While the sample sizes are small, today I got my first look at the Big 12 offense leaders thanks to Mike Rogers of BlessYouBoys.com, who is coordinating a movement to get sabermetric (advanced) stats for college baseball.
So, before I jump into these numbers, I suppose a few explanations are in order.
These numbers aren't the ones you're used to. You won't see RBI. You won't see runs scored. And you certainly won't see batting average. Instead, you'll see wOBA, IsoP, and BABIP.
Don't let the acronyms scare you off. These are all great stats that are much better indicators of performance than the usual stats you see in a box score.
wOBA—weighted on base average—is probably the most difficult stat to comprehend. If you're into the numbers behind it, there's Tom Tango's explanation of it. If you want a straightforward explanation of it, Alex Remington has you covered.
In a sentence, wOBA is a better version of OPS (on-base plus slugging). It's not perfect, as Remington says:
"wOBA is a good way to analyze an individual hitter, but it isn't a sufficient tool to analyze how much a player contributed to his team's wins. It evaluates outcomes, but not situational outcomes — it doesn't care who's on base, or how many outs there are, or what the score is, or what inning it is."
Okay, so it doesn't include anything for big—or small—situations. But neither does batting average or OPS.
An average wOBA in the majors is about .330. In college, the average is going to be higher because the quality of pitching a batter faces is worse.Currently, the average for the Big 12 is around .380.
If you're still lost, I highly recommend checking out this post from Colin at South Side Sox.
Now that the explanations are out of the way, here's a look at where Missouri batters stand in the league's top 64 wOBAs:
6. Mike Liberto, .540
11. Aaron Senne, .483
37. Brett Nicholas, .368
46. Jonah Schmidt, .330
49. Blake Brown, .329
61. Conner Mach, .215
Russell LaFleur, Dane Opel, Brannon Champagne, Kale Gaden, and Ryan Ampleman didn't necessarily make the cut because they had low wOBAs, but because they didn't have enough plate appearances. And obviously, this early in the season, any judgment made on these numbers should be made with extreme caution.
Obviously, Liberto's name jumps out. However, don't expect him to say in that top 10—his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is an incredible .571. Basically, that means 57 percent of the batted balls Liberto puts in play are going for hits. While Liberto can handle the bat pretty well, there's almost no chance he keeps that percentage up throughout the year.
I'm not saying Liberto won't be successful at the plate this year and I'm not saying he's getting lucky. But nobody, not even Albert Pujols, could sustain a .571 BABIP for an entire season.
Moving on, Senne has killed the ball in these first two weekend tournaments. He leads the Big 12 with a .512 isoP, a which measures the "true power" of a batter. And what's even more encouraging about Senne's success is that he's doing it with a .278 BABIP—meaning he's not getting hits at an unsustainable clip.
It took quite a while for Senne's power numbers to come around last year, as he finished the year with only six home runs. He has four through six games this year. Again, while it's early, I think it's fair to say that Senne has regained his home run stroke.
Nicholas has been interesting so far. He's shown decent power with a .190 isoP with a wOBA—that's still very good—just below league average.For a guy who hadn't played at the D-I level before a couple of weekends ago, his transition seems to be going smoothly. Don't be surprised if he and Senne combine to form a pretty nice combination in the middle of Mizzou's lineup when Big 12 play rolls around in late March.