Batting WPA > 1.0: 1990-2008

In case anybody out there has failed to notice, I have been particularly obsessed this month with WPA and interesting situations involving the metric. We have explored the ten best offensive plays of the season via shifts in win expectancy, the ten best pitching performances via single-game WPA, as well as instances when hitters and pitchers either exceed +1.0 WPA, or fall below -1.0, in a game. When discussing hitters who have been worth one or more wins in a single game, our focus was on Kurt Suzuki and Cody Ross, both of whom accomplished the rare feat in 2008.

There are, however, 35 other players who have done so at one point in their career, and it just felt natural to share these players and their great games. From 1990-2008, 19 players were so great in a single game that they actually contributed more than one win to their team. First, here are the players from the Y2K era:

6/20/08   Kurt Suzuki      1.002 WPA   4-5, 1B, 2 2B, HR, 5 RBI
6/7/08    Cody Ross        1.133 WPA   2-4, 1B, HR, BB, SB, 3 RBI
6/29/07   Mark Loretta     1.002 WPA   2-3, 1B, HR, BB, 2 RBI
9/7/05    Ryan Langerhans  1.115 WPA   3-4, 2 1B, 2B, BB, 3 RBI
6/11/04   Todd Helton      1.071 WPA   4-5, 1B, 2 2B, HR, 5 RBI
8/24/03   Brandon Inge     1.032 WPA   3-5, 2 1B, HR, SB, 3 RBI
8/21/00   Brian Daubach    1.273 WPA   3-5, 2 1B, HR, 4 RBI
5/10/00   Midre Cummings   1.023 WPA   1-2, HR, 3 RBI

Not exactly your standard list of all stars, eh? Sure, Cody Ross and Brandon Inge have power, and Mark Loretta has been solid offensively his whole career, but outside of Todd Helton this list is not all that impressive. And yet, these eight hitters put together arguably the top single-game performances of the whole decade. To top things off, Daubach’s game in late August of 2000 was over one-tenth of a win better than the next closest player. Did Brian Daubach really have the best game of the decade?

Now, let’s take a trip back to the 1990s, when Alanis Morisette and Hootie and the Blowfish hogged the radio, South Park began its first season, pogs were popular, and people knew who Jon Nunnally was:

4/8/99    Raul Mondesi     1.055 WPA   4-5, 2 1B, 2 HR, BB, 6 RBI
6/13/98   Travis Lee       1.036 WPA   3-5, 1B, 2 HR, 5 RBI
6/10/98   Dante Bichette   1.074 WPA   4-6, 1B, 2B, 3B, HR, 5 RBI
9/10/96   Steve Finley     1.063 WPA   4-5, 2 1B, 2B, HR, SB, 3 RBI
9/2/96    Mike Greenwell   1.029 WPA   4-5, 1B, 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBI
8/24/96   Fred McGriff     1.093 WPA   5-5, 2 1B, 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI
6/11/94   James Mouton     1.005 WPA   2-4, 2 1B, BB, 2 RBI, 3 SB
8/12/91   Barry Bonds      1.103 WPA   2-4, 2 HR, BB, SB, 4 RBI
5/10/91   Roberto Alomar   1.042 WPA   3-4, 1B, 2 HR, 2 BB, 2 RBI
4/16/91   Dave Henderson   1.082 WPA   5-6, 2 1B, 2 2B, HR, 5 RBI
6/23/90   Dwight Evans     1.147 WPA   3-5, 1B, 2 HR, 3 RBI

Okay, so yes, Dante Bichette’s game was a cycle, let’s clear that up first. And, yes, Mike Greenwell knocked in nine runs on that fateful September 1996 day. Fred McGriff is the only player not to be retired. Also, Dwight Evans, whose game actually led all 1990-1999ers, appears to be the least interesting, at least relative to the stats posted next to the WPA. Which brings me to the next point: Evans’ WPA of 1.147 is 0.126 wins, behind Daubach’s 1.273. Did Brian Daubach really have the best game offensively from 1990-2008!?

Via WPA, which counts certain plate appearances as worth more than others, due to the clutchiness factor built in, it appears so: Brian Daubach had the best offensive game relative to shifts in win expectancy over the last nineteen seasons.

Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

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Bichet’s cycle and WPA got me thinking…are all WPA stats created equal? In a park like Coors field in the 90s, might a 1 run lead mean less than at a place like Safeco or Petco? Just wondering…