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What did DRC+ think of the 2018 Giants?

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Baseball Prospectus launched a new hitting metric this week. How much did it hate the Giants?

Miami Marlins v San Francisco Giants Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

On Monday, Baseball Prospectus launched a new hitting metric which they’re calling DRC+ (Deserved Runs Created). As long as you’re familiar with OPS+ and wRC+ (and if you read this site, you should be), you can understand DRC+. It works on the same scale as Baseball Reference and FanGraphs’ metrics. A hitter with a DRC+ of 100 creates a league average amount of runs. For every point above 100, a batter creates one percent more runs than average. For every point below, a batter creates one percent fewer runs than average.

You can read a more detailed introduction to it here, and you can see how it compares to other publicly available hitting metrics here.

Now, if you’re anything like me, the first thing you probably did was check Brandon Belt’s Baseball Prospectus page to see what DRC+ thinks of him, and well, Brandon Belt has a career DRC+ of 112 compared to a 125 wRC+ and 124 OPS+.

Why the discrepancy? I don’t know for sure, but DRC+ purports to credit a player based on what should have happened, not what did happen. wRC+ and OPS+ don’t care if you were feasting off dinks and doinks or if every rocket you hit found a glove.

2013 was Brandon Belt’s best season according to FanGraphs. In that year, he slashed .289/.360/.481 for a 140 wRC+. His DRC+ that year was just 119, likely because Belt’s BABIP in 2013 was .351. DRC+ was actually more impressed with his 2016 campaign, giving him a 122 mark that year. Belt walked 104 times in 2016 compared to just 52 in 2013, and DRC+ gave him more credit for that as it views walks as more representative of player skill.

There are probably other factors that contribute to the difference. DRC+ attempts to account for just about everything including pitcher quality, batter handedness, and the effects of pitch framing.

DRC+ is also less impressed with Buster Posey. In his 2012 MVP campaign, the year Posey smote Mat Latos’ ruin on the mountainside, Posey hit .336/.408/.549 for a 164 wRC+. DRC+ had him at 142, and without digging too deeply, the .368 BABIP is the likely culprit. DRC+ is more than just BABIP, obviously. It’s just the first thing that jumps out to me in Belt and Posey’s case.

So DRC+ isn’t as impressed with the Giants’ two best hitters. What did it think about the 2018 roster as a whole? Below is a table showing the Giants’ team marks in the most commonly used hitting metrics and their ranking in each category.

Team Rankings

Stat Giants Rank
Stat Giants Rank
DRC+ 81 t-29
wRC+ 82 30
OPS+ 84 t-29
wOBA .290 29
OPS .667 t-29

I think I know how bad the Giants offense was, but every time I look at a leaderboard my perception somehow drops. If you want to feel a little bit better about the 2018 Giants, they rise all the way up to 26th in wRC+ if you remove pitchers. Take that, Royals, Orioles, and Tigers!

But if you do include pitchers, all the metrics agree that the Giants were the worst offensive team in the majors. But surely there’s someone on the Giants that DRC+ likes. There’s gotta be someone that DRC+ looks at and says, “Hey, he’s not that bad.”

Here’s every hitter who amassed 150 plate appearances for the Giants in 2018. It’s a low threshold, but I wanted to include Steven Duggar because he figures to be the everyday centerfielder next year. Although after seeing what DRC+ thinks of Duggar, maybe I shouldn’t have included him. In the table, I’ve included the difference between DRC+ and the two other metrics. A positive value means DRC+ thinks the player was better than the other metrics thought he was. I’ve also included the average of the two differences because I wanted to sort it by difference, but I didn’t want to give preference to wRC+ or OPS+.

Individual DRC+ Comparisons

Player DRC+ wRC+ OPS+ wRC+ Difference OPS+Difference Avg Difference
Player DRC+ wRC+ OPS+ wRC+ Difference OPS+Difference Avg Difference
Steven Duggar 67 87 90 -20 -23 -21.5
Austin Slater 61 80 79 -19 -18 -18.5
Austin Jackson 56 67 69 -11 -13 -12
Alen Hanson 77 86 90 -9 -13 -11
Gorkys Hernandez 78 83 85 -5 -7 -6
Nick Hundley 88 91 93 -3 -5 -4
Pablo Sandoval 94 97 99 -3 -5 -4
Brandon Crawford 95 93 98 2 -3 -0.5
Buster Posey 107 106 106 1 1 1
Evan Longoria 88 85 89 3 -1 1
Brandon Belt 109 107 108 2 1 1.5
Andrew McCutchen 116 115 113 1 3 2
Hunter Pence 63 59 62 4 1 2.5
Gregor Blanco 63 58 60 5 3 4
Kelby Tomlinson 57 48 48 9 9 9
Joe Panik 91 75 77 16 14 15
AVERAGE 81.9 83.6 85.4 -1.7 -3.5 -2.6

On the whole, DRC+ thinks the Giants were a little worse than wRC+ and OPS+, and man, it really isn’t a fan of the Giants’ young outfield. According to DRC+, Hunter Pence and Gregor Blanco were both better hitters than Austin Slater. It’s also not impressed with Alen Hanson, which doesn’t come as a surprise. Hanson doesn’t draw a lot of walks, and he benefited from a ton of batted-ball luck.

Other than that, there aren’t too many surprises. Everyone else fares about the same. Belt and Posey fared a little better. It split the difference on Brandon Crawford and Evan Longoria. It didn’t hate Kelby Tomlinson as much as the other metrics, but it certainly didn’t like him.

Then there’s Joe Panik. My sweet, summer child. I was wrong to give him a D in my review. He should have gotten a B-. wRC+ and OPS+ both thought Panik stunk, but DRC+ recognized that, hey, he may have been a little worse, but he was mostly unlucky. Panik only struck out 7.7 percent of the time, and he only trailed Michael Brantley in contact rate. Sure, he didn’t hit for power, but he should have had more singles to buoy his on-base percentage.

DRC+ also recognizes how unlucky Panik was in 2016. wRC+ and OPS+ had him at just 87 and 88 respectively, but DRC+ had him at 97. That year, his batted-ball luck was even worse, and DRC+ gave him credit for that. It similarly dinged him in 2015, so DRC+ giveth and DRC+ taketh away.

DRC+ doesn’t radically alter the way we think about the 2018 Giants as a whole. They were bad by just about every metric no matter how outdated. They were 29th in RBI! But Baseball Prospectus has given us a better lens through which to view offense, and it can signal something else going on in individual seasons. At the very least, it’s helped me feel a little better about Joe Panik’s future.