Corcoran: What does it take for a new advanced stat to go mainstream?

From Cliff Corcoran at The Athletic on January 3, 2019, with SABR members Rob Neyer, Sean Forman, Jay Jaffe, and Jonathan Judge:

One​ month ago, Baseball Prospectus introduced a new​ total-offense​ statistic called Deserved​ Runs Created Plus​ (DRC+). Although the site’s related pitching statistic, Deserved Run Average (DRA), has appeared in my Awards Watch columns since 2016 — at times with behind-the-scenes assistance from the statistic’s co-creator, Jonathan Judge — the launch of DRC+ caught me by surprise.

The introduction of DRA in early 2015 addressed a need. Sabermetrics continued, and continues, to struggle with the erratic nature of pitching performances and the challenge of separating pitcher-influenced results from fielder-influenced results. Offensive contributions, by comparison, are more predictable, and our existing alphabet soup of total-offense statistics —OPS+, wRC+, wOBA, and Baseball Prospectus’ own, now deposed, True Average, to name a few— seemed to be doing a sufficient job in capturing it.

That got me thinking about how new baseball statistics gain traction, and about the chances of DRC+ gaining the necessary currency to obtain equal footing with, if not supplant, those other metrics. To find out what can make or break a new statistic, I turned to some of the sabermetric community’s foremost gatekeepers, statisticians and thought leaders for their opinions.

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Originally published: January 3, 2019. Last Updated: January 3, 2019.