LOB Laws

In the Southern Ontario area there is a grocery chain name Loblaws and the CEO, Galen Weston, has been pitching some of the products in his stores in a “folksy” kind of way. So two brothers with their Apple crisp product are trotted out and Galen says their Apple Crisp is so good, “I’ll guarantee it or your money back.” Then almost as an aside you hear Galen telling the brothers “Tell me that is not going to happen”. Unfortunately, the folksy humor, in this era of outsourcing, massive job layoffs, and financial robber barons renascent, doesn’t quite come off. You believe these brothers would be sent down to the Loblaws Supplier’s Minors in a heartbeat.

Almost as hard and heartless as Loblaw’s Laws is the LOB Law. LOB- Left On Base indicates how many runners a baseball team left on base during the course of a game. Think of it as the probability of not scoring when you should score. But it can be deceptive because you have to get some runners. For example, if your team is the victim of a no-hitter, your LOB is zero. Likewise in a game in which all the runs your team made came on home runs – your LOB is also zero. LOB is relevant in games in which your team got some hits. Now the question is how well did the team do in advancing the runners. In the worst case in a nine inning game, the team filled the bases but never scored – then the LOB would be 27. So the higher the LOB, the less efficient the team is at producing runs when men are on base and in scoring position.

My rule of thumb LOB Law is keep the number at 4 or fewer. At 4 LOB that means that a team with a 250% team on-base percentage (27 * .250 = 7.75 runners) will be able to score almost half the time (7.74 runners – 4 LOB = 3.75 runs)they get a runner on base. So teams with a LOB of 4-5 are pretty efficient in scoring when they have the opportunity. In the Opening day game with the Yankees the Blue Jays left on base 12 runners (LOB = 12). And that was the tale of the game. Blue Jays were getting hits they just were not producing runs. This is opposite of what the Blue Jays did in the most of their Grapefruit League games – in this case the Jays were getting few hits. So as Yogi the Bear might say there is a silver lining on an outing in which Doc Halladay pitched pretty well. To paraphrase the Yogi, “I will take my chances with lots of chances over hardly no chances at all.”

Note to alert readers: In the Game box scores there are two LOBs recorded. The TeamLOB, how many runners were left on base each inning , is the one I am using. But there is also the Individual player’s LOB, which shows for each at bat if a player failed to score at least one runner. A low individual player LOB is a good indicator of clutch hitters – if a man is on base they tend to score him.