Baseball today is filled with advanced metrics for numerous achievements. For example, you have Baseball WHIP for pitchers, Baseball WAR for all players, and Baseball OPS for hitters. These stats calculate the effectiveness of an individual’s performance and not necessarily what they do to help a team achieve their goal via smaller moments.
While advanced stats dominate the discussion of baseball players today, one metric sometimes falls by the wayside. That metric is QAB, which you may or may not have heard when watching or playing baseball. So what does QAB mean in baseball, what are examples, the formula, and more? Find out more about this stat below.
What Does QAB Mean in Baseball?
QAB in baseball stands for a quality at-bat. A quality at-bat means you did something productive via a team goal during a game. Most of the time, a quality-at-bat doesn’t make the highlight reel of SportsCenter or the front page of a newspaper, but it can be a game-changer.
What are Examples of a QAB in Baseball?
- Dropping a successful sacrifice bunt that moves runners over in a scoring position
- Getting a sacrifice fly to move a baserunner up or even to score at home plate
- You are working the pitch count to a full count or more. By having a long at-bat appearance, you can help tire out the opposing pitcher. In addition to having the pitcher become tired, you also give your team more chances to pick up the delivery and pitches of a pitcher before they come to bat.
- A walk
- Hitting a home run (or run scoring hit) after taking many pitches
- Getting on base via a base hit
- A hard hit ball that becomes an out
- Hit by pitch (HBP)
- Having a 2 out RBI
- Moving a baserunner over via a ground ball out to the right side of the diamond
How Important are Quality at-Bats?
Quality at-bats are a critical aspect of any MLB team. Sometimes having a QAB might not show up in the box score or highlight reel, but it can be a game-changer in the outcome. To understand an often overlooked QAB, we should consider an example.
Let’s pretend that a baseball game is tied 5-5- in the bottom of the sixth inning. There is a runner on at third base with one out, and you have a hitter up to bat. The infield is playing back, so any ground ball hit will automatically score the runner. However, instead of making contact with the ball, the hitter swings as hard as possible and records a strikeout.
It turns out that that will be the only time the home team will have a runner in scoring position for the rest of the game, and they lose 6-5 in the eleventh inning. While it is not 100% the fault of the hitter in the sixth inning not recording a ground out to score a run, it’s still a common reason why teams lose games non-the-less when you look back. Sometimes players and coaches are obsessed with the big moment and might overlook the importance of a small ball play.
What is the Formula for QAB?
Number of Quality at Bats / Plate Appearances = Quality at Bat %
For example, let’s pretend that a batter has 80 plate appearances during a season. During that time, that player had 20 QAB moments with a combination of the example items above. If we take the 20 QAB against the 80 plate appearances, that hitter had a 25% QAB score for the season.
This data becomes helpful in measuring that 25% QAB against another player’s performance on a team. For example, a baseball manager might have two baseball players on the bench who can pinch-hit for the pitcher. If there is a runner on third with one out, the baseball manager might look at QAB percentage to see who has the best chance to drive in a run, even if they record an out via a grounder.
Is QAB an Important Stat?
QAB is a stat just like any other metric for teams to consider when constructing a team. For example, Moneyball (the movie and the book) is obsessed with the on-base percentage (OBP) as a metric for potential scoring. Unlike other teams that favored home runs and a pure slugging percentage of players, Money Ball looked at metrics like QAB when constructing their squad. It comes down to what direction you want to take your team and if QAB is essential or not.
In summary, QAB is sometimes a forgotten metric in the age of sabermetrics and individual player performance. Individual players and teams sometimes overlook the importance of a sac bunt or sac fly when trying to win a game. Even something as small as a sac bunt can be a gamechanger later in the game, but it all comes down to what a team values and what is essential for them and their head coach to implement.