Let's face it, the bottom line is for a team to score more runs than their opponent, and the more efficient they are usually translates into success in the win column.
How is this best accomplished?
Many believe that a team needs speedy players to accomplish this. While there most certainly isn't anything wrong with a speedy player, his ability to get on base and run bases well don't necessarily go hand in hand.
Others believe a team needs a power packed lineup, but hitting home runs and scoring runs don't have the correlation you might think it does.
Even if a team combines both speed and power, they still can be poor in manufacturing runs.
When we consider a team's efficiency at scoring runs, we need to look at something I call baseball smarts. The successful teams have it, and the poor ones don't.
How do you quantify baseball smarts?
Well if you consider the fact that you can't score unless you get on base, we need to look at the ways to do that. You can hit a home run, get a hit, or take a walk. I won't discuss being hit by a pitch or getting on base through a fielding error, as they are something the offensive player has little control over.
It's no surprise that the highest run producing teams are near or at the top of the league in walks. You don't have to lead the league in home runs or stolen bases, you just need to have more men on base, period.
The more men on base, the more runs you score when a home run is hit. That makes up for not having a lineup full of home run hitters.
The more men on base, the more opportunities a team will have to sacrifice a runner along. A player doesn't have to have the most talent to lay down a bunt, take the ball the other way, or hit a fly ball.
The more men on base, the more opportunities a team will have to steal a base. Quite often the ability to steal a base has less to do with a player's speed than him taking advantage of another team's pitcher or catcher.
The mere fact that a player has speed or raw power, has less to do with his potential run production than his ability adapting to the game situations.
This baseball smarts is tool any player can learn. He doesn't need tremendous God given talent to be productive, he just needs to be a student of the game.
Being disciplined at the plate is the overriding factor for a team to be the most productive with the talent it has, and this discipline is the most important element in manufacturing runs.