After a break during the offseason, our Stat of the Week series returns today with an important offensive metric know as Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+). You can find this metric on Fangraphs with a full explanation here.

Last season I broke down wOBA which is OPS on steroids. The wOBA idea feeds into wRC. What wRC+ tells is how much better a player is than average when it comes to producing runs for his team. Simpler yet, it’s a catch all offensive metric that can be used for easy comparison between players.

Like WAR, this isn’t a perfect tool, but through some calculations based on the historical value of each plate appearance outcome, we can get an estimate of how much value a player brings to his team. League average wRC+ is scaled to 100, meaning that a player with a wRC+ of 120 is 20% better than a league average hitter. wRC+ is also adjusted for park and league effects, so if you play at Petco Park, you get a little boost because the park suppresses offense.

For reference, both Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout posted wRC+ of 166 in 2012. The most average players in 2012 by wRC+ were Brett Lawrie and Rickie Weeks. Let’s look at Lawrie’s line to illustrate. He hit .273/.324/.405 with 11 HR in 536 PA. That looks about right for league average. wRC+ tells us Cabrera was 66% better than that, which makes sense given a .330/.393/.606 line.

You’ll need a big enough sample for wRC+ to tell you anything meaningful in a predictive sense, but as the season wears on take a look at the wRC+ leaderboard to get a sense of who the best offensive contributors are.

I encourage you to go back and read my wOBA breakdown because it stresses the idea that OBP and SLG are improperly weighted when you add them together to get OPS because a double isn’t really worth twice as much as a single. wOBA gives you a better answer to the question OPS tries to answer, and wRC+ scales it to league and park averages.

Go explore wRC+ for yourself and feel free to post any questions you may have. We at New English D are big believers in sabermetrics, not because we want to boil the game down to a spreadsheet, but because we always want more information about the game. More stats and metrics are a great way to learn more about the game and evaluate what you watch.

Skeptical? Here are the best 8 players by wRC+ last season: Cabrera, Trout, Braun, Posey, McCutchen, Fielder, Encarnacion, and Cano. The math might scare you off, but don’t let it. Just learn how to read the output. You don’t have to buy into everything you see on a sabermetric site, but I think that if you try it, you’ll like it. There is a ton you miss by staying with the traditional stats. And who wants to miss baseball?

Calculate it yourself!

[...] team’s first 7 games and has 3 HR and a .500/.567/1.000 line to go with his .645 wOBA and 326 wRC+. If you had Jed Lowrie in the first to 1.0 WAR pool, come claim your prize. It’s a unicorn. [...]

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[…] Below, we have The Nine worst seasons by wRC+ since 1901 in which the player drove in 100 or more runs. wRC+ is a statistic that measures how a player stacks up to other players in the league and it factors in park effects. It’s easy to interpret the number. A wRC+ of 100 is league average and every point above 100 is a percent better than average a percent below average is a 99 wRC+. For example, an 85 wRC+ is a player who is 15% worse than a league average player. 115 wRC+ is 15% better than league average. You can read all about wRC+ here. […]

[…] This post is about his offense because that’s the interesting thing. Let’s start with the basic career trends before we get into the last two seasons. If we just look at his basic offensive rate, he’s aged pretty well (what’s wRC+?) […]

[…] PA can go up against Hank Aaron’s nearly 14,000. Next, I compared that RBI Rate to wRC+ (what’s wRC+?) which is a statistic that compares offensive value to league average while controlling for park […]

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[…] plate appearances he posted an unimpressive .176/.234/.306 stat line which produced a 48 wRC+ (what’s wRC+?). In total, his career wins above replacement (what’s WAR?) was -1.1. That’s a small […]

[…] in all, for hitters I’d tell you to look at Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) because that is a park and league adjusted version of wOBA, meaning that you can compare players at […]

[…] If you correct for their ballpark advantage Angels were a better offensive club using wRC+ (what’s wRC+?) which is a statistic that measures a team compared to league average. The Angels were 8% better […]

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[…] lifting has been done for us, courtesy Neil Weinberg over at New English D, where you can find a very nifty wRC+ calculator that you can use once you have the proper constants for a given metric and season, which you can […]