What Does Total Chances (TC) Mean In Baseball?

Total chances (TC) is an important defensive statistic in baseball that measures the number of plays a fielder is involved in. This stat helps evaluate a fielder’s overall activity and defensive workload over a period of time. While not a perfect metric, total chances gives valuable insight into a player’s defensive performance that traditional stats like fielding percentage don’t fully capture.

This article will explain what total chances represents, how it’s calculated, key leaders and records, and why it’s a useful stat for analyzing fielders in baseball. Whether you’re a fantasy baseball owner looking for defensive metrics or just a fan of the game looking to better understand fielding stats, read on to learn more about the total chances statistic.

Definition of Total Chances

Total Chances In Baseball

Total chances (TC) in baseball refers to the total number of plays a defensive player is involved in over a period of time, whether directly or in assisting another player in recording an out or preventing a run from scoring. As defined on MLB.com, “In theory, a defender’s total chances represent the number of opportunities he has to record an out” (source).

Specifically, total chances is calculated as the sum of a player’s putouts (PO), assists (A), and errors (E) on defense over a defined period, usually a season. Putouts refer to outs directly recorded by the defensive player, assists are when the player throws or deflects the ball to another teammate to record an out, and errors are when the defensive player incorrectly fields or mishandles the ball leading to the advancement of runners.

So the total chances formula is:

TC = PO + A + E

Thus, total chances measures the number of plays a defensive player is involved in, representing their defensive involvement and workload over a full season or partial season. It aims to quantify a player’s total defensive contribution, both successes and failures. The higher the total chances, the more that player touched the ball and participated in fielding plays for their team.

How Total Chances are Calculated

Total chances (TC) in baseball are calculated by adding up putouts, assists, and errors by a fielder over a defined period of time (usually a season).

The formula is:

TC = Putouts + Assists + Errors


  • Putouts are plays made by a fielder that result in an out without the help of a teammate. Common putout scenarios include a first baseman catching a throw to record an out at first base or an outfielder catching a fly ball.

  • Assists are plays made by a fielder that help record an out in conjunction with a teammate. Common assists include throwing the ball to start a double play or relaying the ball from the outfield to help tag out a runner.

  • Errors are misplays by a fielder that allow a batter or baserunner to advance or allow an out to not be recorded. Examples include dropping a routine fly ball or throwing wildly on a routine play.

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So total chances accounts for all plays made or misplayed by a fielder over a defined period that involved fielding a batted ball or making a play on a runner. The total quantifies a player’s workload and involvement over the course of a season.

Differences from Fielding Percentage

Baseball Fielding

Fielding percentage and total chances are related but distinct fielding stats in baseball. While total chances accounts for all plays a fielder is involved in, fielding percentage only considers putouts and assists.

Specifically, fielding percentage is calculated as:

(Putouts + Assists) / (Putouts + Assists + Errors)

So fielding percentage only factors in plays where the fielder records a putout or assist. It does not consider plays where the fielder fails to make a play and records an error 1.

In contrast, total chances includes errors in the denominator along with putouts and assists. So fielders are also accountable in total chances for their mistakes. This provides a more complete picture of a fielder’s opportunities and performance.

Overall, fielding percentage measures the rate a fielder successfully records an out, while total chances evaluates the number of plays a fielder is involved in. Fielding percentage has limitations by ignoring errors, so total chances can better assess a fielder’s range and involvement.

Total Chances Leaders and Records

Luis Aparicio holds the career record for total chances by a shortstop with 12,564 over his 18 MLB seasons from 1956-1973. He amassed 7,601 total chances with the Chicago White Sox, 3,350 with the Baltimore Orioles, and 1,613 with the Boston Red Sox.

The single season record for total chances by a shortstop is held by Herman Long who recorded 889 total chances in 1889 with the Kansas City Cowboys. Long played for several teams in his 14 year MLB career from 1889-1902.

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Some other notable career total chances leaders for shortstops include Omar Vizquel (12,345), Ozzie Smith (12,259), Rabbit Maranville (11,584), and Pee Wee Reese (11,129). While Long’s single season record still stands, shortstops who have come close to that mark include Glenn Wright (867 in 1924), Donie Bush (862 in 1914), and Jack Glasscock (860 in 1889).

Importance for Evaluating Fielders

Outfielders Baseball

Total chances provide an important metric for evaluating the defensive contributions of fielders in baseball. By combining putouts and assists with errors committed, total chances give a fuller picture of a player’s involvement and activity in the field over a period of time.

The main advantages of using total chances compared to just fielding percentage are:

  • It accounts for the player’s defensive range, rather than just focusing on errors made. A player with a lot of total chances likely has good range to reach more balls.

  • It credits fielders for initiating outs through putouts and assists, rather than only penalizing errors. This gives a better sense of the player’s positive contributions.

  • It normalizes opportunities by combining chances and errors, rather than just errors divided by chances in fielding percentage. This makes it easier to compare players at different positions.

  • It measures volume of activity, highlighting fielders who are more involved defensively due to greater range.

While fielding percentage simply looks at errors compared to chances, total chances gives a fuller picture by combining chances and errors. This allows for better evaluation of a fielder’s complete defensive contribution in terms of activity, range and sure-handedness. It serves as a useful complement to fielding percentage when analyzing a player’s defensive impact.

Limitations of the Statistic

Total chances depends on the number of opportunities a player gets, which can vary significantly between players at different positions or on different teams. As a result, total chances is most useful for comparing players who play the same position on the same team within a season, rather than comparing players across teams or seasons.

Unlike advanced fielding metrics like UZR and DRS that account for the difficulty of each play, total chances treats every opportunity the same. A difficult diving catch is weighted the same as catching a routine popup. This means total chances alone does not fully capture a player’s fielding ability or contribution.

Since total chances is just a count of opportunities, it does not reflect execution or how well the plays were converted. Two shortstops could have the same number of total chances but very different fielding percentages based on errors committed. In this way, total chances has limitations for evaluating true fielding skill that more advanced metrics aim to address.

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Calculation Example

To calculate total chances for a fictional player named John Smith, we can look at his defensive stats for a season:

Putouts (PO): 150
Assists (A): 325
Errors (E): 10

Using the formula:

TC = PO + A + E

For John Smith:

TC = 150 + 325 + 10
TC = 485

So in this example, John Smith had 485 total chances for the season based on his 150 putouts, 325 assists and 10 errors.

This shows how the number of putouts, assists and errors for a defensive player can be combined to calculate their total chances, giving a measure of their total defensive involvement and opportunities in the field over a season. The higher the number, the more chances a player had to field balls and record outs.

Conclusion: Summarizing Total Chances in Baseball

Total chances is an important statistic used in baseball to evaluate a fielder’s defensive ability. It represents the number of plays a fielder has participated in, providing a good measure for how involved they are in fielding plays for their team.

To summarize, total chances accounts for putouts, assists and errors. It shows the total number of plays a fielder was involved in. This helps assess their defensive contributions overall. While fielding percentage examines the percentage of plays made properly, total chances simply looks at volume.

Both statistics have their merits in evaluating fielders. Total chances gives a picture of activity and involvement. Fielding percentage focuses on reliability. But total chances provides unique insight into range and how many plays someone reaches that others may not. Higher totals indicate greater involvement and responsibility.

While limited on its own, total chances remains widely cited. It recognizes fielders who make more plays despite also committing more errors. Teams want players actively contributing on defense at higher volumes. Viewed alongside stats like fielding percentage and advanced metrics, total chances fills an important role in capturing defensive value. For fans and coaches, it provides a straightforward way to see which players are the busiest and most involved on the field.

Adrian Cook
Adrian Cook

Hello, I'm Adrian Cook, and I am the author of BaseballMatchDay.com. I have a deep-rooted connection to baseball as I was once an avid player of the sport. Baseball has always held a special place in my heart, and my personal experiences as a player have shaped my understanding and love for the game. Having been on the field, I intimately understand the intricacies, challenges, and joys that come with playing baseball. It is this firsthand experience that allows me to bring a unique perspective to the content I create.

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