The one thing I love about twitter is meeting other Cubs fans, talking baseball, and getting to know them. There is never anything wrong with talking baseball, and I want to give fans an opportunity to share their thoughts on the Cubs here on the blog. So our first new feature will be all about stats, the advanced kind, so you know what I’m talking about if I throw some sort of weird numbers at you. Brandon has volunteered to introduce readers to some of these stats every Sunday, I hope you enjoy the feature, and give Brandon a follow on twitter to talk some baseball.
— Hello all. My name is Brandon. Welcome to a new series on advanced sabermetrics. (I need a name for it. Help me out.) Some background for you. George asked me to come on and do a series introducing the blog to advanced sabermetrics. I was happy to oblige. What is my goal in writing this column? Well it’s quite simple, I want to make you a better baseball fan. I feel as though there are two types of fans. Type 1 are the kinds of people who watch games and analyze from memory. The brain doesn’t have the capacity to remember 162 games every year which is why statistics are so important. The other kind is the type of fan that is type one but also uses sabermetrics to back up arguments and to judge players. I am hoping to convert you from type 1 to type 2 by the end of this series and if you already qualify yourself as #2, I hope you just learn a little something.
Each week, we will dive deep into one or more statistics. Each article will explain what the stat is, how it is calculated, why you should use it, and then also some context with Cubs players. All data for the series has been acquired from FanGraphs. If you have never been to FanGraphs, you have done life wrong and you need to check it out. They provide player specific stats but also have a great blog. Check out Jeff Sullivan; he is absolutely fantastic. Anyways, we will go in depth on the stats I feel are the ones that you should judge players off of. For example, wOBA or wRC+, but more on that later.
We are going to dive deep into BB% and K% today, or walk rate and strikeout rate. The reason I am doing them together is because they are so similar. They are talking about different topics, but other than that they are really similar. BB% and K% talk about how much an individual player walks or strikes out. It’s that simple. One of the things to understand is that this is measured based off of plate appearances and not at-bats. Walks don’t count as at-bats, which is why when you see a player’s line for a single game, walks are not included.
How is the stat calculated? Very simply. BB%= BB/PA*100. K%=K/PA*100. Everyone should understand what goes into a stat to calculate it. Sure, math might not be fun, but it is good to know. The multiplication by 100 is to make the stat into a percent.
Let’s get into the context of the stat. The higher the walk rate, the better. Walking is good. It means they have plate discipline and also get on base. (If you want to read more on plate discipline stats, go check out Michael Cerami’s article on Bleacher Nation. He broke down all of those stats and what they mean. I won’t be talking about them because he already has, and it’s a fantastic article.) High strikeout rates are not good. It means they strike out a butt load. Someone you may think of when it comes to high K% is Javier Baez. We are all familiar with his strike out problems. It is the reason he is not with the major league team right now. Strikeouts make fans mad, they make players mad, but it is detrimental to daily games that no team excessively strikes out. When you read the graphs below remember the next few sentences. Use the following numbers to mess around with the graphs. The league average in 2014 for K% was 18.6%. League average BB% was 8.1%. Same context goes for BB% as it does K%.
Have fun interpreting those charts. Be careful to remember sample size. I did leave pitcher stats in, because those are really fun to look at. I am going to play around with tableau more and try and figure out how export better. Scott Lindholm of Beyond the Box Score and Wrigleyville BP uses Tableau a lot and it’s thanks to him that we have these graphs. One person to look at is Anthony Rizzo. We know this guy is a monster already but look at how much he walks, and how little he strikes out. It made me have an even greater appreciation for him.
If you have any questions at all, reach out to me on Twitter: @bagman928 or feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be happy to help you out. Also, let me know if you want me to mix up whether I do all batting stats or mix it in with some pitching and fielding stats. See you next week! —
Hope everyone enjoyed the first “Sunday Stats,” if you are interested in sharing something about baseball just give me a shout on twitter.