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2011 WAR-Stars

Posted by John Autin on July 1, 2011

With most teams at or past the midpoint of the season, and the annual Popularity & Pity Game almost upon us, let's stage a fantasy WAR-Star Game with the league leaders in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) by position, through games of Wednesday, June 29.

For the hitters, we'll take the top 2 at each infield position, plus 6 outfielders (no specific position required), and 2 DHs; the NL DHs will be the top WAR that didn't make the team at a position.

On the pitching side, we're taking 6 starting pitchers and 5 relievers. That's overrepresentation for the relievers, none of whom would make the team on WAR ranking alone; but in their defense, they are at least more suited to warming up on short notice. (And if someone has to get hurt, better a reliever than a starter!)

Any player with at least 3.0 WAR who didn't make the team will be mentioned in a footnote.

The position-player tables are in the order C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, OF, DH.

Enough procedurals; let's get to it!

AL - Position Players

1 Alex Avila 3.2 24 DET 66 254 218 28 66 16 3 10 45 27 3 61 1 2 6 6 3 0 .303 .373 .541 .914 *2/D5
2 Matt Wieters 1.7 25 BAL 68 261 241 26 62 13 0 7 33 18 1 43 1 0 1 9 0 0 .257 .310 .398 .709 *2
1 Adrian Gonzalez 4.5 29 BOS 79 356 323 56 115 25 3 16 71 28 8 55 3 0 2 17 1 0 .356 .410 .601 1.011 *3/9
2 Miguel Cabrera 3.9 28 DET 81 345 277 60 93 20 0 17 56 61 14 43 3 0 4 10 1 1 .336 .455 .592 1.047 *3/D
1 Dustin Pedroia 3.2 27 BOS 76 357 297 45 81 16 1 6 34 56 4 45 1 1 2 6 15 2 .273 .388 .394 .782 *4
2 Ben Zobrist 3.1 30 TBR 80 345 301 53 80 27 4 9 40 40 1 63 0 1 3 4 7 1 .266 .349 .472 .821 *49
1 Asdrubal Cabrera 2.9 25 CLE 79 355 324 52 96 21 3 13 47 20 2 56 6 4 1 6 12 1 .296 .348 .500 .848 *6
2 Jhonny Peralta 2.6 29 DET 72 286 262 35 82 14 3 13 47 20 1 47 1 0 3 5 0 2 .313 .360 .538 .898 *6/3
1 Alex Rodriguez 3.2 35 NYY 73 313 274 50 82 18 0 13 51 32 1 61 4 0 3 9 4 1 .299 .377 .507 .884 *5/D
2 Kevin Youkilis 3.0 32 BOS 74 319 260 46 70 21 1 11 55 47 1 61 8 0 4 10 1 0 .269 .392 .485 .876 *5/D
1 Jose Bautista 5.2 30 TOR 73 328 258 61 85 13 1 24 52 68 14 47 2 0 0 3 5 3 .329 .473 .667 1.139 *9/5D
2 Denard Span 3.2 27 MIN 56 255 231 32 68 9 3 2 15 24 0 26 0 0 0 2 4 1 .294 .361 .385 .746 *8/D
3 Curtis Granderson 3.2 30 NYY 78 343 294 70 81 11 7 21 56 40 0 79 4 2 3 7 14 7 .276 .367 .575 .941 *8
4 Jacoby Ellsbury 3.1 27 BOS 79 352 318 55 94 22 0 9 39 26 0 49 5 2 1 5 25 10 .296 .357 .450 .807 *8/D
5 Matthew Joyce 2.9 26 TBR 73 271 240 41 74 19 2 10 38 25 7 53 1 0 5 4 4 0 .308 .369 .529 .898 *97
6 Brett Gardner 2.9 27 NYY 77 267 231 41 64 12 4 4 18 28 0 46 2 5 1 5 17 10 .277 .359 .416 .774 *7/8
1 David Ortiz 2.2 35 BOS 76 311 274 48 84 20 1 17 48 35 3 35 1 0 1 12 1 0 .307 .386 .573 .959 *D/3
2 Victor Martinez 2.0 32 DET 66 268 243 35 80 20 0 6 46 21 3 26 0 0 4 3 0 0 .329 .377 .486 .862 *D2/3


NL - Position Players

1 Brian McCann 2.2 27 ATL 72 299 264 29 83 14 0 14 47 32 9 42 1 0 2 6 2 1 .314 .388 .527 .914 *2/D
2 Miguel Montero 2.1 27 ARI 71 278 249 37 68 21 0 9 40 24 4 41 4 1 0 6 1 0 .273 .347 .466 .812 *2
1 Prince Fielder 3.2 27 MIL 81 343 281 49 86 19 1 21 69 52 10 44 8 0 2 8 0 0 .306 .426 .605 1.031 *3/D
2 Joey Votto 3.0 27 CIN 81 365 298 54 95 18 2 11 50 62 7 65 4 0 1 11 6 4 .319 .441 .503 .944 *3
1 Rickie Weeks 2.7 28 MIL 80 365 325 57 93 20 2 14 33 31 3 74 5 1 3 5 7 2 .286 .354 .489 .844 *4/D
2 Danny Espinosa 2.0 24 WSN 81 330 286 40 68 12 4 15 48 24 1 72 14 2 4 4 9 2 .238 .323 .465 .788 *4
1 Jose Reyes 4.2 28 NYM 77 370 341 65 119 21 15 3 32 26 7 26 0 1 2 4 30 5 .349 .393 .525 .918 *6
2 Troy Tulowitzki 3.0 26 COL 79 340 307 41 83 18 2 14 50 30 6 29 2 0 1 12 6 2 .270 .338 .479 .817 *6
1 Ryan Roberts 1.9 30 ARI 71 285 247 43 62 13 1 10 33 33 1 49 1 2 2 3 12 5 .251 .339 .433 .772 *54/76
2 Chase Headley 1.7 27 SDP 79 311 268 32 80 22 0 2 29 40 6 61 2 1 0 3 8 2 .299 .394 .403 .797 *5
1 Matt Kemp 5.2 26 LAD 82 342 293 52 97 17 2 22 63 42 10 72 3 0 4 10 22 3 .331 .415 .628 1.043 *8/D
2 Andrew McCutchen 4.6 24 PIT 77 341 289 46 81 16 2 11 40 44 0 59 5 2 1 3 15 5 .280 .383 .464 .847 *8/D
3 Ryan Braun 3.9 27 MIL 80 339 296 57 93 18 3 16 60 38 2 50 3 0 2 4 19 4 .314 .395 .557 .953 *7/D
4 Michael Bourn 3.1 28 HOU 79 351 316 52 91 20 6 1 26 31 2 63 2 1 1 4 34 4 .288 .354 .399 .753 *8
5 Matt Holliday 2.7 31 STL 56 231 196 38 64 15 0 10 40 29 3 36 6 0 0 7 0 1 .327 .429 .556 .985 *7/D
6 Shane Victorino 2.6 30 PHI 64 284 254 50 74 12 8 9 31 22 1 31 4 4 0 1 12 1 .291 .357 .508 .865 *8
1 Gaby Sanchez 2.7 27 FLA 80 345 302 39 90 18 0 13 45 36 3 50 2 1 4 9 1 1 .298 .372 .487 .859 *3/D
2 Carlos Beltran 2.5 34 NYM 78 328 284 42 80 21 2 11 53 40 5 46 2 0 2 7 3 0 .282 .372 .486 .858 *9/D


AL - Starting Pitchers

1 Jered Weaver 4.4 28 LAA 17 17 3 2 9 4 .692 123.1 87 28 27 28 106 1.97 187 5 476 443 20 2 0 1 1 3 6 6 3 4 0 4 .196 .244 .284 .529 51 1966 1260
2 Justin Verlander 4.2 28 DET 17 17 4 2 10 3 .769 128.2 81 36 34 27 124 2.38 158 11 489 454 16 1 0 3 2 3 6 7 1 1 2 3 .178 .228 .291 .519 46 1962 1292
3 Josh Beckett 3.8 31 BOS 15 15 1 1 6 3 .667 98.0 60 24 24 31 80 2.20 183 6 378 337 10 0 0 6 1 3 8 11 4 0 0 3 .178 .257 .261 .518 43 1491 938
4 Ricky Romero 3.4 26 TOR 16 16 3 1 7 7 .500 111.2 91 37 34 38 96 2.74 146 11 452 406 17 1 2 5 3 0 11 4 4 4 1 4 .224 .298 .352 .651 79 1647 1002
5 James Shields 3.2 29 TBR 17 17 6 3 8 5 .615 128.2 96 38 35 30 127 2.45 146 13 498 458 20 1 1 4 3 3 10 0 2 8 0 1 .210 .263 .343 .605 73 1785 1178
6 Gio Gonzalez 3.2 25 OAK 16 16 0 0 7 5 .583 102.0 80 32 27 46 99 2.38 164 6 425 371 13 1 1 6 1 1 11 9 2 0 1 6 .216 .311 .305 .616 73 1687 1012


NL - Starting Pitchers

1 Roy Halladay 4.6 34 PHI 17 17 5 0 10 3 .769 127.1 115 35 34 16 123 2.40 159 7 505 478 15 1 1 2 6 3 7 9 4 0 0 1 .241 .267 .320 .587 65 1922 1325
2 Cliff Lee 3.8 32 PHI 17 17 4 4 9 5 .643 122.0 103 37 36 27 119 2.66 144 8 484 450 17 2 0 2 3 2 9 4 3 2 0 0 .229 .274 .329 .603 70 1829 1254
3 Cole Hamels 3.7 27 PHI 16 16 1 0 9 4 .692 112.0 86 31 31 21 108 2.49 153 6 437 406 14 2 2 3 5 2 9 12 5 0 3 3 .212 .255 .300 .555 56 1657 1083
4 Clayton Kershaw 3.5 23 LAD 17 17 3 2 8 3 .727 116.2 88 38 38 32 128 2.93 122 8 459 418 15 0 2 1 6 2 7 2 1 2 0 0 .211 .267 .304 .571 66 1742 1117
5 Jair Jurrjens 3.4 25 ATL 14 14 1 0 10 3 .769 95.2 87 24 22 22 55 2.07 183 5 387 356 11 3 2 2 6 1 5 9 5 1 0 2 .244 .291 .334 .626 77 1391 911
6 Ian Kennedy 3.2 26 ARI 17 17 1 1 8 2 .800 116.2 97 41 39 30 97 3.01 132 10 474 427 26 2 0 7 5 5 9 4 0 1 1 7 .227 .286 .368 .653 82 1795 1190


AL - Relief Pitchers

1 Aaron Crow 2.0 24 KCR 32 8 2 1 .667 0 38.2 25 7 6 17 39 1.40 276 3 152 134 5 0 2 0 1 0 3 4 1 0 0 5 .187 .278 .291 .569 62 585 350
2 Jim Johnson 1.7 28 BAL 35 3 4 1 .800 0 46.1 43 14 12 8 32 2.33 172 3 187 175 8 2 0 0 3 1 3 1 1 0 0 1 .246 .277 .366 .643 77 636 427
3 David Pauley 1.7 28 SEA 30 9 5 1 .833 0 43.2 27 7 7 11 27 1.44 257 1 164 147 2 0 1 3 2 1 6 3 3 0 0 0 .184 .253 .218 .471 36 557 353
4 Mariano Rivera 1.6 41 NYY 33 27 1 1 .500 21 31.1 26 6 6 4 27 1.72 238 1 118 113 5 0 1 0 0 1 5 0 0 0 0 1 .230 .254 .301 .555 51 455 326
5 David Robertson 1.6 26 NYY 35 5 1 0 1.000 0 32.1 23 5 4 20 52 1.11 368 0 140 120 3 0 3 0 0 0 0 9 1 0 1 3 .192 .307 .217 .524 46 620 403
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/1/2011.


NL - Relief Pitchers

1 Jonny Venters 2.2 26 ATL 46 7 4 1 .800 3 51.0 30 10 9 18 54 1.59 239 1 198 172 2 1 5 3 5 0 9 1 1 0 0 3 .174 .264 .215 .479 37 714 437
2 Eric O'Flaherty 1.8 26 ATL 40 4 1 2 .333 0 37.1 30 5 5 11 34 1.21 316 1 151 133 6 1 2 2 4 1 1 2 2 1 0 0 .226 .293 .308 .601 70 597 375
3 Joel Hanrahan 1.7 29 PIT 37 33 0 1 .000 23 37.1 27 6 5 8 32 1.21 312 1 141 133 7 0 0 0 0 0 5 1 0 0 0 1 .203 .248 .278 .526 53 513 335
4 Mike Adams 1.6 32 SDP 36 4 3 1 .750 1 36.1 19 6 5 5 40 1.24 286 2 133 127 8 0 1 0 0 1 0 4 0 0 0 0 .150 .180 .260 .440 29 524 361
5 Tyler Clippard 1.6 26 WSN 36 4 1 0 1.000 0 45.0 25 10 10 15 57 2.00 192 7 168 151 5 0 1 0 1 1 3 1 2 0 0 0 .166 .240 .338 .577 63 681 452
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/1/2011.


-- Players with at least 3.0 WAR who did not make the teams: Kyle Lohse, 3.1; Anibal Sanchez, Michael Pineda and Trevor Cahill, 3.0.

-- There's only one actual "closer" for each team. I feel no need to justify this decision, but if you insist, here's an easy one: If there is a 9th-inning save situation and we want someone who's used to doing that job, could we ask for better choices than Hanrahan, the only closer who has yet to blow a save this year, and Mariano, the greatest closer in history?

-- I justify taking Carlos Beltran as a 2nd NL DH on the grounds that (a) he's the top-WAR-rated RF in the NL and (b) he has a higher offensive WAR than the AL's #1 DH, David Ortiz. I justify Victor Martinez as a 2nd AL DH on the grounds that he gives us an emergency catcher and a switch-hitting bat off the bench. The fact that they are a Met and a Tiger, respectively, is just gravy. :)

-- I'm pleased to see that we got all the league leaders in the major hitting categories. In that regard, there is at least one omission on the pitching side....

-- I mean no slight towards CC Sabathia, who got his MLB-high 11th win Thursday; he just didn't make the WAR cut. If I ran the numbers tomorrow, maybe he would, after a dominant 13-K performance. CC can apply the extra rest towards October, when he's likely to be a very busy man.

OK, those are my 2011 WAR-Star Teams. Let's hear your thoughts! For starters, who wins this contest?

This entry was posted on Friday, July 1st, 2011 at 1:38 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

106 Responses to “2011 WAR-Stars”

  1. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    I am embarrassed to admit I have no idea who Ryan Roberts is. What should I know about him (that I can't quickly glean from his B-R page)?

  2. He is covered in ridiculous tattoos.

  3. TrivialSteve Says:

    I've always had a lot of ambivalence about the AS selection process. It shouldn't reward old guys who don't deserve it any more, and it shouldn't reward a player for 1/2 a season of great play. The problem with your team is you do the latter; some of those guys (Roberts, Joyce, Span) aren't going to be up there by the end of the season. Maybe the solution is do a "full season": last 1/2 of last year and first 1/2 of this year combined WAR. Also, the Phillies: Jesus Christ! They're on pace to have 3 pitchers with 7+ WAR! Without Oswalt!

  4. Hard to understand how none of the Mariner's starters made the grade.

  5. No Berkman, or Konerko.

  6. Spartan Bill Says:

    Under the archaic rules you need to have a player from TEX, CHW, SFG, and CHC, aren't represented.

    So lets have ----
    CJ Wilson replace Romero
    Konerko replace Gardner
    Vogelsong replace Clippard
    Fukudome replace Victorino

    Sure, I realize I just weakened both teams and did nothing to make the game more interesting, but hey rules are rules.

  7. It's interesting to me that a corner position (NL 3B) is the softest position in WAR. Even catchers bring more lumber.

    Spartan Bill, is it written? I mean, I know all teams are represented in the game (which I don't care for), but is it an actual rule? Or a courtesy?

  8. Bill Johnson Says:

    All teams should be represented IMO, the simple solution, just expand the rosters by the numbers needed to do so.

  9. Jose Valverde of the Tigers has also not blown a save this year.

  10. Alex Avila, Danny Espinosa, and Andrew McCutchen, all age 24, are the youngest position players on the WAR Stars list.

    Clayton Kershaw, age 23, is the youngest pitcher.

  11. Nice to see WAR give Ricky Romero his due.How many people would have given Romero a WAR over Shields without checking the numbers?

    I think Romero will be hard-pressed to get an all-star invitation because the manager will look at the 7-7 record. What requires some digging is the fact that his team scored 13 runs twice in his starts and a total of 32 runs in the remaining 14 starts.

    So while the run support of 3.73 doesn't look that meagre, it drops to 2.29 for the 14 starts. That will do it to your won-loss record.

  12. How 'bout the Braves having the top two relievers in WAR in the NL so far this year with Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty? Throw in Craig Kimbrel with his sick 14.27 SO/9 (4th best among MLB pitchers with at least 8.0 IP) and his 23 saves (tied for 2nd most in MLB) and that's one nasty bullpen!

  13. Says:

    What sort of potential records are we looking at with the Phillies pitching, I mean, this is pretty crazy.

  14. Splint Chesthair Says:

    Aww damn, i entered me email addess as my username. Am I going to be sorting through spam now?

  15. Splint, imagine being an opposition batter looking forward to facing Halladay/Lee/Hamels over a three game series. That is a recipe for a batting slump.

  16. "and it shouldn't reward a player for 1/2 a season of great play. The problem with your team is you do the latter; some of those guys (Roberts, Joyce, Span) aren't going to be up there by the end of the season."
    @3...being you can see the future could you let me know the upcoming PowerBall numbers?

  17. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    No AL West position players? And 12 of 18 from the AL East.

  18. The Tigers are pretty sick at Catcher. They have Avila and when he gets a day off they have Victor Martinez to take his place.

    Zobrist has 27 doubles already??

    3B is pretty soft this year in the NL.

    Has any team ever had three pitchers in the top 3 spots among the league leaders in WAR?

  19. Is the reason WAR tends to favor set-up men over middle relievers because they typically pitch in higher leverage situations? (For instance, entering mid-inning with baserunners on in a tight game as opposed to starting the ninth with nobody on base and a two or three run lead.)

    Or does leverage have nothing to do with it and it's just that the middle relievers on this list all have microscopic ERAs and excellent K/BB and K/9 ratios? Speaking of which, since we know relievers' ERA's can be misleading, does WAR take into account how relievers do with inherited baserunners?

  20. [...] 2011 WAR-Stars: John Autin presents the All-Star rosters if they were determined by B-R’s WAR. [...]

  21. @14, you could always see if Big McLargeHuge is available instead...

  22. John Autin Says:

    @9, Joe -- Thanks for the correction re: Valverde. It's actually a bit tricky to get the Play Index to find closers with no blown saves, since that term is available only in the Game Finder (not the Season Finder). I took a mental shortcut -- figured that since I had heard a lot about Hanrahan's perfect record, I would have heard about any others, too -- and I got caught. Serves me right!

    P.S. I have now confirmed that Hanrahan and Valverde are the only pitchers this year with at least 6 saves and no blown saves.

    P.P.S. I love my Tigers, but I'm still taking Mariano!

  23. John Autin Says:

    @7, KJ -- The All-Star Game does still officially require a representative from each team.

    I agree with Spartan Bill's opinion of that rule ("archaic"), and I don't think that many extra viewers are roped in by having an undeserving player from their team selected for the game.

    I should have said in the post that I did not follow any of MLB's requirements for the All-Star game re: size and composition of the roster.

  24. Stat fans love this WAR stat, but it's clearly flawed. I don't actually know how it's figured out, but I understand it's supposed to be a measure of total value. But it's a percentage stat, not an accomplishment stat, and percentage stats (like slugging percentage, on base percentage and ERA) are flawed because they say someone could do something, whereas accomplishment stats (like RBI, runs scored, wins, hits, etc) say that someone actually did do something. If you were picking a team and could have anyone, would you really want Ricky Romero and Jered Weaver over CC Sabathia and Jon Lester?

  25. @ 16: Crystal ball or not, Steve @ 3 has a perfectly valid point.

    Because every team needs a representative and players with two well-timed hot months are favored, All-Star rosters are goofy and are never a very accurate picture of who finishes with the best season. Just look at last year when NL MVP Joey Votto had to win the fan vote to grab the last spot.

    It's especially problematic for pitchers because a few wasted gems (lack of run support, games blown by the bullpen) can really mess with their W-L record, especially when we're only talking about a sample of 15-18 starts.

    For example, Greg Maddux didn't make the All-Star team in 1993 - when he went 20-10, led the league in IP, ERA and ERA+, and won his second of four consecutive Cy Young Awards. And why was that? Probably because on July 10th his record was 7-8. He had games of 9 IP/1 ER; 10 IP/2 ER; 7 IP/2 ER; 7 IP/1 ER; 7 IP/1 ER; 8 IP/2 ER and didn't win any of them. It's pretty telling that Greg Maddux couldn't crack the All-Star team, but Terry Mulholland and Andy Benes did.

    In 1995, Mike Mussina went 19-9 with a 3.29 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 145 ERA+, led the league in wins and shutouts and didn't make it. In 2001, he went 17-11 with a 3.15 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 143 ERA+, and 5.1 K/BB ratio and didn't make it. In 2003, he went 17-8 with a 3.40 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 130 ERA+ and 4.9 K/BB ratio and didn't make it.

    David Cone led the league in strikeouts in back-to-back years and didn't make it either time. He also didn't make it when he won 20 games for the Yankees in 1998. In 1995, he went 18-8, with a 130 ERA+, led the league in innings, finished fourth in Cy Young voting and didn't make it.

    There are a million wacky examples. Scott Cooper and Shea Hillenbrand both made it twice but Adam Dunn hit 40 HR a million years in a row and only made it once. Corey Hart made it a few years ago when he hit .268/.300/.459 for the season (98 OPS+ and a .300 OBP as a corner OF). Edgar Martinez led the AL in OBP in back-to-back years and didn't make it either time.

    The All-Star game is what it is. It's a puzzle where someone from every team makes it, only a certain amount of people at each position make it, and players with hot first halves are heavily favored. It's not an accurate collection of the best players in the game. If you had to look at the rosters at the end of the season and did it over again, you'd make a ton of changes. That's why it's insane to so many people when anyone tries to use number of All-Star teams as a legitimate way to argue someone's Hall of Fame case.

  26. @25

    Hey, Babe Ruth, Al Simmons and Mickey Cochrane only made the ASG twice each!


    But seriously, for guys who did play their whole careers in the ASG era, Robin Yount and Ferguson Jenkins made it only 3 times, the lowest by any HOF players. Yount made it in '80, '82 and '83, which of course means he missed in '89 when he won his second MVP. Jenkins went in '67, '71 and '72. In 1970 he finished 3rd in Cy Young voting and in 1974 he finished 2nd in Cy Young voting and 5th in MVP voting.

  27. John Autin Says:

    @24, Tim -- Your description of Wins Above Replacement as a percentage stat is incorrect. It is an estimate of "win impact" (my term) on actual games. Those who play more games have a definite edge in accumulating WAR. You might have noticed that there are no bench players among the WAR-Stars; every position player listed above has played at least 56 games.

    I am not denying that WAR has flaws; note that my post makes no claims whatsoever about WAR's relative value compared to other stats, nor did I say that these are the "real All-Stars" or any such thing.

    As to your specific player question ... I honestly don't see anything to convince me that Jon Lester is a better pitcher than Jered Weaver. They're both terrific. Their career ERA+ is almost identical -- 128 and 127 respectively. Lester has a slightly better K rate; Weaver has a better K/BB ratio. If I had to pick one non-mathematically, I would take Weaver, since he's achieved that ERA+ over a longer career and is having a much better 2011 season than Lester.

    And sure, I would take CC Sabathia over many of the SPs who "made the team" -- but if that's the biggest flaw in these selections, I'm ecstatic. Show me any other method of selecting an all-star team, I guarantee that holes can be punched in it.

  28. John Autin Says:

    @3, TrivialSteve -- My problem with your objection isn't the "crystal ball" issue someone else brought up, but the fact that you apparently don't appreciate what a fine player Matt Joyce is and has been, not just this year.

    Matt Joyce has 846 career PAs. Among all active players with at least 700 PAs, Joyce ranks 24th in OPS+ at 132, tied with Shin-Soo Choo, just above Hanley Ramirez, Bobby Abreu, Chase Utley, Kevin Youkilis, and many others who have made multiple All-Star teams. He's also a plus defender.

    Matt Joyce's career rates, pro rated to a 700-PA season, would yield 29 HRs, 42 doubles, 98 RBI, 94 Runs, and just 7 GIDP. His combined OPS+ over the last 2 seasons is 144, and although he once was a part-time player, he's now a regular -- and a deserving WAR-Star.

  29. flyingelbowsmash Says:

    If there is a rule that mandates a player from each team, regardless if each team has a legit all-star, why not open the roster to allow for everyone who deserves to be there, get to be there. That way, a roster spot goes to someone just because their team needs a representative and robs someone who is having an all-star season. Also, maybe each team gets a a few (they don't always all have to be used) spots to honor all-time superstars at the end of their careers, but those spots not robbing deserving players. I remember as a kid seeing Yaz and Bench in the all-star game together like that and it was pretty cool. This leads to a bunch of players, but hey, why not?

    Berkman has to be in this game.

  30. Nowhere else to post this, but happy Canada Day to all my fellow-Canadian BBRef readers. Enjoy your holiday with family.

    (My American BBRef friends, I will express similar sentiments on Monday.)

  31. @ JA (27 specifically)

    I think your right. I'd definitely take Weaver over Lester, and over all, WAR did a excellent job of selecting players. If we made an All-Star team via any "accomplishment stat" such as RBIs, runs scored, wins, strikeouts, etc, we'd get a pretty funky team!

  32. John Autin Says:

    General comment:
    There are a lot of different ideas about what the MLB All-Star Game should be, both on this thread and throughout the baseball world. I don't think we'll ever have a consensus on what an All-Star "should" be, anymore than we have that consensus about a Hall of Famer.

    Flyingelbowsmash, perhaps you're right about Berkman, but I ran the WAR numbers last night, before yesterday's games had been assimilated. Beltran had a higher WAR than Berkman before yesterday's games.

  33. John Autin Says:

    @4, Doug -- It's just one of those things; the Mariners' starters have all been good, and some very good, but none rank among the top 6 in AL pitching WAR.

    Michael Pineda just missed the cut at 3.0 WAR. If I had included him, though, I would have had to also take another guy with the same number, and I didn't want 8 SPs.

    King Felix has 2.5 WAR. He's having a good year, but just not as good as several others. The unheralded Doug Fister is at 2.4 WAR, Bedard and Vargas at 1.8.

  34. John Autin Says:

    Neil L., please do me the favour of accepting my meagre apology for failing to put Canada Day front and centre.

    Just because Jason Bay stinks is no reason for me to ignore our northern neighbors!

    Enjoy your moose burgers.

  35. JA-

    Why did you not choose OF by position?

  36. John Autin Says:

    @35, BSK -- Two reasons I did not choose OF by position:

    (1) I don't see why a RF with, say, 2.5 WAR should make the team over a CF with 2.6 WAR. Do you have an argument in favor of that result?

    (2) Just as a practical matter, I'm always wary when doing a Play Index search filtered on a fielding position requirement of, say, 50% of games at position X. With outfielders especially, sometimes a guy is clearly an OF, but doesn't meet the 50% requirement at a particular OF position.

  37. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    Is the reason WAR tends to favor set-up men over middle relievers because they typically pitch in higher leverage situations? (For instance, entering mid-inning with baserunners on in a tight game as opposed to starting the ninth with nobody on base and a two or three run lead.)

    I'm assuming you mean closers, rather than middle relievers? Actually, closers do have higher average leverage than set-up men. As for why more setup guys have higher WAR than closers this season, I haven't really looked at it. I suppose part of it is that there are more setup men than closers, period, and perhaps part of it is a fluke that not as many closers are having super seasons.

    Or does leverage have nothing to do with it and it's just that the middle relievers on this list all have microscopic ERAs and excellent K/BB and K/9 ratios? Speaking of which, since we know relievers' ERA's can be misleading, does WAR take into account how relievers do with inherited baserunners?

    WAR does not account for inherited runners (except indirectly, via leverage). It does not account for K or BB rates.

  38. @13-Splints:
    I'm not a subscriber to "Play-index", however if you ran 1920-2011, most pitchers on a team with ERA+ > 143 with 154 or 162 IP, you might get a good idea what Halladay, Hamels, and Lee are possibly building toward.....

    @ John Autin:
    Curious how these ratings would change if it was run based merely on Offensive WAR w/o considerations for defense

  39. @36
    JA: "I don't see why a RF with, say, 2.5 WAR should make the team over a CF with 2.6 WAR. Do you have an argument in favor of that result?"

    I'll give this a shot. The "rPos" contribution measures positional scarcity. Currently, CF's get about a 5 run boost to their RAR values over the guys at LF and RF. This makes sense when you are deciding on MVP votes, but when you are filling out an All-Star OF it might make sense to consider those five runs when determining whether a CF should start at LF/RF.

    Its a complex question, though, because "rPos" is an odd term that includes both offensive and defensive value. A CF playing at a corner would have higher defensive value there than his "rField" would imply, but part of that adjustment is offense too.

  40. I'd like to see this list with oWAR, since less than a half-season of dWAR is pretty worthless. That would knock Span and Gardner off the team for sure.

  41. @36 A good center fielder's defense is in full play at CF. When moved to a corner, he'd be even better defensively in comparison to his new peers, but would not participate in enough plays to make up for the fact that he's be worse offensively in comparison to his new peers.

  42. I wasn't necessarily doubting the methodology... I was just curious as to why. I tend to agree... the assumption with OF spots is often that the best defensive RF are the best players in the sport at playing RF... when it is highly likely that the best CF and even some of the middle-tier CF would be better than the best RF.

  43. It's interesting that (besides the Chicago teams) the two teams not represented are the defending pennant winners, both of whom are in first place.

  44. @Tim 24,

    You want to look at a flawed stat, then look no further than "Wins" for a pitcher.

    Jered Weaver is one of the top two or three best pitchers in baseball this year with a major league leading 1.97 era and a 0.932 Whip. The problem with Weaver is that the Angels haven't given him any run support. He's averaging 3.1 runs per game which is 56/60 in the American League this year.

    On the flip side C.C. Sabathia is leading the Major leagues in run support with 7.1 runs per game mainly because the Yankees are leading the majors in runs. C.C. is averaging an extra 4 runs per start in support than Weaver. C.C. ranks 1/131 in run support among qualifying pitcher whereas Weaver ranks 122/131.

    As far as Romero and Lester, again it comes down to run support.

    Romero is 7th in the AL with a 2.74 era but he's only getting 3.7 runs per game in support which is 43/60 in the AL.

    Lester on the other hand is getting 6.3 runs per game in support which is second (2/60) only to C.C. Sabathia.

  45. I think the AL wins this contest because the younger batters from the NL probably don't have as much experience facing the pitchers from the other league. That is, they are more likely to be fooled by a smart pitcher.

    As far as WAR: Like most things I don't understand, I hate WAR. (smile)

    Why is Halladay determined to be so much better than Jurrjens according to WAR? Strikeouts?

    Teams score fewer runs against Jurrjens, earned or otherwise. And players seem to get on base at about the same rate for each player. I am guessing that there is an assumption built in that since Jurrjens puts more balls into play, the fielders backing him up must be better, so he doesn't get as much credit for his pitching?

    And the positional scarcity adjustment in WAR drives me nuts. Derek Jeter (one of my favorite players, BTW), gets an extra 332 runs over his career because he plays shortstop--even though he does it pretty poorly. If he moved to first base, what would his WAR be for his career? 40 instead of 70? He goes from being considered a great player to being a middle of the road player.

  46. As a DBacks fan, I see no way that Montero, Roberts & Kennedy make the AS team but Justin Upton doesn't. Not saying that's how it SHOULD be but how I think it will happen.

    As for Roberts, he's been a quality utility guy for a few years now who has just always been squeezed out in Toronto, Texas & even Arizona, usually by the "proven veteran". He's always hit decently enough in the minors but never quite well enough to get anyone excited. With Mark Reynolds banished to Baltimore and Melvin Mora sucking hard, he's gotten his break and performed well. It would be a great story if he pulled a Melvin Mora (ironically) and turned this into a good career. That said, only the dearth of 3B in the NL has anyone talking about an AS berth. I would obviously love it but have a hard time seeing it actually happen.

    BTW, he IS covered in tattoos and has acquired the nickname "Tatman" here.

  47. John Autin Says:

    @45, Joseph -- re: Halladay's WAR edge over Jurrjens --
    Looks like a simple matter of the innings pitched. Halladay has 33% more IP than Jurrjens. That fact alone would account for almost all their difference in WAR.

    On your last point, I won't pretend to have the answers to exactly how the WAR positional adjustment should be done and which side of the ball it should be filed under. But Jeter's below-average defense at SS is reflected in his defensive WAR (-13.8). Why should he not get the positional adjustment on offense, since he's been so much better than the average SS in that regard?

  48. @45: I'd guess that a reason for the difference is because Halladay has an advantage of about 30 more IP and 40 points in Jurrjens in OPS. Remember, WAR is, in many regards, a counting stat, and playing time figures into is (as noted @27).

    I'm not sure that a difference of 24 points of OBP can be considered as putting runners "on base at about the same rate" unless you'd consider a hitter with an OBP of .330 to be getting on base just as much as one with an OBP of .354.

  49. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    If he moved to first base, what would his WAR be for his career? 40 instead of 70? He goes from being considered a great player to being a middle of the road player.

    Well, yeah. What would be special about a 1Bman with Jeter's offensive numbers? It's a good player, not a great one.

  50. @45, @47,

    Plus, if you look at BABIP and LOB%, Jurrjens has been somewhat luckier than Halladay. Of course, it could simply be that the Braves' defense has played better, but WAR doesn't really differentiate between the two.

    Ultimately, as JA said, Halladay's WAR is higher because he's played quite a bit more. This does not at all diminish from Jurrjens accomplishments, because WAR doesn't necessarily rate the effectiveness of the pitcher. Instead, it rates the value of the pitcher this season. A pitcher who played 127 innings is more valuable than one who has played 95.

    I suppose that is one flaw in using WAR for selecting players. It's pick the most valuable players, and not necessarily those who have played best, if you can distinguish the fine line between the 2.

  51. John Autin Says:

    For what it's worth, here are the Runs Created All-Stars this year (through the end of June) -- so, no defense and no positional adjustment to the offensive numbers.

    Again, I'll show the top 2 at each position in each league, with no minimum # or % of games to qualify at a position; every player is sorted according to his primary position:

    C - Avila, Santana
    1B - M.Cabrera, Gonzalez
    2B - Zobrist, Pedroia
    SS - A.Cabrera, Peralta
    3B - A-Rod, Youkilis
    OF - Bautista, Granderson, A.Gordon, Quentin, Ellsbury, Boesch
    DH - Ortiz, M.Young

    C - McCann, Montero
    1B - Fielder, Votto,
    2B - Weeks, Espinosa
    SS - Reyes, S.Castro
    3B - Headley, A.Ramirez
    OF - Kemp, Braun, J.Upton, Berkman, McCutchen, Pence
    DH - Beltran, G.Sanchez

  52. Just out of curiosity, why do those who hate WAR do so? Granted, it's not a perfect stat, but it does a good job at rating overall value of player. It seems to me it does better than a raw performance stat. Why hate it?

  53. John Autin Says:

    @52, KB -- I think that's an easy question, and I would say this no matter which side of the WAR I fought on:

    As with any new metric, WAR produces evaluations that often contradict what we "know." It's human nature to rebel against what goes against your preconceptions. If that wasn't so, everyone would believe in evolution. :)

  54. I have the feeling others must "know" something I don't!

  55. Spartan Bill Says:

    @ 23

    I agree with Spartan Bill's opinion of that rule ("archaic"), and I don't think that many extra viewers are roped in by having an undeserving player from their team selected for the game.

    And that is why when I buy the Dodgers from Frank McCourt, I will cast my vote for John Autin as commissioner.

    You guys will all lend me the money right?

  56. Richard Chester Says:

    @52, @53

    I do not hate WAR but I also do not have full confidence in it. Here's why.

    Why should 1950 Ned Garver with a record of 13 wins and 18 losses with an ERA of 3.39 have a WAR of 7.1 whereas 1968 Denny McClain had a record of 31-6 with an ERA of 1.96 and a WAR of 5.9?

    Why should 1967 closer Minnie Rojas with a record of 12-9, an ERA of 2.52 and a league-leading 27 saves have a WAR of 0.2 or 0.0, depending where in BR you check his stats? He did have 11 BS but that should not result in such a low WAR.

    Why should 1972 Joe Morgan with 16 HR, 73 RBI and .292 BA have a WAR of 9.2 whereas 1938 Jimmy Foxx had 50 HR, 175 RBI and a .349 BA has a WAR of 8.2? Foxx also had more R and a higher OBP.

    There are many other similar discrepancies.

  57. @56 Richard,

    Well the first problem is that W-L record is a pretty poor stat to determine how good or poorly a pitcher pitched. A win is a team accomplishment that shouldn't be awarded to an individual player. If the NFL used W-L record to judge Quarterbacks the way MLB judges Pitchers then guys like Dan Fouts, Frank Tarkenton and Warren Moon would be considered average QB's not HOF players.

    Like anything you have to things in context. Ned Garver pitched on one of the Worst teams in Major league baseball in 1950, the St. Louis Browns. So on bad teams run support is usually a problem when you're talking about w-l record. Garver received 3.41 runs per game in support in 1950 which ranked 25/32 among qualifiers.

    Another problem for Garver was that the American League in 1950 was a high run scoring league (5.04 runs per game), plus he pitched in a great hitter's park, Sportsman Park 4.

    Another problem for Garver was that the 1950 Browns were a terrible defensive team. So not only was Garver pitching in a great hitters park in a great offensive year his fielders stunk.

    With all of that against him he still finished 2nd in the league in ERA and First in adjusted ERA+ with a 146. And ERA & ERA+ don't even fully show how well he pitched because his fielders were so terrible.

    Denny Mclain's 1968 is actually kind of overrated. It was a great season but his 30 wins were more a factor of context and circumstance. Luis Tiant actually should have won the Cy Young that season.

    Mclain had everything going for him in '68. First of all 1968 was one of the worst run scoring environments in MLB history (AL 3.41). Secondly he was pitching for one of the best if not the best offensive & defensive teams in baseball.

    Thirdly and most importantly he received insane run support during his starts in 1968. He received 5.2 runs per game which was 1/84 among qualifiers in the major leagues that year. American League teams were averaging 3.41 runs per game in '68 and Mclain was receiving about 1 and 4/5 runs above average in run support.

    Mclean finished 4th in ERA and ERA+ so it's not like he led the league. Luis Tiant actually had a much lower ERA than Mclean but Tiant had lousy run support because he pitched for Cleveland and he only had 21 wins.

    Also besides Mclean getting great run support, the Tigers were +13 in Fielding Runs whereas Ned Garver received lousy run support and pitched for the Browns who were −12 in Fielding Runs.

    Mclain still had a 5.9 WAR for 1968 which is still an excellent season, it's just overrated because of the 30 wins and it's not an all time great season when put in proper context.

  58. I'll just take a crack at the softball answer:

    If you're still using wins and losses to evaluate pitchers, you'll never accept WAR.

    And a little more at the hardball answer:

    A player's stats are representative not only of his ability but of the environment he plays in, which is beyond his control. If you take a replacement-level hitter and stick him in Coors Field in 2000, he'll put up pretty good stats, not because he's actually good but because he's in a good run-scoring environment. Hardly anyone would dispute this because "Coors Field = offense" and "early 2000s = offense" are pretty well accepted by everyone, just like, say, Petco Park is known for its lack of offense. But there are other, less subtle fluctuations in offensive and defensive environments -- both in terms of the league's general hitting/pitching ability and the effects of home parks -- through the years that people seem less inclined to "believe."

    The typical AL 1950 team scored 5.04 runs (Garver's ERA was 3.39, 1.65 runs below average)

    The typical NL 1968 team scored 3.41 runs (McClain's ERA was 1.96, 1.72 runs below league average)

    So by that standard, they seem pretty much equal. So why does Garver come out on top? My best bet might be that Garver's home ballpark was a tougher places for pitchers than McClain's. Again, that's an environmental effect a pitcher has no control over. A pitcher in 2000 Coors Field will almost certainly have a higher ERA than if he were in 2010 Petco. Same guy, same talent, different numbers -- but, in theory, he'd have the same WAR, no matter where and when he pitched.

  59. @56
    The contributions to WAR are all there so you drill down and see what's causing the discrepancies. You're probably already aware that WAR ignores Wins and Losses. Garver led the AL in ERA+ that in 1950. It was a 5.04 R/G league compared to a 3.41 R/G in 1946. Sportsmans was more of a hitters park than Tiger Stadium... PPF's were 108 and 101. That's most of it. What swings things in Garver's favor is defense. The Browns led the league in errors while the Tigers led the league in fewest errors. So WAR takes 13 of McLain's runs saved and says that was really his fielders whereas Garver gets a 12 run bonus for having to deal with such terrible fielders. That's a 25 run swing which explains why Garver is ahead. Whether or not WAR quantified the defense accurately is certainly open for debate, but at least looking at the contributions you can isolate WAR's reasoning.

    Foxx and Morgan is a little more easy to explain. 1938-AL was an extreme hitter's league with 5.37 R/G and Fenway had a healthy 105 BPF. 1972-NL was a pitchers league with 3.91 R/G and Riverfront was a pitcher's park in the early 70s (94 BPF). Still Foxx's season was historic and he has a 75-48 edge in batting runs. But Morgan gets 14 runs for baserunning, reaching on errors and avoiding gidps while Foxx loses 1 run from those. Morgan gets gets a 4 run bonus for playing 2B while Foxx is dinged 7 runs for playing the easy position. Foxx played more (rRep) so he gets a 20-18 advantage there. After all that, Foxx has just a 87-84 lead. From there its the large difference Run-to-Win ratios for the two leagues that nudges Morgan ahead.

    So, if you think of WAR as just one number calculated in a black box then its hard to know what to believe, but by drilling and looking at the contributions you can learn more about the players... and you can use your brain and decide which contributions you are more skeptical about.

  60. Oh... I see several of us posted long explanations about the same thing at the same time. :-) Oh well.

  61. Heh. :)

    Also, Richard, in case my first line came off as a little snarky, I do want to take the time to point out that I (and probably the other people here) aren't making fun of you for supporting pitcher wins (or any other stat) but just trying to point out to you the inherent fallacies of relying on it as a method of evaluation. We're all still learning, and we hope you enjoy the ride!

  62. @56 Richard - context, context, context. John Q covered Garver/McLain but how about Morgan/Foxx?

    Foxx's season was 1938 which was still part of the offensive boom of the 1930's. The average AL team that year scored 5.37 runs per game. Morgan's season was 1972 which was still part of the pitching boom of the 1960's, 70's and even into the 80's. The average NL team in 1972 scored 3.91 runs. There was just a lot more offense to go around - different parks, different strike zones, etc.

    On top of that, Foxx played in Fenway which was (and has been for almost its entire existence) a fantastic offensive ballpark (3 year park factor of 105). Morgan played in Riverfront which was a pronounced pitcher's park (3 year park factor of 94).

    Put it this way: the site has a tool that lets you convert any season into the offensive/defensive environment of any other season. Convert Morgan's 1972 to 1938 Boston and he goes 351/484/526 with 21 HR, 111 RBI and an astounding 186 runs (thanks in large part to 150 BB).

    It's one of the fundamental principles of sabermetrics that context matters. I think most fans today have some sense of this thanks to the inflated stats of Coors Field in the 90's but it's true of all eras and ballparks. Bob Gibson was phenomenal in 1968 but a whopping 6 other pitchers that year had ERAs under 2.00. A 2.10 ERA didn't even put you in the top 10 in the majors.

  63. @50 KB:

    I thought the value of the player was the number of wins he is responsible for. It is counter-intuitive to me that a pitcher with 10 wins in 14 games is less valuable than one with 10 wins in 17 games. Although, to be fair, I think Halladay's team won all of his no-decision games.

    Like I said, I only hate WAR because I don't understand it.

  64. @63,

    Again, WAR is a value stat, not an effectiveness stat. One may have accomplished a certain feat in a shorter time, but the other has accomplished the same feat, plus more in the other 3 games. Jurrjens may have been more effective so far, but Halladay has been valuable.

    It sounds like for some baseball fans, WAR is kind of like soccer. They hate it because they don't understand it.

  65. @52: The real reason I hate WAR: It seems like WAR takes a lot of the subjective opinions out of determining who is the "best" player.

    Part of the fun of baseball I had as a kid was arguing who was "best", whatever that meant.

    Bobby Murcer or Bobby Bonds? Thurman Munson or Carlton Fisk? Jim Palmer or Tom Seaver? Willie Mays or Hank Aaron?

    According to WAR, Mantle had a better season than Maris is 1961 (as did several other players). But to us kids, Maris BROKE THE RECORD--he was "better" that year. (Although I wasn't around to see it).

    Whatever you may have thought, you could leave the argument telling yourself that you were right.

    WAR seems to settle the arguments, if we accept it.

  66. @56 Richard Chester

    In your Foxx-Morgan example you're looking their respective OWARs or offensive war not their overall war. Overall Morgan had a 10 WAR in '72 when you take his fielding at second into account. Foxx had a 7.5 WAR when you take his fielding into account.

    Again like anything you have to put thing in context. First off the traditional "triple crown" stats aren't a great way measure a players offensive talents. You're better off to look at their slash stats, ba/obp/slg. They're not perfect but they give you a good idea as to what the player did. You could also use runs created & times on base if you want to look at a counting stat.

    You also have to put their leagues & ballparks in context as well. 1938 in the American league is one of the great offensive environments in mlb history (5.37 runs per game). Plus, Foxx was playing in a very good hitter's park in Fenway Park.

    Morgan was playing in a good hitter's park in Cincinnati but 1972 in the NL teams averaged 3.91 runs per game so it wasn't as great an offensive environment. Foxx was essentially playing in a league in which teams were averaging a full 1 1/2 run above average more than Morgan's league.

    Morgan was a great percentage base stealer (58/78) so that improves his WAR numbers.

    But the biggest difference is that Morgan was putting up those numbers as a very good fielding Second Basemen while Foxx put up his numbers as a poor fielding First Basemen. Morgan was +7 in fielding runs at second base while Foxx was −6 at first base.

    Morgan was putting up a .417 on base percentage when guys like Cookie Rojas with a .315 on base percentage was the Median second basemen in terms of on base percentage in the majors.

    Morgan led the majors with 122 runs scored while the next closest second baseman in the majors (Sandy Alomar) scored 65 runs!

    Morgan led the majors with 115 walks while the next closest second basemen in the majors (Mike Andrews) had 70.

    Morgan had 117 Runs Created which was 3rd in the majors while the next closest second baseman had 75 (Rod Carew).

    Morgan had 58 stolen bases which was second in the majors while the next closet second baseman had 20 (Sandy Alomar).

    Morgan had a .417 on base percentage which was second in the majors while the next closest second baseman was at .369 (Rod Carew).

    Morgan led the majors in Times on Base with 282, the next closet second baseman finished with 215 (Rod Carew). The Median second basemen in terms of "Times on Base" for 1972 was Doug Griffin with 169. That's a difference of 113 times on base between Morgan and the median 2b for 1972.

    Even with all that offensive dominance at his position, he was still 3rd in the majors in fielding runs among 2b.

  67. @65 Joe,

    You don't need WAR to tell you Mantle was by far the better player in 1961 and was robbed of the MVP award.

    Mantle was a Center Fielder and put up a .317/.448/.687, 206 ops+ line while Maris played Right Field and put up a .269/.372/.620, 167 ops+ line.

    Mantle was also 12/13 in Stolen base attempts to go along with 174 runs created. Not to mention 131 runs scored and 126 walks and 128 rbi and 353 total bases.

    Not even close, Mantle's 1961 is one of the greatest offensive seasons in baseball history.

  68. John Autin Says:

    @65, Joseph -- I hear you. But I don't think that even the most fervent WARmonger would claim that it's the be-all/end-all of "who's better?" discussions.

    But for what it's worth, I always thought that Mantle was better than Maris in '61, long before any of these newfangled stats. Mantle had a much higher batting average, on-base average, slugging average; he had 12 steals in 13 tries (Maris never tried a SB); Mantle played the tougher defensive position (especially in their home park).

    Lastly ... while I don't think WAR (or any other stat) is "it," I laud the attempt to measure a player's all-around performance. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy an argument like I do a good meal; but if something can be measured, why not do it, and save the arguments for the intangibles? Imagine if we decided not to keep track of batting average, and instead just argued about who was more likely to get a base hit.

  69. Joseph @63:

    Ok, let's go with an absurd example. Suppose I was signed by a Major League team (told you it was absurd!). They put me on the starter's mound. I start 14 games, going 5 innings each start and giving up 25 runs each time (we'll assume I use a bad knuckleball so I can manage the pitch count). Fortunately, my team is loaded on offense, scoring between 20 and 30 runs each time I go out there. My record after those 14 games is 10-4.

    Now, could you honestly say I'm a better pitcher than any other pitcher ("real" Major Leaguers, all of them) in the league with fewer than 10 wins? By the logic of "pitcher wins = ability," I would be, despite my 45.00 ERA.

  70. Great posts, all. I've been occupied all day and evening and am just catching up.

    Excellent explanations of the subtleties of WAR all backed up by data. I have learned quite a bit!

    Tim, regarding Romero and WAR, note my original post @11.

    John Q, @44, excellent refutation of Lester and Sabathia's seasons compared to Romero's. Thank you.

    JA, did you ever think your thread would have such "legs"?

  71. Richard Chester Says:

    To all those who took the time and effort to respond to my post 56. thank you. I posted that blog to see if I would get responses to better inform me about WAR. I purposely selected comparisons with quite different stats and from different eras. I knew all along that there were many more runs scored in 1938 than in 1972 and that Garver had poor offensive and defensive support in 1950. By doing so I got a better but not yet complete explanation of WAR. If the powers that be want people to accept WAR then somewhere there should be a complete and detailed account of how WAR and its constituent components are calculated.

    I am also aware that W-L records can be misleading. A perfect example is 1960 Jim Coates who had a record of 13-3 but with a WAR of -1.0. He had huge offensive support.

    I have more to say and askbut I am not given to posting long posts so I will stop here.

  72. I've read on this blog in the past that WAR is just one statistic, and that one stat should not be considered an "argument ender," but should be considered in conjunction with whatever other stats contribute to the argument. However, since WAR supposedly is so all-encompassing (I say "supposedly" only because I haven't a clue how it's calculated), a lot of people on this site treat it as a stand-alone, end-all be-all, "final answer" statistic. And I think that is why so many people dislike it.

  73. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    WAR seems to settle the arguments, if we accept it.

    Don't look at it that way. It's *not* supposed to settle arguments. It's *not* intended to end discussion. It's a starting point. The guy who put WAR together believes that.

    If one guy had 8 WAR and someone else had 7, it doesn't absolutely mean the 8-WAR season was better. If you take all the 8-WAR seasons in history, they're almost certainly better than the 7-WAR seasons. But sure, for any particular pair, WAR could be "wrong." The number doesn't represent absolute truth. It's an estimate. It's based on logical theory, but it also includes certain assumptions, which could be wrong, and the inherent limitations of the "raw" stats that we have.

    It's also a system which attempts to contextualize every season by every player in history. So maybe WAR doesn't tell you anything new about Willie Mays. But it offers a pretty good way to compare Joe Blow's 1905 to Bob Batter's 1931 to Frank Fireballer's 1972. If those guys all play different positions, in different parks, in different eras, WAR does the heavy lifting for you in putting them on a level playing field, so to speak. So when you see that Ned Garver has a tremendous WAR in 1950 despite stats which superficially appear mediocre, rather than immediately dismissing it as a "discrepancy," look closer at the context of his performance to see what you may have missed. Does WAR get things "wrong"? Sure. But if you have a better system to apply to the tens of thousands player-seasons in history, we would love to see it (that's not said snidely, though it may come across that way).

  74. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    I have more to say and askbut I am not given to posting long posts so I will stop here.

    Please don't stop. The whole purpose of this place is discussion, and since these same questions come up all the time, there are certainly others out there who are only reading along but have the same doubts.

  75. @73
    Very nicely written, Mustachioed!

  76. @72a lot of people on this site treat it as a stand-alone, end-all be-all, "final answer" statistic. And I think that is why so many people dislike it. Perfect! That is exactly right, in fact many use it as an argument to keep players out of the HoF which I find troubling.

  77. John Autin Says:

    @70, Neil (" did you ever think your thread would have such 'legs'?")

    Neither more nor less so, I suspect, than J.D. Drew thought he was starting a 6-run rally when he led off the 7th inning with a single tonight. "Hope is the thing with feathers...."

  78. @71

    Richard, I looked up an old thread from last September where Sean Forman posted a Murray Chase article denouncing WAR. Here is the link to the thread. It makes some interesting reading, I think.

    In the thread, I rather naively said "....I have felt, from time to time, that questioning WAR is lke asking to see the Wizard or the Emporer's new clothes." Here is the link to my post

    The point being that each of us has to come to terms with WAR, has to develop our own understanding of it, mixed with a little dollop of faith because we don't have our own formula for calculating it.

  79. John Autin Says:

    Timmy, did you enjoy the ChiSox game today? Something for each of us:
    -- For me, the quirkiness of seeing "A.Ramirez" homer for "Chicago" in consecutive half-innings, both to LF, both about 385 feet.
    -- For you, a rare extra-base hit (and a game-winner at that) for a certain slender slapper with a culture-clash moniker?

    Damned if those White Sox haven't just about got back to .500, too!

  80. @77
    JA, :-) I was hoping Houston had that game in hand.

    JA, word-power brownie points for "little dollop of faith".?

  81. @79 Juan is starting to heat up, no doubt about it.

  82. @79
    Nice distraction tactics. It was a timely hit for the White Sox and a nice at bat for the Spanish French-named player.

  83. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    Whoa, Barkfart appearance in that old thread you linked, Neil. I had forgotten about him.

  84. John Autin Says:

    Whatever happened to Barkie?!?

  85. Mustachioed, how long have you been posting in BBRef? Are you an original?

  86. Thomas Court Says:

    I know I am a little late to this thread, but I have enjoyed reading everyone's questions and responses.

    Baseball loves to guard its heroes of the past. Have no fear old school adherents: No amount of new stats, computers and snively baseball nerds will ever be able to take away from people being impressed by a players high batting average or pitching wins.

    WAR will simply help make sense of a player's accomplishments over the different eras - of which I have lived through several. I am 38. I was too young to remember George Fosters 52 home runs in 1977. My formative baseball fan years were the entire 1980s - when I was between the ages of 7 and 16. I wondered if I would ever see a player hit 50 home runs. That era got eradicated in a hurry. Now I have witnessed one player hit 60+ in THREE different seasons - and not lead the league in ANY of them. Holy schnikies. This is what baseball has gone through in my lifetime. I don't mind a stat that helps to normalize things a bit.

    As long as Babe Ruth is ranked #1 we have a good starting point.
    Look at the career leaders in WAR:

    There is the Babe. Still looming as large over baseball as he did since he was breaking World Series records - as a pitcher.

    It has Bonds ranked #2. With his 171.8 ranking just a fraction behind Ruth's 172 (as a hitter). There is Mickey Mantle... ranked behind Ted Williams, but just in front of Lou Gehrig. Does anyone who is against WAR as an evaluation tool see a player in the top 50 that he believes doesn't belong? I do not see arguments as to "who was better" going anywhere simply because of this new stat.

  87. Nash Bruce Says:

    wow, I'm late to this discussion :-p
    and, I was really like, WOW, when I saw Denard Span, tied for second, amongst AL outfielders???? damn good player, in fact, one of my fave players, but........
    then I looked it up, and saw that he is 1st in any number of fielding stats, including Defensive WAR....
    I ,still, feel that sabermetric fielding stats are very murky.....but, kick ass!!
    Stoked to have Denard, on the Twins, despite how things have played out this year, lol....

  88. Nash Bruce Says:

    (and, my use of commas is horrendous!
    It's late, just got off of work, don't know if that buys me any grace....smiles)

  89. Nash Bruce Says:

    @86: Very well said.
    I am in that boat too (will be 36 in Sept.)!

  90. I think a vital piece of information somebody should add to this discussion is that no WAR statistic is quite alike. To be fair, most stat heads would actually say BBR WAR is one of the weakest calculations for the stat (and I love BBR!). More actually rely on the stat calculated by FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus, and neither necessarily line up with BBR's WAR. Thus, WAR is something of a relative stat. Don't like the way it rates players? Check another stat site. It probably ranks players differently.

  91. John Autin Says:

    @88, Nash Bruce -- Don't worry about the commas. I never thought you were "wrong"; just thought you enjoyed 17th-century-style punctuation.

  92. John Autin Says:

    @86, Thomas -- Well said.

    If anyone ever devises a metric for rating the rating metrics, it would have to be called BABE, right?

  93. Joe Garrison Says:


    No, that is a reason to report a condition of "general soreness" to your manager. Pinch hitting that weekend, ONLY!

  94. I'd rather just add up runs scored and runs batted in by position (meaning you have to be in the game at that position when you get the rbi or run) and call that the all-star team.

  95. @93
    Joe, nice one! :-)

  96. Oh, and I'll take the wins leader over the ERA leader every time.

  97. @93
    Joe, maybe a few Blue Jays batters can suddenly find lower back pain or a stiff neck since they have to face two thirds of that Philadelphia pitching triumvirate today and tomorrow!

    To affirm what you are saying, Thomas, I agree that accumulated career WAR cannot get it wrong about the relative greatness of players. However, trying to squeeze too much out of small differences in WAR gets iffy. For example, trying to compare Matt Kemp (5.3, this year) to Jose Bautista (5.5) and argue that one is better doesn't work.

  98. @94 @96
    Tim, with respect, I hope you're not serious.

  99. Dean Travers Says:

    Interesting...fangraphs WAR has Sabathia at 3.9, Beckett at 2.3--I guess it's a subjective formula that should be open to interpretation

  100. @94 I will say this, Tim... for all the attention fans lavish over RBI totals, I've wondered why run totals don't garner the same attention.

    RBI = run scored because you drove a teammate in.
    Run = run scored because a teammate drove you in.

    Home runs and freaky things, like a WP with a guy on third, excepted.

    Really, they're basically the same stat.

  101. John Autin Says:

    @99, Dean -- For one thing, if you're looking at the up-to-date WAR numbers, remember that I posted this before Sabathia's most recent start (7.2 IP, no runs, 13 Ks).

    Secondly, as I understand it, the main difference between the WAR formulas used by B-R and by FanGraphs is the expected performance of a replacement player. Since Sabathia has a 32% edge in innings, while Beckett has a big edge in ERA, a small difference in the replacement-player value would be magnified in their respective WAR.

  102. John Autin Says:

    But Dean @99 also makes a good point: I have assumed that most people who know about WAR know that there are "competing" formulas. Perhaps I should state explicitly when I am using B-R's WAR formula. Any suggestions for an appropriate shorthand term? "WAR-BR"?

  103. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    Some people call them fWAR (for Fangraphs) and, I think, rWAR, for Rally, one of the noms de plume of Sean Smith. I think bWAR (for baseball-ref) would be better understood. I think I've probably called it B-R WAR when trying to make a distinction.

    And actually, I think the bigger difference in re pitchers' WAR is how they try to remove the effect of fielding from pitcher performance. B-R looks at total runs allowed, and makes an adjustment based on its assessment of team defense. FG just looks at the pitcher's stats which are unaffected by fielding (K, BB, HR). I prefer B-R's version, though both have problems. It looks like CC's DIPS numbers are a little better than Beckett's, plus he has the big IP advantage.

  104. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    Neil/85, yeah, I think I've been hanging out here since the blog started up.

  105. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    I don't think there's generally a need to identify which WAR you are using, since this is B-R. If it's not specified, people should assume it's the one here. But there's certainly no reason why we can't also refer to FG numbers. It can be interesting sometimes to try hashing out why they might have notable differences for certain players.

  106. [...] 2011 WAR-Stars (Baseball-Reference). Chase Headley and Mike Adams have been pretty good this year, but you knew that. [...]