THE CRESTWOOD MALL OF STATS

You should stop using Batting Average to value baseball players.  As a stat, it’s only hitting about .200 when it comes to taking a snapshot of a player’s value.

Do you value doubles and singles the same?  Batting Average does.

Do you think walks have zero value?  Batting Average does.

Do you value 1-4 with a 1B the same as 1-4 with a HR?  Because…

Baseball is math, and I understand the ease of BA calculation.  I’m sure I annoyingly announced my own BA after an epic 2-4 in the 6th grade.  But somewhere along the line, we were brainwashed to label a player with such an innacurate number.  Did I get 2 singles that day, or did I send two balls into the gap? (Likely the former, and even more likely to have been generous scorekeeping.)

On Base Percentage at least calculates Walks–far closer in value to a Single than BA gives it credit.  BA says there not even close to the same thing.  How much would our 6th grade approach have changed if we could religiously cite our favorite players’ OBPs instead of their BAs?

But OBP,  other than Walks, commits the same sins of value that BA does.  A double is not the same as a single.

Slugging Percentage–now we’re starting to separate the men from the boys.  But we’re overdoing it.  A double isn’t *twice* as good as a single.  And as the name ‘Slugging’ may suggest, this stat isn’t interested in Walks either.

Let’s look at some 2015 Cardinals to put Batting Average to bed, also referencing wOBA–weighted On Base Average.  It not only counts Walks (and Hit By Pitch) but it weights each type of hit by its relative value.

1.  Mark Reynolds (.219) and Pete Kozma (.217) have the same value per BA.  But they are worlds apart in wOBA:  .310 versus .258.

2.  Matt Carpenter’s down to .270 (BA), you say?  He is, but his .339 wOBA is still 2nd among all Cardinal hitters.  He gets on base (.362 OBP) and still SLGs over .400.

But in terms of BA, Matt Carpenter is looking up at Jon Jay’s .272.

Realize that Jhonny Peralta and Jason Heyward are “only” hitting in the low .270s too.

3.  Would opposing closer’s rather see Peter Bourjos’ .242 BA or Randal Grichuk similar .246?  Despite Randal’s allergies to Walks–leading to Bourjos’ OBP advantage of 23 points–Grichuk’s wOBA properly values all of the lasers he hits when he does make contact, posting a .311 wOBA–one point higher than Kolten Wong’s.

In 1987, it seemed like Jack Clark hit a Home Run every game.  He didn’t–it was probably a case of me being 12.  But he did hit 35….and enough doubles, too, to have SLG’d a robust .597.  To put that into 2016 perspective, only these four gents are SLG’g .600+:  Harper, Stanton, Goldschmidt, Trout.

“But what is Giancarlo Stanton’s Batting Average?”, says no one who gets it.  It’s .265.

Jack Clark’s in 1987 was .286.

As was Jose Oquendo’s.

 

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