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March 4, 2005

Aim For The Head

Three True Outcomes, 2004

by Keith Woolner

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Long-time readers will recognize the phrase "Three True Outcomes" (or TTO) as referring to those plate appearances that end without a fielder touching the ball--the home run, the walk, and the strikeout. Baseball Prospectus has continued a tongue-in-cheek tradition of honoring players who excel in producing True Outcomes, a tradition that began in the Usenet newsgroup rec.sport.baseball more than a decade ago.

The Three True Outcomes are, at their core, a celebration of hitters, epitomized by the patron saint of the TTO, and the prototype for early BP book covers, Rob Deer. Last year, we introduced a more formal method for balancing the contribution from each True Outcome to a hitter's overall rating. To summarize that method, we compute each hitter's HR/PA, BB/PA, and SO/PA and divide it by the MLB average to normalize the rate. We then look at the lowest value for each hitter (i.e. determining which category he performed worst in compared to league average), and use that value as the hitter's overall score. This ensures that those who rise to the top of the rankings truly embrace and produce all three True Outcomes in abundance.

So who tops the 2004 list? Let's go straight to the table:

TTO - Three True Outcomes (total)
TTO% - Percentage of plate appearances ending with a True Outcome
NHR - Home run rate, normalized to league average (1.00 = average)
NBB - Walk rate, normalized to league average (1.00 = average)
NSO - Strikeout rate, normalized to league average (1.00 = average)
NAVG - Average of NHR, NBB, and NSO
NLST - Least of NHR, NBB, NSO (value in their worst category)
RK - Rank among all players (300+ PA) in the preceding category

NAME             PA HR  BB  SO TTO  TTO% RK  NHR  NBB  NSO NAVG RK NLST  RK
Adam Dunn       681 46 108 195 349 51.2%  2 2.34 1.84 1.70 1.96  2 1.70   1
Jim Edmonds     612 42 101 150 293 47.9%  3 2.37 1.92 1.45 1.91  3 1.45   2
Carlos Pena     562 27  70 146 243 43.2%  8 1.66 1.45 1.54 1.55 16 1.45   3
Pat Burrell     534 24  78 130 232 43.4%  7 1.55 1.70 1.44 1.56 13 1.44   4
Jim Thome       618 42 104 144 290 46.9%  4 2.35 1.96 1.38 1.90  4 1.38   5
David Dellucci  387 17  47  88 152 39.3% 19 1.52 1.41 1.35 1.43 34 1.35   6
Brad Wilkerson  688 32 106 152 290 42.2% 11 1.61 1.79 1.31 1.57 11 1.31   7
Andruw Jones    646 29  71 147 247 38.2% 27 1.55 1.28 1.35 1.39 41 1.28   8
Hee Seop Choi   416 15  63  96 174 41.8% 13 1.25 1.76 1.37 1.46 28 1.25   9
Charles Johnson 362 13  49  91 153 42.3% 10 1.24 1.57 1.49 1.43 31 1.24  10
Carlos Delgado  551 32  69 115 216 39.2% 20 2.01 1.46 1.24 1.57 12 1.24  11
Hank Blalock    713 32  75 149 256 35.9% 44 1.55 1.22 1.24 1.34 49 1.22  12
Sammy Sosa      539 35  56 133 224 41.6% 14 2.25 1.21 1.46 1.64  7 1.21  13
Gary Matthews   317 11  33  64 108 34.1% 60 1.20 1.21 1.20 1.20 72 1.20  14
Cliff Floyd     457 18  47 103 168 36.8% 37 1.36 1.20 1.34 1.30 53 1.20  15
Casey Blake     668 28  68 139 235 35.2% 53 1.45 1.18 1.23 1.29 55 1.18  16
Mike Cameron    562 30  57 143 230 40.9% 17 1.85 1.18 1.51 1.51 21 1.18  17
David Ortiz     669 41  75 133 249 37.2% 35 2.12 1.30 1.18 1.53 17 1.18  18
Corey Koskie    488 25  49 103 177 36.3% 40 1.77 1.17 1.25 1.40 40 1.17  19
Jason Varitek   536 18  62 126 206 38.4% 25 1.16 1.34 1.39 1.30 52 1.16  20
There is one conspicuous omission from the table above. The overall MLB leader in TTO% and average normalized score (NAVG) does not appear. How can this be?
NAME             PA HR  BB  SO TTO  TTO% RK  NHR  NBB  NSO NAVG RK NLST  RK
Barry Bonds     617 45 232  41 318 51.5%  1 2.52 4.37 0.39 2.43  1 0.39 238
The mystery is easily solved. Barry Bonds had the highest normalized home run rate and an absurdly high walk rate, but his stubborn refusal to strike out more often costs him under the "best worst-category" criteria. He embraces but two of the the True Outcomes, and despite his unparalleled production of those two, he can't aspire to the tripartite perfection that those-who-would-be-Deer must.

With that issue set aside, we can see that 2003's co-winners Adam Dunn and Jim Thome continue to be True to form, both ranking in the top 5. Jim Edmonds, who ranked 3rd last year, moves up to 2nd, thanks to a slight decline in Thome's strikeout rate. Pat Burrell also returns to the top 10. Newcomers to the top 10 include Carlos Pena (an impressive 3rd-place finish), David Dellucci, Brad Wilkerson, Andruw Jones, Hee Seop Choi, and Charles Johnson.

As to crowning the 2004 TTO champion, it comes down to Adam Dunn and Jim Edmonds, who occupy the top two spots on our chart. Unlike last year, where Thome and Dunn were #1/#2 and virtually indistinguishable in TTO production, Dunn has a significant edge on Jim Edmonds in strikeout rate, while being very close in home run rate and walk rate. So instead of co-champions, Baseball Prospectus is proud to award Adam Dunn sole possession of the Three True Outcome title of 2004.

In addition to the overall award, for the first time, we're honoring the individual team leaders in Three True Outcome production as well. Those who best set the TTO example for their teammates in 2004 are:

TEAM  PA HR  BB  SO TTO  TTO%  NHR   NBB   NSO   NAVG  NLST  NAME
ANA  337  7  46  54 107  31.8% 0.72  1.59  0.95  1.08  0.72  Jeff DaVanon
ARI  451 17  68  58 143  31.7% 1.30  1.75  0.76  1.27  0.76  Luis Gonzalez
ATL  646 29  71 147 247  38.2% 1.55  1.28  1.35  1.39  1.28  Andruw Jones
BAL  531 15  45 113 173  32.6% 0.98  0.98  1.26  1.07  0.98  Larry Bigbie
BOS  669 41  75 133 249  37.2% 2.12  1.30  1.18  1.53  1.18  David Ortiz
CHA  311 18  64  57 139  44.7% 2.00  2.39  1.09  1.83  1.09  Frank Thomas
CHN  539 35  56 133 224  41.6% 2.25  1.21  1.46  1.64  1.21  Sammy Sosa
CIN  681 46 108 195 349  51.2% 2.34  1.84  1.70  1.96  1.70  Adam Dunn
CLE  668 28  68 139 235  35.2% 1.45  1.18  1.23  1.29  1.18  Casey Blake
COL  362 13  49  91 153  42.3% 1.24  1.57  1.49  1.43  1.24  Charles Johnson
DET  562 27  70 146 243  43.2% 1.66  1.45  1.54  1.55  1.45  Carlos Pena
FLO  340 15  52  78 145  42.6% 1.53  1.78  1.36  1.55  1.36  Hee Seop Choi
HOU  312 14  31  63 108  34.6% 1.55  1.15  1.20  1.30  1.15  Mike Lamb
KCA  496 18  49  92 159  32.1% 1.26  1.15  1.10  1.17  1.10  Matt Stairs
LAN  597 19  71 123 213  35.7% 1.10  1.38  1.22  1.23  1.10  Milton Bradley
MIL  437 19  37 100 156  35.7% 1.50  0.98  1.36  1.28  0.98  Keith Ginter
MIN  488 25  49 103 177  36.3% 1.77  1.17  1.25  1.40  1.17  Corey Koskie
MON  688 32 106 152 290  42.2% 1.61  1.79  1.31  1.57  1.31  Brad Wilkerson
NYA  322 12  47  62 121  37.6% 1.29  1.70  1.14  1.38  1.14  Jason Giambi
NYN  457 18  47 103 168  36.8% 1.36  1.20  1.34  1.30  1.20  Cliff Floyd
OAK  623 22  58 141 221  35.5% 1.22  1.08  1.34  1.21  1.08  Bobby Crosby
PHI  534 24  78 130 232  43.4% 1.55  1.70  1.44  1.56  1.44  Pat Burrell
PIT  555 17  50 114 181  32.6% 1.06  1.05  1.22  1.11  1.05  Rob Mackowiak
SDN  623 26  66 121 213  34.2% 1.44  1.23  1.15  1.28  1.15  Phil Nevin
SEA  658 24  56 135 215  32.7% 1.26  0.99  1.22  1.16  0.99  Bret Boone
SFN  417 12  58  61 131  31.4% 1.00  1.62  0.87  1.16  0.87  J.T. Snow
SLN  612 42 101 150 293  47.9% 2.37  1.92  1.45  1.91  1.45  Jim Edmonds
TBA  636 21  76 117 214  33.6% 1.14  1.39  1.09  1.21  1.09  Jose Cruz Jr.
TEX  387 17  47  88 152  39.3% 1.52  1.41  1.35  1.43  1.35  David Dellucci
TOR  551 32  69 115 216  39.2% 2.01  1.46  1.24  1.57  1.24  Carlos Delgado

Keith Woolner is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Keith's other articles. You can contact Keith by clicking here

Related Content:  Jim Edmonds,  Tto,  Three True Outcomes

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