Is there a correlation between a higher OBP and scoring runs?

Does a high OBP lead to teams scoring more runs? Let’s find out.

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The 2011 movie Moneyball is based upon the best-selling book by the same name; but the movie shows Athletic general manager Billy Beane look for guys that get on base because it will help the offense score more. For many fans, the idea that run scoring was linked to getting on base was surprising…especially after the power display that was the 1990s and early 2000s. But it isn’t exactly a new idea to baseball, and I want to see if there is a correlation between getting on base and scoring more runs.

To do this, we will take a look at the top five teams that get on base — based off of on base percentage — and then we will take a look at the runs per game those teams are scoring and how that ranks in MLB. This way we can get a good look at how these teams fair at converting runners into runs.

Rank Team OBP R/G (Rank in MLB)
1) Los Angeles Dodgers .335 4.47 (6th)
2) Toronto Blue Jays .335 5.32 (1st)
3) Detroit Tigers .334 4.12 (17th)
4) San Francisco Giants .332 4.12 (16th)
5) Cleveland Indians .330 4.32 (10th)

Stats are through June 8th

The surprising part about this list is how few runs per game the majority of to OBP teams have scored through the first third of the 2015 season. That being said, three of the top five OBP teams are in the top third of baseball in runs scored per game, and all of the teams are ranked higher than 20th in runs scored per game.

What’s surprising is the fact that San Francisco is so low while scoring 4.12 runs per game while walking in 7.3% of their at bats. The Giants are a team that are really good at getting on base, and it was off-putting to see that they aren’t efficient at scoring runs. It will be interesting to see if the Giants become more efficient at scoring runs throughout the season.

So getting on base a bunch doesn’t necessarily lead to scoring more runs. Does that mean teams that can’t really get on base will also struggle with scoring a bunch of runs?

Rank Team OBP R/G (Rank in MLB)
26) Los Angeles Angels .299 3.95 (22nd)
27) Seattle Mariners .297 3.44 (29th)
28) Chicago White Sox .294 3.62 (28th)
29) Philadelphia Phillies .288 3.22 (30th)
30) Milwaukee Brewers .286 3.69 (26th)

Stats are through June 8th

There really are no surprises in this list as all of the teams that struggle to get on base are in the bottom third of baseball in runs scored per game. None of these teams score more than four runs a game, and all have OBP’s below .300 so far during the 2015 season.

All of these numbers mean that teams that get on base are going to have runners to knock in, but it means that they are going to have to have some talented bats to knock in the guys who get on base. Otherwise they’re going to strand the runners that they get on, which is incredibly frustrating for fans to watch and players/coaches to deal with.

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