The RBI — more than most baseball stats — has taken a beating in recent years. It’s not popular in sabermetric circles. It’s been called meaningless, flawed, obsolete and misleading.
It’s an “old-school counting stat,” those into analytics scoff of the old-fashioned run batted in, a statistic that is found on the back of every baseball card. It’s a measure more of opportunity than individual ability.
But don’t tell all that to either Giancarlo Stanton or Marcell Ozuna.
“The guys arguing [against it] are probably the ones who have never seen a pitch,” Stanton said.
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Given a choice of home runs, batting average or RBI, three traditional statistics that have been around for generations, Ozuna said the one that is most significant to him is the RBI.
“Everybody can do homers,” said Ozuna, who has hit 36 round-trippers this season. “But RBIs are hard to do. RBIs show you are producing for the team.”
It’s easy to understand why Stanton and Ozuna are so defensive about it.
Stanton began the day Saturday tied with Colorado’s Nolan Arenado for the major-league lead in RBI with 130. Ozuna, with 122, ranked third in the majors.
To put that into historical context, the last National League teammates to finish among the top three in RBI were Joe Morgan and George Foster of the 1976 Cincinnati Reds. The last teammates in either league to do it were Boston’s David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez in 2005.
Both Stanton and Ozuna have eclipsed the previous Marlins single-season RBI record of 121, set in 2000 by Preston Wilson.
Ozuna was ecstatic on Friday following the Marlins’ 6-5 victory over the Braves, a game in which he drove in three runs to pass the 120-RBI barrier. When Stanton came to the plate with the bases loaded, Ozuna said he was cheering for his teammate to come through with a grand slam, which would have given him 60 home runs.
Stanton singled instead, driving in one run. Ozuna came up next and drove in another.
“I was telling the guys, why not get 60 and four RBIs right now?” Ozuna said. “They were saying, ‘It was going to be you.’ When he got the single, I said, ‘OK, he’s got 130 now.’ Good for him. I’m proud of him and me. We’ve worked together to do good.”
Giancarlo Stanton has been voted MVP of the Marlins by the Miami chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Stanton leads the majors with 59 home runs.
Local writers also honored three other Marlins for their annual year-end awards:
▪ J.T. Realmuto was named the winner of the Jeff Conine Award, given to a player who exemplifies the spirit and determination of the former Marlin.
▪ Jarlin Garcia was named the winner of the Jose Fernandez Rookie of the Year award. Garcia leads the staff with 68 appearances.
▪ Miguel Rojas was named the winner of the Charlie Hough “Good Guy” Award, given to a player who fosters a positive relationship with the media.
Awards will be presented during a pre-game ceremony on Sunday.
Brad Ziegler became the fifth pitcher in Marlins history — and second this season — to earn a save on one pitch.
Ziegler induced a game-ending double play on his first pitch to Matt Kemp to preserve Friday’s win.
A.J. Ramos pulled off the feat on May 26. Before that, Brendan Donelley in 2009, Kevin Gregg in ’08 and Michael Tejera in ’02 also did it.
▪ Sunday: Marlins RHP Jose Ureña (14-7, 3.77) vs. Atlanta Braves RHP Max Fried (1-1, 3.74), 3:10 p.m., Marlins Park.