Introduction to Rankings Part 1

The formula that computes WAA took me around 6 months to figure out, partly because I have forgotten and had to relearn a lot of math and mostly because it became a puzzle to get all the books to balance.  WAA is a measure of player value to a team.  It is measured in Wins a player brings to a team much like WAR.  Unlike WAR, the WAA calculation has a mathematical proof.

Right now I’m not going to present the proof because it will complicate things.  There are  three years of posts explaining many aspects of this model.  You can also peruse any team up to 2014 here.  I’m two years behind updating that site because I need to do a proper database blah blah blah.   But I digress….  The efficacy of a ranking system is how accurate it ranks players.   We will compare WAA to WAR throughout this season.  WAR has no proof and although its value is conserved, it places 60% of its value onto Batters and 40% on Pitchers.  See this post.

WAA = W – L.  Its unit is wins.  If a team goes 81 – 81 for a season they have a WAA=0.  A zero means completely average.  If a player is at zero he isn’t adding wins to the average but most importantly he isn’t costing a team to go below average.

Let’s say there is a player who ended the season with a WAA=+10.  If the sum of WAA for the rest of his team equals zero, then that team will have ended the season 86-76 on the combined effort of the team, and the exceptional effort of that one player.

Here’s how the books must balance in the WAA calculation:

Team(WAA) = Sum(Player(WAA)) across all players playing for the team

where Team(WAA) = W – L

Sum(Player(WAA)) across all the league for pitchers = 0
Sum(Player(WAA)) across all the league for batters = 0

 The Cubs went 66-96 in 2013.  Their team WAA=-30, This means the sum of their players must add to -30 which means there weren’t a lot of superstars on that team.  Let’s look at the end of season rank for 2013.  Here is their team status line:

-69.6 -18.2 602 689 66 96 4.1 -3.4 CHN

Yikes.  Both BAT and PITCH under water by a lot.  But we should expect that.  Let’s look at their top ten players.

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+061+ 3.63 Travis_Wood_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 1.57 Nate_Schierholtz_CHN RF
XXXXX 1.57 Alfonso_Soriano_CHN LF
XXXXX 1.26 Blake_Parker_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 1.18 Matt_Garza_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 1.11 Donnie_Murphy_CHN 3B
XXXXX 0.90 Scott_Feldman_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 0.86 Pedro_Strop_CHN PITCH
XXXXX 0.82 Scott_Hairston_CHN RF
XXXXX 0.78 Dioner_Navarro_CHN CR

Players are ranked according to WAA which is the weighting factor.  To put the above numbers in perspective here were the top three players in MLB in 2013.

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+001+ 11.28 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH
+002+ 11.09 Miguel_Cabrera_DET 3B
+003+ 10.16 Chris_Davis_BAL 1B

At Rank +061+ Travis Wood is the only Cub player in the top 200 that season.  That’s pathetic.  An average team will have 6 or 7 players in the top 200.  Rank XXXXX is purgatory, neither in the top or bottom 200.  Here were the players dragging the Cubs down the most that season.

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
XXXXX -1.26 Carlos_Marmol_CHN PITCH
XXXXX -1.30 Julio_Borbon_CHN CF
-198- -1.36 Junior_Lake_CHN LF-CF
-187- -1.45 Luis_Valbuena_CHN 3B
-160- -1.70 Shawn_Camp_CHN PITCH
-108- -2.08 Welington_Castillo_CHN CR
-087- -2.27 Jeff_Samardzija_CHN PITCH
-045- -3.17 Darwin_Barney_CHN 2B
-019- -4.49 Edwin_Jackson_CHN PITCH
-010- -5.23 Starlin_Castro_CHN SS

Starlin Castro clocked in at being the 10th worst player in MLB that season.  It takes a lot of playing time to dig that deep of a hole and unfortunately the Cubs had a manager who insisted on leading off Castro every game.  He’s doing pretty well this season and he’s one of the players we’ll follow as we go along.  Here’s an article written 9/2014 examining whether or not to trade him.

That’s enough for now.  The Cubs are doing well this season but have a much different start than last season.  Last season they coasted as an average, 0.500 team through the second half of May until All Start Break but had a phenomenal April.  There won’t be any Cubs in the top ten.  This season WAS is tearing up the league and they have the most.  For the next week I’ll slowly explain more as I think of it.  Until then ….