wRC and wRC+

Building on what we have gone over before there are concrete ways to know exactly how valuable a player is to the team he is playing on. There are antiquated ideas that a players RBI total will tell you how good that player is. For a player to get an RBI someone had to have done his job and gotten on base unless it is a home run of course. There have been many attempts to quantify exactly what a player provides offensively to the team. Bill James came out with Runs Created in his 1985 abstract. Tom Tango then improved upon it with his wRC formula using wOBA. If you have ever heard someone use the stat weighted Runs Above Average it is very similar to wRC, except wRC is neutralized to 100 instead of 0.

Just like OPS+ Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) measures how a player’s wRC compares with league average after controlling for park effects. Also, like OPS+ a player’s stats are averaged to 100, meaning a player with a 103 wRC+ is 3 percent better than average. Again all the plus signifies is that the player’s stats are adjusted for park, league, and era. wRC+ is the most comprehensive statistic used to measure hitting performance because it takes into account each offensive action and then adjusts them for the park and league context in which they took place. Ever wonder how much better at the plate Hank Arron was than Frank Thomas? Trick question, the Big Hurt was actually 1 percent better than hammering Hank.

If you’re looking to measure a batter’s value using a cumulative statistic that credits a player for total production rather than on an at-bat by at-bat basis, then wRC is extremely useful. wRC takes all things into account but doesn’t adjust for park, era, and league like wRC+ does. I don’t see the point in not adjusting things, but hey who am I tell to you how to look at a player’s offensive production. wRC+ brings all the virtues of wOBA plus two added benefits; park and league adjustments. A .400 wOBA at Coors is much less impressive than one at Petco, for example. Additionally, wOBA tracks with overall league offense, so you can’t use it to compare players of different eras very effectively. A .400 wOBA in 2000 isn’t as impressive than one in 2014, but a 140 wRC+ in 2000 means essentially the same thing in 2014.  

When you’re looking at a player and looking at his wRC average is 65, excellent is 105, and a player with a 40 is considered awful.  In the wRC+ stat excellent is 160, awful is 60, again with the average being 100. As a general breakdown, this distribution works fine with wRC listed per 600 plate appearances.

Last season the White Sox had only 1 player with an above average wRC+, it was Jose Abreu. Jose had a wRC+ of 114. The next highest players on the Sox were Yoan Moncada (97) and Yolmer Sanchez (87). Mike Trout lead all of baseball in 2018 in wRC+ with a 191, six points better than the MVP Mookie Betts. It was not the first time Trout didn’t win the MVP when he lead the league in wRC+, in 2012 he finished second to Miguel Cabrera in MVP voting but lead baseball in wRC+. That was the year Miguel hit for the triple crown.

Admittedly we spent much more time going over wRC+ than just regular wRC, but as I said, I prefer it. It is easier to read due to it being based off a 100 average and it is adjusted for park, era, and the league, it is not adjusted for the position though. Both wRC and wRC+ are context-neutral, meaning that a hit with men on base and a hit with no one on are weighed equally and the score of the game or inning in which the event occurred does not matter.

Thanks as always for reading and we will be running these pieces all week for what we are calling advanced stat week. Let us know what you would like to see me tackle or if you have any questions. You can ask or just follow us on twitter @SidedSox, and follow us on Facebook. You can also email us at SoxSided@Gmail.com.


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