Saturday, September 25, 2010

WAR... What is it good for?

I've been taking a break from working on this blog for several months now. One of the things that been stopping me (other than a combination of busyness and laziness) was my desire to have a more quality, objective way to pick the teams. Especially after seeing some of the absurdities that relying on *OPS+ resulted in, such as the idea that Brian Giles was somehow better that Jim Rice or Andre Dawson. That fails the Candy Maldonado rule BIG TIME. Brian Giles is barely fit to wash Rice and Dawson's jock straps.

But over about the past year of so, a once obscure stat that has been kicking around Sabermetric circles for decades has really come to the forefront: WAR - Wins Above Replacement [Player / Pitcher]. I'm not going to go into the [incredibly complicated] derivation of the formula here. Suffice to say, some people love it, some people hate, and most don't understand it. The simplest is that it takes a player's entire performance - Pitching or Offensive and Defensive and translates it into the marginal number of wins his team got by having him in his position as opposed to a roughly 20% below average player. (And I'll be the first to admit I'm not sure how defensive value is calculated, but when Ozzie Smith (WAR of 64.6) is valued almost the same as Alan Trammell (66.9) I can rest assured that it IS taken into account. (Because if you think that Smith is anywhere near comparable to Trammell on a purely offensive basis, you should stop reading this right now and go stab yourself in the eye with a fork.)

So I did a quick experiment, selecting All-Time Teams teams (with 3 men covering each position, 16 pitchers) purely on the basis of maximising WAR. And I did this without splitting the original 16 teams up into pre- and post-1950's teams. (One pretty common comment that I recieved was "too many players! So I'm just doing one team for each franchise.) And somewhat to my surprise, the teams ended up looking pretty darned good. I mean... the end result pretty much made sense. Sure, there were a few oddball selections. But none of them were completely unjustifiable, statistically speaking. And everyone one of them (IIRC) was either a 3rd stringer or a member of the All-time Rockies, Marlins, Rays or Diamondbacks - and since those teams haven't been around long enough to develop the kind of history that a team like the Yankees or the Giants have you'd expect SOME mediocrity in a player that's the 2nd or 3rd best at a position on a team that's only been around for a decade or two.

So basically, I'm starting this blog all over. New teams, new cards, new links. I'm disabling the links on the right, to the old teams, but they will still be on the blog, just keep hitting "older posts" at the bottom and you can scroll back through them. My next post will officially kick of the NEW All-time, All-Star teams, based on WAR. I plan to start with the best team, which, must to the chagrin of this Red Sox fan, was, not surprisingly the All-Time New York Yankees.

The rest will follow, in order of cumulative team WAR:

Yankees - 1919.1
Giants - 1851.4
Braves - 1673.3
Tigers - 1617.6
Cubs - 1614.4
Cardinals - 1523.8
Red Sox - 1509.6
Pirates - 1494.8
Dodgers - 1480.5
Reds - 1417.6
Athletcis - 1400.8
Indians - 1392.8
Twins/Senators - 1332.4
Phillies - 1322.0
White Sox - 1310.9
Orioles/Browns - 1201.3
Astros - 984.7
Angels - 839.0
Royals - 836.9
Mets - 823.9
Rangers/Senators - 746.3
Brewers/Pilots - 723.9
Blue Jays - 710.8
Mariners - 707.8
National/Expos - 701.1
Padres - 643.6
Rockies - 372.9
Marlins - 358.2
Diamondbacks - 328.1
Rays - 259.9

Note: Some of these totals include partial result for the yet unfinished 2010 season. However, while some of the values will change, there is enough of a difference in each team's total that it the overall rankings are unlikely to change in the next couple of weeks.

Also... unless I get to the last four teams before the start of the 2011 season, it is possible that some of those selections will change. There are several players on each team with a WAR of less than 2.0, so a new player having a really good year could easily knock one of them off the Roster.

So thanks for visiting! And I hope you'll come back when I start getting some of the new All-Tiem teams posted!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a huge undertaking. Anxious to see which players made the Indians team. I think I could name most of it, but not sure how WAR would match up with my memory.