Today we’ll do a WAR roster dump table like we generated a few days ago here as part1 of our playoff horse race series. WAA has additive properties and WAR does not which we showed here back in 2013. Here is the WAR table listing total WAR for hitters, pitchers, starters, relief and total.
Blue highlights are top of the league in that column, red bottom according to WAR.
WAR doesn’t go negative very often and we showed in this post how the sum of all hitters/fielders adds to exactly 600 and pitchers add to 400. WAR folds subjective fielding math into hitters. We suspected that WAR treats hitting 40%, pitching 40% and fielding 20%. This model treats fielding as a separate class. We measure fielding at a team level using the only reliable and official play by play metric, errors and the unearned runs caused by them. Scorekeepers have been tabulating errors since the beginning of baseball.
Scanning the WAR Total column you notice there is very little disparity in WAR totals in the top 2/3 of MLB. WAR is a fan value stat that tries not to upset fans of players not playing well. Since WAR treats hitting as 60% and pitching 40% the hitting column is very high for all teams. The relief column is low. WAR does not handle part time players well and relievers could be considered part time compared to starters. We have shown in past posts here how relievers have helped both Cleveland and the Cubs be in contention for the playoffs.
The Dodgers have an interesting line. According to this table they have better hitters than pitchers. That runs counter to their seasonal team status line.
Runs not let up due to pitching (PITCH) far exceeds their runs scored for the season (BAT). The roster this dataset uses have Kershaw and Wood on DL which are WAR=4.4 and WAR=3.1. If you add 7.5 to LAN’s starter total they don’t have the best pitching staff in MLB which is not true. They don’t even have the best starting staff. Their team status clearly shows their +51 is due to pitching. In order to fold fielding into hitting, WAR takes value away from pitchers and gives it to hitters under the guise its formulae can discern who deserves what with respect to fielding. They can’t. We have shown time and time again how massive errors get introduced and this is why. The Dodgers have the best pitching staff period. We have Kershaw ranked #3 in MLB both pitchers and batters and that’s after not playing for a bunch of weeks. WAR has him ranked #26.
And finally, this caught my attention when modifying some scripts to do these WAR tables.
WAR does not go negative often. Even Edwin Jackson stayed positive in some version of WAR back in 2014 when he had a terrible season of historic proportions. How did Pujols of all players get a -2.0 ranked the second worst player according to WAR? This has to be another big mistake in whatever algorithm used to compute WAR. Sometimes I think there are people pulling levers to favor certain players and not favor players they simply don’t like. Perhaps someone is blaming Anaheim’s demise on Pujols. These WAR numbers came from baseball-reference. We don’t know how to compute it.
Above is Pujols’ full line according to this data model. We have him slightly above average and unranked. For Pujols this is his worst year. In no way does he suck this year. WAR is simply wrong once again.
Edit: For a player making $30 or so million per season a 0.36 is well below what ANA expects for a top tier MLB salary. Pujols should be at +3 at the lowest for the season. Pujols is well below what is expected from him but as an anonymous MLB player he’s slightly above average according to his seasonal run production. Albert Pujols is a first (possibly unanimous) ballot HOFer 5 years after whenever he decides to retire. I’m starting to think his WAR listed at baseball-reference may be a joke.