Individual Game WPA > 1.00

A few weeks ago, I ran a series here detailing the ten biggest offensive plays of the 2008 season, based on shifts in win expectancy. That is, the ten instances where the team’s probability of winning the game increased the most due to the occurrences in a single plate appearance. David DeJesus, if you recall, took home the honors of producing the top play of the season with his July 12th walkoff home run against Brandon Morrow of the Mariners.

Though several great threads developed in that series of articles, one in particular piqued my interest. This specific commenter wondered if there were any games this season during which a player accrued a WPA over 1.00; as in, was anyone worth one or more wins, in one game? Luckily, Senor Appelman was accomodating with the data, probed from the Fangraphs database, and I now have in my possession every instance from 1974-2008 during which a player’s single-game WPA met or exceeded 1.00. There are only 38 such batting games, but two of them occurred during this very season.

The bigger of the two games took place on June 7, and belonged to Cody Ross of the Florida Marlins. This also happened to the game featuring a walkoff home run from Ross that ended up #4 on the list of the biggest offensive plays of the season. Ross went 2-4 on the day, with a single, the three-run homer, a walk, and a stolen base. All told, his efforts resulted in a 1.13 WPA for the game. Ross had a solid season, especially from a power standpoint, hitting 22 home runs with a .488 SLG and .804 OPS. His seasonal WPA was 1.56, 1.13 of which belonged to this game. Essentially, outside of this game, his positive and negative win advancements amounted to a net of +0.43.

The other such instance took place two weeks later, as Kurt Suzuki of the Oakland Athletics produced to the tune of a 1.00 WPA. Suzuki went 4-5, with a single, two doubles, and a home run, en route to five runs batted in on the day. His overall WPA for the season was -1.61, meaning that outside of this game, his win advancements amounted to a net of -2.61. Even poor offensive players can win a game for their team every now and then, it seems.

Despite Ross’s advantage in the WPA department, when evaluating these two games in terms of run expectancy, the edge shifts to Suzuki. Kurt amassed 4.55 BRAA in this game, good enough for 0.509 wins based on run expectancy. Ross, however, contributed 2.62 BRAA and a 0.258 REW. And there you have it: Cody Ross not only produced the fourth biggest offensive play of the season, but that particular game saw him become one of just 38 players to produce a WPA greater than, or equal to, a full win, in a single game, since 1974; and even though Kurt Suzuki had a very poor season at the plate, he essentially won one whole game for the Athletics back on June 20.

We hoped you liked reading Individual Game WPA > 1.00 by Eric Seidman!

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Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

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Big Steve
Big Steve

I’d like to see the rest of those 38. Especially the biggest couple of games.