WAR is a statistic in baseball that was introduced in 1983. It hasn’t provided any mainstream use until very recently however around 2014. It stands for Wins Above Replacement, or how many more wins you provide when you’re on the field as opposed to when your replacement is on the field.
Next generation stats like WAR fall under a field known as Sabermetrics. Sabermetrics are defined as the empirical study of baseball, especially in statistics that measure in game activity.
Basically while other stats measure whats been done on the field Sabermeric stats show what a player is doing on the field and how much he truly contributes to every winning or losing effort. WAR is seen as the sum of all stats and the baseline for a players worth.
Mike Trout is the best at adding to his own WAR, he consistently averages around 10 WAR a season. to put that in perspective. An average WAR for position players is between 1 and 2 and if someone manages to get somewhere between 5.8 and 6 they are an All Star and an MVP candidate. Mike Trouts lowest war for a season was 7.9 and his next lowest was 9.3. Even in his lowest rated season he had the highest WAR on any player. And being that WAR is considered a great stat in determining a players on the field value, Mike Trout has literally been the leagues most valuable player for every year he has played in the majors. He has finished in either first or second in MVP voting every year as well.
While Trout is no doubt going to be an all time great. Something that can help this statistic is playing for a bad team, which Trout’s Angels are. There are other players such as Anthony Rizzo, who played for the World Champion Cubs, who play on teams so good that it hurts his stat. Rizzo is still averaging 6 in his prime, but some argue he is just as valuable as Trout and that’s where the stats hurts evaluation. Generally the best player on a bad team will have a better WAR than the best player on a great team. Even if the best player on a great team is better.
It is for this reason that analysts must also watch the player actually play. It’s important to watch the player perform to see if he really is as good as his WAR entails. WAR could be a good thing to look at before going to evaluate a player, but an analyst should always go to evaluate in person before making a personal decision.
A blend of the two is the best method for evaluating talent, rather than picking one or the other. Analysts and scouts need to stop being so stubborn and realize there are perks to both methods of evaluating players.