A Different Way of Measuring the Quality of Reds Hitters

A Different Way of Measuring the Quality of Reds Hitters

I’ve always been a numbers nerd. When I was a kid, I’d keep track of which mascots won the animated mascot races, to see who had the best win percentage at the end of the year. Do I need professional help? Probably.

But I think numbers are fun.

As fans of baseball, numbers help us to understand what’s happening on the field. Modern data has a dramatic influence on how the game is played and understanding this data brings us closer to the action. In this vein, advanced metrics and analytics are a dramatic improvement over traditional statistics in capturing the value a player provides.

Many statistics track the specific outcomes of a plate appearance (such as a walk, single, home run, etc). However, I wanted to have a deeper understanding of the quality a hitter was providing regardless of outcome. With this in mind, last year, I created a new stat called Weighted Quality of Plate Appearances.

Again, it’s likely that I need professional help.

As its name suggests, this metric is designed to show how often a hitter has a quality appearance at the plate by assigning a proper weight to each of those outcomes. It demonstrates the talent of a hitter by measuring their plate discipline and ability to make solid contact.

A barreled ball is worth 50% more than a walk, so it’s actually fairly easily to calculate. (Barrel Rate x 0.6) + (Walk Rate x 0.4)=Weighted Quality of Plate Appearances (wQOPA).

So, how does the current Reds lineup fare when measured by wQOPA?

Establishing Context

Metrics aren’t very helpful if a baseline isn’t established. Before we dive into the quality of Reds’ plate appearances, let’s provide context.

No real surprises. When examining 2023 hitters using wQOPA, the top tier of hitters reflects the best hitters in the game today. Further down the tier list, the less production. The top hitters, such as Matt Olson, are consistently getting walked and barreling the ball. Average hitters tend to have a leaning. Christian Yelich, for example, has a stronger walk rate than barrel rate. Below average hitters have both a poor walk rate and barrel rate.

So, how are our Redlegs doing this year based on wQOPA?

2023 Reds

As one might expect, given our offensive success this season, many of the Reds score well with my custom statistic.

Dang. That’ll do Reds. That’ll do.

Joey Votto (in a very small sample size) is currently the only hitter in the elite tier with this metric. The vast majority of the team is ranked at least average or above average. It’s particularly encouraging to see Will Benson ranked so high up on this list, as this metric is inclusive of his abysmal start. This is largely due to his surge in walk rate during the month of June (19.7% vs. 4.8% in April).

There is a key implication that this metric indicates for the offense: Sustainability.

Due to the random nature of baseball, teams often perform very strongly in small sample sizes. For example, you don’t have to watch a broadcast long before someone pulls out a crazy statistic like lefty/righty splits during the month of June with runners in scoring position. While fun, these metrics lack predictive power, due to working with such a small sample size of data.

The offensive surge of the Cincinnati Reds doesn’t appear to be a flash in the pan. It’s the result of high quality of plate appearances from the team overall. This offense has been the real thing.

Additionally, not measured by wQOPA is the team’s speed. Currently, the Reds are ranked as the fastest team in Major League Baseball. This speed has also had a direct contribution to the overall offensive success, turning would-be ground outs into infield singles.


The Weighted Quality of Plate Appearances stat captures how well hitters are making contact, as well as their plate discipline, with each attribute weighted to capture their true value.

It also offers a partial explanation behind the Reds offensive success. The team as a whole is doing a solid job of taking walks and barreling the baseball. This serves as an indication that the team’s offensive power is sustainable.

With the continued emergence of rookies like Elly De La Cruz, this offense hasn’t reached its full potential yet. As he and other rookies continue to adjust to MLB pitching, there’s a good chance the team average will move into the “Above Average” tier.

Time to #GetThePitching and win this whole thing.


Mike Perry

Mike is a lifelong Reds fan who grew up watching games at Cinergy Field with his family. A recent MBA graduate, Mike has always had a passion for data analytics and uses his understanding of big data to better understand and appreciate what is happening on the baseball diamond and in the front office. When he's not watching baseball, you can find Mike and his wife frequenting different restaurants and coffee shops in the area. For questions and inquiries, please reach out to [email protected].

9 Responses

  1. Jeffrey A. Ganote says:

    Thanks Mike!! I too am a stats nerd!
    I have enjoyed the analytical nature of Reds Content Plus. A true in depth look on the team without sugar-coating to spin positive’s regardless of the analysis.
    Now to your wQOPA…I love it!! How does TJ Friedl fall below average. I’m a frequent watcher if games and I certainly try to keep up. I k it he has some bunt hits which may not register the barrel rate.
    I suppose his walk rate may not be good either. However, using statistical data the average eye sees on a daily basis, His batting average is north of 0.300!!

    • Jeffrey A. Ganote says:

      Follow up…love that Will Benson is in that AA category.
      Kevin Newman doesn’t surprise me.
      Joey Votto has absolutely barreled the ball at times since returning.
      Clarification… How do you determine barrel rate? EV? Other metric?


    • Mike Perry says:

      Glad you enjoyed it! The stat is more heavily weighted towards barrel rate, in which Friedl scores low. Friedl’s outcome stats (like batting average) are boosted by his speed. He’s so much fun to watch.

  2. Zirkle Blakey III says:


  3. Ernie Pantusso says:

    Just a thought, should this metric include a component that assigns a negative value for strikeouts? Double plays aside, putting the ball in play is almost always better than striking out. If you have two players with identical barrel rates and walk rates, but Player A strikes out 15% of the time and Player B strikes out 20% of the time, Player A will be a more productive hitter.

    • Mike Perry says:

      That’s an interesting thought. I’ll have to look into that. You might see a modified version of the stat in the future!

  4. Thomas Green says:

    Interesting! Thanks, Mike. How did you calculate that a barrel is worth 1.5x a walk?
    And how does a bunt factor in?

    • Mike Perry says:

      Great questions. A bunt would count against the barreled ball rate, so players who bunt often would be hurt by this metric.

      To calculate the value, I looked at expected slugging percentage. The expected slugging of a barreled ball is 1.500 vs. 1.000 for a walk.