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Jim Furtado
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Editor - Baseball Primer


War Newsbeat

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Prospectus Feature: Bill James vs. The Noise - Baseball Prospectus

I am a big fan of WAR and even have my own WAR system. Although I don’t agree that we *need* a better value system for use during MVP discussions, I also believe having alternative statistical views helps us find better answers to very complex questions.

Having said that, if Votto was placed on the Astros the outcome of his performance would actually help the Astros get more wins than his production buys with the Reds. That’s because the Astros overall offense would be more efficient in converting his production into runs/wins. This outcome can be easily simulated.

Ultimately, baseball is a team game. Players don’t perform in isolation. The context in which players operate does, then, change their impact on wins. In this I agree with Bill James. That difference, however, is only important for a narrow range of questions, the MVP question being one of them.

For people preoccupied with what happened, the context is very important. For those of us more preoccupied with what’s going to happen, stripping away as much context as possible from past performance is more important because it helps us better project a range of players in a range of contexts.

Virtually all run-scoring events require timely assistance from other teammates. Why should the inherent value of a player depend almost entirely on the contributions of other players, with the sheer randomness of those contributions often amounting to an undeserved out? If Votto’s on-base skills were plopped onto the Astros, under James’ system, his “value” would skyrocket, as the remaining Astros sprayed hits all over the place, uniquely rewarding his on-base skills. While this might true up the ultimate “results” of any team, a player whose value depends heavily on his teammates is not being given his inherent “value” at any time. If this is truly what you prefer, that of course is fine, and it is fine for James to prefer it for his own purposes. But most people, I suspect, would find it highly problematic.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 21, 2017 at 11:13 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: war

Sunday, November 19, 2017

More on WAR – Joe Blogs – Medium

Bill is off base here. Bill seems to want to use WAR to answer questions that WAR is not really suited to answer. He’s not alone, of course. Other people use WAR to answer the MVP question all the time. The reason it’s done is, there really isn’t a tool out there designed to specifically answer the MVP question. Bill tried to do it with Win Shares. Unfortunately the adjustment methods he chose were too broad in nature.

In any event we don’t have to throw out WAR. It’s really useful for answering a lot of questions. I heartily agree with a Tangotiger suggestion:

I have always thought the best way to design a WAR would be to break it down into separate elements, which we later combine in the most appropriate way to best answer specific questions. The breakdown, IMO, should be: 1) offense, 2) defense (further broken down into components), 3) baserunning, 4) positional adjustment, and 5) context adjustment. (They should all also be presented with the related rate stat to help people answer other specific questions.)

Anyway, by introducing a timing/context adjustment as Tangotiger suggested, the value of the current WAR systems would increase. Our current data sets are much better than they were twenty years ago. We can now provide individual contexts, and need not rely on team ratios as Win Shares did. We should do it.

Unfortunately, though, the additions will generate more confusion as many people will still want to use one number to answer all questions.

“But because that is true, I ASSUMED that these were complex, nuanced, sophisticated systems. I never really looked; I just assumed that the details were out of my depth. But sometime in the last year I was doing some research that relied on these WAR systems, so I took a look at them, and … they’re not very impressive. They’re not well thought through; they haven’t made a convincing effort to address many of the inherent difficulties that the undertaking presents. They tend to get so far into the data, throw up their arms and make a wild guess. I don’t know if I’m going to get the time to do better of it, or if it will be left to others, but … we’re not at anything like an end point here. I assumed that these systems were a lot better than they actually are.”

Jim Furtado Posted: November 19, 2017 at 07:28 AM | 208 comment(s)
  Beats: bill james, sabermetrics, war

dWAR to end all WARs – Joe Blogs – Medium

People might not remember but I created one of the first WAR, along with G. Jay Walker. Although I leave the evaluation of real MLB players to others now, I still use an offshoot of the system to evaluate players for my simulation league. For my system I essentially agree with Mitchel Lichtman’s thoughts at the bottom of the article. (Excluding tone, of course.)

I don’t think you’re really understanding how this works. I’m not sure Sean [Forman] does either. There’s no such thing as defensive wins or runs above “replacement” because replacement is defined by offense and defense. And as it turns out (not that it really matters) replacement players on the average are around average on defense. All their deficiency is in offense.

There is also no such thing as positional adjustment offense. You CAN give an offensive value relative to other players at that position but you have to specify over what time period.

All that being said, you are 100% correct in that most people want to know how good defensively a player is compared to others at their position and presenting a position adjusted number confuses that. Bottom line is this: Defense should be presented relative to the average at that position AND serious people SHOULD know how to compare players ACROSS positions (by applying positional adjustments).

Offense should be presented compared to average of ALL positions. Most people intuitively know that different positions have different offenses because of the size of the pool of players that can play that position (and the physical characteristics necessary to play them). But it’s not at all necessary to know those differences or include them in the offensive numbers.

Finally it IS necessary to include positional adjustments in the “final comprehensive number” (like WAR) in order to be able to compare all players AND because when we want to know “how good” a player is we MUST incorporate his defensive position.

I know Sean understands how this all works. He disagrees, however, on how positional adjustments should fit into a WAR framework. He’s not wrong but his choice makes WAR answer too narrow a question.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 19, 2017 at 07:00 AM | 49 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics, war

Thursday, August 31, 2017

What are the most valuable players based on contracts? | Sports on Earth

1. Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros

WAR: 6.9
Salary: $4.5M
Surplus value: $57.6M

As if it weren’t easy enough to root for Altuve because of his size (5-foot-6, 165 pounds), the pure joy he brings to the field and the pure hitting he provides at a time when batting averages are punier than he is, he’s also laughably underpaid. Altuve is making $4.5 million this year, and he might be the AL MVP.

Altuve signed his club-friendly extension midway through the 2013 season, when the Astros were still terrible and when he was in the midst of compiling a .283 average and .678 OPS—marks that look so strange attached to his name now. It was a four-year deal covering his arbitration years for a grand total of just $12.5 million, with club options for $6 million in 2018 and $6.5 million for 2019. So he’s going to be a candidate for this list for the next couple years, too.

Jim Furtado Posted: August 31, 2017 at 02:40 PM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: surplus value, war

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Recent History of Free-Agent Pricing

But first this piece will explain how I actually calculate average value — the reference point for whether players are undervalued or overvalued. It is also the appropriate reference point when considering the opportunity cost of any other number of baseball moves. For example, when a team is considering the value of acquiring a young player who will produce a large volume of team-controlled WAR, the reference point for valuing him is the cost of acquiring that amount of WAR on the free-agent market. This is an important concept for team construction….

While the last few years have clearly seen growth in Dollars per WAR in excess of that rate, I believe that this was largely a function of the declining WAR share of players with six years of service time. I’m skeptical that such a development can continue indefinitely, and I think that, as the WAR share of such players flattens and salaries grow continuously, we should expect salaries to grow at about this 5.9% rate. After all, free-agent spending net of the league minimum only grew 5% per year since 2006, with the remaining growth in Dollars per WAR coming from the shrinking WAR in the denominator.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 11, 2017 at 05:15 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: war




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