An Out Is Never the Desired Outcome

Dan Agonistes disagrees that ESPN's conception of 'productive outs' is useful: “The actual utility of "productive outs" is heavily dependant on the context in which they are made. For example, a productive out in the first inning of a 0-0 game is far less valuable than the same productive out when your team is tied in the bottom of the 9th. The difference is even greater when compared with a productive out that occurs in a 10-1 game in the 5th inning. Basically, because an out is never the desired outcome, any outs that are made fall on a continuum of negative outcomes. Of course, one could argue along the same lines with any counting statistic such as hits or doubles. Certainly a double is more valuable with men on base than with nobody on. But the difference here is that a double is purely positive and so always has positive value in terms of run potential and scoring probability. With making outs the situation dictates the utility.”