First of all, apologies to Edwin Starr and his Vietnam anti-war anthem. Good song. WAR the statistic, I am not so sure.
I don’t usually spend a ton of time talking about stats. I throw some out there in my writing to back up a point or two, but am not a nerd about it. The reason for this discussion on WAR is something that seems to invalidate the concept. The concept? Well WAR attempts to calculate a normalized value for every player across all positions by taking into account externals like how good the fielding is behind a pitcher, how much ball parks may affect numbers, is the position a good or bad hitting position, etc., etc.. It then assigns WAR to each player, which supposedly shows how many wins in a season this player will provide vs. a replacement player brought up from the minors. Really good players have WARs above 5, average players in the 2 range, etc. Someone with a 5.0 WAR is worth about 50 more runs in a season through hitting and fielding or through pitching than a replacement player is.
The thing that is bothering me is looking at the top 4 pitchers in the AL for WAR……
|Name||WAR||W-L||ERA||WHIP||Innings Pitched||K’s||BA against||OBP against||OPS against|
Note – these numbers are taken from baseball-reference. Fangraphs also has a different version of WAR where Cole wins, but Verlander is trailing Lynn – in which case there would be a different, but similar argument as below.
I have no problem with Justin Verlander being number 1, but as good a pitchers as Mike Minor and Lance Lynn are, they aren’t worthy of holding Gerrit Cole’s water bottle as he heads back out to the mound. How can a comparative stat show Minor and Lynn ahead of Cole, when he is killing them in every statistical category we hold near and dear.
Yes, Lynn and Minor play for a worst team and a poorly fielding team, and Cole doesn’t, but then for consistency sake why isn’t Verlander similarly rated down? This makes the whole stat just seem contrived and silly.
So, this makes me think the following.
WAR. HUH! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!