Sabermetrics 101: Runs Created

Runs Created or RC is a tool created by Bill James in an attempt to calculate how many runs an individual player creates for his team. If you follow James, then you probably know of RC already, but if you don’t and you are tired of the same old stats then you may want to pay close attention to this post. Here is how important RC is in Bill James own words:

With regard to an offensive player, the first key question is how many runs have resulted from what he has done with the bat and on the basepaths. Willie McCovey hit .270 in his career, with 353 doubles, 46 triples, 521 home runs and 1,345 walks — but his job was not to hit doubles, nor to hit singles, nor to hit triples, nor to draw walks or even hit home runs, but rather to put runs on the scoreboard. How many runs resulted from all of these things?1

Statistically speaking, RC is the player’s ability to get on base (his on base factor ) multiplied by his chance of advancing (his advancement factor) divided by his overall possible opportunities (his opportunity factor). To get these figures, James took a players hits plus walks (H + BB) total and multiplied that by his total bases (TB), then divides that by the total of his at bats (AB + BB) in it’s most basic form. To see the variations at which James takes into consideration, just follow this link or the previous one. The basic version of this stat gives the user an accurate measurement with a 5% margin of error and with the more complex variations that number decreases (see note # 3).

Runs created, if used correctly, can assist those looking for an edge (that is if your competitors aren’t already using it also) in player evaluation. This tool helps you to see the true value of a player’s offensive prowess in the most important stat of scoring runs which is what wins games. Right? After all, you could have the best pitching and defense on the field but if you don’t score any runs you can’t win the game.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in defense and especially good quality pitching, but as far as offense goes RC is one of the most important stats on the market.

For some external links on RC, please follow the previous link provided by Baseball-Reference.

All links and Notes found in this post come from Wikipedia on Runs Created.

Note 1: James, Bill (1985). The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract (1st ed.), pp. 273-4. Villard. ISBN 0-394-53713-0.

Note 3: James, Bill (2002). Win Shares, p. 90. STATS, Inc. Publishing. ISBN 1-931584-03-6.

Peter Schiller also writes monthly for and almost daily at his personal baseball blog, Baseball Please follow the links to read his work at these two other sites.


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