Cubs batters' significant RBI

Some fans these days have little regard for so-called "counting statistics" -- although many of those who do still pay attention to league and team leaders in home runs.

I am puzzled by disdain for runs batted in.

On base percentage and slugging average have their uses, but the point of the game is to score runs, so a trip to plate that results in at least 1 run strikes me as worthy of praise.


Of course, not all RBI are of equal value.

A hit that drives in a run with the score 10-0 is not the same as one that ends a game.

In my opinion, 3 types of RBI are more significant than others:

1. One that cuts a team's deficit to 1 run

2. One that ties the score

3. One that puts a team ahead


How many of the Cubs' RBI this season have been significant?

Which batters have produced the most significant RBI?

To find out, I went through the play-by-play of every game and documented each RBI that met any of the 3 criteria listed above.


Note that a single time at bat could meet multiple criteria.

Nelson Velasquez's grand slam against the Mariners on April 11 came with the Cubs trailing, 7-4, so the second runner who scored reduced the deficit to 1 run, the third who scored tied the game and when Velazquez touched the plate, the Cubs took the lead, 8-7.

I included only plate appearances for which an RBI was credited. That excluded errors that resulted in runs and ground ball double plays with nobody out on which a runner scored from third.



The Cubs have closed to within 1 run on 44 RBI.

Cody Bellinger and Christopher Morel are tied for the most, 6.

Nico Hoerner and Seiya Suzuki have 5; Dansby Swanson, 4; and Yan Gomes and Ian Happ, 3.

4 players have 2: Jeimer Candelario, Eric Hosmer, Mike Tauchman and Patrick Wisdom.

4 more have 1: Miguel Amaya, Tucker Barnhart, Matt Mervis and Velazquez.

That adds up to 15 different batters.



18 batters have tied the score, with 78 RBI.

Happ (11) and Bellinger (10) have combined for nearly a quarter of the total.

Gomes, Suzuki and Swanson are tied for third, with 7, followed by Hoerner and Morel, with 6.

Patrick Wisdom has 5.

Hosmer, Nick Madrigal, Trey Mancini and Tauchman have 3.

Mervis has 2; Candelario, Mile Mastrobuoni, Luis Torrens, Velazquez and Jared Young, 1.



Bellinger is the runaway leader in this category, with 29 RBI, exactly one fifth of 145 by all Cubs.

His 29 are 8 more than Happ's second-best 21, which in turn is 7 more than Hoerner's third-best 14.

4 others have done it at least 10 times: Suzuki (13), Swanson and Tauchman (both 11), and Gomes (10).


Among the 10 others who have at least 1, Wisdom has the most, 7.

Candelario and Morel have 5; Madrigal and Mancini, 4; Hosmer, 3; and Amaya, Barnhart, Mervis and Velazquez, 2.



"Game-winning RBI" was adopted as an official statistic by Major League Baseball in 1980, defined as "the RBI that gives a club a lead it never relinquishes."

Under that definition, if an RBI opened the scoring, the team led the rest of the way and the final score was 10-9, the first RBI was the GWRBI.

This led to considerable ridicule, and after 1988 GWRBI was dropped from box scores and official statistics.

Still, that is the definition I used for RBI that put the Cubs ahead to stay.

80 of the 145 total go-ahead RBI met that definition, 15 of them by Bellinger, 10 by Suzuki and 9 by Happ.


15 more batters have at least 1 such RBI, including Hoerner and Tauchman, 7; Gomes, 6; Swanson, 5; Madrigal and Wisdom, 4.

Candelario, Mancini, Mervis, Morel and Velazquez have 2.

Amaya, Barnhart and Hosmer have 1.



GWRBI might have retained official status had its definition been revised somewhat along the lines of that for saves: awarded only under more stringent conditions.

I kept track of RBI that put the Cubs ahead for good only in the seventh inning or later.


There were 20, one quarter of the 80 that put them ahead at any point.

The leader may come as a surprise: Gomes, with 4.

Bellinger, Madrigal and Hoerner have 3.

Morel has 2.

Happ, Mancini, Suzuki, Tauchman and Wisdom have 1.

That's a total of 10 among the 23 different batters who have produced RBI for the Cubs this season.


Alexander Canario, Pete Crow-Armstrong and Edwin Rios are the 3 who did not have any RBI that cut a deficit to 1, tied the score and put the Cubs ahead. They have 5, 1 and 2 RBI, respectively.



Bellinger has a total of 45 significant RBI: 6 that cut the deficit to 1 run, 10 that tied the score and 29 that put the Cubs ahead.

Happ is a distant second, with 35 (3, 11, 21).

Hoerner (5, 6, 14) and Suzuki (5, 7, 13) are tied for third, with 25.

Swanson has 22 (4, 7, 11) and Gomes, 20 (3, 7, 10).

3 more are in double digits: Morel, with 17 (6, 6, 5); Tauchman, 16 (2, 3, 11); and Wisdom, 14 (2, 5, 7).


The total significant RBI by others: Candelario and Hosmer, 8; Madrigal and Mancini, 7; Mervis, 5; Velazquez, 4; Amaya and Barnhart, 3; and Mastrobuoni, Torrens and Young, 1.



The 23 batters with RBI have collected 760.

267 were significant (44 cut deficit to 1, 78 tied score, 145 put Cubs ahead) -- 35.1 percent.

11 batters have at least 20 RBI. Bellinger has the highest percentage of significant RBI in the group, 47.4 percent (45 of 95 total RBI).

Happ is second, at 44.9 percent (35 of 78).

The next 4 are closely packed: Hoerner, at 36.8 (25 of 68), Gomes, at 36.4 (20 of 55); Suzuki, at 35.7 (25 of 70); and Tauchman, at 34.0 (16 of 47).


The percentages for the others with at least 20 RBI: Wisdom, 31.1 (14 of 45); Swanson, 27.5 (22 of 80); Madrigal and Mancini, 25.0 (both 7 of 28), and Morel, 24.6 (17 of 69).


3 batters with fewer than 20 RBI have the highest percentages of all: Velazquez, 66.7 (4 of 6); Hosmer, 57.1 (8 of 14); and Candelario, 50.0 (8 of 16).

The percentages for the rest with few RBI: Mervis, 45.5 (5 of 11); Barnhart, 33.3 (3 of 9); Torrens, 33.3 (1 of 3); Mastrobuoni, 25.0 (1 of 4); Amaya, 16.7 (3 of 18); and Young, 12.5 (1 of 8).

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