“When people are going by straight WAR evaluating, I just don’t buy that, personally,” said Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski, flavoring his opinion with an anecdote that involved Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney.
“I remember when I went to the ownership meetings in Colorado in August, and I was walking back from dinner with Tony La Russa (retired Cardinals manager) and we’re talking about statistics and about WAR. And, no offense to the player, but when I woke up that morning they had on the (ESPN.com) site that Darwin Barney that day was ranked ahead of Miguel Cabrera in WAR.
“And I don’t mean anything against Darwin Barney, but there wasn’t a person in Major League Baseball who on that particular day would have traded Miguel Cabrera for Darwin Barney. So, when people say WAR is all-encompassing, that loses the argument to me right there.”
...Rob Neyer, national baseball editor for SB Nation, and a sabermetrician since his days working with James, brushes aside thoughts baseball has turned into rocket science.
“It’s really simple,” Neyer said during a phone conversation. “All we’re trying to do is count as many things as we can count to tell us how good a player is, or how good he can be. It’s not really all that complicated.
“One of the things that’s changed in recent years is that people are counting not only how good a player a hitter is — which they’ve always done from the time of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig — but we’re also counting with some precision how many plays this guy makes in the field, and how he’s running the bases.
“How many times does he go first to third? How many times has he scored from first on a double? I’ll hear Jim Kaat (MLB Network announcer) say three or four times a game, ‘That’s the kind of thing that doesn’t show up in a box score.’
“Well, you know what? You’re looking at the wrong box score.”