Archive for July, 2014

wRC+ and Lessons of Context

This introduction is a setup. Don’t fall for it. I’m going to present you with two stat lines and ask you to silently compare them. Your job is going to be to determine which player had the better season at the plate. Remember, it’s a trick.

  • Player A: 697 PA, .372/.463/.698, .476 wOBA, 42 HR, 59 2B, 103 BB, 61 K
  • Player B: 716 PA, .323/.432/.557, .423 wOBA, 27 HR, 39 2B, 110 BB, 136 K

If I hadn’t primed you, it would be hard to suggest anything other than that Player A had the better season. He’s leading everything, except for a slight disadvantage in walk rate. Player A had the better season, right? It’s obvious. Even though I told you it was a trick, you’re still struggling to find a way to argue the opposing side. I’m telling you that Player B actually had the better season, but that’s because I have more information. I know a couple of important pieces of information that you don’t have and it makes a world of difference.

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wOBA As a Gateway Statistic

Despite all of the rhetoric and talk-radio bluster, sabermetric principles and statistics aren’t actually very complicated. It might take a sharp statistician or savvy programmer to derive perfect park factors, but it doesn’t take anything more than a curious mind to understand and apply the basics. In my time working to help spread these principles, one of the most common and useful questions I get is about which few statistics a person should learn when trying to get into the world of advanced stats.

On Wednesday during my chat I got such a question. Here’s how I responded:

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