Wins Above Replacement in baseball is a statistic that is meant to represent a player’s true value to his team. In reality it means much more than that. WAR represents a revolution in the way that players in the MLB are evaluated. It represents the movement of advanced statistics into modern day scouting. Gone will be the days of the eye test and in will come he world of Saber Metrics, but it all started with one simple, yet very complex, stat. One stat changed the game, as we know it and redefined what it meant to be a valuable player, and determined who was actually the most valuable player in the league. This stat that would change it all is known as WAR.
WAR is a culmination of all the things a player does that earn or save runs. A player with a good WAR can be either solid defensively or solid offensively. A player with a great WAR is one who can do both. The way WAR is calculated is by adding up all RBI’s, runs, runs saved, and runs stolen on the base paths. Then one must divide that total by the league average. The number that is left is the player’s WAR statistic. Players with a good offensive WAR scored and bat in a lot of runs, and players with a good defensive WAR make consistent plays in the field that prevent runs from scoring. This is the reason WAR is becoming one of the most, if not the most, relevant stat while determining a players value.
WAR is by no means a simple stat as can be seen from the former paragraph. It’s very science oriented and takes a lot of effort to calculate. This is the reason why a lot of old school baseball minds are reluctant to adapt. The argument is that while this shows all of the numbers a player may put up, the only way to truly see a players value is to see it in real life. You need to see the great plays and clutch hits in order to really see how valuable a player is. While there is some merit to that overall numbers do tell a story of how a player truly preforms.
Mike Trout is widely considered to be the best player in baseball. To put this into perspective, Mike Trout has a WAR of 10 or more in every season. The Average WAR of an All-Star is somewhere between 5 and 6. Mike Trout is almost twice as good as any player in the major leagues according to WAR. While old minds wouldn’t say he’s that much better than the rest of the competition, they would have to admit he is the best player in the league. This means that WAR can accurately predict who the best player in the league is. This would also mean that for the players who scouts can’t seem to choose one over the other, this stat could be used to determine who carries more value to the team. WAR is slowly being incorporated into the league and as WAR is getting comfortable, there are many other new age stats trying to stake their claim in the MLB.
Saber metrics is the category under which all of the new age stats reside. The people who study and develop Saber metrics are usually smarter than the average front office executive but don’t hold much of a general knowledge for how the game is played. Statisticians that sit behind computers are the ones developing these stats. That fact is the thing that scares the old minds the most. They don’t want to see their beloved game turn into men reading stats from behind a computer screen. That is the era that WAR represents.
While WAR has a clear-cut definition in how it defines a player’s value to his team it also represents a new era of advanced statistics. WAR is only the first step into the evolution of Baseball, as we know it. First it will be WAR then it will be every other random culmination of stats one could think of. Even with the fear from the old minds in the game, WAR could be a step into a simpler time. One that makes choosing between two closely matched players easier. WAR can be defined as a new beginning for the game of baseball.
Birnbaum, Phil. “A Guide to Sabermetric Research.” A Guide to Sabermetric Research | Society for American Baseball Research. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Feb. 2017.
Glassey, Conor, and 2010 August 18. “Majors: Best Tools: Scouts On Scouting: What They Look For In A Player.” BaseballAmericacoms RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Feb. 2017.