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.