New Offensive Metric Shows Schwarber Better than Baez in 2018, Among Other Surprises

Baseball Prospectus dropped a bombshell on the stats community with a new offensive metric that they call Deserved Runs Created (DRC+). You know how wRC+, wOBA, and OPS+ provide solid catch-all snapshots? Guess what, DRC+ blows those numbers out of the water with its reliability and predictive power. BP is showing that DRC+ is as much as 2.5 times more reliable than wOBA. That’s actually kind of insane.

So the obvious question, then, is what does DRC+ think of Cubs hitters and what does that mean for their respective futures?

My biggest takeaway from DRC+ is that it actually thinks Kyle Schwarber was…get ready…better than Javy Baez in 2018. Yes, you read that correctly. Schwarber received a 118 DRC+ — or 18 percent more deserved runs than an average hitter — compared to Baez’s 115. Facebook is gonna love that part.

Also, Anthony Rizzo is really freaking good at hitting baseballs. He’s been the most valuable Cubs hitter throughout the last two years with a 133 and 137 DRC+ in 2018 and 2017, respectively.

Third, DRC+ highlights the number of Cubs hitters who took steps backward in 2018. For instance, Willson Contreras recorded an impressive 122 DRC+ in 2017, but fell flat with a 91 DRC+ lat season. Same goes for Ian Happ, whose 111 DRC+ in 2017 dropped to 94 in 2018. And oof, Albert Almora Jr. struggled mightily last season and finished with an underwhelming 82 DRC+, which was the worst of all qualified Cubs hitters.

Just to finish up my negative thoughts here, it really sucks that Kris Bryant’s shoulder held him back. His DRC+ almost dropped by 25 percent.

While DRC+ is the most reliable and predictive offensive statistic out there right now, it doesn’t necessarily mean guys like Contreras and Happ won’t rebound. If anything, it shows that both were really promising in 2017 and, for whatever reason, got wrecked last season. But the above results are still powerful enough to make you question the degree to which both Contreras and Happ can bounce back, and we’ll likely see Theo and Co. entertain trade offers for the two hitters.

On the other hand, you can’t ignore just how good Schwarber has been the last two seasons despite the perception that he hasn’t fulfilled his potential.

I wish I could write more about the nuances and specifics of the algorithm, but the complete methodology behind DRC+ hasn’t been fully released. We’ll have to wait until BP publishes more to get complete clarity. For now, though, you can read about the general concepts and results here.

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Brendan Miller

Brendan Miller is part of the Cubs Related Podcast duo with Corey Freedman. Brendan, who has twice as many Twitter followers as Corey, often writes about baseball analytics and scouting for Cubs Insider.

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10 Comments

  1. Ah, lies, damn lies and statistics. I actually love them. It will be interesting to get an idea of how they are derived, but if it is computated like WAR, it may as well be women…few of us will ever understand.

    1. Alleluia to that. I didn’t even read the entire article after I saw the comparison of the 2 in the headline.

      Give me a break. I don’t know what it is with fans & Schwarber. Oh——I do now—-I think!

      It was that brief, but fantastic WS performance. He was indeed good, but stop it people! Stop it! It was a moment in time. He has come down to earth & walks among us. He is human with a good arm who can hit 30 homers.

      STOP!

      1. You realize that the folks at BP aren’t fans who are making these numbers up to favor certain players and that this post is simply presenting the facts of those metrics. I’m not sure how we’re still dealing with this conflation of stats and opinions.

        I agree completely that Schwarber being rated as “better” than Javy last season makes no sense, but any metric is going to have aberrations. Don’t hang that on someone who wrote about it, put it on the source of the stats.

        1. I know, no such thing actually. I DO know that every year a new & so-called brilliant comes around that is just ultimately useless.

          And I DO know that just about any player can be made to look good if you dig deep enough & analyze enough garbage.

          A fair amount of KEY stats are fine, but this stuff is just silly.

  2. Great. So now Theo’s off in a room with his analysts hatching a plan to get “Schwarbers” in all positions. Some junior analyst dares to blurt out “so what about this massive amount of strikeouts, and strikeouts with runners on base?”. Only to have the lead analyst throw the DRC+ chart back on the wall and yell “get with the program!!!!”

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