Ok, so I am started to really getting into thinking about what is the best statistical measure of offensive ability.
I realize I had a very mistaken impression of slugging. I thought walks were included, and that slugging measured the average number of bases traveled by the batter with each plate appearance. That, of course, is not slugging at all. Slugging is the average bases traveled with each AB, only taking into account hits.
Which then brought me to why I was thinking wrongly about slugging: it seems like a better measure of offensive ability would be to measure (TB + BB)/(AB + BB) . If I am thinking correctly, this stat would give you the average number of bases a batter travels with each plate appearance on a scale of 0 to 4. Not sure if it already exists with another name, but for the sake of this post, I will call it a batter's "milage."
The challenge to this all seems to me how much to value getting on base and how much to value traveling more bases on average with each plate appearance. For example, a player that hits a home run every ten PA but gets out the other 9 would have a score of .4 on the "milage" scale. Another player, who gets 3 singles and a walk every ten PA, also has a .4 score on the same scale. Which player is better? According to OPS the first player scores .500 (.100 obp + .400 slg) and the second .733 (.400 obp + .333 slg).
Part of me thinks that what matters most is averaging more bases per plate appearance, partly because we know for a fact that the first player scored a run where the second player may or may not have. On the other hand, we know for a fact that the first player only scored one run, where the second player may have scored up to four. Similarly, we know that the first player drove in one run for sure, while the second player may not have driven in anyone. The second player, however, could have driven in up to 7 runners though (3 hits with runners on second and third, and a walk with the bases loaded).
I am actually learning a lot as I write and think about this now, and am starting to see the complexity of measuring individual stats in a team game. This was Bill James' struggle too right with the RC formula?
Speaking of James and RC, I was looking at definitions of Runs Created and not quite understanding why basic RC, (H + BB)TB/(AB +BB), is calculated the way it is, and not the way that I did "milage" above. Can someone explain that or point me towards a good simple explanation of the RC stat?
This is me diving head first into this world so please excuse the obvious ignorances to the history of a lot of these things. I probably should just read that book, what's it called? Money Ball?
I also make no claims at doing math well. I studied peace in college.