I was reading message boards and someone asked a pretty basic question: what’s so wrong with RBIs? Someone explained that basically it’s a measure of how good the batters are in front of the batter for getting on base and running the bases without causing an out. His response:
“So it’s not really a good measure of a hitter’s abilities and John Q. Public thinks it is. The #5 guy could have a ridiculous amount of RBIs because 2-3-4 have good OBP and #5 just has to sac fly to drive in the run.”
Pretty much. Nice. He sort of danced around another issue with RBIs, which is sacrifices arbitrarily reward them. A flyball to the outfield is still a flyball to the outfield, whether or not a runner is on third–and if a runner had the ability to control an at-bat so much as to hit a flyball on command, he should probably go for a line drive or a home run instead.
An RBI is the best possible outcome of a plate appearance, but it’s not a skill of the hitter.
The basics of hitting values are this: HRs are best, line drives are second best, walks/HBPs are third, then flyballs, ground balls and Ks. All of these things being equal, a batter with speed will be valued more because he can beat more ground balls for base hits.
That’s pretty much the basics. The rabbit hole is deeper than that, but this is pretty much tried and true and won’t be changed for a long time.