Tagged: Roy Halladay

What exactly is WAR?

Let me begin by stating that I do not believe that Wins Above Replacement is a be-all and end-all statistic. I do, however, believe that along with OPS+, it is the single best measurement of a player’s value and performance, taking into account batting, baserunning, and defense. The following will examine how WAR is calculated to help determine its importance in making baseball decisions – whether they be in the front office of a MLB club or your high school pal’s fantasy keeper league.

WAR is statistical formula made up of several variables which churns out a single number to represent a player’s value to his team. The exact formula for WAR varies, as there are two main versions used – Baseball-Reference WAR (rWAR) and FanGraphs’ WAR (fWAR). In our case, we’ll examine Baseball-Reference.com WAR. The key to WAR is runs; Runs Above Average (RAA) is converted to Wins Above Average via the PythagenPat win-loss estimator. More often than not ten runs equates to one win, however, some small variations may occur. But before your head starts spinning, remember that wins are wins. A club’s total WAR, when adjusted for the replacement level, will closely mimic the actual win total of the team.

The three active leaders in career rWAR: Alex Rodriguez (111.4; 17th all-time), Albert Pujols (85.5; 40th all-time), and Chipper Jones (81.5; 49th all-time).

But what exactly is a replacement? Contrary to popular belief, the term replacement does not refer to your average Major Leaguer. Instead, it attempts to encapsulate a player stuck in baseball limbo – somewhere between AAA and the fictitious AAAA, not quite ready for The Show. According to Baseball-Reference, “Average players are relatively rare and can be expensive to acquire. Average players don’t make the league minimum.” A replacement player is just that – a stop gag. Each offseason teams spend millions on over-priced ‘average’ players. When speaking of WAR, the comparison is between Player X and the common, readily-available minor league journeyman. Replacement level equates to a .320 winning percentage. The 875 wins above replacement each year in the MLB [30 x 162 x (.500-.320)] are distributed between pitchers and position players. In conjunction with free agent salaries from the past four years, 41% of the runs are given to pitchers; hitters subsequently receive 59%. Over 650 plate appearances, players replacing league-average starters would deduct twenty runs from their team; these runs are known as the Replacement Level multiplier. For further comparison, a team comprised strictly of replacement players would win approximately 52 games in the regular season. This factor is adjusted for each league, as the AL has defeated the NL during Interleague play in eight consecutive seasons dating back to 2004.

Mike Trout's 2012 rookie campaign yielded the highest single-season WAR of any active player (10.7).

Mike Trout’s 2012 rookie campaign yielded the highest single-season rWAR of any active player (10.7).

Defense plays a large role in WAR, so naturally the statistic is calculated differently for position players and pitchers. First, let’s look at Position Player WAR. For fielders, WAR consists of batting runs, baserunning runs, fielding runs, runs added/lost due to grounding into double plays, and positional adjustments. Each category is extremely comprehensive. Batting runs account for pre-DH seasons, estimated caught stealing totals, infield singles, strikeouts, Reached On Error, and more. Baserunning runs are more than just SB and CS; getting from 1st to 3rd on a single, scoring on a grounder, tagging up, and other key baserunning occurrences all factor in. Perhaps the most complicated and debated aspect of WAR is the value of fielding. I’m of the belief that defense is half the game, but others disagree.

Darwin Barney led all of baseball with 28 Defensive Runs Saved in 2012.

Cubs’ second baseman Darwin Barney led all of baseball with 28 Defensive Runs Saved in 2012.

Since its development in 2003, Baseball Info Solutions Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) has been the default measurement for fielding runs. For seasons prior to ’03 (where observational data is non-existant), WAR used Sean Smith’s Total Zone Rating (TZR). However DRS has become “the most sophisticated public system available,” according to Baseball-Reference. Even baseball purists must appreciate the breadth and scope of DRS, which factors in dozens of potential plays (blocking a ball in the dirt, robbing a homerun, misplaying the outfield wall…) as well as a fielder’s range based on batted ball velocity, an outfielder’s arm strength based on the number of runners he allowed to advance, an infielders double play conversion rate, fielding success on bunts, stolen base conversion rate, and even pitch framing and game management for catchers. An overlooked factor of WAR is GIDP, or Grounded Into Double Play. Left-handed hitters such as Ichiro can fly out of the batter’s box and be half-way down the line in the blink of an eye. This gives lefties a decidedly large advantage over right-handed hitters. Beating out a potential double play takes skill and hustle. On average, the difference between avoiding and grounding into a double play is .44 runs (Baseball-Reference).

Ichiro led Major League Baseball in singles 9 of his first 10 seasons.

Ichiro’s speed and unique stance helped him lead the MLB in singles nine of his first ten seasons.

Finally, we reach positional adjustments. Teams are willing to sacrifice offense at key defensive positions such as shortstop and catcher, as demonstrated by this chart. To level the playing field, rWAR adds/subtracts runs based on your primary position. Catchers receive the biggest boost, earning ten runs, or roughly one win, per 1,350 innings played (9 innings multiplied by 150 games). On the contrary, a Designated Hitter sees fifteen runs disappear from his WAR due to his lack of defending. Shortstops are awarded 7.5 runs while second basemen only gain three. Despite corner outfielders subtracting 7.5, center fielders claim an extra 2.5 runs. On the corners of the diamond, third basemen add two runs while first basemen are helplessly left watching a full victory vanish from their WAR. Not fair you say? Statistics would say otherwise.

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No active pitcher has a higher career WAR than Roy Halladay (63.1), but even he trails Cy Young by a whopping 99.2 wins for the all-time mark.

No active pitcher has a higher career rWAR than Roy Halladay (63.1), but even he trails Cy Young by a whopping 99.2 wins for the all-time mark (162.3).

Calculating Pitcher WAR can be just as, if not more, complex than Position Player WAR. Despite the simplicity of Runs Allowed and Innings Pitched, Pitcher WAR becomes complicated when trying to determine how an average pitcher would handle certain situations. One key which calls for adjustments is the level of opposition. Remember that Giants’ pitchers never had to face Barry Bonds the year he amassed a ridiculous .609 On-Base Percentage. Interleague play muddles up the conversation even more, as away games are not counted. Baseball-Reference believes that “including nine games the Red Sox don’t have a DH will skew their offensive averages lower when most pitchers are facing them with a DH.” Makes sense to me, so I’ll allow it.

Although Pud Galvin (right) holds the record for single-season pitching rWAR (19.9 in 1884), he struggled with the stick. Tim Keefe (left) was able to pitch and hit his way to the highest single-season rWAR ever (19.5 in 1883).

Although Pud Galvin (right) holds the record for single-season pitching rWAR (19.9 in 1884), he struggled with the stick. Tim Keefe (left) was able to pitch and hit his way to the highest single-season rWAR ever (19.5 in 1883).

This brings us to Defense-Independent Pitching Stats, more commonly known as DIPS. Within this statistic lies yet another heated debate. Should pitchers be punished for defensive errors made by their teammates? WAR is attempting to “measure the value of the recorded performance–not it’s repeatability,” so Baseball-Reference.com does take into account defense in some ways. Relievers and starters have significantly different ERA’s in today’s game, causing rWAR to adjust accordingly. Bullpen relievers became a vital part of game management in the 1960’s. From 1960-1973, rWAR sets a difference of .0583 runs/game less given up by relievers. From ’74 on, when managers started utilizing their ‘pens in a more modern fashion, the difference increases to .1125 runs/game. Also taken into account are park factors – vital for pitchers playing in the odd-ball NL West, a division with some of the very best and worst hitter’s parks in the league. Park factors are calculated using data from the three previous seasons. It is generally accepted that late innings have a higher impact on the outcome of a ballgame. To account for this a leverage multiplier is used. The average leverage is 1.0, however closers often approach averages of 2.0, while mop-up guys might check in at 0.7. This metric “is applied only for relief innings and the leverage we use in the leverage at the beginning of the pitcher’s outing. This way a bad pitcher can’t bump up his leverage by walking the bases loaded and striking out the side every time” (Baseball-Reference).

Complex enough for you? WAR attempts to leave no stone unturned, that’s why to me it’s the best measure of a player’s value.

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Still confused? Click here for a comparison chart on the different versions of WAR. Also, check out the all-time career leaders for WAR.

This post is written in honor of  my roommate and great friend, Lucas Gilles, the biggest anti-WAR advocate I know.

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Breakdown of NL MVP voting; Braun’s message to Aaron Rodgers

The following is a detailed look at the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player voting:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Ryan Braun was notified of the NL MVP results, he immediately proceeded to call his mother, his agent, and then Green Bay Packers quarterback and fellow Cali-native Aaron Rodgers, who Braun calls his “best athlete friend.” His message to the leader of the 11-0 Packers was clear: your turn. Rodgers, forever a Wisconsin legend thanks to his Super Bowl XLV MVP performance, has the inside track for the MVP award this season and was happy for his pal. “I’m proud of him,” Rodgers said in an ESPN interview, “he had an incredible season.” Rodgers was also thankful to play in front of the best fans around. “It’s fun to know that he’s going to be in Milwaukee for a long time,” he said. “I’m hopefully going to be here for a long time, and we appreciate the opportunity to play in Wisconsin for sports teams and their fans who really care about their players.” Braun may now have the award, but Rodgers has the title – something Braun craves. “[Rodgers has] accomplished far more in his sport than I have in mine,” stated Braun, “it inspires me to try to get better and ultimately to win a championship of my own for the Milwaukee Brewers.” One day, Milwaukee. One day.

 

Two Wisconsin legends. Asking who's cooler is like asking which of your children you love the most.

All-Star Break Power Rankings (July 14)

The 82nd All-Star game has come and passed and Thursday brings MLB’s second half – which never fails to stir up drama. The NL has clinched home field advantage in World Series with a 5-1 victory over the AL All-Stars. The Milwaukee Brewers had three starters voted in, however, Ryan Braun sat out due to an ailing hamstring. Rickie Weeks hit lead-off and went hitless, but did steal a base and score a run. Fielder, starting at first base and hitting clean-up, delivered the big hit of the night – a three-run jack off of Texas starter C.J. Wilson – and was named the All-Star game MVP. At the end of the contest the Brewers made a drastic roster move. Milwaukee now has K-Rod and the Ax-Man at the back end of their pen. With Rickie Weeks playing like his hair is on fire, if Braun and Fielder keep mashing, the Brewers could be in line for a deep postseason run. Here are the top ten teams in baseball right now…

Even though Ryan Braun pulled out of the game, Milwaukee still had two All-Star starters in first baseman Prince Fielder and second baseman Rickie Weeks. The former minor league roommates also participated in the Home Run Derby together and batted in their normal clean-up and lead-off spots in the NL starting lineup.

1. Philadelphia Phillies (57-34, 1st in NL East by 3.5 games)

Roy Halladay: (11-3) 2.45 ERA, 138 SO, 1.02 WHIP

Ryan Howard: (.257 BA/.353 OBP/.475 SLG) 18 HR, 72 RBI

2. Atlanta Braves (54-38, 2nd in NL East, 3.5 GB)

Jair Jurrjens: (12-3) 1.87 ERA, 65 SO, 1.07 WHIP

Brian McCann: (.310 BA/.381 OBP/.514 SLG) 15 HR, 50 RBI

3. Boston Red Sox (55-35, 1st in AL East by 1.0 game)

Josh Beckett: (8-3) 2.27 ERA, 94 SO, 0.95 WHIP

Adrian Gonzalez: (.354 BA/.414 OBP/.591 SLG) 17 HR, 77 RBI

4. New York Yankees (53-35, 2nd in AL East, 1.0 GB)

CC Sabathia: (13-4) 2.72 ERA, 126 SO, 1.16 WHIP

Curtis Granderson: (.269 BA/.361 OBP/.575 SLG) 25 HR, 63 RBI

5. San Francisco Giants (52-40, 1st in NL West by 3.0 games)

Matt Cain: (8-5) 3.06 ERA, 105 SO, 1.10 WHIP

Aubrey Huff: (.236 BA/.290 OBP/.361 SLG) 8 HR, 44 RBI

6. Milwaukee Brewers (49-43, 1st in NL Central, tied with STL)

Yovani Gallardo: (10-5) 3.76 ERA, 104 SO, 1.36 WHIP

Ryan Braun: (.320 BA/ .402 OBP/ .559 SLG) 16 HR, 62 RBI

Prince Fielder: (.297 BA/ .415 OBP/ .575 SLG) 22 HR, 72 RBI

7. Texas Rangers (51-41, 1st in AL West by 1.0 game)

Alexi Ogando: (9-3) 2.92 ERA, 78 SO, 1.01 WHIP

Adrian Beltre: (.273 BA/ .314 OBP/ .499 SLG) 19 HR, 71 RBI

8. St. Louis Cardinals (49-43, 1st in NL Central, tied with MIL)

Jaime Garcia: (9-3) 3.22 ERA, 100 SO, 1.25 WHIP

Lance Berkman: (.290 BA/.404 OBP/ .602 SLG) 24 HR, 63 RBI

9. Detroit Tigers (49-43, 1st in AL Central by 0.5 game)

Justin Verlander: (12-4) 2.15 ERA, 147 SO, 0.87 WHIP

Miguel Cabrera: (.311 BA/ .430 OBP/ .549 SLG) 18 HR, 59 RBI

10. Arizona Diamondbacks (49-43, 2nd in NL West, 2.0 GB)

Ian Kennedy: (9-3) 3.44 ERA, 106 SO, 1.15 WHIP

Justin Upton: (.293 BA/ .375 OBP/ .506 SLG) 15 HR, 46 RBI

Fielder's three-run bomb was the first home run hit by a Brewer in All-Star game history and earned him MVP honors, also a Brewers first.

If the season ended today:

AL MVP

1. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Red Sox

2. Jose Bautista, RF, Blue Jays

3. Curtis Granderson, CF, Yankees

NL MVP

1. Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers

2. Jose Reyes, SS, Mets

3. Matt Kemp, CF, Dodgers

AL Cy Young

1. Justin Verlander, SP, Tigers

2. CC Sabathia, SP, Yankees

3. Jered Weaver, SP, Angels

NL Cy Young

1. Jair Jurrjens, SP, Braves

2. Roy Halladay, SP, Phillies

3. Cole Hamels, SP, Phillies

Major League Power Rankings (June 27)

Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder looks like the NL MVP, but LA’s Matt Kemp is a close second.

1. Philadelphia Phillies (49-30, 1st in NL East by 5.0 games)

No team has more wins than Philly, now imagine if Chase Utley starts to hit…

2. New York Yankees (45-31, 1st in AL East by 0.5 game)

The Yankees own baseball’s best run differential (+97), having scored 399 runs and given up only 302.

3. Boston Red Sox (45-32, 2nd in AL East, 0.5 GB)

The BoSox lead all of MLB in runs (405), batting average (.278), on base percentage (.353), and slugging (.450).

4. Milwaukee Brewers (44-35, 1st in NL Central by 3.0 games)

Ryan Braun (.308 avg, 16 hr, 59 rbi, 17 steals) and Prince Fielder (.305 avg, 21 hr, 68 rbi, 51 walks) are both on pace to have career years.

5. San Francisco Giants (44-34, 1st in NL West by 1.5 games)

The reigning champs continue to get outstanding pitching performances from their starters, and closer Brian Wilson is a legitimate contender for NL Cy Young (5-1, 2.50 ERA, 23/25 saves).

6. Tampa Bay Rays (44-34, 3rd in AL East, 2.0 GB)

Behind James Shields’ stellar season (6 complete games, 3 shutouts), the resurgent Rays find themselves 2 games back in the division, having won 8 of their last 10 contests.

7. Detroit Tigers (42-36, 1st in AL Central by 1.0 game)

Brennan Boesch has given the Tigers ample production out of left field, batting .299 with 10 homers and 38 runs batted in.

8. Cleveland Indians (40-36, 2nd in AL Central, 1.0 GB)

The Tribe seems to be treading water as of late, but continue to find ways to win thanks to breakout star Asdrubal Cabrera (.293 avg, 12 hr, 44 rbi).

9. Atlanta Braves (44-35, 2nd in NL East, 5.0 GB)

Jair Jurrjens is turning out to be yet another Atlanta ace, boasting a 10-3 record with a scintillating 2.07 ERA.

10. Texas Rangers (41-38, 1st in AL West by 2.0 games)

Despite losing three straight decisions, Rangers rookie Alexi Ogando (7-3) still boasts a 2.87 ERA and an even better 1.03 WHIP.

If the season ended today:

AL MVP

1. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Red Sox

2. Jose Bautista, RF, Blue Jays

3. Curtis Granderson, CF, Yankees

NL MVP

1. Prince Fielder, 1B, Brewers

2. Matt Kemp, CF, Dodgers

3. Ryan Braun, LF, Brewers

AL Cy Young

1. Justin Verlander, SP, Tigers

2. Jered Weaver, SP, Angels

3. James Shields, SP, Rays

NL Cy Young

1. Roy Halladay, SP, Phillies

2. Jair Jurrjens, SP, Braves

3. Cole Hamels, SP, Phillies

Major League Power Rankings (June 20)

Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver have been two of the best pitchers in baseball and are in a battle for the American League Cy Young Award this season.

1. Boston Red Sox (43-28; 1st AL East)

Adrian Gonzalez has Boston fans thinking Triple Crown with a .348 average (1st in MLB), 64 runs batted in (1st in MLB) and 15 home runs (six shy of league leaders).

2. Philadelphia Phillies (45-28; 1st NL East)

Cole Hamels (9-3, 2.51 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 103 K, 104 innings) has the slightest of edges over teammate Roy Halladay (9-3, 2.56 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 114 K, 112.1 innings) for NL Cy Young.

3. Milwaukee Brewers (40-33; 1st NL Central)

Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, and Rickie Weeks have combined for 49 homers, 144 runs batted in, and a .299 batting average.

4.  New York Yankees (41-29; 2nd AL East)

The Bronx Bombers are living up to their nickname, leading the majors with 105 home runs.

5. St. Louis Cardinals (40-33; 1st NL Central)

The Cards snapped their seven game skid Saturday win a win over Kansas City, but lost Albert Pujols to a wrist injury Sunday.

6. Cleveland Indians (39-31; 1st AL Central)

The Tribe seems to be back on track after a three-game sweep of Pittsburgh, putting them one game ahead of the Tigers for 1st place in the division.

7. Detroit Tigers (39-33; 2nd AL Central)

Justin Verlander has gone 7-0 with a 1.94 ERA in his last ten starts (May 2-June 19); his WHIP on the season is a microscopic 0.85.

8. San Francisco Giants (39-33; 1st NL West)

After a rough start to the year, Madison Bumgarner has lowered his ERA to 3.21 (better than Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Jonathan Sanchez), but still has a dismal 3-8 record.

9. Texas Rangers (38-35; 1st AL West)

Texas remains atop the AL West despite a 3-7 road trip.

10. Minnesota Twins (31-39; 4th AL Central)

Putting the Twins in the top 10 seems a bit absurd – but they’re hot – white hot.

If the season ended today:

AL MVP: Adrian Gonzalez – 1B – BOS

NL MVP: Prince Fielder – 1B – MIL

AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander – SP – DET

NL Cy Young: Cole Hamels – SP – PHI

Major League Power Rankings (June 13)

1. Boston Red Sox (39-26; 1st AL East)

Adrian Gonzalez continues to lead the planet in runs batted in with 60.

2. Milwaukee Brewers (38-28; 1st NL Central)

Since Zack Greinke’s return, the Brewers have the best record in baseball; they find themselves all alone atop the division for the first time since early June of 2009.

3. Philadelphia Phillies (40-26; 1st NL East)

Cliff Lee leads the majors in strikeouts (107) while Roy Halladay is second (106).

4.  St. Louis Cardinals (38-29; 2nd NL Central)

A weekend sweep at Miller Park has knocked the Cards out of 1st place in the division.

5. New York Yankees (36-27; 2nd AL East)

Curtis Granderson (20) and Mark Teixeira (19) have the most homers among any duo in Bigs.

6. Texas Rangers (36-31; 1st AL West)

Alexi Ogando is still the AL Cy Young favorite with a 7 wins, no losses, a sparkling 2.10 ERA and an other worldly 0.90 WHIP.

7. Atlanta Braves (38-28; 2nd NL East)

The Braves have rattled off a NL best 6 consecutive wins to come within 2 games of division leading Philadelphia.

8. San Francisco Giants (37-29; 1st NL West)

With Pablo Sandoval set to return, the Giants (8-4 in June) are looking like they’ve forgot all about Mr. Posey.

9. Detroit Tigers (35-30; 1st AL Central)

Consistent play and an abysmal fall by Cleveland (1-9 in their last 10 games) has the Tigers tied for 1st place.

10. Seattle Mariners (34-32; 2nd AL West)

Brandon League is 18 for 21 in save opportunities with a 1.04 WHIP.

If the season ended today:

AL MVP: Adrian Gonzalez – 1B – BOS

NL MVP: Prince Fielder – 1B – MIL

AL Cy Young: Alexi Ogando – SP – TEX

NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay – SP – PHI

Major League Power Rankings (June 5)

1. Philadelphia Phillies (35-24; 1st NL East)

No reason for the Phillies to move out of the top spot. Their pitching continues to be rock solid while the return of Chase Utley has sparked their once dormant offense.

2. Texas Rangers (34-26; 1st AL West)

Texas is a major league best 8-2 over their last 10 games. The return of Hamilton and Cruz have ignited the Ranger bats; and Elvis Andrus continues show why he’s one of the best young shortstops in the game.

3. Milwaukee Brewers (33-26; 2nd NL Central)

The Brewers are 19-6 since May 9th, the best record in all of baseball. Three straight 1-run victories on the road versus Florida seem to have dismissed any worries of Milwaukee’s road woes.

4.  St. Louis Cardinals (36-25; 1st NL Central)

Albert Pujols seems to be back on track, hitting back-to-back walk-off homers to sink the Cubs. A weekend series at Miller Park should help clear the fuzzy picture atop the NL Central.

5. New York Yankees (33-24; 1st AL East)

The Yanks have regained sole possession of 1st place in baseball’s toughest division thanks to wins in 8 of their last 11 games. Next up is a home series with the Red Sox, who trail New York by 1 game in the standings.

6. Boston Red Sox (33-26; 2nd AL East)

Adrian Gonzalez is hitting a blistering .339 to go along with 12 home runs and a major league leading 50 runs batted in.

7. Arizona Diamondbacks (33-27; 2nd NL West)

The D-backs continue to show pop in their lineup to go along with their surprising starting pitching.

8. Cleveland Indians (33-24; 1st AL Central)

The Tribe has cooled off a bit since their torrid start, but there’s no reason to believe that their 33 wins are an aberration.

9. San Francisco Giants (33-26; 1st NL West)

The defending World Champs may have lost their star catcher to injury, but their pitching is too solid for them to disappear just yet.

10. Florida Marlins (31-26; 2nd NL East)

Four straight loses have stymied the Fish, who have now dropped to 14-15 at Sun Life Stadium.

If the season ended today:

AL MVP: Adrian Gonzalez – 1B – BOS

NL MVP: Ryan Braun – LF – MIL

AL Cy Young: Alexi Ogando – SP – TEX

NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay – SP – PHI