In baseball, statisticians use the metric wRC+ to measure how many runs a player creates while factoring in external factors such as ballparks and their outfield and foul territory areas. The wRC+ includes wRC (weighted runs created), wRAA (weighted runs above average), and PA (plate appearances). This statistic, where 100 is the baseline, extends the wOBA (Weighted On-Base Average) and offers the most holistic analysis of a batter’s performance.
So, who has some of the highest wRC+ numbers in baseball history? What is the formula to calculate wRC+? What is the difference between wRC, wRAA, and wRC+? Why is wRC+ a good stat in baseball? Are there any flaws in wRC+? Is OPS+ or wRC+ better?
Here is the complete breakdown of what wRC+ means in baseball
Who Has the Highest wRC+ in Baseball?
According to Statmuse, with a minimum of 500 plate appearances in a season since 1900, Barry Bonds holds the single-season wRC+ record with 244 in 2022. Next comes Babe Ruth in 1920 with a 237 wRC+ record. Third and fourth place belong to Barry Bonds, while positions five and six return to Babe Ruth.
Ted Williams cracks the top ten with 223 and 221 during his 1957 and 1941 seasons, respectively.
Aaron Judge was the most recent player to crack the top 20 (number 20) during his 2022 season. His 2022 season was a 207 wRC+ statistic. He also had 62 home runs that season, the most ever for an American League hitter.
What is the Formula to Calculate wRC+?
Fangraphs breaks down the wRC+ formula with the following equation:
wRC+ = (((wRAA/PA + League R/PA) + (League R/PA – Park Factor* League R/PA))/ (AL or NL wRC/PA excluding pitchers))*100.
wRC+ is scaled to have an average league performance of 100, so any time you look at a player’s wRC+ stat, you can easily decipher if the player is above, at, or below average. Every point above the league average is considered a percentage point. Easily decipherable, the wRC+ makes it simple to evaluate which players will most likely perform better during a season.
What is An Example of a Player’s wRC+ During a Season?
For example, Mike Trout earned a wRC+ score of 176 in 2022, creating 76% more runs than the average hitter within the same number of plate appearances.
Another way to look at a player’s wRC+ is to pair it with their OPS for that season. For instance, Mike Trout’s 2022 season had a .999 OPS, was considered All-Star level, and would be in the conversation for the most valuable player award with those stats.
Aaron Judge had a monster 2022 season with 62 home runs. His wRC+ that season came out to 171, so he was still behind what Mike Trout did that year, which shows how much further the formula goes than counting home runs.
What is the Difference Between wRC and wRC+?
wRC calculates how many runs a batter contributes, while wRC+ takes it further by factoring in external elements such as ballpark dimensions. wRC provides a general overview of a batter’s performance. At the same time, wRC+ seeks to include other aspects of the player’s performance and environment to give a more precise analysis of a player’s skill.
For example, a left-handed hitter playing home games at Yankee Stadium might have more home runs since the right field porch is shorter than other venues. To help level out the playing field against all hitters, you would use the wRC+ formula across the board, with Yankee Stadium’s dimensions playing a negative role in the formula for that player. On the other hand, if a player were playing in a larger ballpark than the league average, then the venue would play positively in their formula since they had a disadvantage.
Another difference between wRC and wRC+ is that wRC is a counting stat, meaning a player’s wRC will increase throughout a season, as opposed to wRC+, which is a rate stat, meaning a player’s wRC+ will change throughout the season in accordance with their performance.
What is the Difference Between wRAA and wRC+?
Like wRC, wRAA (Weighted Runs Above Average) calculates how many runs a batter contributes compared to the league average. In contrast, wRC+ calculates at a constant 100 league average and factors in ballparks to account for the home run hitter-friendly parks like Coors Field or Yankee Stadium.
Why is wRC+ a Good Stat in Baseball?
wRC+ is a tremendous stat because it consolidates a player’s offensive value in a single number while considering external factors. wRC+ is one of the most popular and accessible statistics as it provides the most accurate calculation of a player’s skill represented in a single number. Derivative of the wOBA stat, wRC+ assigns a fair value to each play; for example, a home run is much more valuable than a single.
The wRC+ stat is weighted at a constant 100 average, so one look at a player’s stat, and you can see if they are above or below average (above or below 100). This way, baseball fans can quickly determine which players to focus on and start making predictions about the season based on the simple stat.
Are there any Flaws in wRC+?
One flaw that tends to occur with wRC+ is using it to measure players who play different positions on a team. For example, comparing Aaron Judge against Mike Trout with their wRC+ stats is good because they both play the outfield and are considered the best hitters on their team.
However, when you compare wRC+ numbers between players who play different positions, you start skewing the results. For example, a second baseman who hits ninth for a team shouldn’t be measured against someone like Mike Trout or Aaron Judge. Instead, you should measure their wRC+ numbers against the other second baseman in the league to see how they stack against the rest.
Is OPS+ or wRC+ Better?
OPS+ combines OBP (on-base percentage) and slugging percentage while factoring in the ballpark. OPS+ puts more weight into extra-base hits for a player, like how a triple is more valuable than a double.
Meanwhile, wRC+ encompasses everything a hitter does to benefit the team offensively.
Conclusion: What is wRC+ in Baseball?
In summary, wRC+, or weighted runs created +, is a statistic to calculate a player’s offensive value while factoring in external factors such as the differences in ballparks. wRC+ is a deeper version of wRC built off of wOBA.
While similar to wRAA and wRC, wRC+ differs due to calculating a league constant of 100 and factoring in those ballpark differences. A player’s wRC+ will often fluctuate throughout the season depending on how the player performs.
wRC+ is commonly understood as one of the best statistics to analyze a player’s offensive value because it factors in all variables that contribute to the possible offensive value a player can contribute on the plate.
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