Fantasy Tools of the Trade: Midterm Review, Part 1 – Batters

by Luckey Helms

In honor of the MLB’s All-Star break, we thought it was time to take a mid-season review of all the material we’ve covered thus far. To put the stats in better context, we’ve also included the top 3 in each particular statistic at this point in the season. Next week we’ll cover pitching categories, but this week will focus solely on batting:

Batting Average Against Balls in Play (BABIP) – BABIP is the percentage of balls in play which go for hits. With the league average hovering around .300, a good hitter will have season-to-season BABIPs well above .300. This statistic can be especially helpful in this sense because you’ll be able to identify whether a young player is talented or just another flash in the pan in a particular season.

1 – J. Mauer (MIN), .387
2 – J. Peralta (DET), .385
3 – M. Napoli (BOS), .382

Isolated Power (ISOP) – A statistic to identify a power hitter, isolated power is a measurement of each batter’s extra bases per at-bat. The relatively simple formula (SLG – AVG) results in a player’s isolated power number. If a player were to only hit singles, he would never have an ISOP above 0, but power hitters will have an ISOP around .260 and .300.

1 – C. Davis (BAL), .402
2 – R. Ibanez (SEA), .310
3 – M. Cabrera (DET), .309

On-base Percentage (OBP) – A statistic which actually rewards batters for taking walks, on-base percentage is calculated by adding a player’s hits, walks and hits by pitch, then dividing that sum by the batter’s total at bats, walks, hits by pitch and sacrifice flies. In simple terms, it tracks the percentage a player reaches base on his own merit, rather than through an error or fielder’s choice. The most important thing to know about OBP is that players who walk are significantly more valuable and batting average does not necessarily reflect this.

1 – M. Cabrera (DET), .458
2 – J. Votto (CIN), .434
3 – S. Choo (CIN), .425

On-base Plus Slugging (OPS) – As the sum of a player’s OBP and SLG, OPS is supposed to best represent a player’s overall ability to get on base and hit for power. Each season the best hitter will possess an OPS of .900+ and the league leader will push an OPS of 1.000.

1 – M. Cabrera (DET), 1.132
2 – C. Davis (BAL), 1.109
3 – D. Ortiz (BOS), 1.008

Runs Created (RC) – Runs created was invented by Bill James, the godfather of baseball statistics, and estimates the total runs a batter will contribute to the team. In 2002 the stat was revamped and began to weigh singles, doubles, triples, home runs and the like according to their proportional value. Overall, RC is meant to be an accurate measure of an offensive player’s prowess (especially when compared to the league average).

1 – M. Cabrera (DET), 100.0
2 – C. Davis (BAL), 90.5
3 – M. Trout (LAA), 83.6

Slugging Percentage (SLG) – Per its title, slugging percentage measures an individual hitter’s ability to hit for power. Although it may appear complicated, slugging percentage is simply a batter’s total bases divided by his total at-bats. Therefore, a player who hits one triple, in a single at-bat, will have a 3.000 SLG. If his triple was the only hit in four at-bats, his SLG would drop to .750. While on-base percentage rewards walks, slugging percentage purposefully excludes them.

1 – C. Davis (BAL), .717
2 – M. Cabrera (DET), .674
3 – C.Gonzalez (COL), .610

Speed Score (Spd) – Another statistic invented by Bill James, SPD aims at rating a player’s overall speed. To calculate the most updated version of Speed Score, the following stats are weighed equally: stolen base percentage, stolen base attempts (as a percentage of opportunities), triples, double plays grounded into (as a percentage of opportunities) and runs scored (as a percentage of times on base).

1 – S. Marte (PIT), 8.6
2 – J. Ellsbury (BOS), 8.4
3 – C. Gomez (MIL), 8.3

Weighted Runs Above Average (wRAA) – This statistic, similar to WAR, measures the offensive run output of a player when compared to another average player. Across the league, a wRAA of zero is typical and a positive wRAA indicates the ability to produce runs. Conversely, a subpar wRAA is indicative of poor offensive performance.

1 – M. Cabrera (DET), 54.1
2 – C. Davis (BAL), 44.9
3 – M. Trout (LAA). 32.5

Wins Above Replacement (WAR) – WAR can be best described as an attempt to calculate a player’s total team contribution. Although the point of understanding various baseball statistics is to analyze a player from different angles, WAR is a helpful metric in understanding a player’s overall value. In simplest terms, this statistic tries to show what a player’s worth would be if he was injured and then replaced by a typical bench player. On average, a full-time position player will have a WAR of 2.0 and bench players will traditionally have a WAR of below 1.0. When building your roster, try to target position players with a WAR above 4.0 because that’s the level where the All-Star talent starts to separate itself.

1 – C. Gomez (MIL), 5.7
2 – M. Cabrera (DET), 5.6
3 – M. Machado (BAL), 5.0

That should do it for this supersized edition of Fantasy Tools of the Trade. As always, please let us know if there’s a stat you’d like covered. Also keep an eye out for next week’s review of pitching statistics. Thanks for stopping by!

One comment

  1. Tuco says:

    Good stuff to know but I’d be interested in learning how to use these stats for fantasy purposes.

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