What Is Your Favorite TV Actor Truly Worth? VORA Knows

Family Guy Season 11 Episode 2 Ratings Guy

I have a confession, I like nerdy sports statistics. I like the idea that we can measure how much value a player has by combining measurable metrics into a single formula. More importantly, it’s a ton of fun to spout out a bunch of acronyms that normal most people wouldn’t understand. WAR, RC, ISOP, OPS+ make sense to guys who resemble the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons. However, there are others like me who appreciate the value involved in the minutiae of statistics.

My favorite of these statistics is VORP. VORP stands for Value Over Replacement Player and is utilized primarily in baseball and basketball. In baseball, the stat is used to show how many more runs a player contributes to his team above a replacement-level player. Basically, the stat is attempting to quantify how much more valuable Mike Trout is to the Angels than an average player that is readily available.

Armed with this intricate knowledge of nerdy statistics, and a need to debate the acting chops and overall value of actors from Jon Hamm to Gabriel Macht (Who, you say? Exactly my point), I decided to attempt to create a new stat. Today, I introduce to you VORA: Value Over Replacement Actor.

The genesis for VORA dates back to an argument I have been having with my brother for a few years now. My brother is a passionate voice for Breaking Bad. On the other hand, I constantly contend that Mad Men is the better show. The argument will eventually devolve into a discussion about who has the better chops: Jon Hamm on Mad Men or Bryan Cranston on Breaking Bad. Without any way to truly settle the argument, we would eventually just huff at each other and move on to discussing what ridiculous thing happened on Hawaii Five-0 last week. Using VORA, I am seeking to put an end to such arguments.

When working on VORA, I thought it would be important to establish a replacement level actor. This actor had to be someone that evoked zero emotion from viewers in either direction. It has to seem like you could really insert almost any halfway-competent actor into that scenario, and they would give a comparable performance. By that measure, and after consultation with the TV Czar writing staff, we have established our replacement-level actor: Andrew Lincoln of The Walking Dead.

Not once since the beginning of the show have I thought either “Andrew Lincoln is killing it” or “Andrew Lincoln is terrible.” He’s just fine. That being said, if you replaced Simon Baker on The Mentalist with Andrew Lincoln, the show becomes unwatchable (cut to my editor Americ nodding vigorously). Thus, it’s safe to assume that Baker means more to his show than Andrew Lincoln does to his show. But, is Simon Baker more valuable to The Mentalist than Julianne Margulies is to The Good Wife?

That’s the essence of VORA. In coming weeks (or months), I am going to attempt to identify the 40 most valuable actors working in television today. No stone will be left unturned. I even have plans to watch at least a few episodes of shows that I never watch to get a feel for some of the actors on that show. How does the formula work? Well I’m glad you asked hypothetical me.

When I first came up with the idea of VORA, I thought that the most difficult part of the process would be to create a formula to quantify an actor’s importance to their show relative to another actor. No matter how the formula turned out, I wanted to make sure it accomplished the following things:

-Reward good acting.
-Minimize the influence of the ratings as much as possible (because 11 million watched a recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy for the love of Mike.)
-Emphasize the importance of being the lead vs. a supporting character.
-Make sure that award nominations and wins were rewarded.

Based on those ideas, I came up with these four different metrics to calculate to determine an actor’s VORA rating:

Range– Quite simply, someone’s acting chops. Scored on a scale from 1-4 with a 1 meaning they can only play themselves (right this way, Scott Caan), and a 4 meaning they can do absolutely anything at any time.
Star Power– Fairly self-explanatory. You get a 1 if you are a character of minimal consequence or up to a 3 if you are the lead. After all, there is a higher degree of difficulty involved when the entire show rests on your shoulders.
Ratings Against Average– The RAA rating is calculated using the average 18-49 demo rating and measuring it against the 18-49 demo rating of each show. For example, all actors from The Walking Dead will get a huge boost because of their monster performance in the 18-49 demo. For shows currently airing, a 6 week sample size was used. For shows currently on hiatus, last year’s average ratings were used.
Awards Points– Awards points were put together by taking a percentage of nominations and wins (both Golden Globe and Emmy) by the actor for their show. Wins counted for double points.

When you put it all together, the formula ended up looking like this: Range(Star Power + Awards Points) + Ratings Against Average

I realize how ridiculous and technical these stats all sound. You will thank me one day. Once again, you’re welcome America. The top 40 rolls out soon. Stay tuned.