Hitters with the most RBI opportunities

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Nobody has more runs batted in than Chicago White Sox 1B Jose Abreu, and while we give him full credit for taking advantage and providing stellar production, he also ranks second in baseball in total number of baserunners when he is at the plate, behind only Boston Red Sox 3B Rafael Devers. In other words, Abreu gets a ton of chances to drive in runs, as opposed to Philadelphia Phillies OF Bryce Harper, who ranks No. 121 in the category, through no fault of his own.

Many baseball fans still look at RBI as an important gauge of statistical excellence when we know so much of the category is simply about opportunity. The White Sox, thanks to SS Tim Anderson and others, provide a constant churn of baserunners for Abreu, who may be on his way to his third consecutive RBI title. Harper has a paltry 68 RBI because, well, the Phillies do a poor job of giving him chances to knock in runs. Harper has had fewer baserunners than J.P. Crawford, Jackie Bradley Jr., Josh Rojas and five other Phillies, including demoted 3B Alec Bohm!

Anyway, I like to gander at this oft-ignored category from time to time because often it explains some of the weirdness, and it affects fantasy value. Harper is a constant subject of bashing for a low RBI total and may lose NL MVP votes because of something out of his control, while Abreu is actually not so great. His OPS is nearly 200 points lower than Harper. He leads the league in grounding into double plays. There is little question who is having the better season, but as the old-timers annoyingly like to say, Abreu “knows how to knock runners in.” Riiight, sure he does. RBI totals lie.

Random thoughts on baserunner opportunities

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