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The goal of professional baseball is quite simple: to win a game, your team must score more runs than your opponents given the constraints of your teams plate appearances. A team gets three outs per inning and nine innings of play to score the most runs. A plate appearance can have multiple outcomes including a player getting an out thus sacrificing one of the teams three outs for that inning. Otherwise in those plate appearances, a player can take a walk, or hit a single, double, triple, or home run. All of these, except a home run, allows for a player (or players) hitting after to hit the ball in such a way that the player on base scores. If such a thing happens, the team is awarded a run. In addition to this, the scoring player is awarded a run, while the player who hit the ball on the play that the scoring player scores that run is awarded additional runs batted in, or RBI, based on how many players scored when they hit the ball. When a player hits a home run, they are awarded an RBI for each of the players on base when they hit the ball as well as earning a run for themselves scoring, and on top of that, they also get an additional RBI for hitting the ball to make themselves score. Historically, players’ run totals and RBI have been tracked as far back as the 1800’s to provide estimates for how effective a player was at helping their team score. When comparing players, runs scored have historically been an indicator of quality base-running skills and an ability to get on base for another batter to “drive them in”, meaning that they hit the ball such that the player on base score. Players with high RBI totals were thought of as the best hitters in the game, as being able to hit doubles and home runs were what typically boosted a player’s RBI total, and these are types of hits that usually require a player to hit the ball far into the outfield or over the fence. A player’s RBI total has historically meant a lot in player analysis for baseball, however, there are some clear flaws in it.
Boes, Tyler, "Beta Analysis for MLB Run Generation Models" (2021). Honors Theses. 3440.
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