FanPost

Why I Dislike WAR as the Ultimate Player Valuation Metric


Maybe this isn't the best place to post this, but I was looking at the 2010 WAR leaders on Fangraphs and noticed something that, quite frankly was astonishing to me.  Guess who generated an equal amount of WAR as Carlos Gonzalez in 2010?

You may not be as suprised as I was, but it's worth a look, nonetheless.

The answer:  None other that Giants OF Andres Torres.

Now, I fully recognize that Torres had a very good year.  A break-out year for him, and certainly one of their more valuable players while helping fill out the top of the lineup and playing very good defense.  However, Andres Torres, really?  This caused me to look into the individual metrics listed on the Fangraphs 2010 WAR leader page.

Here's what I found:

Player

HR

R

RBI

SB

ISO

BA

OBP

SLG

wOBA

wRC+

CarGo

34

111

117

26

.262

.336

.376

.598

.416

155

Torres

16

84

63

26

.211

.268

.343

.479

.363

128

There are many other metrics that could be included, I simply tried to get a range of traditional to SABR types, to satiate all parties (yeah, right).

Yet, their WAR:
CarGo = 6.0
Torres = 6.0

In fact, in Dollars (also from fangraphs):

CarGo = $23.8
Torres = $23.9

I don't know about you, but as good of a year as Torres had in 2010, it doesn't look/feel like he provided nearly as much value to the Giants as Gonzalez did to the Rockies.  Why/how is this possible?

Fielding (Fld) metrics (from same Fangraphs page referenced above):
CarGo =  -2.6
Torres = 21.2

Similar results can be found with Brett Gardner of the New York Yankees.  While he had an above average season at the plate (123 wRC+), it's his league high 22.9 in the fielding metric that help elevate him to a WAR of 5.4.

While I have no doubt Torres is a very good defensive fielder, so is Gonzalez.  At least, that's what my eyes and his Gold Glove from 2010 would indicate.  I recognize Gold Gloves are a bit of a popularity/hitting contest and don't always go to the most deserving defensive player (Tulo/Rollins 2007), you don't usually suck on defense and win the award.  Yet that's the only metric that Torres exceeded CarGo in (besides a 9.8% vs. 6.3% BB%).  How does this make any sense?

Ultimately, maybe my biggest beef is with the various defensive metrics that are being used out there, as I think that they are significantly lacking when it comes to determining the true value of a player to his team on defense (particularly with the way Coors Field is "corrected" for, but that's a whole different ball of wax.  Ultimately, when you're dealing with WAR, as with any calculated value, garbage in = garbage out; and I personally think this case shows that WAR might have more garbage in the input than many recognize.  Thoughts?

Eat. Drink. Be Merry. But the above FanPost does not necessarily reflect the attitudes, opinions, or views of Purple Row's staff (unless, of course, it's written by the staff [and even then, it still might not]).

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