All Forums > SimLeague Baseball > MLB > WAR question
8/13/2013 11:42 AM
Does the fact that 7 of the top ten position players, per WAR, come from two positions mean anything, or is it just a coincidence?

4 3b Cabrera, Machado, Wright, Donaldson
3 CF Trout, McCutcheon, Gomez

The others: Davis, Votto, Cano.

8/13/2013 12:04 PM
NO
8/13/2013 12:58 PM
There is an arbitrary fielding adjustment by position, so it certainly is possible that it's slightly skewed. But it's not as if those guys aren't near the top of the league in production.

Other top hitters not on that list: Ortiz 3.6 (DH), Gonzalez 4.8 (LF), Cuddyer 1.8 (RF), Goldschmidt 4.9 (1B) and Beltre 4.7 (3B).

I'm not yet a fan of WAR, mostly because of those position adjustments. I'm just not convinced that, for example, Ortiz loses that much value by playing DH.  Someone has to bat in that spot in the lineup if you're in the AL, and the next best full-time DH in the league is Kendrys Morales. Nobody's even close to Ortiz's value at that position this year. 

And the arguments against defensive metrics are well-documented.  Cuddyer is getting killed, and there are a pile of RFs who rank higher than him, who, in my opinion, are clearly inferior.

Cuddyer 1.8 WAR

Parra 4.1
Victorino 3.8
Pence 2.9
Heyward 2.5
Ichirio 2.4
Denorfia 2.3
Aoki 2.2


People are putting a lot of stock in a metric that rates Norichika Aoki (.281/.341/.362) ahead of Michael Cuddyer (.328/.392/.545). Not buying it.

8/13/2013 1:12 PM
Using Fangraphs, Cabrera, Trout, Wright, and McCutchen (plus Davis and Votto) are the top 6 in WAR using just Batting and Baserunning values.  Donaldson and Gomez are Top 20 and Cano is Top 30 just offensively plus they benefit from playing good to adequate defense at valuable positions.  Machado is the only one there getting more value out of positional/defensive adjustments than offensive value.  Fangraphs has Longoria and CarGo in Top 10 instead of Votto and Cano (CarGo being Top 10 offensively, Longoria Top 30 but also adding strong defensive/positional value).

What you've got there is a list of some of the games best hitters along with some great hitters that mostly play good defense at tough positions. Machado is the only offensive outlier and by all accounts he has played spectacular defense all season.  I guess that's all a long way of saying I think it's a coincidence that you have some of the best players in the game concentrated at those positions.  FWIW, the next 10 (at Fangraphs) include only one CF (Ellsbury) and one 3B (Beltre).
8/13/2013 1:14 PM
I also dislike when a stat is cryptic. OPS is easily calculable. But I have no idea how they came up with those WAR numbers.


And I'm looking deeper into Aoki vs. Cuddyer.

The advanced metrics say that Aoki is 24 runs better in the field!!! (12 to -12). Despite the fact that both have made 2 errors, Aoki has 1 more assist (6-5), and their range factors are comparable (2.01 to 1.92). I'm willing to believe that he's better in the field, but 24 runs?!?

Compare that to Offensive Runs, where Cuddyer is 19 runs better (20 to 1).

So somewhere invisible in fielding Aoki is so far ahead of Cuddyer that Cuddyer's .235 point lead in OPS is more than erased? Come on.

8/13/2013 1:28 PM
In the forever haunting words of the one and only Edwin Starr:

WAR - what is it good for?  Absolutely nothin'...


8/13/2013 1:39 PM
Cuddyer has the WAR advantage over Aoki on Fangraphs, though he's behind others on your list still. The defensive measurements are not intuitive - I don't think they use publicly available data - and having different values at different sites due to the different measurements being used adds to the confusion, even though I think they mostly agree with each other.  Cuddyer's offensive output has to get discounted some because of Coors.  I'm not sure what adjustments are made to defensive value for parks?
8/13/2013 1:59 PM
There's been too many times when the defensive metrics don't pass the eye test year-to-year, so I generally ignore the number.  I DO like offensive WAR.
8/13/2013 8:26 PM
The better defensive metrics now work directly off how many balls are hit into a defenders region of the field and how many outs he makes from them.
8/13/2013 11:25 PM
So was Mike Trout GG quality last year and below replacement level this year? Too many oddities like that for my taste.
8/13/2013 11:38 PM

it seems like there are a lot of those oddities but I wonder if it really happens as often as it seems or if those examples are just brought up a lot.  I'm going to look at that at some point - offensive value for any given player can fluctuate year-to-year, so why not defense?  Maybe defensive value doesn't fluctuate more than offensive value.  It does seem like it does, though.

8/13/2013 11:41 PM
Posted by trsnoke on 8/13/2013 11:38:00 PM (view original):

it seems like there are a lot of those oddities but I wonder if it really happens as often as it seems or if those examples are just brought up a lot.  I'm going to look at that at some point - offensive value for any given player can fluctuate year-to-year, so why not defense?  Maybe defensive value doesn't fluctuate more than offensive value.  It does seem like it does, though.

I agree. If Miguel Cabrera had a slugging percentage of .350 for a couple hundred at bats, no one would consider SLG broken or unreliable.
8/14/2013 7:40 AM
Even if the defensive metrics are accurate, which is debatable, I have an even bigger problem with the way they are weighted in the calculation.

I have a really hard time imagining that, for instance, two right fielders in the major leagues could be so far apart defensively that it erases an almost 250 point difference in OPS. Especially when their raw defensive numbers (which I admit are imperfect, but are at least easy to see) are more or less the same.

Ever since they've started to publish the various all-in-one defensive stats, I've felt strongly that they are overrated with respect to hitting.

8/14/2013 9:06 AM
Posted by mfahie on 8/14/2013 7:40:00 AM (view original):
Even if the defensive metrics are accurate, which is debatable, I have an even bigger problem with the way they are weighted in the calculation.

I have a really hard time imagining that, for instance, two right fielders in the major leagues could be so far apart defensively that it erases an almost 250 point difference in OPS. Especially when their raw defensive numbers (which I admit are imperfect, but are at least easy to see) are more or less the same.

Ever since they've started to publish the various all-in-one defensive stats, I've felt strongly that they are overrated with respect to hitting.

This, too.
8/14/2013 9:15 AM
Posted by bad_luck on 8/13/2013 11:41:00 PM (view original):
Posted by trsnoke on 8/13/2013 11:38:00 PM (view original):

it seems like there are a lot of those oddities but I wonder if it really happens as often as it seems or if those examples are just brought up a lot.  I'm going to look at that at some point - offensive value for any given player can fluctuate year-to-year, so why not defense?  Maybe defensive value doesn't fluctuate more than offensive value.  It does seem like it does, though.

I agree. If Miguel Cabrera had a slugging percentage of .350 for a couple hundred at bats, no one would consider SLG broken or unreliable.
I'd argue Cabrera was slumping terribly.  Which I guess brings the next point - can you "slump" in the field for an entire season?  Again, Trout was considered GG quality last year, and this year, he's considered to be easily replaceable in the field.  

Has anyone looked at Trout play the field this year and said "Damn, what's wrong with him?" Maybe they have and I haven't heard it.

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