# Team Strength Analysis

The last post focused on WAR at a league level.  Now I want to see how accurately WAR works at a team level. This post will focus on team strength with respect to batting for the 2013 season.  The next post will look at WAR pitching results at a team level.

Each team accumulates runs scored and runs scored against.  Teams who score more runs than they let up  in general win more ball games.  Runs scored are the responsibility of batters; runs scored against the responsibility of pitchers and perhaps fielders.  For now let’s just assume pitchers.

The following two formulae define the first two columns of the below table.  They represent team strength for BATters and PITCHers.  For the year 2013 the league team average for both runs scored and runs scored against was 674.  The below table lists the top 6 teams sorted by the  best batting.  The full 30 team table can be found on a separate page for reference here.

BAT(RAA) = R(Team) – R(League Team Average)

PITCH(RAA) = RA(Team) – R(League Team Average)

Update:  The above formula for PITCH(RAA) was backwards.  I originally posted it here but won’t bother to change it there.  Below is the correct formula — it was just reversed.   The below formula has been used throughout in the code that makes these tables so that has always been correct.

PITCH(RAA) =R(League Team Average) –  RA(Team)

BAT PITCH R RA W L UR LR Team Name
179 18 853 656 97 65 7.1 0.6 BOS
122 50 796 624 93 69 13.1 -1.9 DET
109 78 783 596 97 65 9.1 2.6 SLN
93 49 767 625 96 66 -0.9 4.6 OAK
71 -35 745 709 85 77 19.1 -3.4 BAL
71 12 745 662 92 70 -0.9 0.6 CLE

Notice the top three teams did very well in post season.  The UR column stands for Unearned Runs above average.   The Runs Against component has two types; earned and unearned.  The average number of unearned runs per team in 2013 was 50.  A team like Baltimore with a +19.1 UR means they gave up fewer than average unearned runs or 50-19=31.  One could conclude that as a team Baltimore had good fielding.

Rank WAR BAT PITCH R RA W L UR LR Team Name
1 39.7 179 18 853 656 97 65 7.1 0.6 BOS
2 30.2 25 92 649 582 92 70 -7.9 -0.9 LAN
3 29.2 40 97 634 577 94 68 6.1 -0.9 PIT
4 28.6 54 43 728 631 91 71 4.1 3.1 TEX
5 27.8 71 12 745 662 92 70 -0.9 0.6 CLE
6 26.7 21 30 695 644 91 71 12.1 -1.9 TBA

Clearly there is a problem with team level batting WAR. The Dodgers and Pirates both produced less than the league average of 674 runs per team yet WAR has them ranked #2 and #3 amongst all MLB teams. Since WAR incorporates fielding in with their batting ratings perhaps that had an effect. Perusing the UR column the Dodgers let up 8 more unearned runs than the league average of 50/team. Logically their fielding was worse than average so what made WAR rank them so highly in the batter category? Pittsburgh weighs in slightly above average with respect to unearned runs but they were 40 runs below the league average runs produced.

Rank WAR BAT PITCH R RA W L UR LR Team Name
10 25.3 93 49 767 625 96 66 -0.9 4.6 OAK
11 24.6 122 50 796 624 93 69 13.1 -1.9 DET
13 23.2 71 -35 745 709 85 77 19.1 -3.4 BAL
19 19.9 109 78 783 596 97 65 9.1 2.6 SLN

The above table shows the WAR ranking of 4 of the top 6 teams in the first table using the simple runs above average calculation. St. Louis comes in as #19 out of 30 teams meaning WAR thinks St. Louis was in the bottom tier of MLB teams with respect to batting. All four teams above gave up less unearned runs than average according to the UR column.

The above tables clearly show a problem with WAR at the team level with respect to batting.  The next post will cover pitching.