Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bud Bulling

Over the 83 Fleer Project, this card was just posted:

It's signed by Bud Bulling, the guy on the right. I'd never heard of Bulling before, and he certainly didn't have a particularly long career. I figured that he must be on this card for some reason, so I looked up the game mentioned on the card (from 5/6/82) and the box score is right here.

It appears that Bulling had what at one time would have been called the "game-winning RBI", a now-defunct stat crediting the player who drove in the run that put his team in the lead for good in a game. This game, Gaylord Perry's 300th win, is an example of why the GWRBI was a dumb stat. Yeah, Bulling's 3rd-inning single put the Mariners ahead 1-0, but it was guys behind him who built the score to 5-0 that prevented Perry from relinquishing the lead, as he did eventually allow 3 runs in the game.

Game-wining RBI was a stat that MLB kept and Topps actually displayed it on their cards for a while.

For example on the back of Eddie Murray's 1988 Topps card, just below his Major League Totals stat line, you can see GW-RBI for 1987 and GW-RBI for his career.

Topps continued to show it in 1989.

But in 1990 they stopped after MLB dispatched GW-RBI as an official stat.

Here are some older cards just so you can see the GW-RBI notations:

But going back to 1985, Topps didn't have the GW-RBI that year:

Interesting the the Baseball Trivia Quick answer is still the same, and probably will be for a long, long time.

I believe Topps cards even earlier than 1985 also did not carry the GW-RBI stat.


  1. I think Bulling was on the card (cheesy 70's mustache, gap teeth and all) not because he got the GWRBI, but because he completed the battery that night. As Gaylord's catcher, he was charged with catching those greasy things being flopped up toward the plate without the umpire finding out what was on the ball.

    By the way, the GWRBI was supposed to be the hitter's equivalent to the pitchers' "win" statistic (gave the team the lead it would never relinquish) although a few years showed just how it was nowhere near as meaningful as a pitcher being in the game when the team took the lead it would never relinquish.

  2. Game-Winning RBI was THE "in" stat in the 1980s. I thought it was ridiculous, as you note. I wonder what "in" stat we have today that will go by the wayside.

  3. If there was a stat we have now that I WISH would go by the wayside, it would be the "hold." It was invented just as a way to give some useless credit to a one-out lefty or a 7th inning pitcher other than better measurements, such as batting average against, WHIP or ERA.

  4. The hold has become almost totally ignored these days, which is good. How MLB just needs to officially drop it as a stat.

    To me, the best stat around is WPA, win probability added. If you're not familiar with it, check out this graph which shows the Win Probability for yesterday's Yankees/Braves game. When the game starts, each team has a 50% chance of winning. As the game advances, the odds change based on historical data of how games of the same situation have turned out. For example, if it's the 3rd inning and the home team is up by 2 runs, they win 80% of the time. (see here for this type of calculation)

    The WPA stuff can also calculate leverage index, which determines the swing in outcomes based on what the current batter might do. That tells you how much pressure there is and how a given player performs not just in garbage time but also in critical times.

    Anyway...I really like the stat.

  5. On a side note, my fave 80s stat: GIDP - grounded into double plays. Completely useless!!

  6. The GIDP is interesting. It actually goes back quite a while. I was looking at a couple of green books from the 50s and 60s last night, and they had a "hardest to double" list...meaning the most times at bat without GIDP, giving it a positive spin for the batter.