WAR: Huh! What is it good for?


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
Justin Verlander 7.8 20-6 2.53 0.806 217 288 .172 .220 .578
Mike Minor 7.5 13-10 3.52 1.230 199.2 178 .234 .306 .695
Lance Lynn 6.9 15-11 3.76 1.250 201 236 .248 .305 .700
Gerrit Cole 6.7 19-5 2.52 0.890 207.1 316 .186 .234 .573

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!

31 comments on “WAR: Huh! What is it good for?

  1. I don’t spend much time quoting WAR, simply because it is not definitive. How can there be more than one version of a statistic?

    Give me WHIP or OPS or even some of the advanced stats, but really, can WAR even be considered a statistic?

    I know one thing. The agents for Lynn and Minor sure like WAR.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. We had a bunch of customers begging for J. T. Realmuto during the off season. I think I was kind of on the fence. So we ended up with Robinson instead, I think at 5.75 million. There was some negative howling at the time if I recollect.

    At first glance, Realmuto was a real bargain at 5.9 million. But, the Fish got a 20 year old arm (Sixto Sanchez) who had a heck of a year as a starting pitcher in AA ball. And they got a more than serviceable ML catcher in Alfaro, paying him just 570K. And then they got a lefty kid who did not do much. J.T had a solid year. Actually caught 133 games, which I think is too many. He threw out 47% of would be base stealers! Hit .273. 25 homers, 83 RBI’s. An OPS+ of 108. But he’ll be expensive next year and then a free agent. And speaking of WAR, he’s at 4.5.

    Our guy Crusoe did not cost us anything beside his paycheck. Offensively, he had pretty good number too. Actually, his OPS+ is 109, a smidgeon higher than J.T. A better OBP at .352. And he has hit 17 homers. I know, my stats are hand picked. Anyway, using WAY again, our guy has posted a 3.7, no strings attached.

    So once again, I think Luhnow was smarter than the rest of us. He didn’t have to give anything up from the system . He got a team guy, pretty good production who produced just .8 less WAR than the shiny guy everyone seemed to have on their wish list.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My issue with WAR is I have no idea how it is calculated. If money was no object is there a GM in the game who would choose Minor/Lynn over Verlander/Cole? I don’t think even the most crazed sabermetrician would ignore the eye test and choose the Ranger duo.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Edwin Starr might have said:

    “It ain’t nothin’ . . . but a money maker!
    Friend only . . . to the bank-breaker!”

    W.A.R is totally useless as a baseball stat. It is merely a measure of monetary value. Unless you are a prima donna player wanting to pad an already huge ego or an agent looking for a big commission, W.A.R. is sheer nonsense.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bill, I honestly have no clue as to how WAR is arrived at, but when there are different versions of it, something is fishy. And it can’t be a decisive measure of monetary value either. Minor, Lynn, those guys won’t ever get anything close to what Cole gets.

      Like

  5. I’ve washed my hands of that young man. He’s hurting this team more than helping them. I have no idea what’s up with him and our front office, but it appears they have gone sideways. Bregman has played short more than he has last year AND this year. Have you heard one negative peep out of Alex?
    I’m done.
    Charlie is currently beating the yankees.
    I hope Greinke has a good game tonight!

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  6. Chandler Rome just published a Correa update in chron.com. A couple of those Carlos quotes could literally make me puke. He’s fully planning on sitting until post season play. I would not care if he got left off the roster net week.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Yankees down 3 in the loss column. Time to score 8 for Greinke. We win tonight, we’re in good shape. I did not realize Bregman has the OPS up to 1.009. He might not be better than Mike Trout, but he’s more valuable than Mike Trout. We’d lose some defense with Correa out, but our offense can win without him.

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  8. And along the lines of the WAR theme here – watched one of my favorite pitchers – Charlie Morton – throw 6 innings of 1 hit ball against the Yanks in a game the Rays needed badly.

    So Charlie’s at 5.0 WAR – 33% less than Minor and 28% behind Lynn.
    Charlie’s numbers – 16-6 / 3.05 ERA/ 1.084 WHIP/ 194.2 IP / 240 K

    Makes zero sense

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Rodents declared WAR on my internet! Back on line after four long days. Only had WIFI when I picked the kids up at school or went to my son’s house.
    Lots to discuss. But first, it’s the Mrs’s birthday.
    Later.

    Like

  10. Tonight’s lineup if loaded with PCL players. We haven’t clinched home field throughout yet, should coach rest so many when half our starters had extended time off because of inj & have been rested along the way? Just curios

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