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Total average

Total average is a baseball statistic devised by sportswriter Thomas Boswell and introduced in the 1978.[1] It was also described in his 1982 article "Welcome to the world of Total Average where a walk is as good as a hit". It is designed to measure a hitter's overall offensive contributions, on the basis that "all bases are created equal".[2] The statistic was included in issues of Inside Sports.[1]

The definition of the statistic is simple. A player gets a credit for every base accumulated and a penalty for every out made. So a player gets one credit for a single, walk, stolen base or being hit by a pitch; two for a double; three for a triple; and four for a home run. A player's total average is calculated by summing the accumulated bases and dividing by the number of outs the player makes.

Formula

When initially announced in an article in Inside Sports, the formula for total average was:[3]

${\displaystyle TA={\frac {TB+HBP+BB+SB}{AB+HBP+BB+SB+CS}}}$

Boswell revised the formula, which by 1981 had been modified to its final form:[1][3]

${\displaystyle TA={\frac {TB+HBP+BB+SB}{AB-H+CS+GIDP}}}$

where

• TA = Total average
• TB = Total bases
• HBP = Hit by pitch
• BB = Walks
• SB = Stolen base
• CS = Caught stealing
• AB = At bats
• H = Hits
• GIDP = Grounded into double play

Like OPS, total average gives credit to players who draw a lot of walks and hit with a lot of power, such as Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, Ted Williams and Frank Thomas.

Reception

Bill James was critical of total average, stating the "all bases are created unequal".[2] For example, a walk and a single both advance the batter to first base, but a walk can advance baserunners only one base (or none, if there is no baserunner on first base), whereas a single can advance all baserunners.[2] That is, "a single has more value".[2] Likewise, a stolen base is treated the same as a hit, but does not add a baserunner or advance other baserunners as a hit does.[1]

References

1. ^ a b c d Grochowski, John (24 June 2016). "Flawed 'Total Average' a work of progress in 1978". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 21 October 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
2. ^ a b c d Goldleaf, Steven (25 June 2016). "Mythifying Tom: Tom Boswell and the Creation of Myth". Retrieved 21 October 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
3. ^ a b Heipp, Brandon (22 April 2008). "Bases and outs ad nauseum". The Hardball Times. Retrieved 21 October 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)