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The Best Fantasy Baseball Stat You’ve Never Heard Of

Cam shares an original stat that he uses to help find fantasy baseball sleepers.

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 04: Royce Lewis #23 of the Minnesota Twins hits a grand slam off Lucas Giolito #27 of the Cleveland Guardians during the second inning at Progressive Field on September 04, 2023 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)

As in The Lord Of The Rings, where there is one ring to bind them all, sabermetricians are often looking for a single stat or formula that can determine a player’s value. The stat du jour is WAR, but I have created a stat that I prefer to use … and since I have begun using this stat, my fantasy performance has gone through the roof. It is a hitting stat: I call it Plate Appearance Percentage (PA%).

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Plate Appearance Percentage

The ultimate goal in baseball is to score runs, ideally more than your opponent. And players score runs. To score a run, a player needs to round the bases, either being driven in by someone else or by way of a home run, effectively driving himself in.

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You may know of a stat called total bases (TBs), which is exactly what it sounds like: A single accounts for one, a double for two, a triple for three, and a home run accounts for four total bases. It is from total bases that my stat was born.

However, there were more factors I had to consider than just total bases and at-bats. For instance, walks are not considered at-bats, nor do they count toward total bases. So I had to factor them into my equation. My next thought was that if the goal is to measure how close a player will get to home plate every time he steps into the batter’s box, I have to consider stolen bases. Steals don’t count toward TBs, but they do get a player closer to scoring a run. But if a steal helps a player and his team, getting caught hurts, so I need to use net steals (subtracting caught stealings from steals) instead of total steals.

The final method I settled on to calculate Plate Appearance Percentage was to combine a player’s total bases, net steals, and walks, then divide by plate appearances. And I believe I’ve created the perfect stat:

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Plate Appearance Percentage = (Total Bases+Walks+Net Steals)/(Plate Appearances)

Through the years, the barometer I’ve used is that .500 in PA% means a player is a solid performer. For perspective, Babe Ruth’s career figure is .739. Ted Williams’ was .705. Barry Bonds’ was .706. Among current stars, Mike Trout’s is .671, and Shohei Ohtani’s is .622.

The beauty of this stat isn’t that it tells you that Trout and Ohtani are great, or that Ruth and Williams were demi-gods. And it isn’t that it tells you that Ronald Acuna Jr.’s historic year produced a .710 PA%, still well below Ruth’s career mark.

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It is to search for hidden values among lesser, unheralded players, because the formula, as a ratio, works the same whether someone gets 60 or 600 plate appearances. Anyone can snag someone like Kyle Tucker (.596 PA% last season), but the key is to find those players with fewer plate appearances who are putting up good numbers because if they get their chance for more playing time, their numbers have a fantastic chance to really explode.

Here are 20 players who had fewer than 500 plate appearances last season but recorded over a .500 PA%; I recommend targeting them in your fantasy baseball drafts:

  • Wilyer Abreu, Boston Red Sox: 85 PA; .552
  • Richie Palacios, Tampa Bay Rays: 102 PA; .549
  • Dairon Blanco, Kansas City Royals: 138 PA; .615
  • Davis Schneider, Toronto Blue Jays: 141 PA; .652
  • Nelson Velazquez, Kansas City Royals: 179 PA; .608
  • Logan O’Hoppe, Los Angeles Angels: 199 PA; .522
  • Bo Naylor, Cleveland Guardians: 230 PA; .556
  • Royce Lewis, Minnesota Twins: 239 PA; .602
  • Matt Wallner, Minnesota Twins: 254 PA; .539
  • Zack Gelof, Oakland A’s: 300 PA; .580
  • Will Benson, Cincinnati Reds: 329 PA; .604
  • Jarren Duran, Boston Red Sox: 362 PA; .569
  • Jose Siri, Tampa Bay Rays: 364 PA; .538
  • Matt McLain, Cincinnati Reds: 403 PA; .558
  • Nolan Jones, Colorado Rockies: 424 PA; .632
  • Christopher Morel, Chicago Cubs: 429 PA; .552
  • Wilmer Flores, San Fransisco Giants: 454 PA; .544
  • Chas McCormick, Houston Astros: 457 PA; .547
  • Nolan Gorman, St Louis Cardinals: 464 PA; .543
  • Max Kepler, Minnesota Twins: 491 PA; .523
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