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  • Jim Caple on WAR

    Jim Caple wrote an article today on WAR that has Twitter all a twitter.

    Here it is.

    http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/89...placement-stat

    You should read it. He makes some good points. But also makes some poor points.




    There are a lot of responses to Caple's piece.

    This one, by Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley (A Phillies blog) is one of the best.

    http://crashburnalley.com/2013/02/01...oughts-on-war/

    You should read it as well.

  • #2
    WAR is a lot easier to calculate and understand than QB rating, but that hasn't stopped ESPN from using it for 20 years. There is a lot to it, but very little post-middle school math. Anybody who takes the time and has a middle-school education could understand it, if they wanted to.

    The point regarding the difficulty in quantifying defense is very good, but also the main reason why there is so much difference between the two WARs. So really, Caple made one good point there, not two.

    But when you consider that even estimations of defensive ability are better than ignoring defense all together, nothing Caple said about defense gets me too excited one way or another.

    There are at least 4-5 other big issues with WAR that he didn't even touch on, such as: (batted ball assumptions, lack of comprehensive catcher evaluations, correct replacement level, league quality issues, etc.). So as it is with many posters here, he didn't even understand it enough to have the credibility to trash it.
    Last edited by Bothrops Atrox; 02-01-2013, 01:47 PM.
    1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

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    • #3
      He does bring up a good point on how Brendan Ryan had a higher war than Derek Jeter on baseball reference and Jeter had a higher war on fan graphs. Same with Morris.
      "(Shoeless Joe Jackson's fall from grace is one of the real tragedies of baseball. I always thought he was more sinned against than sinning." -- Connie Mack

      "I have the ultimate respect for Whitesox fans. They were as miserable as the Cubs and Redsox fans ever were but always had the good decency to keep it to themselves. And when they finally won the World Series, they celebrated without annoying every other fan in the country."--Jim Caple, ESPN (Jan. 12, 2011)

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by chicagowhitesox1173 View Post
        He does bring up a good point on how Brendan Ryan had a higher war than Derek Jeter on baseball reference and Jeter had a higher war on fan graphs. Same with Morris.
        That is due to the fact that the two WARs use different defensive systems. There is virtually no universal agreement on which system between UZR or DRS is better. If one WAR went with the defensive metric that they don't use now, the only real difference between the two would be a lower replacement level/ higher WAR in Fangraphs and an AL vs. NL component is BBref that FG does not have. If they both adopted the same replacement value and defensive system, one WAR would become redundant for batters.

        Pitchers is a different story. Most of Morris' WAR difference between the two is due to differences in replacement level. The difference between FIP and RA makes up the rest. That is a fundamental difference between the two that there is also not total agreement on.
        Last edited by Bothrops Atrox; 02-01-2013, 02:24 PM.
        1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

        1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

        1996 2000 2001 2002 2005 2009 2012 2014 2015


        The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
        The Top 100 Position Players In MLB History

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        • #5
          A huge problem with WAR that never gets talked about is how the defensive side of the equation isn't consistent throughout history. The data to make it consistent simply doesn't exist but it almost seems like nobody out there really realizes this when they look at WAR. WAR spits out a number for Willie Mays and for Mike Trout but one is using detailed play by play data while the other is basically using stats and metrics that haven't changed in over a decade.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Ubiquitous View Post
            A huge problem with WAR that never gets talked about is how the defensive side of the equation isn't consistent throughout history. The data to make it consistent simply doesn't exist but it almost seems like nobody out there really realizes this when they look at WAR. WAR spits out a number for Willie Mays and for Mike Trout but one is using detailed play by play data while the other is basically using stats and metrics that haven't changed in over a decade.
            This is 100% correct, and by far the biggest issue with WAR.
            Somebody could use TZ or Michael Humphry's DRA throughout history, but I guess they went with (assumed) increase in accuracy from 2003-on in place of consistency.
            1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Ubiquitous View Post
              A huge problem with WAR that never gets talked about is how the defensive side of the equation isn't consistent throughout history. The data to make it consistent simply doesn't exist but it almost seems like nobody out there really realizes this when they look at WAR. WAR spits out a number for Willie Mays and for Mike Trout but one is using detailed play by play data while the other is basically using stats and metrics that haven't changed in over a decade.
              This should be obvious to anyone who looks at bbref's advanced fielding stats and compares what's there and what isn't. The dinosaurs really have a point when they resent someone waltzing in, "La la WAR says blah," and waltzing out.
              Indeed the first step toward finding out is to acknowledge you do not satisfactorily know already; so that no blight can so surely arrest all intellectual growth as the blight of cocksureness.--CS Peirce

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              • #8
                copied and pasted from another site

                what is the answer to this?

                I'll completely buy in to WAR when it accurately shadows team wins. According to Fangraph's WAR, the Orioles, were 20th in WAR but won 93 games. The A's won 93 games with a 14th ranked WAR. The Diamondbacks where 6th and only won 81 games. The Giants were only 12th and won it all

                I suspect that it just looks at big stats and does formulas and ratings

                A 3 run homer when you are already winning by 6 runs is virtually menaingless while a groundout to second with no outs and a runner on second to advance a runner to third who then scores the winning run is MUCH more meaningful, we know which one WAR rates as superior

                you can have WAR, quote WAR, use WAR - I will take something more reliable
                Last edited by 9RoyHobbsRF; 02-01-2013, 07:08 PM.
                1. The more I learn, the more convinced I am that many players are over-rated due to inflated stats from offensive home parks (and eras)
                2. Strat-O-Matic Baseball Player, Collector and Hobbyist since 1969, visit my strat site: http://forums.delphiforums.com/GamersParadise
                3. My table top gaming blog: http://cary333.blogspot.com/

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                • #9
                  Caple says in his blog: "Batting average, OPS, ERA, etc., are the products of such simple and certain mathematical calculations that even I can figure out armed with only a pencil and paper. WAR, however, is partially a product of fielding metrics that are by no means certainties..." "In other words, most baseball stats are based entirely on indisputable math calculations. WAR has an element of theory and assumption to it."

                  That pretty well sums up my objection to WAR. I want to know what the player actually did, not what he might do compared to some hypothetical replacement player. OBP, OPS, SLG, are absolute, no theory or assumption necessary.

                  Defensive play is difficult, if not impossible to quantify statiscally. To throw questionable defensive metrics into the calculation renders the data worthless, IMO. Was Alex Rodriguez, juiced to the gills, a better hitter than Rabbit Maranville? Of course he was. Was he a better defensive shortstop? Who the hell knows?

                  Of course my other problem with WAR is the multiple calculations; i.e. fWAR vs. bWAR. I'm not going to pretend that I understand how WAR is calculated, my brain hurts just thinking about it. But the people who are championing WAR as the sexy new evaluation tool can't even agree among themselves. I think it's rather presumptuous to ask us to accept WAR as the new way of doing things when there are different factions using different models to arrive at different data.

                  I know I'm probably going to get flamed six ways from Sunday for this post, but that wasn't my purpose in writing it. I have enough aggravation in my real life without looking for more on here. But I strongly believe the bugs haven't been worked out of WAR yet, and while I'm by no means a scientist, I can't believe that a metric with so many variables and intangibles would be accepted in any other field.
                  They call me Mr. Baseball. Not because of my love for the game; because of all the stitches in my head.

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                  • #10
                    GREAT post aches

                    Originally posted by ol' aches and pains View Post
                    Caple says in his blog: "Batting average, OPS, ERA, etc., are the products of such simple and certain mathematical calculations that even I can figure out armed with only a pencil and paper. WAR, however, is partially a product of fielding metrics that are by no means certainties..." "In other words, most baseball stats are based entirely on indisputable math calculations. WAR has an element of theory and assumption to it."

                    That pretty well sums up my objection to WAR. I want to know what the player actually did, not what he might do compared to some hypothetical replacement player. OBP, OPS, SLG, are absolute, no theory or assumption necessary.

                    Defensive play is difficult, if not impossible to quantify statiscally. To throw questionable defensive metrics into the calculation renders the data worthless, IMO. Was Alex Rodriguez, juiced to the gills, a better hitter than Rabbit Maranville? Of course he was. Was he a better defensive shortstop? Who the hell knows?

                    Of course my other problem with WAR is the multiple calculations; i.e. fWAR vs. bWAR. I'm not going to pretend that I understand how WAR is calculated, my brain hurts just thinking about it. But the people who are championing WAR as the sexy new evaluation tool can't even agree among themselves. I think it's rather presumptuous to ask us to accept WAR as the new way of doing things when there are different factions using different models to arrive at different data.

                    I know I'm probably going to get flamed six ways from Sunday for this post, but that wasn't my purpose in writing it. I have enough aggravation in my real life without looking for more on here. But I strongly believe the bugs haven't been worked out of WAR yet, and while I'm by no means a scientist, I can't believe that a metric with so many variables and intangibles would be accepted in any other field.
                    1. The more I learn, the more convinced I am that many players are over-rated due to inflated stats from offensive home parks (and eras)
                    2. Strat-O-Matic Baseball Player, Collector and Hobbyist since 1969, visit my strat site: http://forums.delphiforums.com/GamersParadise
                    3. My table top gaming blog: http://cary333.blogspot.com/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by 9RoyHobbsRF View Post
                      copied and pasted from another site


                      I'll completely buy in to WAR when it accurately shadows team wins. According to Fangraph's WAR, the Orioles, were 20th in WAR but won 93 games. The A's won 93 games with a 14th ranked WAR. The Diamondbacks where 6th and only won 81 games. The Giants were only 12th and won it all
                      WAR lines up with run differential very well. The issue is how much stock does one put into run differential vs. WL record.
                      Last edited by Bothrops Atrox; 02-01-2013, 07:46 PM.
                      1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

                      1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

                      1996 2000 2001 2002 2005 2009 2012 2014 2015


                      The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
                      The Top 100 Position Players In MLB History

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ol' aches and pains View Post
                        Caple says in his blog: "Batting average, OPS, ERA, etc., are the products of such simple and certain mathematical calculations that even I can figure out armed with only a pencil and paper. WAR, however, is partially a product of fielding metrics that are by no means certainties..." "In other words, most baseball stats are based entirely on indisputable math calculations. WAR has an element of theory and assumption to it."

                        That pretty well sums up my objection to WAR. I want to know what the player actually did, not what he might do compared to some hypothetical replacement player. OBP, OPS, SLG, are absolute, no theory or assumption necessary.

                        Defensive play is difficult, if not impossible to quantify statiscally. To throw questionable defensive metrics into the calculation renders the data worthless, IMO. Was Alex Rodriguez, juiced to the gills, a better hitter than Rabbit Maranville? Of course he was. Was he a better defensive shortstop? Who the hell knows?

                        Of course my other problem with WAR is the multiple calculations; i.e. fWAR vs. bWAR. I'm not going to pretend that I understand how WAR is calculated, my brain hurts just thinking about it. But the people who are championing WAR as the sexy new evaluation tool can't even agree among themselves. I think it's rather presumptuous to ask us to accept WAR as the new way of doing things when there are different factions using different models to arrive at different data.

                        I know I'm probably going to get flamed six ways from Sunday for this post, but that wasn't my purpose in writing it. I have enough aggravation in my real life without looking for more on here. But I strongly believe the bugs haven't been worked out of WAR yet, and while I'm by no means a scientist, I can't believe that a metric with so many variables and intangibles would be accepted in any other field.
                        Again, a slightly different replacement level and the two different defensive components make up almost all of the differences in the two WARs for position players.
                        1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

                        1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

                        1996 2000 2001 2002 2005 2009 2012 2014 2015


                        The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
                        The Top 100 Position Players In MLB History

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by 9RoyHobbsRF View Post

                          A 3 run homer when you are already winning by 6 runs is virtually menaingless while a groundout to second with no outs and a runner on second to advance a runner to third who then scores the winning run is MUCH more meaningful, we know which one WAR rates as superior
                          If you wanted to, you could take WAR as-is and add in a "clutch" or WPA component to handle what you are referring to. It is quite easy. Since "Clutch" (how a player performs in high leverage vs. low leverage) is already set at win above average, you can just add it in each year if you want.
                          Last edited by Bothrops Atrox; 02-01-2013, 07:51 PM.
                          1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

                          1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

                          1996 2000 2001 2002 2005 2009 2012 2014 2015


                          The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
                          The Top 100 Position Players In MLB History

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Everybody...I am all for questioning and picking apart WAR. Just please don't talk about the lack of context in WAR and then trumpet a stat with even less context or no context whatsoever. That is all I ever want to see.
                            1885 1886 1926 1931 1934 1942 1944 1946 1964 1967 1982 2006 2011

                            1887 1888 1928 1930 1943 1968 1985 1987 2004 2013

                            1996 2000 2001 2002 2005 2009 2012 2014 2015


                            The Top 100 Pitchers In MLB History
                            The Top 100 Position Players In MLB History

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              run differential is not a good measure

                              see the 1997 giants 1987 twins etc

                              win games 3-2 and 3-1 and lose a game 7-2 and tell me how good run differential is
                              1. The more I learn, the more convinced I am that many players are over-rated due to inflated stats from offensive home parks (and eras)
                              2. Strat-O-Matic Baseball Player, Collector and Hobbyist since 1969, visit my strat site: http://forums.delphiforums.com/GamersParadise
                              3. My table top gaming blog: http://cary333.blogspot.com/

                              Comment

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