I’ll never be a baseball expert and I don’t understand the nuances of the game, but this term Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is something I’ve noticed and it intrigues me. It’s a statistic used in Major League Baseball (MLB) that fans and teams use to measure a players value. Essentially, WAR reveals how ‘good’ a player is on the field compared to how long are mlb ganes an average player would perform if the same player was competing against them. Amazing right?
WAR is calculated using a bunch of specifics which ultimately gives a tangible figure. It takes into account batting, baserunning, fielding and pitching performance, combining the data for each type of play into two separate sums – one offensive and one defensive. From these numbers it creates a value that determines how many wins a players adds to their team – either positive or negative – hence, Wins Above Replacement.
Whether a player has had a good game is difficult to quantify. Events like strikeouts, double plays or successful attempts to steal bases might look vital on the scoreboard, but the lines between good and bad play can be so vague and subjective. This is where WAR comes in. By analysing seven different components of a player’s performance, WAR removes much of the subjectivity.
Let’s take a look at how does mlb keep track of crazy stats you or I could work out a player’s WAR. Firstly, it’s important to think about the components. This score is calculated by referencing a player’s offensive and defensive contributions compared to those of other players. It includes the ability to hit home runs, defensive range, stolen bases and other factors, then indexes this against the league average for each. It’s actually pretty complex.
The WAR figure is an indication of the value of the player both offensively and defensively compared to substituting in another player. A higher score (+) means the player performs outstandingly well, while a lower – score doesn’t necessarily mean the player performed badly that day, but that his performance simply isn’t at the average MLB level. WAR is a powerful statistic that grades players objectively.
I guess what I’ve come to understand about WAR is that it’s a comprehensive way to measure a player’s contribution. It’s performance based and doesn’t tell the whole story, for example WAR can’t measure heart, attitude or team chemistry. Sometimes even a player with a low WAR score will inspire their team and push them forward – you just can’t measure that with statistics. But we can measure how the teams total WAR – the total sum of a team’s players WAR scores – affects their results, which is useful data for teams to consider.
One of the biggest implications of WAR is that it provides a team with important financial information. One of the first things when teams limit their rosters before a season include for each team to come up with a budget and a plan, and WAR helps teams to separate the players’ true worth from their potential. By realizing that some players have a real influence on the team’s results and which don’t, teams may be able to allocate salary wisely.
In the end, whether we fully understand it or not, WAR can be interesting and really give you a much better idea about the strengths and weaknesses of players. It’s obviously most valuable for teams evaluating possible players for purchase or reviewing their current players. It’s an invaluable tool that helps coaches to evaluate the true worth of their players and make better decisions for the team.