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Tango on WAR

The brilliant Tom Tango sent an explanation about WAR and how it connects with team performance. I thought I would pass it along:

Fangraphs and Baseball Reference each have their own “implementation” of that WAR framework (which I call for shorthand fWAR and rWAR, respectively). Even Bill James’ Win Shares can be considered an implementation of WAR (it shares many of the characteristics).

In any case, with Win Shares, Bill FORCES the individual player Win Shares and Loss Shares so that it exactly matches to a team’s Won/Loss record (times 3 anyway). If you were to redo your exercise, that’s what you’d find.

With rWAR, the original creator (Sean Smith) and subsequently continued with Sean Forman, they force it so that it matches a team Runs Scored and Runs Allowed (times some Runs per Win multiplier). So, if you were to list the team RS and RA, or even better, the pythagorean W/L record that represents, you’d almost surely (rounding errors aside) see that the sum of the players matches the team Pythag’s record.

With fWAR, it’s a bit more complicated, but essentially on the hitter side, fWAR would match a team’s OBP and SLG numbers. So, if you were to translate OBP and SLG into Runs Scored and Runs Allowed, and then convert that into Wins/Losses, you’d again see that the sum of the players matches the team’s translated W/L record. (Not as exact in the fWAR case.)

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8 Responses to Tango on WAR

  1. Trent Phloog says:

    So, what he’s saying is you’ve just reinvented the wheel? Or at least, rediscovered pythagorean W/L?

    I don’t care, I still want to see you do the NL (please).

    • adam says:

      It’s much more than that. Pythagorean tells you how the team did, WAR attributes performance to the individual players. But because they are aligned, you can accurately divide up the credit/blame for a team’s record among its players.

    • Trent Phloog says:

      Right, that’s what I meant. Joe shouldn’t be especially surprised to find that his WAR totals align more or less with a team’s W/L, give or take a few games for luck, since in fact rWAR is “forced” to do exactly that — match pythag W/L. Thus, his spreadsheets are kind of reinventing the wheel.

  2. Dinky says:

    No other recent post to reply to about the Reuschel/Morris poll.

    WAR and ERA+ are not even close. My thumbnail examination for innings eating starting pitchers (number of seasons with ~200 IP and ERA+ 100 or better) shows Morris at 10, Reuschel at 12. The best of Morris’s years was his first, ERA+ 133 with 197.2 IP. Reuschel hsd a 159 (194 IP) and a 158 (252 IP, by far the best season either had). Reuschel led his league (in positive things) in CG, Sho, WHIP, HR/9, and BB/9 (one each). Morris (one each) led in CG, ShO, K, and IP, twice in wins. Reuschel led once in negative things (H), Morris WP (6 times), ER, and BB. bWAR favors Reuschel by a huge margin, 64.6 to 39.3. Morris threw 276 more innings in his career, but Reuschel’s innings were of a MUCH higher caliber. Reuschel had four AS selections, Morris five. Reuschel won three gold glove awards. Morris’s average season, ERA+ 105, is that of a #3 starter on a good team. Reuschel’s 114 is a #2 starter on a good team. Reuschel also earned 1.6 WAR as a hitter, with an OPS+ of 16. Morris (one career PA) never batted.

    On the face of it, it’s an insane comparison.

    Then I go to post season. Morris was 7-4 for his career with an ERA of 3.80 and one of the best post season games ever pitched, which is still what I’d call decent for a #3 starter, a guy who definitely would stay in the rotation even in a short series, but overall not a guy you’d want starting game 7. Remember, that 3.80 overall ERA includes that 10 inning CG/ShO. Aside from that one game, Morris in the postseason had an ERA of 4.26. Reuschel, in 1/3 the innings (reflecting the worse caliber of teams he was on) stunk, 1-4, 5.85 ERA.

    I don’t know how many career WAR or ERA+ points you give to Morris for one WS MVP in this head to head comparison. Maybe 2 WAR, 4 ERA+? I can’t go much more than that, and could go less (unless this were explicitly a poll of MVP qualifications). Reuschel was clearly the better pitcher: better best seasons, more really useful seasons, better fielder, better hitter, didn’t hurt himself as much. Morris pitched more innings and had one of the best WS any pitcher ever had.

    I’d take Blyleven over either of them in a Minnesota Twins minutes.

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