batter hits the ball. If the runner on first advances to second on a ground out, it’s probably because the batter hit the ball to the right side of the infield. If the runner on first scores on a double, he probably took that extra base because the batter hit the ball far enough to an open spot in the outfield.

However, the hitter is deducted points if he does not advance any runners on base ahead of him. If a man on third and the hitter strikes out, the hitter is deducted one point because he failed to score that runner. If there are men on first and second and the hitter strikes out, he is deducted 2 points because he failed to advance either runner. So TBAF penalizes a hitter who strikes out with men on base. A strikeout is not like any other out when there are men on base to advance. If there’s a man on first and the hitter flies out or grounds out for a fielder’s choice, the hitter is deducted a point because there’s still only a man on first after his plate appearance. If there’s a man on first and the hitter grounds into a double play, the hitter is deducted two points because he not only failed to advance the runner on first but he also accounted for an extra out (over and above just the one out he would have accounted for if it wasn’t a double play).

So far, I’ve described a cumulative statistic. The hitter accumulates points for every base he accounts for. But not to slight the “percentage people,” there’s also TBAF/G–the average number of bases he accounts for per game–and TBAF/PA–the average number of bases he accounts for per plate appearance. Let’s say a hitter goes 2 for 5 with an RBI double with a man on first and a single with a man on first, advancing him to second. His three outs were ground out with men on first and second, which advanced both runners, a strikeout with a man on first, and a flyout with no one on base. His total TBAF for that game was 8:

- 5 for the RBI double with a man on first
- 2 for the single with a man on first advancing him to second
- 2 for advancing two runners on base with a ground out
- -1 for striking out with a man on first
- 0 for the flyout with no one on base

Obviously, his TBAF/G after this one game is 8.0, and his TBAF/PA is 1.6 (8 divided by 5). If you play around with some numbers, you’ll find if a hitter gets at least a 1.0 TBAF per plate appearance–in other words, a hitter who accounts for at least one base every time he steps to the plate–then he’s had a good game or season.

But wait. I’m also introducing a second new baseball statistic. It’s called Expected Bases Accounted For (EBAF). This statistic will evaluate how close a hitter comes to perfection. To calculate a hitter’s EBAF, you first establish the maximum number of bases the hitter can account for when he enters a particular plate appearance. For instance, if the hitter enters a plate appearance with a man on first, the maximum number of bases the hitter can account for is 5 (a 2-run HR). If there’s no one on base, the maximum would be a 4 (a solo home run). The absolute maximum number of bases a hitter can account for in one plate appearance is 10 (a grand slam home run). Once you have ascertained the maximum number of bases the hitter can account for, you divide the actual number of bases the hitter accounts for into that figure:

Number of bases accounted for

Divided By

Maximum number of bases that can be accounted for

Equals EBAF

Now you have a figure representing how close the hitter came to achieving the absolute best he could have done in any one particular plate appearance. If there are men on first and second and the batter hits an RBI single, moving the man on first to third, the batter gets a TBAF of 5. The maximum number of bases he could have accounted for in that plate appearance was 9 (a 3-run home run). Therefore, his EBAF was 0.55 (5 divided by 9). In other words, the batter came within 55% of achieving the best he possibly could have expected to do (hence, Expected Bases Accounted For). If there’s a man on second and the batter hits a ground out to advance the runner to third, his EBAF was 0.167 or 17% (1 divided by 6). If the bases are loaded, and the batter hits a 3-run triple, his EBAF was 0.9 or 90% (9 divided by 10). How close a hitter comes to achieving the best possible result seems to be a good measuring stick of the hitter’s value.

That’s EBAF for one particular plate appearance. You can also measure a hitter’s EBAF for an entire game. Going back to that earlier example where a hitter’s TBAF was 8:

- 5 for the RBI double with a man on first
- 2 for the single with a man on first advancing him to second
- 2 for advancing two runners on base with a ground out
- -1 for striking out with a man on first
- 0 for the flyout with no one on base

His EBAF for each one of those plate appearances was:

- 71% (5 divided by 7) for the RBI double with a man on first
- 28% (2 divided by 7) for the single with a man on first advancing him to second
- 22% (2 divided by 9) for advancing two runners on base with a ground out
- -14% (-1 divided by 7) for striking out with a man on first
- 0% (0 divided by 4) for the flyout with no one on base

So his total EBAF for that game was 23.5% (8 divided by 34). The hitter accounted for 8 total bases but could have accounted for a maximum of 34 bases (if he had hit a home run in every plate appearance). So for that game, the hitter came within 23.5% of achieving the absolute maximum he could have. Of course, as with TBAF, you can also have an EBAF percentage for an entire season.

What does all this mean for your fantasy baseball team? Of course, there is no existing data out there with which to calculate TBAF and EBAF. In fact, you actually have to watch each game a hitter plays to see who’s on base when he enters each plate appearance. You can’t just use a hitter’s batting average with men on base or with men in scoring position. You need to know exactly where the men on base are and what happened to them after the batter hits. If a team were to start calculating TBAF and EBAF for their players, someone on the team would have to watch every game so the on-base scenarios can be included in the calculations. But what you can do is start following multiple hitters and calculating their TBAF and EBAF values to decide who to acquire as free agents. I think you’ll find that any hitter whose TBAF/PA is at least 1.0 and his EBAF is at least 20% for a game, you’ll want to pick him up.

Feel free to reach out to me via Twitter @BrianDaring1.