Image Credit: Fangraphs
This is the last week of sabermetrics for hitters. Starting next week, we will move into pitching and defensive metrics. For this final week of hitting, we cover Secondary Average (SecA), Runs Created, and Weighted Runs Created Plus.
SecA is the final of the basic rate stats we will discuss for hitters this summer. It is a modified version of the standard batting average, which is simply calculated as H/AB, to account for a hitter’s ability to draw walks, hit for power, and – a new one – steal bases, and at a high rate of success. SecA is calculated as follows:
SecA = (BB + (TB – H) + (SB – CS))/AB
Notice that the denominator of SecA is the same as that of BA; official times at bat. The numerator is different, however, and can lead to higher or lower scores for a hitter’s secondary average than his standard batting average. Normally, what helps a hitter reach a high batting average is a relatively high proportion of hits per official at bat. To achieve a high SecA, the hitter needs a relatively high proportion of the following per official at bat:
Extra base hits (only hits that go for extra bases help a hitter achieve a higher SecA)
Stolen bases in excess of caught stealing
Let’s take a look at the top ten hitters in the MLB for SecA:
Player At least 10 BB per 100 PA?
1. David Ortiz (BOS, .518) Yes
2. Bryce Harper (WSN, .504) Yes
3. Matt Carpenter (STL, .488) Yes
4. Paul Goldschmidt (ARI, .464) Yes
5. Josh Donaldson (TOR, .462) Yes
6. Anthony Rizzo (CHC, .456) Yes
7. Mike Trout (LAA, .451) Yes
8. Chris Davis (BAL, .432) Yes
9. Jose Bautista (TOR, .430) Yes
10. Jake Lamb (ARI, .424) Yes
These ten players all have something in common. They each walk at least ten times per 100 plate appearances. As mentioned in the Logan Farrar preview, a player who walks at least ten times per 100 plate appearances is a tremendously disciplined hitter that forces the pitcher to work harder and opens up the possibility for more mistake pitches. This is a remarkable contrast to the top ten leaders in batting average, of which only two players (Jose Altuve (HOU, 10.9BB/100PA) and David Ortiz (BOS, 14.3BB/100PA)) walk at least ten times per 100 PA.
A few surprises may appear on this list. For one, many Nationals fans are well aware that defending unanimous MVP Bryce Harper is not having nearly the season he had last year, with a batting average almost 100 points lower and on pace to hit about ten fewer home runs this season than last. But one thing about Harper’s game that is still superb even in 2016 is his ability to get on base by drawing walks. Harper walked 18.96 times per 100 plate appearance last year. This year, he has somehow managed to top even that (largely due to cowardly opposing pitchers actively avoiding giving the beast anything to hit), walking 19.50 times per 100 plate appearances. This propels him to the #2 ranking for Secondary Average, which places a high value on hitters who walk regularly.
If you have ever heard of Jake Lamb, pat yourself on the back. You take one look at that list of ten MLB players and Lamb is the black sheep, pun intended. Yet the black sheep finished ahead of Edwin Encarnacion (TOR, .423), Jackie Bradley Jr. (BOS, .416), Kris Bryant (CHC, .408), Nolan Arenado (COL, .401), and Joey Votto (CIN, .398), five powerful middle-of-the-order guys almost every baseball fan has heard of (also who each walk more than ten times per 100 PA). Maybe Jake Lamb has earned more attention and will in time become a household name like the other fourteen members of the top fifteen SecA scores.
The next noticeable oddity with SecA has to do with the high scores. David Ortiz leads all of baseball with a .518 SecA. The leader in batting average, Jose Altuve, hits .357, more than 150 points lower, and almost 100 points lower than the tenth highest SecA score. But SecA scores are not always higher than batting averages. SecA just has a higher standard deviation than BA. The highest SecA scores are higher than the highest batting averages, and the lowest SecA scores are lower than the lowest batting averages. To clarify, the MLB average SecA is .285, only twelve points higher than .273, the MLB average BA.
RC, discussed earlier, is the number of runs a player contributed strictly as an offensive player above those of an average player. RC takes into account all of the major offensive categories and is tedious to calculate, a three part equation outlined below:
Let A = H + BB – CS + HBP – GDP
Let B = (1.125*Singles) + (1.69*Doubles) + (3.02*Triples) + (3.73*Home Runs) + .29*(BB – IBB + HBP) + .492*(SH + SF + SB) – (.04*K)
Let C = AB + BB + HBP + SH + SF
Runs Created = ((2.4C + A)(3C + B)/9C) – .9C
RC disdains the intentional walk and accounts for sac bunts, sac flies, double plays, and strikeouts. It is a formula originally developed by Bill James that has expanded over time to account for a greater range of offensive statistics, with ratios derived from thousands of games of data in order to as precisely as possible break down what creates runs for an offense.
The top 25 list is below:
Player: RC: At least 10 BB per 100 PA?
1. Jose Altuve (HOU) 70.125 Yes
2. Mike Trout (LAA) 66.712 Yes
3. David Ortiz* (BOS) 63.358 Yes
4. Josh Donaldson (TOR) 62.989 Yes
5. Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) 61.998 Yes
6. Matt Carpenter* (STL) 61.941 Yes
7. Manny Machado (BAL) 60.86 No
8. Xander Bogaerts (BOS) 60.491 No
9. Daniel Murphy* (WSN) 60.297 No
10. Carlos Gonzalez* (COL) 59.471 No
11. Nolan Arenado (COL) 58.813 Yes
12. Ian Desmond (TEX) 58.724 No
13. Anthony Rizzo* (CHC) 57.933 Yes
14. Robinson Cano* (SEA) 57.604 No
15. Kris Bryant (CHC) 57.496 Yes
16. Marcell Ozuna (MIA) 56.311 No
17. Jackie Bradley* (BOS) 55.881 Yes
18. Mookie Betts (BOS) 55.663 No
19. Wil Myers (SDP) 53.835 No
20. Miguel Cabrera (DET) 53.173 Yes
21. Odubel Herrera* (PHI) 53.061 Yes
22. Brandon Belt* (SFG) 52.763 Yes
23. Corey Seager* (LAD) 52.747 No
24. Ian Kinsler (DET) 52.722 No
25. Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) 52.635 Yes
Some interesting facts can be drawn from this list. Fourteen of the 25 above hitters walk at least ten times every 100 plate appearances. The Red Sox, the highest run-scoring team in the majors, have four players on the Top 25, more than any other team. The leader, Jose Altuve, is a tremendous all-around offensive player who gets on base at a .432 clip while hitting .357 with an OPS+ of 170. Altuve leads all of baseball in hits, batting average, and OBP, and the American League in Stolen Bases, with 21. Altuve has been caught stealing only three times, which represents a success rate of 87.5%. It would follow that, given Altuve’s 2016 numbers, he would lead the majors in Runs Created.
At the end of the article is a spreadsheet to every MLB hitter’s BA, SecA, and RC (not available on baseballreference.com!).
As is a common problem with many standard batting metrics, there is no adjustment for home ballpark with Runs Created. Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) includes a home ballpark adjustment. It also takes a player’s Runs Above Average and compares it to the rest of the league, held constant through the years to the offensive environment around baseball. The formula for wRC+ is as follows:
wRC+ = 100*((wRAA/PA + LgR/PA) + (LgR/PA – (Park Factor*LgR/PA)))/(AL or NL wRC/PA excluding pitchers)
Next Week: On Sunday, July 10th, be sure to check out the first pitching installment of Sunday Morning Sabermetrics: ERA+, RA9, and FIP, three basic stats that go beyond the traditional ERA and delve deeper into pitchers' performances.
Link to spreadsheet: