Part I of this series examined pitcher performances and expectations. We rejoin our Hoos after they dropped a tough series to #9 NC State over the weekend. This post, as the title would suggest, will assess the Hoos batters beyond the usual stats of batting average and home runs.
The art of hitting boils down to two key and distinct skills: getting on base and hitting for power. Lineups are often dictated by which players possess which skill sets. For instance, in a lineup of 1-9, the 1 batter is often very good at reaching base, while the 4 and 5 batters often sacrifice on base skills for sheer power numbers. The 2 and 3 batters often have a blend of both, with 3 usually being the best overall hitter on the team. I wanted to determine the Hoo most talented in each of the important categories.
I used Weighted On Base Average (wOBA) to rank the Hoos skills at reaching base. wOBA alters the basic on-base percentage stat by giving more weight to a player’s ability to put his team in a position to score; granting higher values to doubles, triples, and home runs.
Of the regular starters, those who most often stroll the base-paths are King, Fisher, and Taylor. Respectively, they’re 4th, 5th and 1st in the usual lineup. The fourth and fifth spots seem a bit odd given our previous discussion. To hold down those positions, Fisher and King need to be two of the strongest power hitters on the team …
Which brings us to Isolated Power (ISO). ISO is simply a measurement of the number of extra bases (i.e. beyond a single) that a player reaches per at bat.
King, Fisher, and Taylor are also the three regulars who display the most consistent power, which easily makes them the best hitters on the team. At least for this Hoos team, or maybe for college baseball in general, the best hitters tend to be good at both key skills. This differs greatly from MLB where players are often pigeonholed into specific offensive roles.
The above graphs provide a more accurate idea of the Hoos ability to get on base and hit for power. But naturally, I couldn’t stop there. I had to know, especially among the top three hitters, who is the single best offensive player? How can we combine these two important metrics, arriving at one stat to rule them all?
MLB already has WAR (Wins Above Replacement) to capture all elements of a player’s offensive contribution. I decided to create my own offensive stat because the concept of “wins over the average MLB replacement player” would be skewed in translation to the college game. In other words, WAR constants are tailored to MLB, and the various formulas often employ some obscure data not available for college players.
So I devised Hoos Relative Offensive Contribution (hROC). First, in order to combine wOBA and ISO, I had to standardize them; otherwise their different magnitudes would have granted wOBA undue influence on the final sum. I used the historical average of Hoos players in both stats to create a standard base. Thanks to the magical powers of stat databases and cut and paste, this wasn’t nearly as difficult as I anticipated:
I could then calculate each current Hoo’s variation from each historical average (displayed in cwOBA and cISO below). This put both wOBA and ISO on an even playing field. After simple addition, voila!, we have a figure representative of both stats (cTotal). … but this is really small and difficult to differentiate. So I decided to multiply this total by each player’s number of plate appearances in order to weed out those who have unsustained impressive stats. However, this would unduly punish Hoos with lots of plate appearances who have a negative cTotal, making them look worse than some of the backups. To solve this problem, I moved all the cTotal values to positive by adding the minimum score to each before multiplying by PA.
This means that one player will always be the reference point of hROC. That current “honor” goes to Nate Irving. The rest of the players have an hROC number indicative of their relative contribution to the Hoos offense. These magnitudes reveal both the individual differences and the drop off between the best and the rest
I will probably continue to tweak this stat in through future posts. For now, though, the chart and graph should provide an interesting reference point for the Hoos batters. The Hoos face another important ACC weekend against Wake Forest.
-  by striking out a lot, *cough* Ryan Howard *cough* ↩
-  Just for reference, I’m a huge Phillies fan. I’ll try not to let that leak into my posts here, but sometimes, as in the previous footnote, I’ll reference Phillies players that are representative of my point. ↩
-  percentage of plate appearances where a base is reached in any way ↩
-  see the last column of plate appearances ↩
-  slugging percentage minus on base percentage ↩
-  I briefly considered calling the stat PRECIOUS and coming up with some baseball related words for each letter. But that was a little too nerdy, even for me. …… Actually it was just too hard to come up with the right words ↩
-  like Brandon Downes in the graphs above ↩
-  since they would have a more negative number ↩
-  the drop off is best shown in the curve of the next graph ↩
-  also, go Phillies ↩