|Will Your Fantasy Players Go To "WAR" For Your Team?|
|Written by Don Drooker|
|Friday, 29 June 2012 01:55|
Over the last few decades, the approach to statistics has changed dramatically. The evidence was never more clear than 2010 when the baseball writers voted Felix Hernandez the AL Cy Young Award when he had a record of 13-12. Could that have ever happened in the 50's, 60's or 70's? How did it happen? Because "King Felix" led the league with a 2.27 ERA and 250 innings pitched. He also had 232 strikeouts and a WHIP of only 1.06. The average (or casual) baseball fan would react by saying "What the hell is WHIP?" Amazingly, this stat (which is now a mainstream metric for pitching success) was born less than 30 years ago when the group who invented the original version of Rotisserie Baseball needed a 4th pitching stat to go with wins, saves and ERA. They came up with what they called "Ratio", which essentially tracks how many base runners a pitcher allows, thus WHIP (walks and hits divided by innings pitched).
And how about OPS? Years ago, if you were a real fan, you might have an idea about slugging percentage, but now OPS (on base + slugging) is a standard stat for determining offensive excellence. Does it work? Well, the three best OPS hitters of all-time are Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig. While many may dismiss this sabermetric approach, writers with a HOF ballot and fantasy players everywhere are using this type of insight more and more to make critical decisions.
One of the newer statistical guidelines is called WAR (Wins Above Replacement). It is an attempt to summarize a player's total contribution to their team in one statistic. WAR is pretty all-inclusive and provides a very helpful reference point. WAR basically looks at a player and asks, "If this player got injured and their team has to replace them with a minor leaguer or someone from their bench, how much value would the team lose?" The value is expressed in a wins format, so we could say that a certain player is (for example) worth 6 wins to their team. This may sound complicated, but the results tell us clearly that the stat works. Both baseballreference.com and fangraphs.com have detailed information on this topic but a quick glance at the top ten WAR position players of all-time tells the tale...
Babe Ruth - 178
Barry Bonds - 168
Ty Cobb - 164
Willie Mays - 163
Hank Aaron - 150
Honus Wagner - 150
Tris Speaker - 143
Ted Williams - 140
Stan Musial - 139
Rogers Hornsby - 135
Of course, if Williams hadn't lost those five seasons in the prime of his career, he would probably be at the top of the list...he led all of baseball in WAR for '41, '42 and '46.
Additional confirmation comes from the 2011 WAR results which show Jacoby Ellsbury and Matt Kemp as the best players. In 2010, it was Josh Hamilton. Who's leading the way in 2012? Joey Votto has a WAR of 5 in less than half of a season followed closely by David Wright, Ryan Braun, Michael Bourn and Hamilton.
OK, you say, that's interesting but this is a fantasy baseball website. How can I use information like this to make me a better prognosticator? Well, for those of us who paid dearly for Albert Pujols in our 2012 auctions, maybe a little research would have given us more insight. Fan Graphs tells us that Pujols' WAR in his rookie season of 2001 was an impressive 7.7 followed in 2002 by a very good number of 6. From 2003-2009, "Phat Albert" averaged an astounding 8.8 figure. In 2010, he slipped slightly to 7.5 but 2011 was the lowest of his career with a significant drop to 5.1. Despite the big contract, his legendary status and respected work ethic, maybe the numbers don't lie. Time waits for no player and even with his bounce-back from this year's horrible start, the $200 million + contract has bought the Angels a WAR of less than 1...0.8 to be exact. Mike Trout, a player who began the season in the Minor Leagues, and Mark Trumbo, who started the season without a position, have each provided the Halos with 3 additional wins in 2012.
Maybe going to WAR each March will give you a better roster. Thanks for reading. Your feedback is welcome.
|Last Updated on Friday, 29 June 2012 07:18|