WILLMAR - The Northwoods League's website contains statistics aplenty for its 20 teams and their players. On it, you can locate Josh Bissonette's batting average, as well as Marcus Still's stolen bases and times caught stealing. Or, if you're looking for something a little more advanced, it contains proof that Harrison Schnurbusch leads all current Stingers in OPS (on-base plus slugging).
But the more inquisitive baseball mind may ask if there is more advanced data available to evaluate individual players.
The answer—thanks to Excel spreadsheets and way too many afternoon hours of pregame downtime—is a now a "yes."
Two of the better metrics that are publicly available for evaluating hitting performance are weighted runs created-plus (wRC+) and weighted on-base average (wOBA). Calculating the numbers in those two statistical categories for the Stingers gives us a better look at who the most productive batters on the squad this season.
The wRC+ measures a player's run creation at the plate on a park-adjusted basis (meaning it neutralizes players' various home parks, putting them on an even scale) and is then compared to league average. A figure of 100 is exactly average, while anything below is below league average and a number above means the batter is an above league average hitter.
For example, if a player has a 110 wRC+, he is 10 percent above league average at the plate.
Entering Tuesday night's action, Bissonette leads Willmar with a 128 wRC+. That number is thanks to Bissonette's power-and-discipline combination. The Stingers shortstop has four homers, seven doubles in addition to walking in 10.6 percent of his plate appearances this year.
Following Bissonette are Schnurbusch and Danny Rodriguez with figures of 122 and 121, respectively. Schnurbusch's numbers are only through a sample size of 45 plate appearances, however, while Rodriguez has come to bat 189 times.
Nolan Bumstead (115), Luke Becker (113) and Caleb Ledbetter (101) are the other Stingers with wRC+ totals above 100—though Still's productive game on Tuesday should put him right in that range.
A recent hot streak has been a large benefit for Ledbetter at the plate, as a .417 average with a homer over his last 10 games has jumped his wRC+ 14 points in that stretch.
Shifting gears, wOBA, is primarily based on linear weights of batting outcomes to measure a player's offensive production per plate appearance. It is one of the more important cumulative, catch-everything batting statistics. wOBA does a better job of properly accounting the value of the different ways to reach base, unlike batting average, on-base and slugging percentage.
Schnurbusch leads all Stingers with a .511 wOBA and is followed by Becker at .478 and Rodriguez at .433.
Given the league average hovering around .330 this season, those numbers greatly stand out. Other impressive Willmar batters in that category include Bumstead at .386 and, just behind him, Ledbetter with a .385 mark.