Earlier this month I wrote about how important it was for Phillies pitchers not to walk a batter with the bases empty. Phillies hitters also drive in a lot more runs in their chances to hit with runners on base than in their chances with the bases empty. If you had asked me who the Phillies hitters whose rate of driving in runs increased the most last year when they come to the plate with a runner on first instead of with the bases empty, I would have said that it’s the home run hitters because when they hit a home run with a man on first it drives in twice as many runs as when they hit a home run with the bases empty.

I would have been wrong, of course. In terms of their RBI per plate appearance it’s the guys who hit very few home runs with the bases empty who saw their rate of RBI per plate appearances rise the most when hitting with a man on first base.

Here’s the rate of RBI per plate appearance with the bases empty for the eight Phillies regulars for 2009 as well as the rates for Ben Francisco and Greg Dobbs:


Bases Empty
Player RBI per PA
Ibanez .066
Francisco .065
Howard .060
Werth .056
Utley .054
Dobbs .042
Rollins .023
Ruiz .022
Feliz .014
Victorino .014

Since you’re going to run into a lot of problems if you try to get an RBI with the bases empty without hitting a home run, you would probably think that the list should be just about the same as the list of the number of home runs per plate appearance. And it’s pretty close, but not identical. Ibanez, Francisco, Howard, Werth and Utley are the top five in the list above. For the same ten players the leaders on the list of plate appearances per home runs (regardless of who was on base) for 2009 went Howard, Ibanez, Werth, Francisco, Utley. Among players that had more than 50 plate appearances last year, none of those guys was the leaders in home run rate. Guesses? It might take a while, but the best rate for the year was John Mayberry. Mayberry hit four home runs in 60 plate appearances or one every 15 times he came to the dish. Had he gotten Howard’s 703 plate appearances and hit home runs at that rate he would have hit about 47 (Howard hit 45). There’s a chance that might not even have happened.

Here are the rates for RBI per plate appearance with a runner on first for 2009 for the same ten players:


Man on first
Player RBI per PA
Ibanez .179
Howard .174
Ruiz .143
Utley .142
Francisco .136
Werth .117
Rollins .091
Feliz .086
Dobbs .074
Victorino .049

Everyone’s rate is up. Overall for the team the average rate for RBI per plate appearance was .036 with the bases empty and .101 with a man on first. .101 is about 2.8 times as much as .036.

The point, though, is that some rates are up a whole lot more than others. The chart below shows, for each of the ten players, the rate of RBI per plate appearance with a runner on first compared to the player’s rate of RBI per plate appearance with the bases empty.

Player RBI per PA with man on 1B/RBI per PA with
the bases empty
Ruiz 6.40
Feliz 6.03
Rollins 3.97
Victorino 3.52
Howard 2.89
Ibanez 2.72
Utley 2.63
Francisco 2.11
Werth 2.10
Dobbs 1.76

So, for example, Carlos Ruiz got about 6.4 times as many RBI per plate appearance when he was hitting with a man on first last year as when he was hitting with the bases empty. At the bottom of the list, Greg Dobbs got just 1.76 times as many. Generally speaking, it wasn’t the guys who hit a lot of home runs who saw their RBI per plate appearance jump the most with a man on first. It’s the guys whose rates of getting RBI with the bases empty were tiny. The top four guys on that list were at the bottom of the list of RBI per plate appearance with the bases empty.

The Phillies avoided arbitration with Chad Durbin. Durbin and the Phils agreed to a one-year, $2.125 million contract. Victorino, Blanton and Ruiz are the team’s three remaining arbitration-eligible players.