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Thursday, August 09, 2012

BtBS: Gentile: WAR Across America

This is My*T*Fine on a grand goofiness scale…but then again I feel the same way about occasional Constant Mongrel droppings.

With action from the 2012 presidential campaigns heating up and the November 6th election right around the corner, your pleasant and care-free daily internet musings are soon likely to be inundated with images of electoral maps and ‘battleground’ strategies marked by smatterings of red, blue and undecided purple states. To comfort you during all this, I’ve prepared a map of America that mercifully is not color-coded along the lines of pointless partisan-bickering, but instead according to baseball’s most prestigious and elegant statistic, WAR.

Using both batter and pitcher WAR totals from the infinitely-resourceful Baseball-Reference, I’ve grouped the career WAR of each player in MLB history by their birth state in an effort to see which states are strongest in the Union and which states should secede from the nation in shame…

...Montana (26.2), you may have noticed, is home to the fewest WAR in the nation and has produced just 7 players with career WAR totals above 0 and 15 additional players with career totals at or below replacement level. Dave Mcnally was Big Sky Country’s best offering to date with a combined 22.2 WAR from 1962-1975. John Lowenstein of Wolf Point and Ed Bouchee of Livingston added just 8.1 and 7.1 WAR respectively, yet they still rank 2nd and 3rd amongst Montana’s top contributors.

One might have expected a state like Alaska (87.2) to have fared just as poorly in this sort of contest considering it is much colder, crueler, and lonelier. As it turns out, your tempered expectations would not have been misguided at all were it not solely for the efforts of a one Curt Schilling of Anchorage and the 76.1 lifetime WAR he added to his home state. The next highest contributor for The Last Frontier is Shawn Chacon, also of Anchorage, at 5.4 WAR. Interestingly, there have been just two non-Anchorage, Alaskan-born ballplayers in baseball’s past—Tom Sullivan (0.0) of Nome and more recently Chad Bentz of Seward (-0.7).

Repoz Posted: August 09, 2012 at 09:53 AM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. AROM Posted: August 09, 2012 at 10:40 AM (#4204211)
May be the fault of internet explorer, but only the top half of the map loads when I read the article. You can click on a link to view the image only, but it makes no sense without a color code map. I can figure out that red means a lot of good players (California) and blue means not too many (northern states) but which of the other colors are better, I don't know.

Good idea though.
   2. JJ1986 Posted: August 09, 2012 at 10:55 AM (#4204240)
It goes blue -> purple -> grey/blue -> dark green -> light green -> yellow -> orange -> red
   3. Greg K Posted: August 09, 2012 at 10:58 AM (#4204248)
I tried to make a DMB league once along similar lines. All national teams and then the US divided into 5 or 6 regions. I don't think I ever actually played any games...but it was fun coming up with the rosters.
   4. SoSH U at work Posted: August 09, 2012 at 11:00 AM (#4204253)
How long 'til Vineland, N.J. cracks the Top 20 cities list?

   5. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: August 09, 2012 at 11:05 AM (#4204261)
WAR per capita would be pretty fun to know too.
   6. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: August 09, 2012 at 11:06 AM (#4204262)
Missouri has 2276.1 WAR. Woo!
   7. SoSH U at work Posted: August 09, 2012 at 11:10 AM (#4204272)
WAR per capita would be pretty fun to know too.

I'm putting my money on Donora, Pa.

   8. AROM Posted: August 09, 2012 at 11:11 AM (#4204274)
California/Florida/Texas are big states, but they'd be at the top in per capita as well as raw totals. Being able to play year round baseball is a big advantage.

New York's a big state too, but it would be interesting to see how that region did over time. My guess is most of the WAR from NYS is coming from the early days, before professional baseball was played in other places.
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: August 09, 2012 at 11:15 AM (#4204282)
California/Florida/Texas are big states, but they'd be at the top in per capita as well as raw totals.

Alabama has all of those guys beat: 1800+ in WAR, 4.8 million in population.

It beats Florida in WAR alone.
   10. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: August 09, 2012 at 11:16 AM (#4204284)
I'm putting my money on Donora, Pa.

That seems like a good guess :p I was thinking more at the state level myself on the per capita front, at least.

#8: That's true, and actually a WAR/capita over time would be even more interesting to see (i.e., whether more players began as cities expanded or as the country expanded or where the threshold was or whatever).
   11. UCCF Posted: August 09, 2012 at 11:28 AM (#4204300)
I'm putting my money on Donora, Pa.

The Narrows, GA - the former birthplace of Ty Cobb is essentially unincorporated territory.
   12. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: August 09, 2012 at 11:57 AM (#4204323)
   13. Dan Hirsch Posted: August 09, 2012 at 12:12 PM (#4204335)
This analysis is already available at The Baseball Gauge. You can view each State's WAR per season, organization, or any customized time frame.

Also, it uses the town of each player's High School, which is usually a more accurate way of determining where a player is from. This way, Roger Clemens doesn't count towards Ohio, and Joe Morgan doesn't count towards Texas, etc.
   14. toratoratora Posted: August 09, 2012 at 03:54 PM (#4204607)
My Dad grew up next to Chipper Jones family in this dinky little Florida panhandle town. I mean, this place is so small that they just got their first stoplight a decade ago. We're talking one general store, a gas station and a Mom n Pop restaurant for most of the 70's and 80's.
Some serious backwoods stuff.
   15. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: August 09, 2012 at 05:43 PM (#4204728)
My hometown has had plenty of high school players make the majors including Jack Wilson, Mike Leiberthal, and Robert Fick. But none of them were born there, so the chart doesn't count them.
   16. Super Creepy Derek Lowe (GGC) Posted: August 09, 2012 at 06:49 PM (#4204769)
Donora has it beat per capita, but I am impressed by Mobile, Alabama as a talent base; Satchel Paige, Hank Aaron, Billy WIlliams, Cleon Jones. Something must have been in that water there.
   17. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 09, 2012 at 07:59 PM (#4204830)
Oklahoma is no Alabama, but almost 1200 WAR isn't too bad considering it wasn't even a state when Ty Cobb started winning batting titles.

I'd be curious to see the position player/pitcher split by state. OK would be incredibly position player heavy - it's got Mantle, Bench, Stargell, the Waner brothers, and a bunch of other guys who were at least really good as hitters, but its best pitcher (by a good margin) is Allie Reynolds.
   18. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 09, 2012 at 09:17 PM (#4204876)
I'd ask which state has the highest percentage of its value from one player, but I'm pretty confident that I already know the answer - it's going to be tough to beat Alaska, with 76.9 of its 87.2 WAR from Curt Schilling.
   19. Jittery McFrog Posted: August 09, 2012 at 10:37 PM (#4204948)
WAR per capita would be pretty fun to know too.

In the comment section the author has a link to a google doc of state WAR per 2011 population.

Tops are DC (0.42 WAR per 1000 people), PA (0.40), MO (0.38). Bottom are MT (0.03), UT (0.02), NV (0.02).
   20. JJ1986 Posted: August 09, 2012 at 11:14 PM (#4204981)
NV (0.02)

That should be better in a few years.
   21. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: August 10, 2012 at 12:47 AM (#4205016)
My hometown does better than I expected. I'd imagine it's largely Dale Murphy, Johnny Pesky & Mickey Lolich.
   22. Tuque Posted: August 10, 2012 at 03:06 AM (#4205038)
Now, I understand WAR is a controversial stat, but I'm not sure I've ever seen a better use of it than this.
   23. Al Kaline Trio Posted: August 10, 2012 at 05:08 PM (#4205635)
Would Pennsylvania have the most WAR in history? Isn't that where Gettysburg is?
   24. McCoy Posted: August 10, 2012 at 06:55 PM (#4205754)
I'd think Virginia would have it beat.

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