WPA (win probability added): WPA is the difference in win expectancy (WE) between the start of the play and the end of the play. That difference is then credited/debited to the batter and the pitcher. Over the course of the season, each players’ WPA for individual plays is added up to get his season total WPA.
Calculation Example: In game 4 of the 2007 World Series, the WE for the Rockies started out at 50%. When Jacoby Ellsbury doubled off Aaron Cook in the very first at-bat in the game, the Rockies WE declined to 44.2%. The difference or WPA was .058 wins (5.8%). Ellsbury was credited +.058 wins and Aaron Cook credited with -.058 wins.
Why you should care: WPA takes into account the importance of each situation in the game. A walk off home run is going to be weighted more than a home run in a game that has already gotten out of hand. This makes it a great tool for determining how valuable a player was to his team’s win total.
When not to use it: WPA is more of a descriptive statistic and not that great of a predictive statistic. There are better statistics to use in raw player evaluations than WPA.
Links and Resources:
David Appelman is the creator of FanGraphs.