After going 5-for-9 with two home runs, six runs scored and four RBI this past weekend against the Cubs, Luis Robert leads all White Sox players with at least 100 plate appearances with a .939 OPS and 157 weighted runs created plus.
One hundred plate appearances — or Robert’s 176 — are a little light to be meaningful. Anything can happen in small samples. Still, in Robert’s small sample, he towers over the .724 OPS that is the major-league average. Plus, stats are normalized so 100 is average, which means his wRC+ indicates he has produced offense at 157% of the major-league average.
There’s another way to look at production, and that’s in terms of runs. Bill James’ runs created was one of the first stats to combine all forms of offense and put overall production into context. Runs created and its per-game derivative, RC/G, remain useful and form the offensive backbone of James’ Win Shares, which allots a portion of each team’s wins to its players.
Robert has 35 runs created, which means his production normally would lead to about 35 runs. If teams used 27 outs in every game, his RC/G would be 8.5. But sometimes they use more outs in extra-inning games and sometimes fewer when the home team wins before using all its outs in the ninth inning.
Baseball-Reference.com’s calculation for Robert uses an average of 26.3 outs per game. That leaves his RC/G at 8.3.
One way to visualize that: A lineup of nine Roberts at his current production level would average 8.3 runs per game. Your mileage may vary. Sometimes teams clump together hits or hit unusually well with men on base. Sometimes they don’t. With any statistical model, there’s room for gaps between average results and short-term reality.
There are several versions of the runs-created formula. James began with a basic formula that used hits, walks, total bases and plate appearances. The most recent version, which he used in developing Win Shares, accounts for factors that include lineup position.
Most commonly used is the technical version, which is what you’ll find listed at Baseball-Reference. That formula is (H+BB-CS+HBP-GIDP) x (TB+(.26x(BB-IBB+HBP))+(.52x(SH+SF+SB))) / AB+BB+HBP+SH+SF.
Players are credited for getting on base, for advancing and for outcomes — including extra-base hits — that are best at moving runners. The balance of results is divided by opportunities at the plate.
Runs created aren’t park- or competition-adjusted, as wRC+ and other modern stats are. No such adjustment is needed in Win Shares, where the calculation starts with team wins.
Through Sunday, Robert was followed on the Sox by Yasmani Grandal (6.5 RC/G), Eloy Jimenez (5.8), Yoan Moncada (5.8), Adam Engel (5.6), Jose Abreu (5.4) and Tim Anderson (5.4). When Sox hitters have been healthy, they’ve far outpaced the major-league average of 4.5 RC/G.
For the Cubs, Frank Schwindel has been hyper-productive in his 101 plate appearances with 9.2 RC/G. More than a grain of salt is called for in such a small sample, but he has been a big boost to an offense in need, as have Patrick Wisdom (6.4) and Rafael Ortega (6.2).