Why Shikhar Dhawan and not KL Rahul tops the Smart Runs tally

A look at the top batsmen in IPL 2020 through the prism of Smart Stats

Shikhar Dhawan employs the sweep effectively, Delhi Capitals vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL 2020, Abu Dhabi, November 2, 2020

Shikhar Dhawan is the only batsman to score more than one hundred in this season's IPL  •  BCCI

KL Rahul is the Orange Cap holder with 670 runs, but according to ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats, the leader in terms of Smart Runs is Shikhar Dhawan: his 525 runs is worth 558 Smart Runs, while Rahul's runs are worth only 553.
That is because Smart Runs takes into account not just the total number of runs scored, but also the context. Context includes the scoring rates of the other batsmen in the match, the phase in which the batsman batted and the pressure on the batsman at each ball when he scored the runs. Based on these values, each run a batsman scores gets a Smart Runs value, which adds up to his Smart Runs for the innings.
Rahul's outstanding unbeaten 132 off 69 balls against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Kings XI Punjab's second match fetched him 147 Smart Runs, but thereafter he slipped into the anchor role in most of his remaining innings. That was perhaps necessitated to some extent by the Kings XI's brittle lower middle order, but several of those conservative innings came in defeats when other batsmen in the match scored faster. That includes a 54-ball 69 in Sharjah and a 41-ball 46 in Abu Dhabi against the Rajasthan Royals, a 52-ball 63 against the Chennai Super Kings, and a 58-ball 74 against the Kolkata Knight Riders. Those innings fetched fewer Smart Runs than the runs he actually scored.
On the other hand, his opening partner Mayank Agarwal has been the enforcer at the top of the innings, which is why his 424 runs are worth 446 Smart Runs. The strike rates are indicative of the way each has played: Agarwal has scored his runs at a rate of 156.5, compared to Rahul's 129.3.
While Rahul's overall numbers have dropped, his unbeaten 132 - the highest score of the tournament by some distance - remains the top batting performance of the tournament, fetching 203.7 impact points.
In second place is Nicholas Pooran's 77 out of a team total of 132 against the Sunrisers Hyderabad; the next-highest score in the innings was 11. Virat Kohli's 52-ball 90 in a relatively low-scoring game against the Super Kings - no other batsman from either team lasted 15 balls at a strike rate of over 120 - is third, followed by Dhawan's unbeaten 61-ball 106 against the Kings XI.
In terms of overall average batting impact, Agarwal tops the list because not only has he scored plenty of runs - 424 in 11 innings - but has also done it at a consistently fast clip with at a strike rate of 156.5. Among the 12 batsmen who have scored 400-plus runs, his strike rate is the best, though AB de Villiers, who has 398 runs at 163.8, should top him soon.
de Villiers is in third place, after Dhawan, while Pooran's excellent strike rates in high-pressure situations puts him fourth. Suryakumar Yadav's twin unbeaten 79s - batting first against the Royals, and chasing against the Royal Challengers - have been highlights of his good season, in which he has combined consistent run-scoring with a brisk strike rate.
The tournament's top run-scorer, Rahul, is eighth in these rankings. His numbers suffer in relative terms because of his strike rate, which is the lowest among the top eight impact players.