This post will switch PITCH and BAT columns and sort based on teams that gave up the least amount of runs against to the teams that gave up the most according to this formula:
PITCH(RAA) = R(League Team Average) – RA(Team)
Nothing surprising about the above sort. Atlanta had great pitching, well above average fielding with respect to UR, but lacked batting. They still won 96 games in the regular season. Unlike portrayed by WAR in the previous post, Pittsburgh’s strength lied in their pitching for 2013 and not their batting. They’re only slightly above average with respect to giving up unearned runs. Of course the Dodgers with all that pitching had to be near the top of the league and clearly they are according to the above table.
Let’s take a look at a WAR sort base on pitching. Source for WAR data at baseball-reference.com.
Top pitching teams according to WAR
Somehow Detroit topped the league by a significant WAR margin while giving up 50 less runs against than the league average, far less than Atlanta, the team that gave up the fewest runs. Surprisingly the Chicago White Sox come in second according to WAR while giving up almost 50 runs above the league average. Clearly this is a problem with WAR at a team level. There is no way the White Sox had the second best pitching staff in MLB for 2013. The other 4 in the above list seem OK.
Below are three teams not included in WAR’s top 6 list. Notice how Pittsburgh is ranked bottom tier in pitching while their staff let up almost 100 runs fewer than league average or about twice as many as the top ranked Detroit Tigers. Clearly this is another major error in the calculation of WAR.
Many of the above obvious errors are easier to see at a team level than at a player level. Now that we know major errors exist in how WAR ranks pitchers and batters, let’s delve down to the player level in the next set of posts.