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Tour of Ten: The Sports Statistics Edition

Ever find yourself just nodding in agreement when your friends throw around sports statistics beyond the basics, hoping they don’t realize that you have no idea what they are talking about? Here’s an explainer for a handful of more advanced sports statistics in our latest Tour of Ten . . .

MLB – On-Base Plus Slugging (OPS)

Every baseball fan is probably familiar with the statistics on-base percentage (H + BB + HBP divided by AB + BB + SF + HBP) and slugging percentage (Total Bases divided by AB). OPS is simply the sum of those two statistics. So if a player has an OBP of .474 and a SLG of .690 then their OPS would be 1.164. And 1.164 is the lifetime OPS of Babe Ruth, who is the all-time leader in that stat category.

MLB – Wins Above Replacement (WAR)

This statistic measures a baseball player’s overall value, and equals the number of extra wins a player is worth to his team compared to them having just an average (‘replacement-level’) player at his position. The formula differs for position players and pitchers. Mookie Betts had an 8.4 WAR last season, with Ronald Acuna Jr. at 8.1. Gerritt Cole was at 7.5. Shohei Ohtani had a combined 10.1.

NFL – Passer Rating (RTG)

You might hear this called quarterback rating, but it’s more accurately known as passer rating since it paints a picture only of a quarterback’s passing success – including pass attempts, completions, passing yards, touchdown passes, and interceptions as part of an elaborate formula that uses multiple calculations. A perfect ‘passer rating’ for an NFL quarterback is 158.3; 100+ is top shelf.

NFL – Yards After Catch (YAC)

Quite simply, it’s the number of yards that a receiver gains after he makes a catch. So if a receiver catches a ball on the 20-yard line and then makes it to the 30-yard line before the play comes to an end then he is credited with 10 Yards After Catch. For the 2023 NFL season CeeDee Lamb of the Dallas Cowboys was the league leader at 680 YAC, while Amon-Ra St. Brown of the Lions had 668.

NBA – Efficiency (EFF)

A composite statistic that calculates the overall value of a player. The formula adds together points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks, subtracts missed field goals, missed free throws, and turnovers, and divides it all by games played. You will also find Player Efficiency Rating (PER) referenced sometimes; the PER statistic, developed by John Hollinger of ESPN, is similar to EFF.

NBA – Pace / Pace Factor

The Pace or Pace Factor statistic in the NBA calculates the number of possessions per 48 minutes (the length of a standard, non-overtime NBA game) for a team. This therefore measures the relative speed of a team’s games – more possessions in a game means a faster pace, fewer possessions in a game means a slower pace. The WNBA, which has 40-minute games, calculates per 40 minutes.

NHL – Corsi & Fenwick

For puck nerds, Corsi is used to measure the differential in even-strength shot attempts for a player. To calculate you add up the shots, blocks, and misses for a player’s team when he is on the ice at even strength, and subtract the shots, blocks, and misses against a player’s team when he is on the ice at even strength. The Fenwick stat is similar, it just omits blocked shots from the formula above.

NHL – Goals Saved Above Expected (GSAx)

This one is for the goaltenders and is meant to account for the quality of the shots they face over the course of a game. To calculate Goals Saved Above Expected you need the values for the number of goals a goaltender was expected to allow, and the number of goals they actually allowed. If they were expected to allow 100 goals but they allowed only 80 goals then their GSAx would sit at 20.

Golf – Greens in Regulation (GIR)

You are considered to have hit a ‘green in regulation’ in golf if your ball makes it onto the green in two strokes less than the par for the hole. So that means in one shot on a par-three, in two shots on a par-four, and in three shots on a par-five. Your Greens in Regulation statistic is then the number of greens hit divided by the total number of holes played; 14 greens hit in 18 holes would be 77.78.

Tennis – Serve Rating

A Serve Rating on the ATP Tour is a combination of six percentages and averages intended to give a measurement of serve effectiveness. To calculate, you add up the player’s first-serve percentage, first-serve points won percentage, second-serve points won percentage, service games won percentage, and average aces per match, and subtract their average double-faults per match.

With zero championships between his MLB, NHL, and NFL teams over the last 30 years, Dave keeps one foot in the past while shaking his fist at the present. Having provided content to all manner of sports websites over a 20-year career in the industry, Dave brings to Attiq an eye for all things editorial and a disdain for all things New York Yankees. Click here for Dave's posts.