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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Peticca: Baseball’s new-fangled statistics: A perfect example of how flawed they can be

Look, I don’t have time to goof on this…I’m too busy goofing on Spotify!

For instance, in the aftermath of Texas Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre’s hamstring injury, which has landed him on the disabled list, Richard Durrett writes for ESPN.com:

      Perhaps the best measurement of Beltre’s worth is Wins Above Replacement or WAR. Basically, it looks at the wins a player adds above what a “replacement level” player would do. ESPN Stats & Information (shout out Joshua Kritz) tells me that Beltre had a value of 3.6 entering Friday’s game, the second-highest on the club behind Ian Kinsler (4.5 entering Friday). To put that in a little perspective, the Rangers are three games up on the Angels. So three-plus wins certainly matters.

No knock against Beltre and Kinsler, both quite valuable players, but is “WAR” short-changing a particular Ranger?

Let’s repeat what Durrett writes about “WAR:”

“Basically, it looks at the wins a player adds above what a ‘replacement level’ player would do.”

Some very simple numbers tell us that the Rangers have a 41-21 record with outfielder Josh Hamilton in the lineup this season and a 16-22 record with him out of the lineup—most of the missed games when he was recovering from a broken bone in his upper right arm.

Maybe I’m not understanding what “Wins Above Replacement” means, but it must not matter much that Texas is playing .661 winning baseball with Hamilton and .421 without him.

Repoz Posted: July 23, 2011 at 11:28 PM | 20 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rangers, sabermetrics, special topics

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. McCoy Posted: July 23, 2011 at 11:41 PM (#3883987)
Well, Murphy does have a -.9 WAR right now.
   2. Shock Posted: July 24, 2011 at 12:08 AM (#3884018)
but it must not matter much that Texas is playing .661 winning baseball with Hamilton and .421 without him.


Correct.
   3. STIGGLES is more humble than you would understand Posted: July 24, 2011 at 12:13 AM (#3884024)


Maybe I’m not understanding what “Wins Above Replacement” means
that, too. WAR is a counting stat; playing time matters.
   4. valuearbitrageur Posted: July 24, 2011 at 02:28 AM (#3884126)
In the 62 games that Josh Hamilton pitched, took all of the team ABs, and in which he apparently made all of the putouts, did he get tired?
   5. Darren Posted: July 24, 2011 at 03:04 AM (#3884141)
Only during the day games.
   6. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: July 24, 2011 at 03:16 AM (#3884147)
it must not matter much that Texas is playing .661 winning baseball with Hamilton and .421 without him.

Hamilton's injury kept him out from April 12 to May 23.

Nelson Cruz had an injury that kept him out from May 3 to May 23.
   7. aberg Posted: July 24, 2011 at 03:24 AM (#3884148)
Good god. He starts with the premise that the stat demonstrates how good Beltre and Kinsler have been, then not only takes a crap on the stat, but throws those guys under the bus at the same time. He's somehow contradicting himself and being wrong about both things at the same time.
   8. Shock Posted: July 24, 2011 at 03:47 AM (#3884152)

Only during the day games.


What color are his eyes?
   9. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: July 24, 2011 at 04:12 AM (#3884157)
The appropriate response to this article is "Don't be an ass."
   10. Walt Davis Posted: July 24, 2011 at 08:25 AM (#3884189)
I get Hamilton at 16 wins. Endy Chavez looks to be about 6 wins in games he starts. Napoli is +14. Right there you've got 36 wins above the rest of the Rangers team -- who, y'know, don't suck or anything -- so that's why the Rangers have won 75 of their first 100 games.
   11. BDC Posted: July 24, 2011 at 12:56 PM (#3884208)
You guys are such debunkers. And here I was taking comfort from the fact that it doesn't matter if Beltre's on the DL, as long as Hamilton isn't.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: July 24, 2011 at 06:20 PM (#3884307)
Hold the phone!! I have just noticed that the Rangers are a staggering 20-0, that's right 20-0, in games in which Neftali Feliz gets a save.
   13. cardsfanboy Posted: July 24, 2011 at 06:46 PM (#3884330)
I do think it's funny he keeps pointing to RBI, without acknowledging that Beltre has 76 while Hamilton has 55, and that Cruz and Young also have more than Hamilton. He mentions pace, and doesn't seem to realize that war is more or less an accumulation stat.
   14. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: July 24, 2011 at 06:46 PM (#3884332)
Hold the phone!! I have just noticed that the Rangers are a staggering 20-0, that's right 20-0, in games in which Neftali Feliz gets a save.

You jest, but I actually did run across a similar statement about the Cubs when Felix Pie played a few years ago; Pie, of course, was primarily used as a defensive replacement, which is a substitution that's made when the team is ahead in the late innings.
   15. Steve Treder Posted: July 24, 2011 at 06:58 PM (#3884340)
You jest, but I actually did run across a similar statement about the Cubs when Felix Pie played a few years ago; Pie, of course, was primarily used as a defensive replacement, which is a substitution that's made when the team is ahead in the late innings.

I recall, many decades ago, running across a similar statement about the Orioles when Jim Busby played back in the late '50s/early '60s.

There have always been fools, damn fools, and junk statistics. Thus it shall ever be.
   16. There's a bustle in Misirlou's hedgerow Posted: July 24, 2011 at 07:03 PM (#3884346)
Hold the phone!! I have just noticed that the Rangers are a staggering 20-0, that's right 20-0, in games in which Neftali Feliz gets a save.


30-7 when he merely makes an appearance. Surely, to guarantee a playoff spot, they need to get Feliz in more games.
   17. cardsfanboy Posted: July 24, 2011 at 07:08 PM (#3884349)
I looked up Nelson Cruz's record and the Rangers are 8-11 in games he doesn't play, same losing percentage as Josh Hamilton.
   18. Bob Evans Posted: July 24, 2011 at 08:29 PM (#3884425)
I recall, many decades ago, running across a similar statement about the Orioles when Jim Busby played back in the late '50s/early '60s.

In 1976, the Phillies were 95-35 when Jerry Martin played.
   19. Walt Davis Posted: July 25, 2011 at 04:15 AM (#3884556)
In 1976, the Phillies were 95-35 when Jerry Martin played.

No doubt why the Cubs traded for him.
   20. Walt Davis Posted: July 25, 2011 at 04:19 AM (#3884557)
30-7 when he merely makes an appearance. Surely, to guarantee a playoff spot, they need to get Feliz in more games.

What kind of logic is that? They're a mere 10-7 when he doesn't get a save. You're better off starting Derek Holland. They need to save Feliz for save situations only. Give the rest of his innings to Dave Bush or somebody else useless like that.

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