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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hochman: Esoteric but useful, baseball’s new superstat is wRC+

As Boozer Emerson asked me at the bar…“Does that Baseball-Referral place use it?”

To the casual baseball fan, there isn’t a tidy Bo Derek-y stat (10!) to rate the greatness of, say, Bo or Derek.

Guys are gaged by a gumbo of mumbo-jumbo, confusing stats that, only when cooked together, lead us to unequivocal evaluations such as “He’s pretty good,” or “He’s, like, really good.”

Sure, you’ve heard of WAR, last season’s buzz acronym (BA) during the American League MVP debate. But on this day, I’m here to introduce you to (arguably) the most Bo Derek-y stat out there, a stat that could change the way you look at stars — and also help you appreciate the greatness of Carlos Eduardo Gonzalez.

Denver, meet wRC+.

It stands for weighted runs created plus, a stat Grantland.com baseball writer and Denver resident Jonah Keri calls the most telling offensive stat in the game. As for the Rockies’ Cargs — yes, I call CarGo “Cargs,” which I believe is the first-ever nickname of a nickname — the outfielder is fifth in the National League (153). He, of course, will start in Tuesday’s All-Star Game.

So, what is this thing?

In a sentence, it’s a stat that dissects a player’s overall offense, while adjusting for the effects of the parks and league he plays in. It’s a pretty cool way of looking at the grand old game.

Repoz Posted: July 16, 2013 at 07:06 AM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, rockies, sabermetrics

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   1. Esoteric Posted: July 16, 2013 at 10:12 AM (#4495575)
Thought for a moment someone had written a post about me.
   2. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: July 16, 2013 at 10:16 AM (#4495580)
You've got a new handle, if you want it.
   3. NJ in DC (Now with temporary employment!) Posted: July 16, 2013 at 10:46 AM (#4495607)
Hochman covers the Nuggets (NBA) and is one of the better NBA beat guys IMO. Didn't know he was on the baseball beat as well.
   4. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: July 16, 2013 at 10:58 AM (#4495618)
Esoteric is never useful.
   5. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 16, 2013 at 10:58 AM (#4495620)
I had no idea Jonah Keri lived in Denver.

NJ, there ain't a whole lot of NBA for Hochman to be writing about now. The regular Rockies writers don't seem very interested in this kind of thing.
   6. puck Posted: July 16, 2013 at 12:02 PM (#4495711)
The regular Rockies writers don't seem very interested in this kind of thing.

It's astounding that even in 2013, so many Rockies articles talk about how the team is 1st or 2nd in runs, but 2nd to last in ERA, so the pitching is bad.
   7. Esoteric Posted: July 16, 2013 at 12:42 PM (#4495776)
Esoteric is never useful.
I can't tell whether you're quibbling about the meaning of the word "esoteric" or taking a shot at me. I choose to be outraged because high dudgeon is more fun!
   8. Baldrick Posted: July 16, 2013 at 02:11 PM (#4495884)
I can't tell whether you're quibbling about the meaning of the word "esoteric" or taking a shot at me. I choose to be outraged because high dudgeon is more fun!

What an esoteric way of describing the situation.
   9. vortex of dissipation Posted: July 16, 2013 at 03:07 PM (#4495938)
Esoteric is never useful.


Actually, if you want to hear some really great live Genesis tracks from the Gabriel-era, Esoteric can be very useful.
   10. I Helped Patrick McGoohan Escape Posted: July 16, 2013 at 03:26 PM (#4495972)
Actually, if you want to hear some really great live Genesis tracks from the Gabriel-era, Esoteric can be very useful.


Oh yeah? Does he know what you like (in your music collection)?
   11. Walt Davis Posted: July 16, 2013 at 07:30 PM (#4496242)
Based on the excerpt how ... strange.

wRC+ only weighs offensive contribution. This is better than one that measures offense in essentially the same way and then adds in defense?

(I'm not clear whether wRC+ includes non-stealing forms of baserunning or RoEs either.)

The fg glossary page also says wRC+ is derived from wOBA ... if true this is hilarious since wOBA is nothing but wRCAR/PA slightly recentered for no particularly good reason.

I worry sometimes these saber dudes don't always realize quite what they're doing (cribbing to save space):

RAA = .32*NIBB + .47*1B + .78*2B + 1.17*3B + 1.4*HR - .3*out
RAA "relative per out" = .62*NIBB + .77*1B + 1.08*2B + 1.47*3B + 1.7*HR
RAA "relative per out" = RAA + .3*(NIBB + 1B + 2B + 3B + HR + out)
RAA "relative per out" ~ RAA + .3*PA

Take the average player with RAA of zero and average RAA "relative per out" is of course approximately .3 although this seemed to be news to Tango. (I'm using ~ as approximately equal) .3*PA is ... wait for it ... Rrep (give or take). RAA "relative per out" is RAR.

RAA "relative per out"/ PA ~ RAA/PA + .3
wOBA = (RAA "relative per out" / PA) + (lgOBP - .3) = RAA/PA + lgOBP

Then they calculate:

RAA = (wOBA - lgwOBA)*PA with a squiggle factor


The squiggle factor I think is just trying to get rid of (lgOBP - .3) and the difference between PA and the rest (although I assume IBB, RoE, etc. are in the full calculation).

It's all just going around in circles to get back where they started. You've got your estimate of runs, you know the number of PAs and you have estimates of average (and replacement) runs for a given number of PAs. Nothing is "based on wOBA" because wOBA is just a rescaling of estimated runs, PAs and league average. wRAA and wRC+ are just "unscaling" wOBA back into quantities you already have and then, in the case of wRC+, rescaling again.

I don't necessarily have a problem with rescaling if you think it helps comprehension but they should have realized that RAA "relative per out" was RAR. They should have known that RAR/PA would come out to a mean of .3 -- they designed it to do so! They should have known that wOBA*PA just basically takes them back where they started.

Upshot ... if you want a rate stat, RAA/PA (or RAR/PA per your preference) is all you need. The others are just variations on that.

   12. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: July 16, 2013 at 08:32 PM (#4496337)
But I want to know which superstat is Lassus but whimsical.

As an aside, good to see someone calling something a superstat instead of uberstat. More down to earth.
   13. puck Posted: July 16, 2013 at 09:24 PM (#4496463)
Upshot ... if you want a rate stat, RAA/PA (or RAR/PA per your preference) is all you need. The others are just variations on that.

Is that park-adjusted?

That's the upside of wRC+, to me. wOBA isn't, so wRC+ is a park-adjusted rate stat that's an alternative to OPS+.
   14. Esoteric Posted: July 16, 2013 at 10:30 PM (#4496591)
Actually, if you want to hear some really great live Genesis tracks from the Gabriel-era, Esoteric can be very useful.
Thank you for the character reference, vortex. Ask me about my impeccably curated collection of Can concerts and studio rarities!

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