One month into the season, a lot of the numbers looked at by the mainstream baseball audience can be misinterpreted and can even disillusion the most hardcore of fans. Stats DON’T always paint the right picture, but sabermetrics and some of the more advanced statistics attempt to paint a more accurate one. I am an unabashed supporter of sabermetrics and fully believe in the value they have in the game. It should be noted that with the numbers below, most of these still haven’t stabilized enough to be taken at face value. For example, David Ortiz‘s BABIP of .462 will be impossible to sustain over the course of season, given both his career average (.305) and the fact that the highest single season total is Babe Ruth‘s in 1923 (an absolutely incredible .423). They just are listed for your own interpretation and viewing pleasure.
Below, I have the Red Sox ranks in various sabermetric, statistical categories, along with a brief explanation of each stat. Also, I have a link to more in-depth definitions of each statistic for those that wish to understand these stats a little better.
*Stats from games played through May 5th*
Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA): Weighted on-base average is a statistic that measures a hitter’s overall ability based on the relative run values of each offensive event. Unlike OPS, which assumes a point of SLG is the same as a point of OBP (OBP is roughly 1.8 times more valuable than SLG), wOBA takes into account the very run values of each of these events. Then for simplicity, wOBA is scaled to be like on-base percentage (a .400 wOBA is very good, .320 is league average, etc).
Red Sox Rank: 3rd in MLB, .341 wOBA
Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP): BABIP is simply the amount of balls in the field of play that go for hits. This differs from Batting Average in that BABIP excludes both HR and strikeouts. BABIP can be a good measure of whether teams or hitters have experienced some luck-good or bad. For example, a line drive that gets snagged by one fielder might get through against a lesser fielding team. While league average is around .300, over time, BABIP should regress to each player’s career norms. Hence, faster players that tend to beat out a disproportionate amount of infield hits will have much higher BABIPs than .300 (think Ichiro, career .347 BABIP). Additionally, players that hit a ton of line drives will have elevated BABIPs since line drives tend to fall in for hits more often (think Miguel Cabrera, career .347 BABIP). Just as particular players beat the lucky/unlucky generalization, teams that play in hitter’s parks will have higher BABIPs than those that play in more unforgiving home environments. This can be evidenced in the Rockies and Red Sox having the best team BABIPs in baseball for the past 20 years.
Red Sox Rank: 1st in MLB, .327 BABIP
*Side Note: Mike Carp has a BABIP of .579!!*
Isolated Power (ISO): ISO is a measure simply of a hitter’s raw power. Unlike slugging percentage, which includes singles in its formula (I like SLG, but singles shouldn’t be in a power statistic), ISO just measures a player’s ability to hit for extra bases. An average ISO is around .150, with .180 being above average and anything over .200 being among elite power company.
Red Sox Rank: 4th in MLB, .175 ISO
Individual Leaders (min. 50 PA): David Ortiz (.400), Mike Napoli (.285), Daniel Nava (.220), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.195)
Walk Percentage (BB%): Pretty straightforward here, just the percentage of walks per plate appearance. League average is around 8%, with 10% being above average and 15+% being elite.
Red Sox Rank: 3rd in MLB, 10%
Individual Leaders (min. 50 PA): Jonny Gomes (21.9%) Dustin Pedroia (14.4%), Stephen Drew (13%), Daniel Nava (11%), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (10.5%)
Later this week, I will look at some of the Red Sox pitching ranks among saber-stats.