Sabermetrics Sunday: wRC+


As I continue my sabermetrics Sunday series here at Rum Bunter this week we will take our first look at sabermetrics on offense with wRC+.

When it comes to evaluating hitters, many baseball fans are doing it wrong. Most people use stats such as batting average, RBIs, or OPS. However, the best stat for evaluating hitters is none of these. The best stat to evaluate hitters with is wRC+.

The wRC+ stat is an extension of one of the first sabermetrical offensive stats, wRC. The reason wRC+ is better than wRC is that wRC+ is adjusted in accordance with the ballpark a player is playing in. This is one of the reasons why wRC+ is such a great stat, because a player who produces huge offensive numbers at Petco Park will be rated higher than one who does it at hitter friendly parks such as Coors Field or Great American Ballpark.

Even though it may seem complicated, calculating wRC+ is not all that difficult. The formula for figuring out wRC+ is as follows: wRC+ = (((wRAA/PA + League R/PA) + (League R/PA – Park Factor* League R/PA))/ (AL or NL wRC/PA excluding pitchers))*100. For an in depth description of what all of this means, check out FanGraph’s sabermetric library about wRC+.

So, why use wRC+? It’s simple. wRC+ measures a hitter’s value using cumulative statistics that credits the hitter for total production. When it comes to evaluating hitters wRC+ is the only stat that takes every offensive action (base hits, walks, productive outs, strike outs, etc.) and ballpark factor into consideration.

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How do you use wRC+? This is how! The league average wRC+ is 100, so any hitter with a wRC+ higher than 100 is an above league average hitter. So say a hitter has a wRC+ of 120, then they are 20 points better than a league average hitter.

Now, to put wRC+ into context. A hitter with a wRC+ of 60 or lower is considered awful, this is where you find hitters such as Erik Kratz. 61-75 to considered poor, 76-99 is below average, as I mentioned above 100 is the league average, 101-140 is above average, 141-160 is great, and anything over 160 is excellent.

To put things into perspective, the Pirates leader in wRC+ is Matt Joyce at 179. Joyce is in the top five by Jung Ho Kang (153), Gregory Polanco (145), Starling Marte (136), and Sean Rodriguez (131). Alen Hanson has a wRC+ of 184, but since he has just two plate appearances this season he was left off of the list.

A lot of people like to look at OPS as the best stat to evaluate hitters with. However, wRC+ is much better than OPS when it comes to truly evaluating a hitter’s value. As FanGraph’s Sabermetrics Library points out, wRC+ is a much more accurate description of a player’s offensive value than OPS or any other stat for that matter.

The fact of the matter is that wRC+ takes into consideration things that no other offensive stats do. Also, OPS is skewed way too much by slugging percentage to be that valuable of a stat when evaluating hitters. If you are looking for a way to evaluate hitters, use wRC+.

As I said above, wRC+ is the best stat to evaluate hitters on in my opinion. That is why anyone who reads my articles will see me use wRC+ so often. I know wRC+ is a stat that not many people know or understand, but hopefully this article helps with that.

Past Sabermetric Sunday Articles