Let’s just say it like it is: math sucks. Is it important? Yes, but it still sucks. Heck, you’re most likely nodding your head while reading this. However, math is very important in the game of baseball due to the use of sabermetrics by baseball clubs.
The use of sabermetrics became popular in the world of baseball after the release of the book by Michael Lewis dubbed Moneyball. Moneyball is based on the history of sabermetrics and the successful use of it by the Oakland Athletics during their miraculous 2002 season where they won over 100 games despite having massive turnover on their roster and a low budget.
Soon after the book was released, major league teams started to hire full-time sabermetrics analysts in their front office. After failing to lure Athletics general manager Billy Beane, the Boston Red Sox implemented the use of sabermetrics by hiring James as a senior adviser and Ivy League grad Theo Epstein as its general manager in 2003. The Red Sox would eventually win their first World Series in almost 75 years in 2004, breaking the “Curse of the Gambino.”
The average college baseball doesn’t need to use sabermetrics to determine how good LSU’s batting lineup is. Whenever you have players like Dylan Crews, NC State transfer Tommy White and Air Force transfer Paul Skenes in your lineup, it doesn’t take Einstein or Oppenheimer to figure out why the Tigers have one of the best, if not the best, batting lineups in the country.
Although I share your hatred of math, it didn’t stop me from actually using pen and paper to do math problems. Yes, I sacrificed my hatred of mathematics to help you understand sabermetrics. The six players I used were Dylan Crews, Tommy White, Skenes, Tre Morgan and Jordan Thompson due to their successful 2022 campaign behind the plate.
Here are some of the equations I used.
Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA)
The casual baseball fan knows how important on-base percentage (OBP) is. It’s a stat that a lot of MLB front offices use to judge how well a batter gets on base whether it is getting a hit or getting walked by the pitcher.
However, the stat isn’t nearly as good as the weighted on-base average (wOBA). The best comparison to OBP and wOBA Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick. Sure Top Gun was a great flick to watch with the boys. However, the first Top Gun can’t match up with Top Gun: Maverick due to the badassery of all the action that the first Top Gun lacked and the unnecessary love story that seemed forced in the first Top Gun as well.
wOBA is a measure of a player’s time on base while also taking into account that not every time a player gets on base results in the same outcome. OBP is beneficial for looking past a player’s batting average as the sole factor for his ability to get on base and contribute runs, but OBP also looks at a walk, a double, and a home run as the same thing when they are not.
wOBA uses weight factors to unbalance the six primary ways to get on base: walks, hit-by-pitches, singles, doubles, triples, and home runs and then divides the sum of these products by plate appearances.
Here’s the equation, just in case you might want to try it despite your hatred of math.
((0.69 x Walks) + (0.72 x Hit-by Pitches) + (0.89 x Singles) + (1.27 x Doubles) + (1.62 x Triples) + (2.1 x Home Runs)) / (Plate Appearances)
Runs Created (RC)
According to MLB.com, runs created (RC) estimates a player’s offensive contribution in terms of total runs. It combines a player’s ability to get on base with his ability to hit for extra bases. Then it divides those two by the player’s total opportunities.
Another metric that was invented by James, runs created measures how well a hitter completes one of the central focuses of his job-creating runs.
To determine runs created, you add hits and walks together, multiply that by the total bases covered, and then you would divide that by the number of at-bats and walks.
Here’s the formula if you want to try it:
Total Bases x (Hits + Walks) / (At-bats + Walks)
Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP)
An easy way to isolate a true batting average for a player from the effects of his power, walk, and strikeout rates is to utilize the batting average on balls in play (BABIP) statistic. This statistic takes into account a player’s batting average on balls he puts into play. However, BABIP leaves out home runs, walks, strikeouts, and hit-by-pitches.
For example, a batter who goes 2-for-5 with a home run and a strikeout would have a .333 BABIP. He’s 1-for-3 on the balls he put in play. This metric usually benefits contact hitters like Hall of Famers Derek Jeter and Ichiro.
Here’s the equation:
(H-HR) / (AB-K-HR+SF)
Isolated Power (ISO)
If you like players who hit home runs, or dingers as the kids say, then this is the stat for you. This stat is reserved for the power hitters on a baseball team and is used by MLB front offices to look for power hitters.
It takes doubles, triples, and home runs, weighs each one accordingly, and divides them by at-bats. It’s been used way before James started his revolutionary writings that changed baseball forever., as Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey established it in the 1950s.
The only flaw that ISO may have is that it doesn’t take into account the number of times a player strikes out, so it doesn’t help if you are trying to figure out the number of times a player can get a hit or to get on base. Joey Gallo if you’re reading this, the ISO stat line is the only one that goes in your favor when you hit the ball.
Here’s the equation if you want to try it:
Doubles +Triples(2) + Home Runs(3) / At-Bats
Plate Appearances per Strikeout (PA/K)
Plate appearances per strikeout is a basic ratio determined by dividing a player’s total plate appearances by his number of strikeouts. Hitters who don’t strike out very much will have high PA/SO marks.
To put this in perspective, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson makes millions of dollars performing in films year after year, but not all of them are hit movies nor you would even want to see them again. However, Leonardo Dicaprio, who also makes millions of dollars from acting, has appeared in hit after hit.
The reasoning for this is that Leonardo Dicaprio knows what he’s looking for in a film that is going to be a critically acclaimed movie that is well directed and produced. This is why Dicaprio has consistency with his films, while Johnson, usually acts in action films which are usually hit-or-miss.
PA/K lets people know who strikes out the least but also has a good batter’s eye. I wonder what Joey Gallo’s PA/K would be. As a Yankee fan, I might try to figure that out.
Here’s the equation if you want to try it:
Plate Appearances / Strikeouts
As I expected, Crews was the leader in wOBA and runs created. I expected this to be the case because Crews is the leader in hits for this season as well as being in the top four on the team for both doubles and home runs, which are key stats that contribute to wOBA and runs created.
One thing that you should be optimistic about this year’s output is that Crews, Dugas, Jones and White produce a lot of runs. It also helps when all four of them have at least nine home runs each this season.
Crews has created a whopping 60.23 runs, which is about 19 runs more than the runner-up Dugas. The reason why that stat line is so high for Crews is that he leads the team in total bases (96), hits (57) and walks (39). All three of those stat lines make up a large portion of the runs created formula.
ISO seems like it loves Jones and White. This makes sense due to the fact they are three of the most powerful hitters on LSU’s baseball team. However, ISO must have beef with Morgan. Although Morgan is one of the best contact hitters in the country, he does not have the power needed enough to satisfy the ego of ISO.
Morgan is the leader in triples and has eight doubles on the year, but to satisfy the ISO you need to hit home runs, which Morgan did not do. To be clear, it’s not even their fault. ISO is just being petty, I guess.
However, there is one metric that loves Morgan, and that is PA/K. Morgan had an astronomical PA/K of 9.61. This is due to Morgan’s excellent batter’s eye. Morgan led LSU in walks with 42 last season and struck out the least among the returning players this year on LSU’s roster, only striking out 26 times a season ago. Morgan was also the only one who hit .300 in the BABIP metric, where he recorded a .308 BABIP.
One of the more surprising outcomes of the results is White’s plate appearances per strikeout stat line. Despite his record-breaking performance as a freshman at NC State last season, White struck out 4.7 times per plate appearance. Now, White is second behind Morgan in plate appearance per strikeout with 8.78 plate appearances, a massive improvement.
Although it was a lot of work to crunch in the numbers, I hope that this was beneficial to any baseball fan that wants to know more about sabermetrics. Sabermetrics is one of the most important aspects of baseball due to the multiple small details that go into how a player could have success on a particular team. Even if you hate doing math, it is completely worth it.