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DonRocks

WAR (Wins Above Replacement) - "The" Advanced Metric Stat in Baseball, but What Is It?

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Can someone please explain this stat to me, and why it seems to be *THE* advanced metric of choice? 

How is dWAR (Defensive Wins Above Replacement) sewn into this? I have a feeling WAR grossly undervalues defense, and is extremely flawed, but until I see how it's derived, I can only speculate.

dWAR seems very flawed to me, so if it's an ingredient in the WAR recipe, the dish is probably fundamentally wrong.

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49 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

Can someone please explain this stat to me, and why it seems to be *THE* advanced metric of choice? 

How is dWAR (Defensive Wins Above Replacement) sewn into this? I have a feeling WAR grossly undervalues defense, and is extremely flawed, but until I see how it's derived, I can only speculate.

dWAR seems very flawed to me, so if it's an ingredient in the WAR recipe, the dish is probably fundamentally wrong.

I am not an Expert on WAR, though I have read through descriptions to try and grasp what it represents.  I do leave it to those more knowledgeable to present coherent description(s) while I do have some perspective:

A.  WAR presents a single number; hence it creates an easy way to rate players against one another, the player with the highest WAR being rated the statistical best.  It would seem to me since it creates an easy method of ranking by using one number that makes it easy to use and increases its popularity.

B.  I noted you had related dWar to War and had made a similar argument about dWar being undervalued.  I suggest that in evaluating the offensive side vs the defensive side and evaluating runs scored vs runs NOT scored, one would have to add dWAR with pitchers WAR to adequately compare defense, (runs NOT scored) to offense (runs  scored).   For instance, if Scherzer throws a 9 inning shutout or a 1 run game say with a home run and strikes out 12 players, there is less defense.   He and the eight players behind him only need to make 15 defensive plays.  There is less defense.  If someone else throws a 9 inning shutout or a 1 run game with only 3 strikeouts wherein the 1 run came from a series of hits then there are 24 outs wherein one can accumulate dWAR, let alone some plays where runners on base can be advanced or wiped out by good defense.

In sum I suspect that both dWAR plus pitchers WAR should "equate" to batters WAR. 

Now I'm not sure if that is on the "right track" or not, but I do think in terms of wins and losses pitching and defense come into as much and equal play as hitting.

I look forward to a better description of WAR from those that are knowledgeable. 

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Different systems evaluate it differently, so ironically, while it's used to draw standardized conclusions across different sets of data over time, it's not actually a standardized measure. Typically, though, they do things like adjust the count for position players based on how well players at that position tend to hit. (They handicap to add value to catchers, for instance.) You can find the formulas online, but they don't make a lot of sense to me and my pre-calculus math mind.

It might make more sense for you to break out some of the defensive categories (defensive runs saved) or look at something like ultimate zone rating and then look at total WAR. Harper's terrible defense last year torpedoed his WAR, and if you look specifically at where he ranked offensively (remarkably good considering how he started out) and then at his shockingly low 1.3 WAR, you can see that his defensive play hurt him badly. By contrast, Juan Soto, playing a position he had never played before and had a bit of a learning curve with, managed a 3.0 WAR last season, more than twice Harper's.

The reason this is so central to the game now races back to the moneyball ethos. They're ranking a player's value vs. a replacement level player. Replacement level is the cheapest player there is available, those making major league minimum. By calculating league average and replacement level through a formula/formulas which I don't understand, they determine a players value through his stats vs. the most basic player's. 

Teams want to stock themselves as much as they can with the cheapest and best alternatives to the high $$$$ players that have high WAR, because you can only fit one Mike Trout or Nolan Arenado on a team and have to round out the other positions. (Or, you say the hell with those guys and stock your team with the cheapest people possible who have good/great stats buried in the analytic models).

Keep in mind that for the purpose of these stats, Juan Soto is a replacement level player...I think.

(Don't hold me to any of this :-D)

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