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Sunday, September 30, 2012

How Many Baseball Writers Have Called or E-mailed to Talk to Me About What Goes Into WAR? Zero.

Hey Bill Madden and Jerry Green, pick up your rotting Inspector Henderson phones and give Sean Forman a call about WAR!

You may have heard that the AL MVP is between a player who may win the Triple Crown and a player who most (if not all) of the stathead-friendly sites say is the best player in the league this year. There have been a number of articles being written by veteran writers about how stupid WAR is—complaining it’s incomprehensible, stupid, meaningless, dumb, formulas are different, etc. etc.

Here are a couple of recent examples:

Here is Bill Madden in the New York Daily News

Here is Jerry Green in the Detroit News

Now I’m painting the baseball media with a broad brush, but each of these types of articles gets my hackles up. I’m a fellow card-carrying-member of the BBWAA and one would think that I would be afforded some professional courtesy before having a stat we produce being berated in print.

Not a single member of the print media, the broadcast media or radio has reached out to me to learn more about WAR since this MVP controversy has erupted. Not one. First, I apologize to the curious and hard working media members who put in the time to study the game and its analysis in detail. You know who you are, and I appreciate your hard work. I’m sure many have taken the time to read our exhaustive introduction to WAR. But in the last two months not a single person has called or e-mailed asking for more information and that includes Bill Madden and Jerry Green.

So if you are a member of the media who is skeptical about WAR and want to get some questions answered. Or if you are a radio or tv host want to talk to me on the air or on the record to excoriate me for WAR’s failings. Let me know. I’ll appear on any radio show to discuss WAR and make time for any writer who wants to learn something about it or debate its merits.

Repoz Posted: September 30, 2012 at 10:30 PM | 386 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: sabermetrics, site news

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   1. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: September 30, 2012 at 11:26 PM (#4249626)
Yeah, it's almost like there is "exhaustive introduction to WAR" available right on the website for anyone who is interested to read.
   2. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: September 30, 2012 at 11:45 PM (#4249636)
When explaining how wicked awesome WAR is, you may want to leave out the part where Darwin Barney is ahead of Josh Hamilton, Prince Fielder, and Joe Mauer this year.
   3. Tricky Dick Posted: September 30, 2012 at 11:48 PM (#4249641)
When explaining how wicked awesome WAR is, you may want to leave out the part where Darwin Barney is ahead of Josh Hamilton, Prince Fielder, and Joe Mauer this year.

Why?
   4. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: September 30, 2012 at 11:51 PM (#4249644)
Because Darwin Barney isn't having a better year than any of those guys. Duh.
   5. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:21 AM (#4249651)
But his WAR is better! What part of WAR don't you understand?!

Oh, the d part. Fair enough.
   6. Don Malcolm Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:29 AM (#4249654)
Sean, you better be careful when you start calling out a bunch of angry geezers. Some of those old guys might still be using slide rules--and some of those are classified as deadly weapons, at least east of the Mississippi... :-)
   7. PreservedFish Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:49 AM (#4249660)
I don't understand why WAR is the battleground for this debate. Can't you argue for Trout without it?
   8. base ball chick Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:00 AM (#4249666)
what goes into war?

soldiers, a whole bunch of wasted money and a lot of greedy businesspersons/politicians
   9. An Athletic in Powderhorn™ Posted: October 01, 2012 at 01:08 AM (#4249669)
That's the whole post up there but y'all should click the link anyway. The first comment there is kind of amazing.
   10. Morph Posted: October 01, 2012 at 02:30 AM (#4249680)
Darwin Barney helped his baseball team more than Josh Hamilton. Sure.
   11. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 01, 2012 at 06:40 AM (#4249694)
When explaining how wicked awesome WAR is, you may want to leave out the part where Darwin Barney is ahead of Josh Hamilton, Prince Fielder, and Joe Mauer this year.
The point of understanding or explaining WAR isn't to endorse it as the final word in player evaluation. It's to explain how WAR works. With a player like Barney, who has an outlying defensive evaluation and middling offense, understanding WAR should lead you to being skeptical of his defensive evaluation in the stat.

However, I will note that one of the players you listed there, Prince Fielder, is a great test case for WAR. Prince Fielder is about as bad a baseball player as you can be while playing every day and putting up a 900 OPS. He costs his team 10-15 runs between his baserunning and defense. The fact that guys like Alex Rios, Austin Jackson, Ben Zobrist, Dustin Pedroia, and Adrian Beltre have been clearly better baseball players than Prince Fielder is something that WAR usefully illuminates.
   12. Rennie's Tenet Posted: October 01, 2012 at 07:26 AM (#4249703)
It's the duty of people who claim expertise to communicate it to the general population, preferably without whining about it.
   13. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: October 01, 2012 at 07:29 AM (#4249705)
Tenured sports columnists != the general population

Or, is #12 a criticism of said sports columnists? It could play either way.
   14. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: October 01, 2012 at 07:41 AM (#4249711)
Sean Forman has already won. Guys like Madden are like lost Japanese soldiers after WWII hiding in California coastal caves waiting for the invasion that will never come, destined to die alone, confused and really, really sick of shellfish and seaweed...
   15. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 07:52 AM (#4249713)
There were Japanese soldiers hiding out in California?
   16. McCoy Posted: October 01, 2012 at 07:55 AM (#4249714)
The fact that guys like Alex Rios, Austin Jackson, Ben Zobrist, Dustin Pedroia, and Adrian Beltre have been clearly better baseball players than Prince Fielder is something that WAR usefully

And clearly players like Darwin Barney, Michael Bourn, and Denard Span have been better as well.
   17. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: October 01, 2012 at 07:58 AM (#4249716)
There were Japanese soldiers hiding out in California?

It's a California/West Coast legend. I'm not sure if it has a basis in fact or not.
   18. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: October 01, 2012 at 08:23 AM (#4249724)
Prince Fielder is about as bad a baseball player as you can be while playing every day and putting up a 900 OPS.

Eyeballing all of the 900+ OPS seasons in history, Prince's 4.1 WAR falls short of the average (~5.5), but it's hardly the worst: Adam Dunn, 2009. 267/398/529...and a -0.6 WAR, thanks to a horrific Rfield of -43, the lowest in baseball history.
   19. DJS and the Infinite Sadness Posted: October 01, 2012 at 08:40 AM (#4249728)
Sean Forman has already won. Guys like Madden are like lost Japanese soldiers after WWII hiding in California coastal caves waiting for the invasion that will never come, destined to die alone, confused and really, really sick of shellfish and seaweed...

####### Numenoreans.
   20. bunyon Posted: October 01, 2012 at 08:55 AM (#4249731)
That's the whole post up there but y'all should click the link anyway. The first comment there is kind of amazing.

I'm surprised Jack Keefe was able to go a whole comment without spelling errors.
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:09 AM (#4249739)
Darwin Barney helped his baseball team more than Josh Hamilton. Sure.

Adam Dunn, 2009. 267/398/529...and a -0.6 WAR, thanks to a horrific Rfield of -43, the lowest in baseball history.

You should be equally skeptical of both of those defensive numbers.
   22. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:20 AM (#4249746)
When explaining how wicked awesome WAR is, you may want to leave out the part where Darwin Barney is ahead of Josh Hamilton, Prince Fielder, and Joe Mauer this year.

Which makes WAR -- to be charitable -- highly dubious. Why would anyone expect veteran beat writers to contact him to get his opinion on how Darwin Barney has been a better baseball player than Josh Hamilton ... and then publicly whine about not being contacted?

When you don't persuade people of the wisdom of what you're hocking, it's your problem -- not theirs.
   23. Sean Forman Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:20 AM (#4249748)
The point of my post is not to claim that WAR is the end-all be-all. My point is that Madden and co. are savaging the stat while expressing little to no interest in understanding what we are trying to do. If they want to point out particular issues, we can talk about those, but they are merely arguing that the stat is stupid and leaving it at that.
   24. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:27 AM (#4249750)
The point of my post is not to claim that WAR is the end-all be-all. My point is that Madden and co. are savaging the stat while expressing little to no interest in understanding what we are trying to do. If they want to point out particular issues, we can talk about those, but they are merely arguing that the stat is stupid and leaving it at that.

There's nothing to really point out, and some of them have surely pointed things out.

1. Darwin Barney isn't a better player than Josh Hamilton.

2. Mike Trout hasn't been as good a hitter as Miguel Cabrera and shouldn't get a ca. 13% bonus for playing in Anaheim.

3. Risk-free replacement-leval production is not obtainable in the marketplace.

4. Last year's AL WAR leader was Ben Zobrist -- where was his MVP support?

5. Justin Verlander had more WAR than all the other serious MVP candidates in 2011, yet wasn't pushed as the clear winner by the same people pushing Mike Trout this year.

   25. JJ1986 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:29 AM (#4249751)
Mike Trout hasn't been as good a hitter as Miguel Cabrera and shouldn't get a ca. 13% bonus for playing in Anaheim.


Aren't the PF's displayed the raw ones and the actual bonus only half that?
   26. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:30 AM (#4249752)
When you don't persuade people of the wisdom of what you're hocking, it's your problem -- not theirs.

This comes off as really smug SugarBear. If Madden, et al. understood the workings of WAR and criticized it it would be one thing, but they don't even make an effort which is Sean's point. Willful ignorance isn't Sean's problem, it's Madden's.
   27. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:32 AM (#4249754)
WAR has become a great strawman IMO. If a writer wants to give the award to Cabrera because of the triple crown or because he doesn't want to give it to a 20 year old, WAR is a convenient hook for him to hang his hat: "I'm not going to vote for Trout just because some stupid stat I don't understand tells me to." That allows them to avoid looking too closely at the more obvious stuff like baserunning and defense.
   28. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:35 AM (#4249755)
The biggest conceptual problem with WAR is that risk-free replacement-level production is not obtainable in the marketplace. There are some good things about WAR, but that problem damages the model pretty badly. While the "old guard" may not have said exactly this, they've certainly noted things like the replacement player being fictitious.

WAR is analogous to the concept of excess return in finance, but the risk-free rate of return (typically a US treasury) is actually available.
   29. JJ1986 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:39 AM (#4249756)
The biggest conceptual problem with WAR is that risk-free replacement-level production is not obtainable in the marketplace. There are some good things about WAR, but that problem damages the model pretty badly.


While this is true in general, I think Trout probably has more WA0 (Wins Above 0) or wins above bottom-level replacement (like Audy Ciriaco or Kole Calhoun) than Cabrera does too.
   30. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:39 AM (#4249757)
2. Mike Trout hasn't been as good a hitter as Miguel Cabrera and shouldn't get a ca. 13% bonus for playing in Anaheim.

Are you making a Cabrera for MVP argument? Even if I concede that Trout hasn't been quite as good a hitter as Cabrera, Trout is a good CF with a 40 SB advantage and 20 fewer GIDP. There's no need to bring WAR into the discussion to make a case for Trout.
   31. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:42 AM (#4249759)
The biggest conceptual problem with WAR is that risk-free replacement-level production is not obtainable in the marketplace. There are some good things about WAR, but that problem damages the model pretty badly.

I'm a little skeptical of this, too, and more skeptical of the defensive component of WAR. I tend to look at offensive WAR and then make an adjustment on my own for defense. Really, the best stats about defense I've seen are those sites that did crowd sourcing on a player's defensive performance. That was an interesting concept, I thought. My one big criticism of that is that the "crowd" was largely reliant on tv to make their judgements and I think you get a much better feel for the ground a player is covering seeing the game in person.
   32. DanG Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:49 AM (#4249766)
Eyeballing all of the 900+ OPS seasons in history, Prince's 4.1 WAR falls short of the average (~5.5), but it's hardly the worst: Adam Dunn, 2009.
Yup. Least WAR, OPS > .900, 400 minimum PA

Rk           Player WAR/pos  OPS OPSRfield  PA Year  Tm Lg
1         Adam Dunn    
-0.6 .928  144    -43 668 2009 WSN NL
2         Don Hurst     0.6 .923  115    
-13 451 1930 PHI NL
3       Ryan Klesko     0.9 .908  128    
-11 466 1999 ATL NL
4    Jeromy Burnitz     1.0 .916  121    
-15 606 2004 COL NL
5    Dante Bichette     1.0 .984  130    
-18 612 1995 COL NL
6        Brad Hawpe     1.1 .903  125    
-16 588 2009 COL NL
7         Adam Dunn     1.2 .940  136    
-26 632 2007 CIN NL
8        Brad Hawpe     1.3 .926  130    
-17 606 2007 COL NL
9       Pat Burrell     1.3 .902  128    
-17 598 2007 PHI NL
10      Kip Selbach     1.3 .901  119     
-7 426 1894 WHS NL
11     Adam LaRoche     1.4 .915  130    
-11 557 2006 ATL NL
12     Mike Stanley     1.4 .900  132     
-5 415 1997 TOT AL
13      Dick Stuart     1.4 .911  141    
-13 450 1959 PIT NL 
   33. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:52 AM (#4249769)
My only surprise is that there aren't MORE Rockies on that list.
   34. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:54 AM (#4249771)
SugarBear, the reason for the questions you ask is that the people who are espousing Trout this year are not solely basing it on WAR. And that is true of the other questions; Zobrist, Verlander, etc...people are using WAR to inform but aren't blindly saying "Trout has a better WAR so he wins now I'm sticking my fingers in my ears."

I really don't see how this is at all controversial. Forget about the advanced metrics, the slash stats of the two players are relatively similar and Trout adds incredible value on the bases and certainly more defensive value (by both talent and position) than Cabrera.

The defensive issues that WAR has are well known and discussed. I think they are fair concerns and like so many others I have a real problem with that. Further, I'll agree with you that the park factors look a little wobbly to me but...

.321/.395/.557 plus 48 out of 52 in steals and great outfield defense
.325/.390/.601 plus average 3rd base defense

looks like a pretty easy call.

As for your argument about replacement level not being obtainable I fail to see how that's meaningful. There needs to be a baseline and if you'd prefer it be average there's a metric for that. Pick your baseline, Wins Above Francoeur? Wins Above Some Guy in Rookie Ball? Fine, the number winds up a bit different but it is the same end result.
   35. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 09:57 AM (#4249772)
Eyeballing all of the 900+ OPS seasons in history, Prince's 4.1 WAR falls short of the average

Not adjusted for risk. Prince Fielder's production is quite predictable and dependable. That has significant value.
   36. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:00 AM (#4249774)
As for your argument about replacement level not being obtainable I fail to see how that's meaningful.

Because the Cubs didn't win 5 more games with Darwin Barney than they would have with freely-available Kevin Frandsen at 2B every day.

The whole model is based on a level of production level that isn't obtainable -- at least not with a high level of risk of variance. Freely and actuall available talent has an extremely high likelihood of surprising to the upside or downside of "replacement-level" production.
   37. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:01 AM (#4249777)
The defensive issues that WAR has are well known and discussed. I think they are fair concerns and like so many others I have a real problem with that. Further, I'll agree with you that the park factors look a little wobbly to me but...

Among us, but not among people unfamiliar with the Stat.

The biggest issue with WAR is the outliers (e.g. Barney). They make it too easy to dismiss the whole construct based on wonky results.
   38. Rants Mulliniks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:01 AM (#4249778)
Darwin Barney vs. Josh Hamilton. Look at it this way, how would a team of nine Darwin Barneys and an average pitching staff do against a team of nine Josh Hamiltons with the same pitching staff? I realize this oversimplifies the issue, but I can't imagine anyone arguing that the team of Barneys would win. When you think of it this way, it seems to me that the value WAR is placing on Barney's fielding is way too high. And, I think the positional adjustments are too extreme.

7. PreservedFish Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:49 AM (#4249660)
I don't understand why WAR is the battleground for this debate. Can't you argue for Trout without it?


This. Mike Trout does not need WAR to show he has been the better player. His raw stats can't compete with any intangible story line from which Cabrera migh benefit (i.e moving positions to accomodate Prince), but its not like Cabrera's destroying the league on offense. He's barely slugging .600, his OBP is only .390, and his BA is only .325. If he won the Triple Crown with a .350/.450/.675 line and 50 homers I could see how that could overshadow Trout's very obvious overall offensive and defensive package, even if his WAR only happned to be 8.5 to Trout's 10.5. Cabrera is having one of the weakest TC seasons ever - its not like this is the second coming of Yaz '67, Robinson '66, or Mantle '56.

EDIT - I should just buy a 6-pack of Cokes.
   39. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:02 AM (#4249780)
Not adjusted for risk. Prince Fielder's production is quite predictable and dependable. That has significant value.


And that's useful for team building purposes but for determining a player's actual, single season value, it's not really relevant.
   40. JJ1986 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:07 AM (#4249783)
The whole model is based on a level of production level that isn't obtainable -- at least not with a high level of risk of variance. Freely and actuall available talent has an extremely high likelihood of surprising to the upside or downside of "replacement-level" production.


But are you saying this makes a difference in Trout v. Cabrera or just in the idea of WAR?
   41. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:09 AM (#4249786)

The biggest issue with WAR is the outliers (e.g. Barney). They make it too easy to dismiss the whole construct based on wonky results.


And that's why the Madden's of the world should contact Sean. In the next several months as Dan does his ZiPS projections if he comes up with Jose Iglesias as a .340 hitter for 2013 I'll post a comment asking how such a thing happened and Dan will likely respond. At that point I'll understand where the numbers come from and then I'll have the knowledge that allows me to make an informed decision.

If Madden had an understand of WAR and was rejecting it that would be perfectly fair. As frustrating as SBB is I think he raises some legitimate concerns. However, to just use outliers is lazy and sloppy journalism.
   42. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:09 AM (#4249787)
But are you saying this makes a difference in Trout v. Cabrera or just in the idea of WAR?

The idea of WAR.

The only problem I have with Trout over Cabrera as MVP is the insistence that Trout has been as good a hitter because of the silly Anaheim/Comerica park adjustment. (Park factors are part of WAR and sometimes make no sense.) I have no problem with saying Trout has been nearly as good a hitter, but more than makes up the gap in baserunning and fielding.
   43. cardsfanboy Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:10 AM (#4249788)
3. Risk-free replacement-leval production is not obtainable in the marketplace.


That is just a concept that is setting a base level. The existence of actual replacement players doesn't matter when comparing actual major league players.

5. Justin Verlander had more WAR than all the other serious MVP candidates in 2011, yet wasn't pushed as the clear winner by the same people pushing Mike Trout this year.


Verlander is a pitcher and has the caveats that apply to pitchers in all MVP discussions. Not just because of war, but the fact that many people do not seriously consider pitchers in MVP discussions. (regardless of the ballot rules)

   44. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:14 AM (#4249790)
And that's why the Madden's of the world should contact Sean.

But why? Should mainsteram people contact Lyndon Larouche to get the true story of the Trilateral Commission?

Some things are so silly that they warrant spending finite time on Earth concerning oneself with something else. A model that says Darwin Barney over Josh Hamilton is one of those things. (*)

It's not just that, of course -- as noted above, the Cubs did not win 5 more games with Barney at 2nd than they would have with freely-available Kevin Frandsen. (Frandsen was just the first name that popped into my head; he might not even be the best example.)

(*) It should be noted here that I've read most or all that BB-ref has written on WAR and freqeuently consult the WAR numbers. Which has helped me understand its limitations.
   45. Joey B.: posting for the kids of northeast Ohio Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:17 AM (#4249792)
Speaking of the WAR measurements, Bryce Harper is now officially the greatest teenage position player in MLB history according to both of them.
   46. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:18 AM (#4249793)
the silly Anaheim/Comerica park adjustment.


Again, why is it silly? For 3-4 years now, the Angels have scored and allowed far fewer runs at home than on the road.

Petco has the same park factor, is approximately the same elevation, and is almost the same size*, and no one disputes that it is a tough hitting park.

*According to ballparks.com, distance from left to right:

Anaheim - 330, 365, 406, 365, 330
Petco - 334, 367, 402, 387, 322
   47. JJ1986 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:22 AM (#4249794)
Kevin Frandsen


I think if we're going to compare players to real replacements we need to look at the replacement's projections (maybe 25th and 75th percentile projections) and not their actual stats. Otherwise you get guys having seasons like Cody Ransom (positive) or Ryan Raburn (negative) did this year.
   48. Loren F. Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:25 AM (#4249798)
You don't need WAR to make Trout's case.

Let's say that park factor boosts Trout's numbers but not to the extent that bWAR boosts them. So let's turn the Angel Stadium park factor from 92 to 96. This means Trout's adjusted OPS+ goes from 168 to 162. That's under Cabrera's 164, but close. Trout's OPS is more OBP-heavy, though: Trout's OBP is .395 to Miggy's .390. Given that we know OBP is underweighted in OPS, at worst we can figure that Trout's OPS+ is roughly equivalent to Cabrera's.

But that's a rate stat and Cabrera played 22 more games than Trout. That's true and a real advantage. However, we now have to add in Trout's advantage in baserunning, both in stolen bases and GDP, and that should make up for his deficit in games played. Voters took baserunning into account when Ichiro! won his MVP, and when Rickey won his, so we know baserunning can have substantial value. On that basis, Trout has a big enough advantage on baserunning that we can say that the two are roughly even on total "offense."

Now there's defense. First, we need to agree that defense is a significant part of a player's total value. Even without looking at WAR numbers, we know that Ozzie Smith and a lot of other "glove" guys were deserving All-Stars, MVPs (see Keith Hernandez or, more recently, Jimmy Rollins) and even Hall of Famers based on defense. If we can reasonably agree that defense is a major part of player value, we have to note that Cabrera's defensive case is that he switched to 3B and wasn't terrible there. I will point out that I have not heard anyone say that Miggy has been good, just that he has been surprisingly non-awful at 3B. Maybe even satisfactory. Within the context of Cabrera's career and the Tigers' needs, that is good. However, being not-awful at 3B provides a lot less value than being gold glove-quality in CF. And no one is arguing against the assessment that Trout has been excellent in CF. If offense is roughly even between them, defense must push the advantage in value to Trout.

Now let's talk about team performance. Cabrera has helped his team to the division title. In some voters' eyes, this gives him an advantage in the MVP race. If we are thinking that this is a close race for MVP, this indeed could be a tie-breaking sort of factor. However, Trout's Angels as of today had a better record than the Tigers. Trout helped lead the Angels to be a contender for the wild card down to the final series -- and the team performed noticeably better once he joined them: just look at the difference between their first 22 games and the following 137. So here again, I see the advantage as leaning a bit towards Trout or at worst dead even.

So unless you view defense as significantly less valuable than the mainstream has viewed it, Trout is clearly the more valuable all-around player.
   49. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:25 AM (#4249799)
SBB, if you mislike replacement value so much, just take it out of the equation. Better still, Sean does it for you. Trout is at 8.6 WAA, Cabrera 4.4.
   50. TDF, situational idiot Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:30 AM (#4249803)
The only problem I have with Trout over Cabrera as MVP is the insistence that Trout has been as good a hitter because of the silly Anaheim/Comerica park adjustment.
Even without a park adjustment, there's only a .040 difference in OPS. I'd say that qualifies as "as good a hitter".
(*) It should be noted here that I've read most or all that BB-ref has written on WAR and freqeuently consult the WAR numbers. Which has helped me understand its limitations.
Isn't that the arguement, though? You raise questions, based on research; the noted writers dismiss WAR, yet don't seem to know the first thing about it and don't seem to care to.
   51. cardsfanboy Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:36 AM (#4249804)
I'm a little skeptical of this, too, and more skeptical of the defensive component of WAR. I tend to look at offensive WAR and then make an adjustment on my own for defense. Really, the best stats about defense I've seen are those sites that did crowd sourcing on a player's defensive performance. That was an interesting concept, I thought. My one big criticism of that is that the "crowd" was largely reliant on tv to make their judgements and I think you get a much better feel for the ground a player is covering seeing the game in person.


I used to look at war and make the adjustments due to defense, unfortunately the update has ruined that as it puts the defense adjustment into the oWar component. I much more preferred oWar with just offensive components(batting runs and running runs) in the equation and let me make the mental adjustment for positional advantage.

I know Sugarbear is being a little over the top, but it really is somewhat difficult to think that offensively only, that Trout is noticeably better offensively than Cabrera. Cabrera has better rate stats and in more games, Trout makes most of that up with his baserunning and park factors, but war not only has him making up the gap, but exceeding it (rbat+ rbase put Trout at 60 runs vs Miggy at 50....just on batting events only it has them equal) Otherwords

Miggy's .325/.390/.601/.991 over 687 plate appearances produced 50 rbat(offensive runs)
and Trout's .321/.395/.557/.952 over 625 pa also produces 50 rbat... intuitively them being equal is a stretch. That just seems like a large park adjustment that is helping Trout out, especially when you remember how Detroit was being held as a pitchers park for a large portion of it's existence.
   52. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:37 AM (#4249805)
If Madden had an understand of WAR and was rejecting it that would be perfectly fair. As frustrating as SBB is I think he raises some legitimate concerns. However, to just use outliers is lazy and sloppy journalism.

I agree. I'm not defending Madden.

I'm just saying that using WAR as the keystone of your argument for Trout is a mistake. His case is fine w/o it, and the flaws in WAR make it too easy to dismiss, and throw the baby out with the bathwater.
   53. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:41 AM (#4249809)
the Cubs did not win 5 more games with Barney at 2nd than they would have with freely-available Kevin Frandsen.

Of course you pick the guy who has a fluky 118 OPS+ in 197 PAs this year. :)

And I second what #50 says. Willful ignorance on the part of the reporters should be embarrassing to them. But these guys seem above being embarrassed.
   54. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:47 AM (#4249817)
the discussions i see on bbtf remind me of what you see in workplaces where projects bog down as folks fuss over outliers. who gives a sh8t about darwin barney's war other than maybe darwin barney and folks who are seeking to question the validity of the value and how the value was derived?

the vast majority of teh war values make intuitive sense. they jibe with what a reasonable fan sees on the field.

   55. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:52 AM (#4249820)
the discussions i see on bbtf remind me of what you see in workplaces where projects bog down as folks fuss over outliers. who gives a sh8t about darwin barney's war other than maybe darwin barney and folks who are seeking to question the validity of the value and how the value was derived?

the vast majority of teh war values make intuitive sense. they jibe with what a reasonable fan sees on the field.


I don't know about you Harveys, but when someone who works for me hands me a document or a spreadsheet with a really glaring, honking error, I tend to distrust the whole piece of work.

I agree WAR is a useful construct, but, you're not going to convince the skeptics when there are such blatantly non-sensical results included.
   56. Sean Forman Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:55 AM (#4249824)
I love how the argument here on the park factor boils down to, "that just seems fishy to me." Way to actually make an argument.

Come on make an argument that Comerica and Anaheim are equivalent parks other than "I don't believe it."


There's nothing to really point out, and some of them have surely pointed things out.

1. Darwin Barney isn't a better player than Josh Hamilton.


If you don't like the defensive numbers we give you the numbers assuming everyone is average defensively.

2. Mike Trout hasn't been as good a hitter as Miguel Cabrera and shouldn't get a ca. 13% bonus for playing in Anaheim.


Says you. You've offered nothing to back this up. Nothing.

3. Risk-free replacement-leval production is not obtainable in the marketplace.


Fine use wins above average. Set replacement wherever you want and Trout has a big lead.


4. Last year's AL WAR leader was Ben Zobrist -- where was his MVP support?


Perhaps they shared your mistrust of the defensive numbers.


5. Justin Verlander had more WAR than all the other serious MVP candidates in 2011, yet wasn't pushed as the clear winner by the same people pushing Mike Trout this year.


See #4. I'm not pushing anyone. I'm responding the critiques that WAR is crazy and baseless.
   57. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:56 AM (#4249825)
snapper

it's also possible that there are things being represented that folks are otherwise missing

i don't folks here are in a position to declare what is and is not an error

i think folks like to think they can recognize such things
   58. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:56 AM (#4249826)
.321/.395/.557 plus 48 out of 52 in steals and great outfield defense
.325/.390/.601 plus average 3rd base defense

looks like a pretty easy call.
For Cabrera? I mean stolen bases versus home runs?
   59. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:56 AM (#4249827)
It's the duty of people who claim expertise to communicate it to the general population, preferably without whining about it.


I have a lot of respect for Sean and his site, but I have to agree that I didn't like the tone of his post. I think he should stay above the mud slung by the Bill Maddens of the world.

And I've been carefully going through the description of WAR. There's a lot there, and the explanations aren't particularly easy to grasp.

EDIT: And the method of calculating the stat keeps changing, sometimes markedly - which is fine, and necessary - but it adds to the confusion. I just realized last night in reading it that the calculations have changed such that oWAR and dWAR no longer add up to WAR.
   60. Loren F. Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:58 AM (#4249828)
Harveys, I mostly like WAR and I understand what you are saying; that's one reason why in my own statistical work I prefer to use median over average, to discount the outliers. But at some point you mat be getting so many outliers that the model needs to be tweaked. I am not saying that is the case with bWAR or fWAR, but I wouldn't entirely rule out the possibility either.
   61. cardsfanboy Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:59 AM (#4249830)
SugarBear, the reason for the questions you ask is that the people who are espousing Trout this year are not solely basing it on WAR. And that is true of the other questions; Zobrist, Verlander, etc...people are using WAR to inform but aren't blindly saying "Trout has a better WAR so he wins now I'm sticking my fingers in my ears."


You do not need to point to war for Trout's argument in the least. War is only a piece of data that you use after you have presented to argument to "confirm" the argument, not the start of the argument.

You have two players, with the following numbers.
.325/.390/.601/.991 over 687 pa, with a league leading 28 double plays and 4 stolen bases vs
.321/.395/.557/.952 over 625 pa with 7 double plays, league leading 48 steals (4 cs)

Meanwhile Anaheim is a pitchers park and Detroit is now a hitters park, add in the defensive advantage of a centerfielder vs a third baseman, along with the quality of their defense, Miggy is average at best, while Trout is a pretty good defender even compared to other centerfielders.

Bringing war into the discussion, in my opinion, hurts your argument because the massive discrepency doesn't really line up with the visual evidence. Realistically it's pretty clear that Trout is having the better year, but it's not so obvious that he is having a 4 war better year(10 vs 6 is a pretty big discrepency)
   62. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: October 01, 2012 at 10:59 AM (#4249832)
If you don't like the defensive numbers we give you the numbers assuming everyone is average defensively.
Do you have it without positional adjustments?
   63. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:02 AM (#4249836)
The point of understanding or explaining WAR isn't to endorse it as the final word in player evaluation.


Except that that's what many people do, and everyone knows it, so to deny that serves little purpose.

They start with WAR and then it's really difficult to move them off what WAR is telling them.

And the main problem with WAR is that the defense portion breaks the stat. And yet many people pretend that this is not what the situation is.
   64. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:10 AM (#4249842)
Come on make an argument that Comerica and Anaheim are equivalent parks other than "I don't believe it."

Comerica is bigger and the weather is worse in Detroit than Anaheim. Plus Trout has hit much better at home.

   65. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:13 AM (#4249844)
If you don't like the defensive numbers we give you the numbers assuming everyone is average defensively.


That might be fine to mentally adjust for one player or a few players in a comparison, but unless I'm missing it the play index doesn't let you pull up a list of players ranked by oWAR rather than WAR.
   66. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:15 AM (#4249845)
You have two players, with the following numbers.
.325/.390/.601/.991 over 687 pa, with a league leading 28 double plays and 4 stolen bases vs
.321/.395/.557/.952 over 625 pa with 7 double plays, league leading 48 steals (4 cs)


Comparing raw double plays doesn't account for the fact that Trout bats leadoff and thus stands to have fewer opportunities to hit into a double play.

   67. JJ1986 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:21 AM (#4249852)
Comparing raw double plays double counts for the fact that Trout bats leadoff and thus stands to have fewer opportunities to hit into a double play.


Trout would have approximately five more double plays if he hit 3rd for the Tigers instead of 1st for the Angels.
   68. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:22 AM (#4249854)
Perhaps they shared your mistrust of the defensive numbers.

I meant where was the saber drive for ZOBRIST FOR MVP!! last year? If he had the most WAR, why wasn't he the MVP?

(And didn't that change? I don't remember Zobrist topping the list during the year last year.)
   69. Famous Original Joe C Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:26 AM (#4249856)
I meant where was the saber drive for ZOBRIST FOR MVP!! last year? If he had the most WAR, why wasn't he the MVP?

"No, I've moved the goalposts over here now, you guys."
   70. cardsfanboy Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:29 AM (#4249859)
Comparing raw double plays double counts for the fact that Trout bats leadoff and thus stands to have fewer opportunities to hit into a double play.


Agree, but it doesn't really matter.

It's another reminder of how batting order can create a counting stat. If someone is arguing for Cabrera, you bring in the gidp, they then bring in the argument for lineup spots, which of course then leads into the argument against raw rbi.
   71. JJ1986 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:30 AM (#4249860)
Comerica is bigger and the weather is worse in Detroit than Anaheim.


There are many other things that go into how a park plays - batter's eye, foul territory, wind, elevation. You can't estimate a park factor based on size and climate.
   72. cardsfanboy Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:32 AM (#4249862)
(And didn't that change? I don't remember Zobrist topping the list during the year last year.)


He was among the top if not the top last year also. War also has Bourn as top 6 in the NL and that is more extreme than Zobrist last year.
   73. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:33 AM (#4249863)
There's been no movement.

Does anyone seriously think Ben Zobrist was the AL MVP last year because he had the most WAR? Is it that difficult to see why people with other full-time jobs within baseball may not want to use their finite time engaging a model that spits out Ben Zobrist at the top for the 2011 American League? Or, even, with the argument that Mike Trout is the clear-cut 2012 AL MVP because he has more WAR?

You're demanding that people recogize Trout as the clear MVP because of a metric that put Ben Zobrist at the top in 2011.

Again, most of us here have engaged with WAR, but sometimes we have to try to put ourselves in other peoples' shoes.
   74. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:36 AM (#4249867)
No consideration for humidity for how a park plays? I assume that Detroit, like all of the eastern 1/3 of the US is high humidity throughout the better part of the season.
   75. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:37 AM (#4249870)
There are enough problems with the defense component that pulling up a list of players in the past, say, 50 years sorted by WAR in order to guage a HOF case or something is _really_ problematic. You have people like Sheffield, Manny, and Giambi getting absolutely savaged with the defense component, while someone like Adrian Beltre or Andruw Jones gets propped up by it. And all the people in the middle.

The problem is that if you have a list of players who are between 40 and 60 WAR, you really don't have much more than a first cut at things - but that's not the way most people are using the stat. It's a huge problem. I think being able to pull up a list of players sorted by oWAR would help, but I don't think b-r allows that.

   76. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:42 AM (#4249875)
Comparing raw double plays double counts for the fact that Trout bats leadoff and thus stands to have fewer opportunities to hit into a double play.

Agree, but it doesn't really matter.


It matters a little, which is why you presented the information at all, and yet the way you presented it was misleading.
   77. Greg K Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:43 AM (#4249877)
Does anyone seriously think Ben Zobrist was the AL MVP last year because he had the most WAR? Is it that difficult to see why people with other full-time jobs within baseball may not want to use their finite time engaging a model that spits out Ben Zobrist at the top for the 2011 American League? Or, even, with the argument that Mike Trout is the clear-cut 2012 AL MVP because he has more WAR?

Well, no. In fact I recall several discussions here about Zobrist that year. here's one.

It mostly consists of using WAR as the starting point rather than an end to the discussion (just as Sean is urging for it to be used here). Positional adjustment, positional versatility, and defensive values all come up as issues beyond merely accepting WAR at face value. I don't think anyone is saying Trout is MVP over Cabrera because of WAR, end of discussion. In fact most people here seem to be saying, "Trout is MVP over Cabrera, who needs WAR to see that?".
   78. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:45 AM (#4249879)
Does anyone seriously think Ben Zobrist was the AL MVP last year because he had the most WAR? Is it that difficult to see why people with other full-time jobs within baseball may not want to use their finite time engaging a model that spits out Ben Zobrist at the top for the 2011 American League? Or, even, with the argument that Mike Trout is the clear-cut 2012 AL MVP because he has more WAR?


What the heck are you arguing here? I don't think there is a meaningful movement for Zobrist as 2011 AL MVP which refutes the idea of widespread "WAR and nothing else" use. Trout should be the 2012 AL MVP because he has been the most valuable player in the league. His offensive rate stats are very similar to Cabrera's, he appears to be playing in a worse hitters' park and while he suffers some playing time penalty I believe he more than offsets that with his defensive and base running contributions.

Turn this around. If you don't believe Trout should be MVP, what is your argument in favor of Cabrera?
   79. JJ1986 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:46 AM (#4249880)
Has anyone else totally forgotten who the AL MVP was last year? All I remember is that Bautista didn't get it.
   80. Greg K Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:47 AM (#4249882)
The problem is that if you have a list of players who are between 40 and 60 WAR, you really don't have much more than a first cut at things - but that's not the way most people are using the stat. It's a huge problem.

I think this is true, though I'm not sure what more we can do with WAR except urge everyone (and ourselves) to use it as a starting point rather than a finishing point for discussion. From my experience BTF is pretty good for that. You're probably right that the wider world might be less good for it. Some dismiss WAR out of hand, and some slavishly rely on it.
   81. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:49 AM (#4249885)
It mostly consists of using WAR as the starting point rather than an end to the discussion (just as Sean is urging for it to be used here).

Then why the bemoanment of insufficient engagement by Madden, et al., with WAR and its creators?

Hopefully everyone can see the problems with a model that sometimes matters a lot, sometimes a little, sometimes in the middle -- irrespective of the names and numbers it's spitting out. If there's a name that otherwise makes sense -- Mike Trout -- it matters a lot (which is why Sean explicitly tied together the lack of old guard curiousity and this year's MVP race); if there's a name that doesn't -- Ben Zobrist -- then it doesn't matter so much.

That's not a particularly strong and robust model.

   82. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:50 AM (#4249887)
I think this is true, though I'm not sure what more we can do with WAR except urge everyone (and ourselves) to use it as a starting point rather than a finishing point for discussion. From my experience BTF is pretty good for that. You're probably right that the wider world might be less good for it.


I think BTF is pretty horrible at that, and most of the wider world isn't using it.
   83. Greg K Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:50 AM (#4249889)
Has anyone else totally forgotten who the AL MVP was last year? All I remember is that Bautista didn't get it.

Was it Verlander?

For all the hoopla that comes along with MVP voting I remember the results for about 2 days.

Recent MVPs: I recall Howard and Rollins won it, (I only remember because it's funny that Utley's better than both). Morneau won one (I only remember because he's Canadian). I assume Pujols won a bunch. Has A-Rod won one while with the Yankees? I keep thinking Kemp won last year, but it was Braun wasn't it?
   84. Greg K Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:54 AM (#4249893)
I think BTF is pretty horrible at that, and most of the wider world isn't using it.

Is it? I suppose it depends on your standard for "good" and "horrible", but isn't there a thread on the merits, feasibility, and limitations of WAR about once a week?
   85. cardsfanboy Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:55 AM (#4249894)

I think BTF is pretty horrible at that, and most of the wider world isn't using it.


I think you are imagining arguments that isn't happening. You are about the only poster on this board who believes in absolutes, everyone else on here will point to war along with other arguments for any case they are trying to make.
   86. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:57 AM (#4249898)
Has anyone else totally forgotten who the AL MVP was last year? All I remember is that Bautista didn't get it.


Verlander; there wasn't a runaway offensive player.
   87. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:57 AM (#4249899)
Then why the bemoanment of insufficient engagement by Madden, et al., with WAR and its creators?


From Madden's article;

"Here's the biggest problem with the wins against replacement argument: Even the people who invented the 'stat' can't agree on how to calculate it!" - Problem 1 is the sub-head of the article. Admittedly the fact that there are two stats titled the same thing is confusing but while it's a fair question, it's one a phone call or an e-mail probably could have helped clear up.

Then a couple of fun quotes;

"that nebulous (I would say ludicrous) new-age sabermetric stat called WAR."
"According to one blogger last week, Trout’s superior WAR demonstrates that “he has helped his team win roughly three to four more games than Cabrera has helped his.” Don’t ask how that conclusion is reached."

I love this, "Don't ask how that conclusion is reached." If Madden wants to be critical that is very fair but he owes it to fair discussion to get the answers to these questions if he's going to make statements like calling WAR ludicrous or be critical of the 3-4 win variance between Trout and Cabrera.

I don't need Madden (or others) to use WAR, but if they are going to criticize it, then they should understand it.



   88. DL from MN Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:58 AM (#4249900)
I noticed that Torii Hunter is having a terrific season according to WAR and I wonder how much of that is Trout and Bourjous as teammates. I see the same jump in defensive value for Denard Span as well. Span scores very well with Revere and Willingham on either side but scored poorly flanked by Delmon Young and Jason Kubel. Defensive credit is divvied up by "zones" but this is teammate dependent in ways that is not as discrete as batting. I'm also not convinced that it's linear. For example, if your 2B turns the double play 0.2s faster than your previous 2B, will you turn X number of additional double plays or X^2?

I also agree with the notion above that single season park factors can be flaky. Weather and the unbalanced schedule are two variables that immediately come to mind. I can't think of an immediate reason why Detroit's stadium would favor offense more than the one in Anaheim.
   89. bunyon Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:58 AM (#4249902)
Has anyone else totally forgotten who the AL MVP was last year? All I remember is that Bautista didn't get it.


Was it Verlander?

For all the hoopla that comes along with MVP voting I remember the results for about 2 days.

Recent MVPs: I recall Howard and Rollins won it, (I only remember because it's funny that Utley's better than both). Morneau won one (I only remember because he's Canadian). I assume Pujols won a bunch. Has A-Rod won one while with the Yankees? I keep thinking Kemp won last year, but it was Braun wasn't it?


Right. WAR has it's limitations; BBWAA MVP votes are jokes. Yes, they occasionally get the right guy. But not if it isn't perfectly clear who that is. If there are 2 or 3 guys within hailing distance of the top, they go all aflutter with narratives and intangibles. That sometimes works out and it sometimes doesn't.

I'm seriously not clear why anyone gives a damn about the MVP and the Cy Young.
   90. JJ1986 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 11:59 AM (#4249903)
I've heard people at ballparks talking about WAR and I assume most of them saw it on either MLB Network or ESPN. I can't imagine it's really explained well when it's shown on tv.
   91. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:00 PM (#4249904)
Zobrist, by the way, has led the league in WAR twice (2009 and 2011). His WAR probably gets a significant boost from playing 2B. For the voters, a lot of his value is in walks, and his BA is perennially a little low to get serious MVP consideration.
   92. Ron J2 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:00 PM (#4249905)
Does anyone seriously think Ben Zobrist was the AL MVP last year because he had the most WAR?


No. But he should be in the discussion. WAR has a standard error of something just over a win. Verlander's 8.3 and Zobrist's 8.5 are actually of indistinguishable value.

Now a big issue with Zobrist is exactly how good he was defensively and I think there's a case to be made that totalzone (which has him as basically average at second) is closer to the truth than plus/minus -- which has him as a brilliant 2B (because he's getting credit in plus minus for a fair number of out of zone plays when he was shifted -- and the Rays shifted a lot).

WAR's good enough that you should be able to point to a specific issue before just dismissing somebody.

I think Ellsbury (or Bautista) was probably the pick around here among the position players and you can totally see how the season narrative would hurt his chances (even though Ellsbury actually played very well from September 1 on). As I recall it, Verlander was the consensus pick around here.
   93. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:02 PM (#4249908)
Then why the bemoanment of insufficient engagement by Madden, et al., with WAR and its creators?

Because they're using it as a strawman instead of engaging in an intelligent debate about Cabrera vs. Trout. Almost no one is arguing that Trout should be MVP simply because he has leads in WAR.

Zobrist is another strawman. Last year he didn't have a significant lead in WAR over Ellsbury and Verlander, so there was no reason to tout Zobrist for MVP because of that one number. And everyone recognizes that the defensive component of WAR, the main reason Zobrist's WAR was so good, isn't as reliable as the other parts. Moreover, while I agree with you that Zobrist didn't deserve the MVP over those other guys, it's certainly not crazy to use WAR to argue that Zobrist is a far better player than most people realize.
   94. DL from MN Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:03 PM (#4249911)
I may have another thought - if Anaheim is playing like a pitcher's park this year for whatever reason (wind patterns, temperature, etc) that should give both Trout and Hunter more opportunities to catch balls that aren't going over the fence. Ditto with Span in MN (and Target Field has been brutal for weather at times this year). If we're adjusting based on opportunities on offense (see batting order discussion) should we account for it on defense also?
   95. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:04 PM (#4249913)
"Here's the biggest problem with the wins against replacement argument: Even the people who invented the 'stat' can't agree on how to calculate it!" - Problem 1 is the sub-head of the article. Admittedly the fact that there are two stats titled the same thing is confusing but while it's a fair question, it's one a phone call or an e-mail probably could have helped clear up.

But you can be a perfectly competent baseball writer and commentator without making that phone call or sending that e-mail. It's very arrogant to think otherwise. The output of the model is often bizarre, and the methodology is frequently changing and controversial.

"that nebulous (I would say ludicrous) new-age sabermetric stat called WAR."


That's a perfectly valid description.

If Madden wants to be critical that is very fair but he owes it to fair discussion to get the answers to these questions if he's going to make statements like calling WAR ludicrous or be critical of the 3-4 win variance between Trout and Cabrera.

There is no obligation to get to the bottom of a model that spits out Ben Zobrist in 2011, or that says that Mike Trout has had a 50-60% better year than Miguel Cabrera. That's also an arrogant perception. Both of those are plainly silly, warranting no additional inquiry before saying so.




   96. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:05 PM (#4249915)
I also agree with the notion above that single season park factors can be flaky. Weather and the unbalanced schedule are two variables that immediately come to mind. I can't think of an immediate reason why Detroit's stadium would favor offense more than the one in Anaheim.


And if the adjustments were based on one year totals out of whack with historical norms, they might have a point. But that's not the case.

Anaheim 1 and 3 year PFs - 92/91 and 92/92
Detroit - 103/103 and 103/102
   97. Ray (RDP) Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:06 PM (#4249919)
"Here's the biggest problem with the wins against replacement argument: Even the people who invented the 'stat' can't agree on how to calculate it!"


Isn't that true though, even forgetting about fWAR? Sean and Sean keep changing how bWAR is calculated.

Mind you I think Madden's criticism is dumb - changing the calculation is done to improve the stat which is a good thing - but he's right that they can't seem to find an equilibrium on how to calculate it. Which inherently reveals how shaky the stat is. This didn't have to be done with, say, EqA.

And most of this is because the defense component is so fluid and therefore inherently unreliable. Certainly the defense component is not as reliable as the offense component, and, yet, no effort is made by Sean and Sean to blunt the impact of the defense component. It's presented in WAR with just as much confidence as the offense component.

And calling the defense component for, say, Dwight Evans and that for Nick Swisher both "RField" is pretty misleading, as the two are calculated in completely different ways.
   98. JJ1986 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:06 PM (#4249920)
Almost everyone using WAR to proclaim Trout the MVP over Cabrera is using WAR as a shorthand. What they mean is that Trout's offense, defense and baserunning are better than Cabrera's offense, defense and baserunning. It's not an argument that he's the MVP because his number is higher.
   99. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:06 PM (#4249921)
I used to look at war and make the adjustments due to defense, unfortunately the update has ruined that as it puts the defense adjustment into the oWar component. I much more preferred oWar with just offensive components(batting runs and running runs) in the equation and let me make the mental adjustment for positional advantage.

oWAR always had position adjustments. The new update added the position adjustments to dWAR as well, which means oWAR and dWAR no longer add up to WAR.
   100. JJ1986 Posted: October 01, 2012 at 12:07 PM (#4249925)
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