By Mark Simon

August 30, 2019

Which player has had the best season in baseball this year?

That’s a very tough question to answer right now. **Cody Bellinger** of the Dodgers and **Mike Trout** of the Angels are basically neck-and-neck in Sports Info Solutions' measuring stick, the Total Runs leaderboard.

Total Runs is the sum of a player’s Runs Created (using Bill James’ formula), Defensive Runs Saved, and Baserunning Runs, along with a positional adjustment. The positional adjustment rewards a player for his playing time at a tougher position (for example, it’s harder to be an average shortstop than an average first baseman). For pitchers, Pitching Runs Created are included to account for how much a pitcher has limited opponent scoring.

Trout has 122 Runs Created, one run better than Christian Yelich and six better than Bellinger. Trout’s edge over Bellinger stems from his big advantage in reaching base (.436 on-base percentage to .409). He also has a six-point edge in slugging percentage (.651 to .645).

Trout is also eight Baserunning Runs better than Bellinger. He’s credited with six to Bellinger’s negative-two. Trout ranks first in Bill James’ Baserunning Gain stat (+25), which measures how often a runner takes an extra base on hits, wild pitches, and the like, while avoiding outs on the bases.

Bellinger is hurt by below-average stolen base efficiency. He’s stolen 11-of-16 after stealing 14-of-15 a year ago. He’s also dinged for going second-to-home on a single only six times in 17 opportunities (a 35% rate -- the MLB average is about 60%). Trout has scored 12 times from second on 16 singles (75%).

Summing batting and baserunning gives Trout 128 runs and Bellinger 114 runs.

Where Bellinger makes up the ground is on defense. His 23 Defensive Runs Saved are tied for most in the majors. Bellinger has taken to right field well in his first full-time season there. He has an MLB-best 19 Runs Saved there, with a combination of outstanding catches and assists (this one and this one are among the best). He also has three Runs Saved in 26 games at first base.

Trout has saved two runs with his defense, down from eight in 2018. He’s been hindered by 15 Defensive Misplays & Errors as charted by our video scouts. That’s up from seven in 2018.

Now Bellinger has the advantage, 137 to 130, with only the positional adjustment left to be made.

Trout narrows the gap there. His adjustment is worth 20 runs. Bellinger’s is worth 15 runs.

That gives Bellinger 152 Total Runs and Trout 150 Total Runs. Wow, it’s close.

Here's the current leaderboard. If you want to keep up to date with this race, follow along at Bill James Online by clicking here.

Total Runs Leaderboard |
||

Player |
Team |
Total Runs |

Cody Bellinger | Dodgers | 152 |

Mike Trout | Angels | 150 |

Trevor Story | Rockies | 143 |

Ketel Marte | Diamondbacks | 143 |

Ronald Acuna Jr. | Braves | 138 |

Christian Yelich | Brewers | 136 |

Justin Verlander | Astros | 129 |

Marcus Semien | Athletics | 129 |

Mookie Betts | Red Sox | 129 |

Alex Bregman | Astros | 129 |

*For more baseball content, check out the Sports Info Solutions Blog or the SIS Baseball Podcast.*

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## COMMENTS (8 Comments, most recent shown first)

gmouserI’d be a little careful reading much into second to home on a single. That could easily be impacted by team preference.

1:33 AM Sep 5thMichaelPatRendon was tenth this morning. See the Total Runs leaderboard under Stats.

11:58 AM Sep 3rdpbspellyIs Anthony Rendon really not in the leaders? He's carrying the Nats these days

10:42 AM Sep 3rdMichaelPatThanks, Steve,.

I guess I see this Runs Created exercise as similar to the race for the batting title. That somebody wins the batting title (or an ERA title, or HR crown, whatever) doesn't mean they are a better hitter or player than a guy they beat by a few points (or a couple of HR). It just means they are number one for that stat, that year.

RC tries to encompass multiple data points to more fully evaluate a player, using a system developed by people far better with stats than me. And it's a system still being improved upon.

I would be surprised if RC fans insisted that Trout or Bellinger was having a more valuable season than Story or Marte. They scored higher on this measure, which suggests they might, but enough to assert with confidence they are superior? Doubt it.

Is the guy who hits .343 and wins the batting title a better hitter for average than the guy who hits .338? I doubt that anyone would say based on that data point alone than Mr. .343 was definitely superior...

8:07 PM Sep 1ststeve161MichaelPat, neither have I. But that doesn't mean it's not possible. Way back when Bill James first developed Runs Created, he applied the formula to teams and compared the results with actual runs scored. That's just one possibility. I imagine that people whose knowledge of statistics greatly exceeds mine could figure out any number of ways to quantify the uncertainty of their methods. I would find that more credible than announcing that one player is half a dozen runs better than another, or two-tenths of a Win Above Replacement.

9:48 AM Sep 1stMichaelPatSteve, how might one calculate an 'error bar' with stats like this?

I don't think I have ever seen a baseball stat given with a margin of error...

3:35 PM Aug 31ststeve161Leaving aside the obvious scaling issues (does anybody outside of SIS believe that a Runs-Created run is the same as a DRS run?), what is the margin of error? Regular readers will be tired of my saying this, but these numbers are all but meaningless without error bars. Obviously, Bellinger and Trout are in a virtual tie, but what about Story and Marte? Are these values precise enough to assert with confidence that they are inferior to Trout and Bellinger?

9:26 AM Aug 31stjoeashpIt seems to me that since you are using defensive runs saved , you should not use a position adjustment. Doesn't Defensive Runs Saved take position into account? Is this "double dipping"?

6:26 PM Aug 30th