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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

JAWS and the 2020 bWAR Update, Part 2

Josh Donaldson is one of the game’s elite two-way players, but like the late Ernie Lombardi, he received rude treatment when it came to Baseball-Reference’s latest update to its version of WAR. Last week I began a breakdown of B-Ref’s influx of new data, which resulted in alterations to five different areas of its version of WAR, some aspects of which affect players as far back as 1904 and others as recent as last season. The introduction of detailed play-by-play baserunning and caught stealing data from the 1930s and ’40s, for example, cost Lombardi — a heavy-hitting Hall of Fame catcher who played from 1934-47 — a whopping 7.3 WAR. Donaldson took the largest hit among contemporary players, losing 3.8 WAR via changes in the way Defensive Run Saved is calculated. For the 34-year-old third baseman, the loss adds a bit of insult to the injury of this delayed season, which won’t make it any easier for him to build what is admittedly a long-shot case for the Hall of Fame.

B-Ref’s version of WAR is different from that of FanGraphs, but as bWAR is the currency for JAWS, it’s of particular interest to me. While the Hall of Fame itself is as closed right now as any museum due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hall arguments are never out of season, nor is taking stock of greatness, particularly when it provides a diversion from considering stockpiles of toilet paper and shortages of N95 masks. B-Ref’s adjustments are hardly unprecedented for the site, which adds new data annually. The earliest boundaries for game logs and play-by-play data have moved backwards by decades over the years, for example, and last year’s big-ticket addition was a major update to catchers’ defensive statistics for the 1890-1952 period.

Reordered for their chronological effect, this year’s update has incorporated the following:

New Retrosheet Game Logs (1904-07)
Caught Stealing Totals from Game Logs (1926-40)
Baserunning and Double Plays from play-by-play data (1931-47)
Defensive Runs Saved changes (2013-19)
Park factor changes (2018)

The second half of an article from a couple of days ago- a consideration of the meaning of the changes to bWAR for both past and present players.


QLE Posted: March 24, 2020 at 12:55 AM | 2 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: jaws, jay jaffe, war

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   1. caspian88 Posted: March 24, 2020 at 02:07 PM (#5933122)
Last year, I had been working on a sort of WAR-based system reminiscent of the Bill James system used in the NBJHBA to rank players. I added all of the Hall of Fame members and a large number of other people who I thought either had the thinnest sliver of a HOF case or were in the neighborhood of players who did. So, my catcher worksheet had players like Mike Lieberthal, Johnny Kling, and Butch Wynegar.

Anyway, I updated Ernie Lombardi today and his case dropped from being borderline out (I had him slotted in at #28 among catchers, including active and Negro League players, between Sundberg and Schang) to being clearly out (without updating anyone else, Lombardi would now be at #36, between Lance Parrish and Javy Lopez).

Anyway, when I went and updated Gabby Hartnett, I saw his WAR numbers rise compared to where I had them last year. BBREF has him at 56.9 career WAR right now, while I had him at 53.4 WAR. I had to alter his peak and prime years, too. I don't see the drop (there must have been another data dump sometime between when I built my spreadsheet and this week's changes). I also saw that Lombardi was at 45.9 in my spreadsheet, not the 46.8 listed in the blog.

Hartnett was the one catcher I thought was most hurt by my system (in large part, I think, because of his injury in 1929) - I had him down at #21, between Roy Campanella (who I see I never updated with MLEs for his pre-Dodger career) and Gene Tenace (with whom Hartnett was actually tied). This change doesn't even look like it'll move him - above Campanella is Quincy Trouppe, who still ranks a little higher.
   2. Sunday silence Posted: March 25, 2020 at 01:10 PM (#5933419)
Caspian: It says they have more data on base running and CS. Does that mean we will have more information on catcher's defensively? Cause I have always seen CS rates for catchers who played in this era anyhow. Such as Lombardi or Shanty HOgan. Were these simply approximations based on team data? What new details do we have? Does it change the analysis of their arms?

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