Jul
17
2013

# Know Your Stats: Weighted Runs Above Average (wRAA)

We continue our intro to sabermetrics series with a relatively new statistic, but a very relevant one nonetheless: Weighted Runs Above Average. wRAA is essentially wOBA converted into runs, but understanding wRAA is crucial to understanding Wins Above Replacement (Fangraphs version).

One of the biggest issues with rate statistics like wOBA and On-Base Percentage is it doesn’t put the production into baseball terms. What does a .340 wOBA really mean? wRAA makes it easy by putting it into the “currency” of baseball: runs. Before we get started, here is the wOBA formula with the weights from the 2012 season:

wOBA = (0.691×uBB + 0.722×HBP + 0.884×1B + 1.257×2B + 1.593×3B +
2.058×HR) / (AB + BB – IBB + SF + HBP)

The formula for wRAA is pretty simple. To convert a .350 wOBA to wRAA, you simply subtract the league wOBA (.315 in 2012), and divide that by the wOBA scale for that year, which slightly changes based on the particular weights for that season. Then, to adjust for sample size and playing time, you multiply by plate appearances. Here is the formula:

wRAA = ((wOBA – league wOBA) / wOBA scale) × PA

Now here is the formula for someone from 2012 with 600 plate appearances and a .350 wOBA:

wRAA =  ((.350 – .315) / 1.245) × 600

wRAA = (.035/1.245) x 600

wRAA= 16.87

Just as it sounds, this player would be worth 16.87 runs above average. How good is that exactly? Here is a “rule of thumb” chart for the stat:

Is it perfect? Absolutely not. No statistic is perfect. Is every single created equal? Nope. Some players hit them in the biggest spots. A walk-off single in the ninth inning that drives in two runs is more impactful on a game than a single in the third inning with no one on and your team down by nine runs. However, if you’re trying to break down a player’s production and put it into neutral context, wOBA and it’s variations such as wRAA are the way to go. Don’t think sabermetrics doesn’t consider the in-game situations, however. There are statistics that calculate how important that seventh inning double actually was and how it improved a team’s chances of winning the game. Instead of using broad terms of “clutch” and “not clutch,” some of the statistics can actually break down how clutch that hit was and we’ll cover those later in the series. However, if it’s neutral production that you’re looking at, use wOBA and wRAA. How much of a difference is a .350 wOBA to a .340 in baseball terms? For that, wRAA is the way to go.

### In Context

#### About the Author: Connor O'Brien

I'm a 16 year-old blogger, high school student, and lifelong Mets fan. I've been blogging about the Mets in some form or another for about four years. I embrace the new age, sabermetric way of thinking, but also recognize the importance of scouting and player devlopment. Follow me on Twitter @UpAlongFirst

• Another example of why Wilmer Flores needs to be given every opportunity to play 2B.

Let’s suppose Flores ultimately becomes a .280/.340 guy with 20 HR. That kind of production will likely be just average or even slightly below average for 1B. However, if he puts up those kind of numbers as a 2B, he could be a perennial all-star.

• Lets see……he’s a bum at 1st base, but an allstar at 2nd. Hmmmm, is this for real?

• Nice job with the hyperbole, but if you can’t understand this simple concept then you just understand baseball.

Do you think Marco Scutaro or Brand Phillips would have any chance of making an all-star team if they were 1B? One look at a stat sheet would tell you that Marco Scutaro was the 2nd best offensive 2B in the NL this season, but he would only be the 9th best offensive 1B.

The position you play matters and to say otherwise is just foolish…

• wRAA is interesting because the point on offense is to score runs so that’s an important place to evaluate a player. One thing I like about wRAA is that it’s adjusted based on the league and year so it can be used to compared players from different season or eras. We can compare guys like Miguel Cabrera to the best hitters of the 1950s for example.

On the negative side, something like runs or runs created is influenced by the team so evaluating an individual player without looking at the rest of the team doesn’t give a full picture.

• I’m confused.. What is wOBA Scale and how is it calculated? Also in your example, you showed someone with 16.87 wRAA, but in the wRAA by Position chart, it looks like the average first baseman has a wRAA of 300+ !!! Is that supposed to be 3.00?

Overall, my feeling about this stat, is that it just builds upon the assumptions of wOBA in terms of how a certain type of action is worth a certain number of potential runs (e.g. a walk is worth 0.72 potential runs or something like that). Although wOBA might be more of a per-at-bat stat, this one is more of a per-season stat.

I’m really enjoying the debate these articles are bringing. And appreciate the education. Thanks Connor!

• The chart is actually league totals. So the league total wRAA for first basemen is 300.

• So what is wOBA Scale (1.245 in your example)? Is it some way of attempting to make up for a different number of actual runs scored during a year (for all teams), as compared to the potential run value predicted by wOBA?

• I guess to carry that thought forward, doesn’t dividing by 1.245 when calculating wRAA, indicate that wOBA is inflated by 20%?

• The scale sets wOBA to OBP-like measures. It inflates the values to be similar to OBP, so dividing it just undoes the scaling.

• I appreciate the hard work you put into this, but I think stats like these are overkill. I think can get an informed about a player by using their RS, BA, 2B, HR, RBI, BB, K, OBP% and Slug% statistics. If you enjoy this stuff, that’s fine. But In my opinion, I don’t think it’s really necessary.

• You can typically get a pretty good picture, but often times there are things even the most trained (or most experienced) eye cannot see, which is where sabermetrics come in IMO. IT just gives a more complete story, better than the one you get with just the basics.

• I also found that wRAA exacerbates the issue with wOBA’s penalizing the sac fly.

The perfect example is Marlon Byrd. Marlon Byrd has a wBOA of .347, however his 6 SF (2nd in the league) count against him so when it comes to wRAA his sac flies are much more evident.

For example, if sac flies were taken completely out of the equation, Byrd’s wBOA would be 6 points higher (everyone else’s would be around 2-3 points higher on average as well).

This makes a much bigger impact when calculating wRAA. Instead of the 7.9 wRAA Byrd is currently at, he would jump to 9.2, which is a better representation of his value. I hypothesize this is why players like Byrd have lower “WAR” than what they are really worth.

• Crediting a player for a sac fly is giving him credit for the favorable position he was put in. The player in question made an out. It just so happens his team mate was able to mitigate the damage.

• you don’t need to credit him. Just don’t penalize him for it.

A sac fly results in a team increasing their score by 1 point so its illogical to have a catch-all statistic that considers a sac fly to be a negative play 100% of the time…

• Credit is issued for the run scoring, but it’s given to the baserunner who worked his way on base in most cases and the batter(s) in between in some cases who moved the runner along. It’s really based on in-game situations. But in the specific case of sac flies, the batter is “penalized” because all he did was make an out. The fact that there was a guy on third and was able to score on his out had nothing to do with the batter.

Think about this: If there’s a guy on third and one out and the batter hits a long fly that scores the runner, he’s rewarded in the sense that it’s a sac fly, not an official at bat and his batting average doesn’t suffer. But same situation, the guy grounds out to second base and the run comes home. Why is that not a sac ground out? What’s the difference? Why is the guy who grounded out penalized in the sense that it does count as an official at bat and negatively impacts his BA?

• Debates like the sac fly debate are why fWAR is still considered a range. Its impact would only be small, however, as each WAR is 10-11 runs, so the difference in the fWAR would be about .2 or .3.

• A sac fly, if you think about it, is a misnomer. A sac bunt is exactly that, a player sacrifices himself to move the runner up. It’s his intent to get himself out. Not so with a sac fly. It’s not the batters focus to get himself out. Scoring the run is just the silver lining and the batter can’t control the base-out situation.

That’s why this (and other) advanced stats penalize players for sac flys, because the batter made an out, which is a negative. The positive outcome of scoring the run should not be credited to the batter because he had nothing to do with the (hypothetical in this case) man on third, one out scenario he finds himself in. He was between the dugout and on deck circle when that all went down.

• FWIW when you go up to bat, you never think “I want to hit a sac fly.”

• I disagree with you both. I do believe a player can go up there looking for a sac fly. I said it before, but a year to remember 86 vhs – Tim Teufel in an interview said all he was doing was trying to get the ball deep enough for a sacrifice fly and he accidentally hit a grand slam.

Now, you and I can discuss whether he SHOULD try for a sac fly, but that’s a major league player telling you that he was trying to hit a sac fly. So I don’t think it’s fair to say a player never thinks that way – because Teufel did which likely means others do as well.

• jinx

• I think players absolutely attempt to hit the ball in the air. No question about it. But then why are they rewarded with no negative impact on some stats when guys who follow a lead off double that intend to hit the ball to the right side do when the runner moves to third? Because a run scored? My contention is that the batter has no impact on the base-out situation he finds himself in. He did his job situational hitting-wise, but one guy is rewarded and one guy not and the only difference is the situation, which he has no control over.

• Well right, I don’t like stats that pretend things didn’t happen. For example on a basic level, I myself do not like earned run versus run.

If Murphy commits an error and puts a runner on and that runner gets to 3rd, and then Matt Harvey gives up a base hit and the run scores – I don’t like the error giving the pitcher a get out of jail free card. It’s still his job no matter what happens behind him to get outs and not let runners score. A pitcher gets benefits of great fielding, but he gets let off the hook for poor fielding.

I hate the idea of at bats not counting. If you come into the batters box 4 times and you get a hit 1 time, then you got a hit 1 out of 4 times. I don’t like the idea of erasing AB’s based on a walk lets just say… unless it’s IBB or something to that effect.

• I think the point some are trying to make, perhaps not so eloquently, is that sac flies in many cases is not really equal to just an out. There is some skill in trying to drive the ball in the air and ensuring you don’t just ground out. Getting the run home from 3rd is of paramount concern and while no batter wants to “make an out,” there are some who are better at others at improving the odds that the runner does in fact get home by hitting the ball in the air. There is a definite adjustment in swing and approach to the incoming pitches.

But this is just a minor flaw. You have pointed out repeatedly, and most of know, that none of the stats are perfect nor are they viewed as such. There are flaws but they provide a pretty close picture and are far better than what existed historically. Over time someone will improve the formula even more so and these stats will hold less value. Its a minor flaw and it doesn’t in any way detract from the value of the statistic as it is used.

• I am going to appeal to all my friends who don’t like Sabers yo just ignore these articles from now on and when they result in a 10 -15 comment attention span they will stop trying to rile us up by publishing this DOGMA!

It’s all in an attempt to stir us up so lets not give him what he wants and when no one pays any attention to these bullcrap stats they will stop writing an article a day about them!

• It’s not an attempt to stir up anything. When I write an article, do I think to myself “gee, I wonder what “Metsie” and “Corporal Clegg” will think about it? Absolutely not. If you stay away, all the power to you. It’ll encourage others to comment without being attacked. There are people that actually like to learn about this stuff and open to it so I’m going to keep posting.

• Good. Great attitude. Keep them coming. Maybe the five people might stay away, but the dozens of people who are already away because of these five will come back and we can have informed, on-topic discussions.

• Good Luck with that!

• This is pretty simple. You enjoy writing about something where based on past comments others do not share your enthusiasm.

That it for whatever reason is so difficult for someone to simply skip over a topic you enjoy while others do not enjoy and instead rather try to mock you in varying ways for your enthusiasm is something I will never understand but whatever the case just try and remain above it and don’t let such things take away from what you enjoy.

• Metsie,
You asked in another thread for stats that talk about how important a clutch hit is and all that. Well here are two for you that I think you’d like: WPA and RE24

WPA is how every action (including sac flies, bunts, etc) helps or hurts your team’s chances of winning.
RE24 (named for the 24 base-out situations that are possible) is how that action effects run expectancy.

• I’m a grown woman. You’re a grown man. I dont care for learning all these new stats. You dont care for learning all these new stats. So why not just ignore what doesn’t interest you and read what does? Just like choosing channels on your tv. You seem to have a breakdown whenever this young man writes something. Don’t you find that odd? Change the channel.

• Trust me, everyone involved would prefer it if you would just skip over these articles rather than commenting on them just to complain.

• Actually, I’d guess that the motivation behind these articles was that several of us criticized journalists in general for bandying these new stats about without explaining them at all… Personally, I appreciate the education (and the debate), regardless of whether I’d use sabr stats or not.

• I wish they were all like you.

• Thank you for another well written and very clear piece.

Its another example of why i just don’t understand the vehemence with which some rail against this stuff. You will never hear me talk about or ask about or reference wRAA. I don’t need to know about it and it doesn’t add to my personal understanding about who is good and who isn’t. But its clear where there is value to a scout or someone interested in debating the very nitty gritty details of production and cause and effect.

I appreciate what you are doing. Its nice to at least understand some basics about some of the alphabet soup beyond the core statistics.

• For those who are at all interested in learning more about SABR and peripheral stats, spend some time on Fangraphs.com. Not only do they have countless articles explaining these stats, they also have an overwhelming amount of raw data for each major league and minor league player.

You can teach yourself the language by simply looking up a legendary player like Babe Ruth’s numbers, and compare them to a guy like Ike Davis. Just to see the two extremes these stats can express. Once you figure out what’s amazing and what’s terrible, you’ll be able to picture how good a player is if someone were to throw wOBA or wRC+ at you.

• Fangraphs has those great Rule of Thumb charts in their library, which I think I have screenshoted on all my stat posts so far. Those will give you a good idea of what’s good and what isn’t.
But with wOBA it’s scaled to OBP, so a .370 wOBA is good, just like a .370 OBP is good.

• I would say that a .370 wOBA is more impressive than a .370 OBP. That OBP can be misleading if a player just has a good eye at the plate but can’t hit for average or for power. But yeah, the scale is the same.

Fangraphs has also been a haven for Mets prospects recently. Guys like Bowman, Plawecki and Boyd have been getting a lot of love.

• nice job here. I myself will likely never, ever use stats like this. They are above my pay grade. I read an interesting piece in Golf magazine (Aug 2013 edition) while waiting for a haircut. It’s about players hiring statisticians to use advanced metrics to prepare them for each tournament now. A player like Brandt Snedeker if anybody follows golf is one player who has thrived in the game since using this method.

There is a professor at Columbia who has revamped some golf statistics http://www.columbia.edu/~mnb2/broadie/research_golf.html and his work has stemmed a whole new look at the game.

Proving it’s not just baseball that is changing the way they look at information but even a game like golf.

• Football and especially Basketball metrics are growing fast as well. Every sport really is going through big changes on the statistical front.

• People are stubborn, it’s the way of the world. People don’t like the idea of change because they “think” it will be harder. When in essence, we all change regularly just like the world changes around us. I mean, you would think that some of these people still use rotary phones with the way they act.

• you also have some people who aren’t intellectually capable of understanding these new statistics and dismiss them accordingly.

BA and ERA are simple stats thats a layman can figure out, but coefficients, linear weights. It’s simply over some people’s heads so its much easier to blast the stats instead of asking for help in trying to understand them.

• People could understand most if they actually gave it a chance. Metsie just said in the other thread there were no sabr stats that took into account in-game situations, when if he had done even a minimal amount of research, he would know that isn’t true.

• *she

• No thats NOT what Metsie said but nice try…

You guys claim Sabers take in game situations into account…

I asked you to show where that happens in wOBA and War…

You failed! Your showed other metrics not the calculations they used to make the metrics!

So No I didn’t say that I said what YOU said was wrong..NOT ALL Sabers take those things into account!

Especially not the ones that were the subject of conversation at the time!

• “Which metric takes into account Man on 3rd 1 Out Tied game in the ninth?
And says WALK DON’T HIT A FLY BALL TO WIN THE GAME! HMMM?”

http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/know-your-stats-weighted-on-base-average-woba.html

• Runner on 1st and 3rd, 1 out, mets down by 2 in the 8th inning.

Reyes at the plate. Grounds into SS who tries for home plate since doubling off Reyes is damn near impossible.

Runner holds at 3B.

Is that the same thing as a walk ?

Is that the same thing as a Sac Fly ?

Is that the same thing as a RBI groundout ?

At the end of the day, you can have all the stats in the world…but you still have to watch the games and make an eyeball analysis. No amount of stats can replace that

• That’s a fielder’s choice. That speaks to my point above about sac flies. Assuming the runner was safe at home, Reyes is impacted negatively due to the fielders choice. But if he hit a 350 foot fly ball, he’s not. Why the double standard? That’s the issue I have with sac flies.

• “At the end of the day, you can have all the stats in the world…but you still have to watch the games and make an eyeball analysis. No amount of stats can replace that”
Does anyone disagree with this? Do I actually have to link to my “Debunking Myths About Sabermetrics” post again?

• Oleo none of the people who have railed against these stats here has ever claimed they were ABOVE their head…

You should not that some of the folks that LIKE them have said this including Jessup and TRS!
That should tell you what you need to know…Most people who like them don’t get them too complicated…

The only time the complexity of Sabers is brought up by the rest of us is when we ask them to Judge a player based on a Saber they are supporting and they have to PUNT and go BACKWARDS to see the stats that made it before they can answer the question!

To many who don’t like Sabers we feel these extra MASHING UP of METRIC SOUP is UNNECCESARY!
It can all be done (if your SMART enough) by just looking at the Metrics without Making soup out of them first!

Still yet to hit 45 which just goes to show how many people really CARE about these Metrics and Connors Explanation of them!
Your Sales Attempt seems to have failed miserably!

• You, Alex, etc. not making 50+ comments each is no evidence that people don’t like this.

• Yes there are stats in golf such as such as number of putts per round. number of greens reached in regulation (GIR), driving accuracy, distance of drives off the tee — i.e avg yards, consecutive cuts made, money winnings earned per year, and of course ranking in the world. None of these stats are convoluted or contrived unless you count the exception is “Ball Striking”: Even there its easy to understand just like OPS = OBP + SLG PCT.,

Ball striking is also a statistical category tracked by professional golf tours that is a measure of a golfer’s combined abilities in driving and hitting greens. To produce its Ball Striking rankings, the PGA Tour combines a player’s ranking in Total Driving and Greens in Regulation (GIR). For example, Player A ranks 17th in Total Driving and first in GIR. Add those two numbers together for a value of 18. If that’s the lowest such value, then Player A is No. 1

• Hotstreak, who ya got in The Open Championship?

• Jessep I never pick who will win but I grown to like Jason Day.

http://www.officialworldgolfranking.com/rankings/default.sps

• Hotstreak: I’ve started following pretty in depth for the last 3 years. I’m in a golf pickem league actually hah.

My favorite is Snedeker – even before I read that article. I like that he plays quick, doesn’t waver on his shot selection and just gets up there and does his thing.

So in my league I picked Snedeker-Mannassero-Jimenez-Leonard (golfchannel separates out players into groups)

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