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Bobby Abreu has never heard of Wins Above Replacement

Posted by Andy on August 20, 2010

The title of this post is not an attempt at humor; it's a fact. Marcos Grunfled, friend of the blog and journalist for met with Abreu before yesterday's Angels-Red Sox game and (on my behalf) asked Abreu about WAR. Read on...

Marcos, visiting from Venezuela, had full press access to yesterday's game and has a particular interest in the Venezuelan players. Bobby Abreu is one of the great Venezuelan stars.

We've been discussing stats in other recent threads, but let me sum up my opinion on WAR here. All stats need context. Take a 30-HR season. There was a time (say the 1920s) when 30 HR was absolute super-star performance. There was also a time (say 1998-2001) when 30 HR was good but certainly nothing special. Now factor in differing sizes of ballparks, strength of player's team on offense, strength of opposing pitching, overall run-scoring environment, and a number of other factors, and it gets pretty difficult (even for statheads) to look at basic numbers and get a great feeling for what they really mean. And just like observing a player with your eyes is highly subject to selection bias--you tend to remember the really good and really bad things without keeping an accurate overall tally of performance--it's easy to look at a player's stats and have one's opinion biased by a selected number of good or bad numbers.

This is why I like WAR. Of all the stats we have available, it does the best job of putting each player's performance into perspective and laying it onto the same scale. It also allows us to (by looking at a peak or career WAR value) more accurately judge a player's overall value without getting biased by certain specific numbers or events.

WAR is not perfect, not by a long shot, and it cannot be used as a single all-defining point. However, it's a much better stat than virtually anything else we have available, especially for the purposes of doing quick thumbnail sketches of a player's value.

All of that being said, Bobby Abreu has had an exceptional career when measured by WAR. He's currently 121st all-time among position players. That puts him just ahead of Will Clark, Willie Stargell, Darrell Evans, Billy Williams, Andre Dawson, and Hank Greenberg. If he can tack on 5 more wins before the end of his career (which is quite possible but not a slam dunk) his closest matches would be Jackie Robinson, Mark McGwire, Joe Jackson, Joe Cronin, Ryne Sandberg, and Yogi Berra.

Such a mark would suggest that Abreu is quite deserving of serious Hall of Fame consideration.

I personally would put him in the Hall of Fame. The single biggest thing working against him is having played for the Phillies for years when the team was not particularly good and never made the playoffs.

What do you folks think...should I do a poll?

87 Responses to “Bobby Abreu has never heard of Wins Above Replacement”

  1. Zachary Says:

    I think a poll would be interesting, although I don't expect him to garner much support. It should generate a compelling discussion.

  2. largebill Says:

    So this is a poll asking whether you should do a poll? The answer is of course YES. We love polls. We particularly love polls about the Hall of Fame. Keep 'em coming.

  3. Jeff C. Says:

    I'm all for the use of complex statistics in order to better evaluate players in baseball. Right up until the point when they suggest that Bobby Abreu is one of the all-time greats and is a potential Hall of Fame player. That's when I stop caring about WAR. Because, while he's had a few very good statistical seasons, when have you ever watched him play and said to yourself, "That right there is one of the greatest players who has ever lived?" I was in the stands for many of his games in a Phillies uniform. Watched the majority of the rest on television. I was virtually indifferent when he was traded to the Yankees for a bunch of mediocre prospects, and I sure as hell don't expect to be telling my grandchildren about his exploits. You know why? Because there were no exploits. Shouldn't that be the Hall of Fame test? That someone is not only extremely good on the field, but that their accomplishments resonate for generations? I know that goes against the statistical revolution, but so be it. Bobby Abreu is not a Hall of Famer. Not even close.

  4. Career WAR for HOF consideration? - OOTP Developments Forums Says:

    [...] WAR for HOF consideration? Ran across this blog post on Baseball Reference: Bobby Abreu has never heard of Wins Above Replacement Baseball-Reference Blog Blog Archive It brings up the Bobby Abreu = HOF? question, which at first glance makes me but then you look at [...]

  5. Evan Says:

    I don't find the polls terribly interesting, but they tend to foster good discussions which I do find interesting as long as they don't degrade into "WAR... what is it good for?" arguments.

    I think the problems many have with accepting WAR are:

    1) It is a bit of a black box in that many do not understand how the number is computed
    2) It is dependent upon fielding stats which are also a black box (for some) and are known to have significant error bars
    3) the name (and some of its proponents) present the stat as some grand unifying stat that should trump all other statistics rather than as a useful tool for evaluating players
    4) unfamiliarity with the meaning of various values make it difficult to evaluate career WAR numbers as it relates to evaluating compilers versus high peak guys

    Hopefully I haven't provided the fodder for a WAR good, WAR bad debate. Although I think if we are going to have that debate it would deserve its own thread. Perhaps started by a explanation of how WAR is calculated and how these factors are believed to contribute to the wins above replacement that the stat attempts to evaluate. If this post already exists, perhaps it would be a good time to republish as the readership of this blog has seemingly experienced significant growth.

  6. Andy Says:

    Evan, that's a good and succinct argument against WAR, thanks. I don't disagree. That being said, it's still the best summary way we have of looking at things. I don't suggest for a second that HOF voters should use WAR as anything more than a basic guide--for example to separate guys in the range of 10-20 career WAR from guys in the range 40-100.

    JeffC, your argument has its merits too. It's true that statistics alone do not a Hall-of-Famer make. I think it's reasonable to argue against Abreu's candidacy because he hasn't done a lot in the way of league-leading offense, was never a top-10 MVP player, never won a World Series, and had no other major defining moments or seasons. I'll stand shoulder-to-should with you on that. All I'm saying is that he's deserving from a purely numbers statistic. Keep in mind, too, that your feelings about Abreu would almost certainly have been quite different if the Phillies won the division a few times during his tenure there. Then he would have been a consistent cog on a playoff team.

  7. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    I would agree with Abreau going into the HOF; and with regard to his Phillie years, there is hope. The Cubs really sucked canal water in the early 'Sixties, never made the post-season, participated in a famous fold -- their end-of-season slump was vital to the Mets' "Miracle" of 1969 -- and still managed to be representation in the HoF by not one or two, but three players -- Banks, Williams and Jenkins.

  8. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    P.S. Evan, having just read the Vin Scully blog a day or two ago, it was good to see your reference to the Edwin Starr song. Makes me feel like maybe I am not quite so old. Thanks.

  9. Jeff C. Says:

    Once it's all said and done, those horrible early-to-mid 2000s Phillies teams could end up putting a few players in the Hall of Fame... but that's on the basis of the young players on those teams maturing and igniting the divisional dominance that followed shortly thereafter. It should be noted that that dominance took place immediately after the Phillies determined that they no longer had any need for a supposed Hall of Fame right fielder who was still in the prime of his career (back in the good old days when baseball players mysteriously remained productive until 38 or 39) and dumped him for nothing but a few questionable prospects and salary relief.

  10. Mike D Says:

    I think his 162 game average is telling since it appears he has never had a major injury. .297, 40 2B, 20 HR, 98 RBI, 105 R, 29 SB, 103 BB, 126 SO. He has been amazingly consistant for 12 seasons. You could virtually put those numbers down for each season and not be too far off. That tells me he has been averaging about 5 WAR a year, good enough to play everyday but never having an 'All-Star' year. He will be a borderline case as his triple crown stats are minimal, especially after having played full time for 13 seasons.

  11. Hartvig Says:

    Frank @ 7- the really amazing thing is you may be able to add Ron Santo to that list someday. He's certainly deserving.

    Abreu is certainly an interesting case. He may be the most statistically consistent player I've ever seen (I was surprised that Tim Salmon doesn't even show up on his similarity ranking) but I think he comes up short on qualifying for the HOF & I'm a pretty big hall guy. I would have love to have had him playing for my Tigers in his prime, however.

  12. Larry R. Says:

    I'm one step of Bobby...I've heard of WAR but have no idea how it's calculated. Nor do I care, frankly. I guess I'm old school...give me batting averages and ERAs and I'm happy.

    Remember who the Phils traded for Bobby after Tampa took him from the Astros in the expansion draft? Kevin Stocker. Not a bad trade.

  13. tim Says:

    Wins Above Replacement doesn't seem like a great stat to me, although I really don't know how to compute it. But I know that Justin Morneau was leading the league in wins above replacement when he got hurt, and the Twins have a better winning percentage with his replacement. How good a state could it be?

  14. Ben Says:

    Just a quick question/request: does anyone know if there is a pre-populated database of cumulative team WAR totals? I don't think anyone is going to rival the 1888 Spiders, but curious to see which teams WAR indicates as being the top-down worst (and best, for all you sunny day people). Thanks.

  15. Detroit Michael Says:

    Jeff C. wrote: "when have you ever watched him play and said to yourself, "That right there is one of the greatest players who has ever lived?" Shouldn't that be the Hall of Fame test?"

    You may think that should be the test for your personal version of the Hall of Fame, but it is not the de facto test for the real museum. There are 202 players in the Hall inducted for their MLB playing careers, so the actual test is more like "is the player in question among the top 200 or so MLB players in history?" If they were going to limit it to the greatest players who ever lived, we'd have only 20 or so guys in the Hall of Fame.

  16. Joe B Says:

    This is one of the reasons why I hate stats like WAR - Abreau fine player - but at no point in history, no shape or form does this guy belong in the HOF. Not ever. And if WAR says he does, then WAR needs to be stopped.

  17. Mark Says:

    I think a poll on Abreu would be a great idea. I think if he retired today he would certainly not be a slam-dunk candidate, but if he's good for a few more seasons he could be a HOFer. It's interesting to me that Abreu already has a HOF Standards score of 53! (Average HOFer is 50.) From looking at many other player pages, it seems like that's a difficult metric to get above 50 on.

  18. Dan Says:

    Personally, I don't think "amazingly" or "statistically" consistent is any basis for HoF induction. Abreu is simply a very good player who never got hurt. That's not awesome.

  19. David Says:

    That is a really good list of the criticisms of WAR. I agree with all of those points, most particularly the fielding one. However, especially the offensive side of WAR uses linear weights, which is fairly well proven. The things is, though, as has been said, WAR needs to be looked at alongside many other stats, sabermetric and otherwise. I remember in the New Bill James Historical Abstract, James basically uses Win Shares to rank players-- however, there is a HUGE subjective component that allows him to move players around, such that war time and Negro league players get their due, but also such that he could attempt to balance the peak vs. longevity argument, and a number of other things. For example, using career WAR alone, I believe Sandy Koufax would not be a Hall of Famer, but I don't think anyone would argue that. Anyway, this has gotten really long, but overall WAR=good.

    If you don't know how WAR is calculated, please, please, PLEASE read an explanation of it. It will really help you!

  20. Steve Says:

    I think the first HOF test should simply be to ask, "Does X player deserve to make it into the Hall?" and without looking at any stat sheet give a "yes", a "no", or a "maybe". It should be obvious to most people who definitely deserves it and who definitely doesn't. If you answer "maybe" then delve into the stats to see what compelling arguments the numbers may provide. Here are a few examples for me:

    Pedro Martinez - yes.
    Derek Jeter - yes.
    Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux - yes, yes, yes.
    Griffey - yes.
    Mariano Rivera - yes.
    Curt Schilling - maybe.

    When I think Bobby Abreu, I instantly think "no". He's been a very good player for an extended period of time, so I could buy the argument for a "maybe". Then I look at the stat page and see only two ASG appearances and no top-10 MVP finishes, so he was rarely seen as one of the best 25 guys in his league at the All-Star break (voted by fans, peers, and coaches, but ok maybe he's not a strong first-half player) and also never seen as a top-10 player in his league for any full season. If anything, Abreu's WAR means you can prove anything with the right combination of numbers. The career .400 OBP is nice though. Abreu can be a hitting instructor.

  21. masternachos Says:

    Personally, I think a poll should only be done on retired players (that way there's no 'If...'. His stats are done.), but I DO like the idea of an Abreu poll...

  22. Andy Says:

    #20 Steve, that's ridiculous. It's so subjective. It favors players on a lot of championship teams and with All-Star appearances, etc. True, more often than not, those things are good indicators of a player's career value. But then with cases like Blyleven and Abreu, because they didn't play on many good teams, they don't pass your "yes test" and then are damned to never get fair consideration. It's like your deciding two questions (does the guy make it on reputation, and does the guy make it on stats) by just getting a negative answer to the first question.

  23. David in Toledo Says:

    I instantly liked Bill James win shares. Their results corresponded with my sense of baseball reality and their size (300 for a career presumes a Hall of Fame catcher, 25 for a pitcher is a great season) makes them easy to work with.

    I have heard its proponents praise WAR. But there are two WARs: our war and fangraphs'. Whereas win shares can only accumulate, your career accomplishment can apparently shrink by the WAR metric if your decline phase (and Abreu is in his, for what that's worth) falls below "replacement." What's the best, clearest explanation as to why I should take the trouble to become a WAR convert?

  24. Matt Y Says:

    I absolutely agree that WAR is the single best metric to evaluate a player, but I'd really like to see some weighted formula done along the lines of 40-45% sabermetrics, 25-30% raw numbers, 20% playoffs and signature moments (i.e. championships, no-hitters, all-stars, perfect games, PED's and how you handled it, etc) and 10% relationships you had with players and media as a more eclectic way of evaluating a players worthiness for the Hall. For every Catfish Hunter a writer would elect, if we went on just sabermetrics there'd be plenty of Abreau's or Kevin Brown's or willie Randolph's in the Hall (although I've come around on Brown a bit). If you don't want to overweigh playoffs than at least do the sensible thing and just add the playoff IP on to a pitchers WAR.

    Really, other than the last 10% listed above (i.e. relationships), James's HOF Monitor already does this to a good degree (not quite as well as I'd like, but pretty damn good). While despite James devising this HOF Monitor for one's Hall likeliness and NOT how deserving, it actually might be one of the best metrics out there that takes into consideration playoffs, traditional stats, and sabermetrics!! It actually does quite the nice job. The whole idea that it doesn't measure how worthy you are is very subjective and hogwash. Yes, it's not a metric that tells you how deserving one is by sabermethods, but it does tell you who's deserving based on a more eclectic approach. 130 for picthers is automatic, 145-150 for position players is pretty automatic, with the low end for borderline pitchers being b/w 80-85 and position players around 95. It works pretty good.

  25. Reds Seasonal WAR Leaders | Redleg Nation Says:

    [...] That’s why I continue to list Triple Crown stats in my comments, too. Anyway, Bobby Abreu doesn’t know what WAR is either and he seems to have had a pretty decent major league career. In fact, [...]

  26. Andy Says:

    #24 Matt Y, excellent synopsis, thanks. Abreu's HOF Monitor is 93 now, no doubt shy of 100 only because his teams made the post-season so little. Had he made it more, his HOF Monitor would be higher and the fan perception would be way better too, and he'd do better in a HOF poll. (That being said, his teams not making the playoffs might be a legitimate argument for keeping him out of the HOF--I just don't like some of the statements above that suggest that Abreu's not good enough on his stats alone. For personal stats, he qualifies easily.)

  27. Frank Says:

    Why would Bobby Abreau or any big league player have heard of WAR? Certainly some have, but I don't imagine a lot of players are involved in fantasy baseball either or that they would discuss Ty Cobb's batting average being changed.

    They actually play baseball and it doesn't seem likely to me that they would be involved or interested in the minutiae of calculating player "values".

    Bobby Abreau is a quite good ball player. IMO not HoF. I had made that personal judgment before I read his WAR ranking above. If learning his WAR ranking would change anyone's opinion of Abreau's baseball abilities ... well, I just don't know.

  28. Andy Says:

    I didn't think he'd heard of it. I just thought it was an interesting thing to learn.

  29. Matt Y Says:

    Thanks Andy!


    When you say "For personal stats, he qualifies easily", are you saying Abreu's stats qualify him easily for being IN the Hall as of now or IN the borderline Hall discussion as of now? Based on his stats right NOW, I Think Abreu is just starting to nudge into the borderline Hall discussion, but his stats IMO do not easily qualify him for being actually IN the Hall now. Just trying to clarify. I agree he should be in the discussion, but his stats in no way qualify him for the hall yet. You agree?

  30. Andy Says:

    I mean his stats are good enough to put him up for consideration. (Yes, I agree.)

  31. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    Evan @3: I'm going to look at your criticisms one at a time.

    "1) It is a bit of a black box in that many do not understand how the number is computed"

    This is a legit issue, but IMO, the solution is for people to read up and ask questions. B-R does a great job of breaking out different numbers, so you can tell where it thinks the value is coming from, and there are a number of pages which give details about what the numbers mean. It takes a bit of digging, but no more than what people do to find a lot of stat stuff, and it's well worth the couple hours it takes to read through and understand at least the text, and the math if you can deal with it (most only requires high school algebra to at least get a sense of what's happening).

    "2) It is dependent upon fielding stats which are also a black box (for some) and are known to have significant error bars"

    This is a real problem. One of the beautiful things about the B-R and fangraph's representation of WAR is that they break out the areas, so if I want, I can fairly easily look at whether their fielding numbers pass the smell test, and also calculate how much WAR somebody would have had with different fielding numbers.

    This is exactly why I take a criticism of WAR seriously, when it comes with an argument for why a particular component is wrong and what kind of range it should have fallen within instead. Now we can argue whether a guy is really a great vs. good, or good vs. average, or average vs. poor, etc. fielder, and make some corrections and see what that does to the WAR total.

    What's hard to take seriously is arguments that WAR isn't perfect, so therefore, we should go back and restart everything from scratch from traditional raw stats, with a bunch of pulled out of our arse corrective factors. The people who developed WAR put a great deal of thought into how to correct for various park, league and positional factors and did a great job at most of it. Just throwing all that away to reinvent the wheel, when the good folks at B-R and Fangraphs have given us all the breakouts we need to accept the stuff that's very well grounded, and throw out only the parts that are suspicious, is ludicrous.

    "3) the name (and some of its proponents) present the stat as some grand unifying stat that should trump all other statistics rather than as a useful tool for evaluating players."

    WAR is an attempt to unify a whole bunch of stats into a single number that shows total career value, which is one of the major components of a hall of fame case.

    Nobody thinks it should trump all statistics. What I do think it should trump is the individual stats that make it up, except to the extent that someone has a good statistical argument about a weakness in how it treats some component. And it should also trump ridiculous stats that are more than 50% about factors completely outside the player's control, like W-L for pitchers.

    "4) unfamiliarity with the meaning of various values make it difficult to evaluate career WAR numbers as it relates to evaluating compilers versus high peak guys"

    Same as with your 1): the answer is more familiarity. Look at a bunch of players and what their WAR is, and what their good, mediocre, and bad seasons looked like to get a sense of this.

    When I started reading this site, I didn't have any good idea what the WAR numbers really meant, but after a lot of looking around, I have a prettty good sense. And yes, I believe they do a very good job of capturing 95% of the value of 95% of players.

    When a player I never though was a legit hall candidate has 50+ WAR, I think they are worth a second look. When a player I never thought was a legit hall candidate has 60+ WAR, I feel like a need a reason to consider them something other than at least borderline. When they have 70+ WAR, I feel like I need to find some crucial thing WAR is missing or getting wrong to leave them out. And it works the other way when it's somebody well under 50 WAR that I originally thought should go in -- I need to find a problem with the formula and its capture of their play to justify putting them in.

  32. Rich Says:

    What on Earth does the Phillies not making the playoffs have to do with anything?

  33. Andy Says:

    Abreu's reputation, due to languishing on a mostly bad Phillies team for year. It has nothing to do with his stats.

  34. Matt Y Says:

    To me it's not about any one number deciding who should be or who should not be in the Hall. I want to look at every number and see if there are any gaping holes too hard to overcome. I want a well-balanced resume. I want a WAR at 50-55+(except catchers), WPA at 20-25+, ERA+ at 105-110+ OPS+ at 105-110+ to be at least in the borderline category -- I also want a HOFMonitor or HOFstandard in the 100+ or 40-45+ range -- yet I want some raw numbers as well such as does a hitter have 2500+ hits or 300-400 HRs, 500SB (of course depends on type of hitter and position played to a degree), is his OBP 350-360 or better, or ERA 3-something, is his Wins 200-250+ or his average 270+. Finally, how did he fair in the playoffs if he was there, how did his peers think of him (all-stars etc), did he pitch some no-hitters or win some Cy's, MVP's or championships --lastly, did he play the game hard, did he respect the fans and media, did he get a long with teammates etc etc. Did he stay clean, if not, how did he handle the situation.

    The WAR itself is too distilled and too sterile of a number for me to go on alone. All context in diminished too far. This is just a more reasonable approach and it makes everyone welcome at the table --and everyone at the table has some merit to their angle.

  35. Rioraton Says:

    A little late to the discussion. My inital reaction was "hell no, he doesn't deserve it." But,because I hadn't really taken the time to look at his career numbers, and, based soely on that, I agree he COULD be in consideration. Huh. I guess I have tw points. The first is that it is too early to have the debate on a guy like Abreu. If this is his last good year, he doesn't get in (IMO). If he has 3-4 more years where he is a contributing player, he has a chance. So, if you aks me about a poll, my answer is "to early."

    My second point is (to take a different tact from the WAR, what is it good for discussion) is the HOF Monitor and HOF Standards. Maybe there has been a discussion about this prevously, and I missed it. if so, I apologize. It seems to me that both of these measurments are a little out of sync, because James developed them prior to the explosion of offensive numbers in the PED era as well asthe last couple of rounds of expansion. The icreased offense made, as Andy stated in the intro, "when 30 HR was good but certainly nothing special." That can be said for a lot of the benchmarks for players to gather points in both these systems (.300 BA, 100 R and RBI, doubles, hits, etc.). It seems it is possible that a lot of recent players may have inflated career numbers in these areas. Of course, they were developed not as who deserved to go into thr HOF, but who WOULD, based onwho had been elected in the past. I suspect that the voters are going to take the 1990's and early 00's into account when they vote, and these measurments may change for people from that era.

    For ha reason, I tend to trust the Gray Ink, Black Ink numbers a little more when discussing players form this era. Abreu is a good case in point. His HOF Monitor and Standards put him there (or close). The other two (Gray/Black) show him far short.

  36. Rioraton Says:

    Sorry about the typos. Mouse issues.

  37. DavidRF Says:

    Ironically, Abreu hasn't been that good since he left the Phillies. He was one of MLB's most underrated players in Philly and ironically again, his RBI numbers have overrated him since he left.

    I don't see the big deal with Abreu not knowing about WAR. Uber-stats come and go. Before WAR, there was WS, WARP, VORP and TPR. You're not necessarily a Luddite if you're not completely up to date on the bleeding edge of these uberstats. As long as you're aware of the key components, OBP, SLG, SB%, etc.

  38. Ed Says:

    I think what hurts Abreu the most is that he was good at a lot of different things but not great at any of them. To the extent that he has a strength it's the ability to get on base which is (arguably) the most important skill. But it's also a skill that holds down many of the counting stats that people value. And his counting stats were further hurt by the fact that he spent 2 1/2 years at AAA even though he tore it up his first year there.

    One final thought....what if Abreu had been a leadoff hitter? Wouldn't he be one of the 5-10 best of all time and have a better HOF argument?

  39. Mike S Says:

    "Wins Above Replacement doesn't seem like a great stat to me, although I really don't know how to compute it. But I know that Justin Morneau was leading the league in wins above replacement when he got hurt, and the Twins have a better winning percentage with his replacement. How good a state could it be?"

    Because the Twins are a baseball team that has received excellent play from many other players since Morneau's injury while WAR is a baseball statistic that measures how well an individual player performs. Morneau was devastating at the plate before getting hurt, but many of his other teammates weren't hitting, pitching, etc. Those failures while Morneau was healthy, and subsequent successes after his concussion, have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Morneau was extremely valuable when healthy. Had the rest of the roster played at this level from April to June, the AL Central race would've been over at the all-star break.

  40. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    See I think raw counting stats are pretty much worthless.

    Guy A has 500 SB

    Guy B has 400 SB

    Who has the better steal resume?

    Oh, wait, Guy B was caught stealing 80 times, while guy A was caught stealing 250 times.

    Guy A basically added almost no value on the basepaths, while Guy B added a *lot*. Guy A's resume shouldn't be helped by those 500 steals *at all* in my opinion, while Guy B's 400 steals help his resume a fair bit.

    This is a fewer bases but more extreme version of Tim Raines (B) vs. Lou Brock (A).

    the WAR breakdown has a "runs created on the basepaths, that takes into account both stealing and getting caught. That's the number I look at. The total number of SB tells me nothing that Rbase doesn't, and it sometimes implies things that are completely untrue (like that Guy A was valuable on the base paths).

    If you have a large positive Rbase, you were valuable on the basepaths. We can quibble about the exact formula and weights, and whether some guy that B-R says has 70 runs might have been slightly better on the basepaths than some other guy with 74, but a big difference in Rbase means one guy was clearly better, while a big difference in career SB means ... ? really hard to know without looking at some other numbers.

    Similarly, a really big difference in Rbat means one guy was a lot better with the bat. Big differences in raw numbers? Until you try to do your own park corrections, you don't know, and when you try to do your own park corrections, let's just hope you don't mess up and over or undercorrect.

    I know that Rbat is pretty well founded, and doesn't make any big mistakes. I try to do my own little spreadsheet algorithm, it's very easy to make a big mistake.

    I'm willing to weight other WAR algorithms that are as complete and well founded as B-Rs in my decision (and that measure the same thing -- win shares doesn't count, I fail to understand why playing at below replacement level should be considered a positive contribution to your career). Raw stats, no.

    WAR is an interpretation of the raw stats, and every version that's gained some currency is much better than my gut, or yours, or IMO, anybody else's gut, at interpreting them, so I throw out any raw stats that are incorporated into every WAR algorithm, because that's what I should be doing.

  41. Mike Says:

    "One final thought....what if Abreu had been a leadoff hitter? Wouldn't he be one of the 5-10 best of all time and have a better HOF argument?"

    This is interesting and got me thinking that just like WAR gives different positional adjustments on defense maybe it should also give different adjustments for batting order position. If you are a 3 hitter your RAA should be higher than average and you could figure out a way to reward leadoff OBP guys.

  42. Basmati Says:

    Judging by this thread some people are clearly pro-WAR and some are anti. Maybe it's not possible to change those opinions (in the short term). I agree with those who feel if nothing else WAR is the best all round measure we have of a players value.

    As for Abreu, some people are marking him down for lack of MVP/All Star recognition. But if you use WAR as a guide, he was clearly underrated, at least in his time with the Phillies. He racked up 46.6 WAR in 9 years there, average about 5.2 per year. As a rough guide, that is All Star level performance. He had 5+ war 5 times yet only got 2 All Star appearances (in two years where he had <5 WAR). His best year in 2003 he had 7.1 WAR, 6th best in the NL. Yet he finished 27th in MVP voting, level with Miguel Cabrera, who only 314 at bats and wasn't exactly amazing. To be fair Jim Edmonds got the same treatment that year.

    As some have mentioned, Abreu's downfall maybe that he is a very well rounded player, but he doesn't stand out in any one area. If you look at that 2003 MVP voting, he's overshadowed by a host of players with 30 or 40 HRs. The other factor is whether people will credit his consistent accumulation and some of the landmarks he has reached (he also has great rate stats), or mark him down for lack of black ink/gray ink.

  43. ASG Says:

    I don't believe Abreu makes the cut but enough with the silly All-Star game argument. It is not a valid argument. Simply adding up the number of All-Star games a player is selected to reflects nothing about the performance of a player. This should be common sense among any baseball fan. Paul Lo Duca, Michael Young and Corey Hart have made 12 All-Star teams between them. Jeff Bagwell, Ryan Howard and Adam Dunn have made 8.

    Check out these two pitchers (same exact timeframe, same league):

    A: 35 GS, 15 CG, 3 SHO, 18-12, 266.1 IP, 228 H, 86 ER, 82 BB, 175 SO, 21 HR, 2.90 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 7.7 H/9, 2.8 BB/9, 5.9 K/9, 2.1 K/BB, 0.7 HR/9

    B: 35 GS, 15 CG, 4 SHO, 16-12, 265.2 IP, 235 H, 87 ER, 68 BB, 203 SO, 22 HR, 2.94 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 7.9 H/9, 2.3 BB/9, 6.9 K/9, 3.0 K/BB, 0.7 HR/9

    Which pitcher would you rather have? Either way, it's pretty close, right?

    A is what the average All-Star SP did in ten different seasons. B is the average season an individual SP had in those same ten seasons (same league). He made the All-Star team zero times in those ten seasons despite pitching exactly the same as the average All-Star SP.

  44. Murphy Says:

    "I'd really like to see some weighted formula done along the lines of 40-45% sabermetrics, 25-30% raw numbers, 20% playoffs and signature moments (i.e. championships, no-hitters, all-stars, perfect games, PED's and how you handled it, etc) and 10% relationships you had with players and media as a more eclectic way of evaluating a players worthiness for the Hall."

    No offense, but what does that even mean?

    There is no difference between "sabermetrics" and "raw numbers." Numbers are numbers. Some people don't pay as much attention to the important ones or they assign too much value in their own minds to certain numbers that don't have as much actual value. There is no way to weigh "sabermetrics" on a 45% scale.

    The playoff and "signature moments" thing is absurd. It's not basketball where the same superstar can take the ball on every possession and determine the fate of his team. It's not even football where the QB, who can do nothing about his defense or running back or offensive line, at least touches the ball on every offensive play. It's baseball, where you hit four times a game and watch eight other guys step in the box before it's your turn again. Where players like Luis Sojo and David Eckstein and Francisco Cabrera can get "clutch" hits in the World Series and all-time greats like Bonds and A-Rod and Ted Williams can have a bad series.

    The Hall of Fame is an achievement for individuals. The long-term success of baseball teams depend on how many good-great players they have. No team has prolonged success with just one good player. An awesome defensive shortstop could hit .420/.570/.770 with 55 HR (in a pitcher's park) and 70 SB at a 91% success rate and if the pitching staff is last in the league in ERA by a full run and the next best hitter on the team has an 83 OPS+ and the centerfielder and second baseman are awful defensively and the rightfielder has a .305 OBP and the next highest home run total is 12 and the rest of the lineup takes a walk once a week, that team is not going to finish .500. But under your system, that amazing player would get an F on 20% of his HOF test because he never made the playoffs.

    If you want to look favorably at someone like Curt Schilling for pitching awesome in the playoffs over a long period of time, that's fine. Kind of like getting extra credit on a test. But to punish individuals like Jeff Bagwell for not getting to a World Series (until he was done) or Mike Mussina for never "winning the big one" or Ron Santo for not getting into the playoffs within the context of a team sport, that's insane.

  45. Evan Says:

    I think the intent of my post @3 may be being misinterpreted by a couple of the post which have responded to it, but not it a bad way because they have provided interesting and useful discussion and I am happy to act as their straw man if it generates that type of conversation. I agree that WAR does a good job of breaking out, weighing and conglomerating various statistics into a useful number that allows us to compare the various contributions of players with varying statistical lines and opportunities.

    Points 1 & 3 (above @ comment 3) were not intended as criticisms of the statistic, merely my perception of the causes of the resistance the statistic has encountered.

    Point 2 is, as others have said, the biggest problem with the statistic as a whole. Our understanding of fielding is far less advanced than our understanding of other portions of the game (John Dewan thinks we are about halfway there) and thus there are significant error bars on the fielding components (B-R does a good service by breaking out the fielding/hitting components). I don't like the idea of taking good data (hitting component) and adding it to mediocre data (fielding component) even if it is the best data we have. This is the factor that produces a lot of the reactions along the lines of "how can you say B is more valuable than A?" 9 times out of 10 it is the fielding component that is causing this disparity (Angel Pagan who was leading NL WAR for awhile is a good example of this). Breaking out the two numbers would give us the opportunity to see where the player is contributing and which portions of that contribution we can consider most reliable.

    Point 4 is my feeling that seasonal WAR is a better use of the statistic than career WAR totals.I'd be more convinced by an argument that a player is Hall worthy because he had 5 seasons above X WAR, 4 more above Y WAR, etc. than one that said he had Z WAR for his career. The squabbles in the comments that say "How can you say Player X is as good as Player Y (usually someone like Koufax)" based upon career WAR totals are quite inane. WAR like any other cumulative stat (yes, I realize it can be negative) has the danger of equating two dissimilar players because of different longevity, but most people wouldn't equate 400 HRs by a player who played 10 years with 400 HRs by a player who played 20. Doing this with WAR doesn't make sense either.

    Debating the merits and the shortcomings of the statistic is great, especially since it is still a work in progress (we wont be using the same formulation of WAR in 5 or 10 years as we are now, even if it is just the fielding component which is revised. But some of the debates over WAR vs. traditional stats on some of the HoF threads read like two members of different religions debating which one is correct.

  46. Evan Says:

    Re: Michael E. Sullivan @40, on SB/CS and valuing base stealers.

    I'm not sure if anyone does this, but I would be a proponent of analyzing SB and CS from a WPA point-of-view. It seems as though many SB totals and success rates can be inflated by players who take bases where the defense isn't doing as much to prevent the SB (but not rising to the level of defensive indifference) because the extra base doesn't seem quite as important at moment. Carlos Beltran is a player who has a reputation for racking up SB in unimportant situations and thus keeping his success rate very high. I don't know if that is deserved, but analyzing WPA numbers and seeing where the fall relative to the norm would a start in looking at this objectively.

    SB is an aspect of the game where clutch might be more prone to exist because players/managers get to make a decision over whether to run in a way that they don't get to decided when and in what situations to hit (excepting pinch hitters).

  47. Scott Says:

    This is one of the reasons why I hate stats like WAR - Abreau fine player - but at no point in history, no shape or form does this guy belong in the HOF. Not ever. And if WAR says he does, then WAR needs to be stopped.

    Couldn't agree more.

    "One final thought....what if Abreu had been a leadoff hitter? Wouldn't he be one of the 5-10 best of all time and have a better HOF argument?"

    This is a much better point to debate if we're considering if he would have been Hall worthy or not. Bowa tried Abreu as a leadoff hitter briefly but he bitched and moaned about it. If Abreu had been a leadoff hitter, you could have made a much better case. His style of play was much better suited to bat first or second with his speed. Instead he was probably the most aggravating 3 hitter to watch in baseball. If you're going to bat third in the lineup and be that patient, you'd better be hitting with a lot more pop than he did if you want to be considered among the elite. Compare him with his peers (other 3 hitters). Ask yourself if you'd want Bobby Abreu as your leader, and/or the guy you'd want to build your team around, or feel comfortable riding his back throughout a full season. I'd say no to all, and those are things that certainly aren't unreasonable to ask for someone who is batting 3rd in your lineup.

  48. Basmati Says:

    Surely it's not Abreu's choice where he hits but the managers? He's been hitting lead off recently and is apparently happy to do that if it helps the team. Maybe his attitude has changed over the years.

    It's a small sample but he has a career .971 OPS as a leadoff hitter. I think that explains why he hasn't batted leadoff, with his high average and reasonable power he would seem a bit wasted there. Maybe he was better suited to batting second?

    As for Evan's comment regarding seasonal WAR, that depends on how whether you value peak performance or longevity. If two players had 60 WAR, one with 15 years of 4 and one with 10 years of 5 and 5 years of 2, who is the better player?

  49. Matt Y Says:


    Black Ink, and Gray Ink to a lesser degree, have become somewhat irrelevant numbers today. These were much, much easier to score higher on back when there were 8 teams per league. With that said, I understand your point, at least for hitting stats, that recent numbers have been inflated. If you use my cut-offs for HOFM and HOFS, than the numbers work quite well. 130 for pitchers is basically automatic --to be considered as a pitcher you have to have at least 80. For hitters the cutoff would be ~95 with everyone over 150 getting in. For some players you simply cannot adjust the number enough to counterbalance possible PED use.

  50. Matt Y Says:


    I agree that having no or little playoff stats should not hurt you. However, if you want all things to be equal, or at least reasonable, then at least add IP or AB to one's WAR. You simply cannot act as if playoff stats don't exist.

    As for your other point, while yes, raw numbers make up the saberstats, however, context is different.

  51. DoubleDiamond Says:

    Please forgive this post, but it sounds like some of you may appreciate the old Edwin Starr song, also recorded in a live version by Bruce Springsteen:

    "WAR - What is it good for?"

    And some of you may answer like the song:

    "Absolutely nothing!"

    And others may deviate from that answer with:

    "Absolutely everything!"

  52. Matt Y Says:

    Abreu has always been best suited to bat second --not enough pop and too patient for third, but too much pop for first, if that makes any sense. Also, I remember him complaining about hitting second as well --he bitched and moaned about wanting to hit third. I would agree that Abreu has always had HoF talent, but for various legitimate reasons he just doesn't really stand much of chance of making the Hall unless he plays well for 2-3 more years and actually does something with it (i.e. batting title, championship etc)

  53. Hartvig Says:

    Joe B @ 16 and Scott @ 47

    "This is one of the reasons why I hate stats like WAR - Abreau fine player - but at no point in history, no shape or form does this guy belong in the HOF. Not ever. And if WAR says he does, then WAR needs to be stopped."

    I agree WAR is flawed but it's just one tool to measure performance. Do you think that Nolan Ryan is the greatest picture ever? He has almost 20% more strikeouts than anyone else and that's without considering that number 2 & 3 on the list pitched in an era when batters stuck out a lot more. Or is Cy Young the greatest pitcher ever? He has almost 100 wins more than anyone else. At one point, Dave Kingman was the only eligible player with more than 400 home runs not in the HOF. He's still just 1 of 3 and the other 2 are tainted by steroids. Does that make Kingman a Hall of Famer?

    WAR is one tool for measuring performance. It's not perfect but no one single stat is. I do prefer Win Shares but since you have to use a different reference to find it, it doesn't incorporate well into discussions on this board.

  54. Matt Y Says:

    Would someone with these stats playing 15 years be a HoFer?

    144 553 440 63 108 17 0 22 55 107 113 .245 .391 .434 .825 149 191

  55. Matt Y Says:


    If a person is a borderliner, I also want to look at win shares.

  56. MikeD Says:

    I'm pleased that Abreu doesn't know about WAR. He shouldn't. Most ballplayers don't. They're busy playing baseball.

  57. DavidRF Says:

    That's doesn't appear to be a real line. Is it? OPS+ of 149 with those numbers. The scoring context looks like the dead-ball era. See Elmer Flick.

    Yes, 22 bombs a year and 100+ walks in 1905 would be mighty impressive. If a player kept that up through the end of the 1910s, they'd be an easy HOF-er.

    In a neutral scoring era, that OPS+ scales down into the 120s. That wouldn't be a HOF-er unless they played SS,2B, or C.

  58. dominik Says:

    I like WAR but one objection that I have against it is that it is basically a counting stat(not quite because it can be also negative but for good players it's normally positive). Counting stats are great because they show that you produce on a great level for a long time.

    But only focusing on them inflates the judgement of playing time, because much playing time(at good level)= big counting stats. in that way a player that starts young and then plays at a good level for a long time without missing many games per season will rack up a lot of war even if he was never that dominant.

    You also have to look at peak performance, you can use war for this also.

    Add the WAR of Abreus 5 best years(peak) and I guess it's not as favorable as his career stats. the big WAR comes because he played for a long time, never less than 150 games and with good performance.

    How does bobby's 5 year peak WAR stand against HOF players?

  59. Artie Z Says:

    @58 - Abreu's best 5 and 8 consecutive WAR seasons score at 28.9 and 44.5

    Comparing him to "recent" OF selections:

    Jim Rice - 22 and 30.5

    Andre Dawson - 30.6 and 40

    Tim Raines (not a HOFer but ...) - 30.7 and 40.5

    Kirby Puckett - 24.2 and 35.7

    Dave Winfield - 26.2 and 34.3

    There are some people who find fault with those selections, so:

    Tony Gwynn - 28.9 and 38

    I know Tony Gwynn went in an a landslide election, but his peak just isn't that different from these other players. He does have some more consistency after his peak (which is 1984-1991) than the other players. He is no Rickey Henderson though.

    Those are all the BBWAA OF selections (or potential ones unless you want to add Murphy and Parker to the list) of late, except for Rickey Henderson:

    Best 5: 38.1 from 1981-1985, Best 8: 57.1 from 1980-1987

    The key to Rickey Henderson though is his 2nd act was basically all the other OFers first act. Without overlapping 1980-1987:

    2nd best 5: 35.7 from 1988-1992, 2nd best 8: 47.3 from 1988-1995

  60. dominik Says:

    thanks Artie
    I think this shows that he is quite borderline. dawson and rice are also borderline guys several non HOFers like the guys you mentioned have similar peak numbers.

  61. dominik Says:

    what are the 5 year peak numbers of some real superstars?(and where can I find them)

    let's say bonds, pujols or even a guy like thome

  62. Scott Says:

    Thanks to Artie for showing how ridiculous WAR is. Anyone going honestly tell me that has SEEN all of them play that given the choice you're taking Abreu over any of those guys, including Murphy and Parker? If you want to see how silly WAR is in a totally fair contemporary route comparison see Vlad Guerrero (same division for a long time, same position, same era). He's less than one share ahead of Abreu for his career. So WAR is telling me that Abreu's career been about every bit as good as Guerrero's??????!!!!!!

    I hate to sound like a jerk but I'll put my neck on the block here. The WAR metric reminds me of the kid in school that's incredibly book smart but has no common sense when he/she goes out in the real world. It doesn't take a genius for anyone to figure out that Abreu was a poor man's Guerrero.

  63. Matt Y Says:


    That was Mickey Mantle's second to last year. If you score that year out for 15 years(4.1) his WAR would be ~62 and likely in the Hall of Fame. Now, I'm not debating whether Mickey should be in obviously, however, I would not consider someone with those stats to be HOF material in nearly any era, especially early 1960's (yes, a second deadball era). I have felt for while, that yes, OBP is a better stat that Batting Avg, but I think the WAR tends to overvalue BB a bit!!???

  64. Basmati Says:

    Scott your comments sum up for me the argument lots of people are making against a guy like Abreu, eg his peak wasn't as high as some other guys like Guerrero. They are a good comp as both have played 15 years from 1996-2010. Both play right field and have spent most of their career hitting 3rd. Both have split their career roughly half and half on a below average NL East team and above average AL teams.

    Lets look at the 162 game average from neutralized stats for both players. Hope it formwats ok...

    Vlad 672 604 98 186 34 33 111 14 56 76 .307 .370 .541 120
    Abreu 701 588 99 175 41 21 93 28 104 126 .298 .402 .490 116

    So Vlad has a better average and more power and drives in more runs, but maybe not as big a difference as you might expect? Abreu walks a lot more, has more speed, gets on base more. You could argue Abreu doesn't suit batting 3rd as much as Guerrero, but that doesn't mean he's not as valuable.

    I don't know the answer but it's worth considering the question - does WAR overate walks, OBP etc, or is it generally underrated along with an overrating of HR/RBIs by those who would label Abreu a poor man's Guerrero?

  65. Zim Says:

    "I don't know the answer but it's worth considering the question - does WAR overate walks, OBP etc, or is it generally underrated along with an overrating of HR/RBIs by those who would label Abreu a poor man's Guerrero?"

    I think it's the latter, as most people are not as impressed by Abreu's ability to draw walks, steal bases, and hit doubles; as they are with Vlad's ability to hit laser shots over the fence off the ground and drive in runs.

    My biggest issues with WAR is what Evan said way back at #3. My eyes started to gloss over when I was cross-referenced to 3 or 4 other exotic stats in looking up WAR's components. And the NFL would like you to believe the QB rating is complicated.

  66. bob sawyer Says:

    Abreau make a bad case for the use of WAR in assessing Hall of Fame Credentials precisely because his offensive skills are diverse. Only his OBA is truely outstanding and this is something which is particularly hard to observe and appreciate unless being utilized in front of other, better hitters. Abreau was the best all-round hitter the Phillies had during their most of his career, Ergo in his best years a day-to-day fan would not be in position to say whether Abreau was outstanding or merely valuable. This is the area were playing for a weak or mediocre team works against a player's chances for recognition.

    The issue of where Abreau would rate amoung leadoff hitters is a red herring. The greatest Leadoff hitter of all time would have been either Ted Williams or Ty Cobb. Based on raw stats Williams would be better but If you normalize I think that Cobb would turn out to be more effective provided that Cobb's caught stealing rate isn't too high. Yet neither of them had many such REAL WORLD plate appearences for the simple reason that they had skills that made them more valuable batting 3rd through 5th. Ditto for Joe MOrgan, Eddie Collins, Babe Ruth, and practically anyone else one can name other than Henderson, Raines, and Billy Hamilton. Outstanding All-round hitters do not batt leadoff.

    Abreau's career and season by season WAR values are not a red Herring. They are are estimates of the cumulative contributions that Abreau made to victory. Personnally I cannot think of a better qualifiction for Hall of Fame induction than the sentence "nobody else in his time did more to make his team win" In the case of Abreau this is not true, except perhaps in the sense that if you pick out Abreau;s top seasons and then compare to those same seasons for other players, Bobby A might come out on top. It is however, nearly true, so that means we ought to be giving Abreau serious condideration rather than using the Was-he-a-big-star? test by which a player can drop out of consideration even though he was far more valuable than some players who pass that test such as Jim Rice.

    Yet the objections to career RAW are valid. It make a difference whether 40 RAR were accumulate in 8 full seasons worth of games or in 16 season's worth. Looking at how many seaons reached a certain level makes more sense, but if we do not look at the length of the seasons we may miss what is really going on. The 1918, 1919, 1981, 1994 and 1995 seasons were significantly shortened and the schedule in 1893-1897 and from 1900 to 1903 the scedule called for 140 or less games. Cap Anson played 22 seasons and played in 90% or more of his teams games every year, but he played less than 2300 National League games. Moral: WAR per game is just as significant a measure of stardom as actual career and seasonal WAR

    Longevity in Baseball is generally an indicator of quality of play in that in general, the higher the peak, the longer a player lasts. However in dealing with the top 300 players (the Hall of fame candidates, we find that for every Hank Aaron, whose career track nicely approximates the age vs value curve of he group, there are Sandy Koufax's, and Hughie Jennings' and Doc Gooden's whose peak value is out of proportion to their career accomplishments. There are also some Harold Baines and Al Olivers, and Doc Cramers for whom one can say, "they played a long time, but were they ever really Superstars?" In the case of Doc Cramer, the verdict is that he was not even an under-rated star. Cramer was over-rated in his time.

    This is why Longevity alone should not be a Hall of Fame qualification except when, as in the case of Hoyt Wilhelm and Luke Appling and Julio Franco, the longevity becomes part of the players persona in the eyes of fans. Otherwise I don't think it make the least difference whether a player was a star in his twenties like Jimmy Foxx, Frank Thomas, Buddy Lewis, and Don Gullet or did not become a star until his thirties like Wilhelm, Jamie Moyer, Hank Sauer, and Minnie Minoso. UNless some outside Baseball event or event made it impossible for them to play ML Baseball during their full physical prime I see no reason why a player deserves HOF induction by virtue of appearing on some at age-specific leader list. Should Moyer make it 300 wins by pitching till he's fifty, he should find it harder to get inducted rather than easier than for previous 300 game winners--harder because the 300 wins will be spread over more seasons-not to mention over more decisions.)

    All-star selections are something of false path. Post-season all-star teams are far more meaningful than the fan's mid season selections or the managers attempts to have a roster with one representitive from each franchise. I am not criticizing the selections per se, only noting that for certain levels of talent the correlation between quality of season and All-star participation is week. This is especially true for the pitchers and hitters whose strongest stats do not appear in the box scores.

    I am not convinced that Abreau is a Hall of Fame quality performer. He was very ordinary against LHP throughout his career, which I believe made it impossible for him to be a HOF quality #3 hitter in key situations. Against RHP he was a terror, but Lefties took away all his HR pop and most of his Batting average skills. I could be persuaded otherwise if examination of Play by play Data shows that Abreau, like Rod Carew, Bob Clemente, and Tony Perez was actually run and game clutch in the sense that his Wins Created are smaller or at least as large as his Expected wins produced. I realize that this sounds like nit picking, but when dealing with a marginal Hall of Famer such as Abreau, the distinction between actual in game usefullness and projected usefulness based on conglomerate results may contain the explanation why one player is regarded as star and another is not.

  67. Scott Says:


    Also consider that Abreu has struckout an average of 50 times more a season than Vlad, which is the most useless AB any hitter, especially your 3 hitter, could have. Sure Abreu was on base a little more, but that had more with keeping the bat on his shoulder than actually swinging the damn thing, which averages itself out when you weigh their career BAs versus OBPs. However the gap in slugging and extra base hits (along with the homers and RBIs), which should be expected more from your 2 hitter, is no contest. Abreu's never shown up on the board in a single season for slugging, or the top 10 in any MVP voting, and an all star only twice (one of those as a final vote player) at a position with many all stars. Are any of these things really too much to expect from a Hall of Famer who bats 3rd in the lineup? Despite all of this, somehow people think he has a solid resume for HOF induction by ignoring all that by using WAR.

  68. bob sawyer Says:

    I checked out Abreau's Leverage and Win Probability added numbers

    Abreau tended to come up in situations with below average leverage, thus although his actions would ordinarily have led to 530 +average runs the actual count was on only 480. This indicates that by and large the Phillies surrounded Abreau with substandard players

    In terms of expected victories added, the results are much more modest indicating either that he didn't hit in the clutch or the game leverage for his plate appearence as a whole were low in game leverage (too far behind for the number of men on base or too far ahead when the at bat came) or that the Phillies pitching and defense stunk. Abreau's game leverage was normal which is actually on the low side for a middle of the order hitter.

    The Expected victories collumn is not available for players prior to 1952 but this is were I woild look in comparing Abreau to his peers. The numbers are good, but not spectacular which for me means that Abreau was consistantly Good without being super, which makes his greatness a matter of taste rather than than something which is self-evident. The case for Abreau is much more like the case for Jim Kaat than the case for Ron Guidry. I'll take "Gator".

  69. Scott Says:

    "However the gap in slugging and extra base hits (along with the homers and RBIs), which should be expected more from your 2 hitter, is no contest."

    Oops, I meant 3 hitter.

  70. DavidRF Says:

    Too much is being made of the Vlad/Abreu comparison. Vlad still ranks better by about a point despite being short 600 PA due to a couple of extended DL stints (Abreu has been remarkably durable) and spending more time at DH.

    Every time you add things up into a single number like WAR does, you lose the big picture.

    If you sort their yearly WAR totals you get:

    VladG: 7.4--7.1--6.5--5.5--5.4--5.3--4.8--3.9--3.8--3.5--2.3--1.4--1.3--0.3--(-0.1)
    Abreu: 7.1--6.2--5.9--5.8--5.2--4.9--4.8--4.6--3.7--3.1--2.9--2.6--0.5--0.3--0.0

    So, the best of Vlad is better than the best of Abreu, but Abreu catches up in the filler seasons.

    Here's how they look by contributions:

    Batting: Vlad +6.4
    Baserunning: Abreu +2.0
    Reaching on Error: Vlad +0.2
    GIDP's: Abreu +3.5
    Fielding: Vlad +1.3
    Position: Abreu +0.9
    Replacement: Abreu +0.4

    So, Vlad has a better advantage in hitting and fielding. Abreu catches up in GIDP's, baserunning and position/replacement (played a bit more and played less DH). Its got nothing to do with OBP/Walks. Vlad still beats him handily on the hitting metrics.

    You can a much better feel for the shape of the comparison by seeing what goes into it.

  71. David Says:


    Very nice summation. I've been asking for a long time to have WAR data per 600 plate appearances (or perhaps over a full seasons worth of defensive innings), and pitcher data over 200 innings pitched. I think we would get a little better sense of things between eras, particularly with pitchers (since Cy Young wouldn't simply crush the competition-- although an issue with overvaluing relief pitchers seems likely). I would love to see how a number of players stack up by a "yearly" measure.

  72. Richard Says:

    "Carlos Beltran is a player who has a reputation for racking up SB in unimportant situations and thus keeping his success rate very high."

    This is a pretty blanket statement that seems to have no real backing.
    88% success rate and 8 for 8 in the playoffs sounds pretty damn excellent to me, no matter what you "consider" unimportant.

    Hell, you could argue every Mets game is unimportant right now

  73. flyingelbowsmash Says:

    Without combing through the stats, is Bobby Abreu an HOFer? Of course not, he isn't an all-star, not close to being considered in the elite of players the last decade. The biggest thing he is known for is winning the home run derby then losing his home run hitting ability. I guess stats can be a funny thing. I think they need to be used to support a candidate, not make a candidate. Plus, I have said this before, I think WAR rates walks too highly, which is probably why Abreu has a surprisingly high WAR compared to other players. Some have argued that he was stuck on lousy Philly teams, but he played for the Yanks in his early 30's and didn't light anything up. No HOF, no way. Especially with guys like Trammel, Raines, and Dale Murphy out. They might not have as high of a WAR stat, but I would take them first if I was picking teams.

  74. Evan Says:


    That's his reputation, I have heard this cited media members and I believe it has come up on the broadcasts of Mets games (granted, Mets fans can be a bit hard on their players, especially Beltran). I noticed that you quoted one sentence where I stated his reputation but skipped the following sentence which was "I don't know if that is deserved, but analyzing WPA numbers and seeing where the fall relative to the norm would a start in looking at this objectively." I don't follow Beltran all that closely and have never examined his stolen bases in any detail. I have spent some time thinking about how to value stolen bases vs. caught stealing.

    In any event you quoted me out of context (without attribution) to make it look like something was written that wasn't and then provided nothing to contradict what I wrote. He couldn't have a reputation for keeping his success rate high by doing something unless he had a high success rate to begin with.

    The reputation is that he steals bases when one team is leading by a significant margin, thus the extra base has little effect on the outcome of the game and the defense is likely doing less to prevent the base from being stolen. Other examples would be stealing 3rd with 2 out as opposed to 1 out. That is why I suggested WPA would be a good way to evaluate stolen bases and success rate. It would weight heavily situations where the runner was the tying or go ahead run in late innings and less other lower leverage situations. Important has nothing to do with the records of the teams playing.

  75. dominik Says:

    I think one of the things that helps Abreus WAR the most is his playing time. he always played nearly all 162 games, while Vlad sometimes had DL stints.

  76. Basmati Says:

    And that point is relevant to me. If you adjust WAR to be per 600 PAs as some have suggested, Abreu loses that advantage. Surely if you measure value, playing 150 games is more valuable to a team than playing 130 games. So if someone produces the same WAR in 130 games (eg Vlad) as another player does in 150 games (eg Abreu), people perceive that the first player is better, which may be true. But does it make them more valuable? Not necessarily because for any given game the second player is more likely to be available to help you than the first.

    That argument is in the context of a season, but to me the same argument can apply to a career. A player like Abreu has performed consistently well for say 15 years. Another player who had say 5 years with a higher peak, 5 years the same and 5 years not as good seems to be held in higher regard by a lot of people. Yet over the whole 15 years both players have contributed an equal amount.

  77. Basmati Says:

    In fact that same argument applies to Jamie Moyer. I don't necessarily understand why he is marked down for having a long career? If we ignore the faults with pitcher wins for a minute and assume they are a good measure of how a starting pitcher helped his team win a game, then if a pitcher has 300 wins he helped his team win 300 games. Why does it matter if that was spread over 10 years or 25? They have still contributed to their team winning 300 games.

  78. Gary Ashman Says:

    There's absolutely no reason Abreu should know about WAR.... the sabrmetric stats are for analysts, not players. His job is to hit the ball, catch the ball, not whip out a calculator and figure out his VORP

  79. Gary Ashman Says:

    basmati, it matters a lot whether a pitcher has helped his team win 300 in 10 years or 25. If he does it in ten years another replacement players has the opportunity to help his team win X number of games over the ensuing 15 years. The Nationals win 600 games in 10 years, the Yankees do it in 6. That matters a lot

  80. Mickey Morandini Says:

    Abreu a Hof'r?...ehhhh no. He's had a very good career, if he were to be inducted into the hall of fame, then Carlos Beltran should be inducted as well. (As the two have virtually identical stats) While Abreu is more consistent with the stats and injury-free, Beltran has multiple gold gloves, all-star appearances, and high finishes in mvp votings. Of course neither of them are HOF players, just very good players. Sure Abreu will get his share of votes when the time comes but he probably won't crack 30% a solid and forgettable player.

  81. tim Says:

    ASG, would you tell us who those pitchers are?

  82. Michael E Sullivan Says:


    it matters because below average pitchers still get wins.

    If someone played on nothing but great teams and had a pitching W-L record that was below his team's average record, but lasted long enough and got enough starts to win 300, would you really think that guy was a hall of famer? We get confused about counting numbers like 3000 hits or 300 wins because it is so unusual for a merely good player to last long enough to get to those numbers. If you look at the list of guys who've hit those numbers, it is full of slam dunk HoFers, but it also contains a few suspect guys.

  83. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    Basmati, it doesn't seem to me that Jamie Moyer is marked down for having a long career.

    If anything, the only reason his name and "hall of fame" ever appear in close proximity is *because* of his incredibly long career, and the only way he'll get in is if his career is even longer.

    Jamie Moyer is marked down because in spite of his very long career, he has had only a few years when he rose above the pack, and none of them spectacular. His highest WAR season was a 5.9, and his fourth highest was 3.9. He's had only 8 seasons with 3+ WAR. 12 of his 24 seasons have been below 1 WAR, so for half of his career he's been somewhere between replacement and below average.

  84. Matt Y Says:

    Moyer's averaged ~2.0 WAR for 24 years. His value is his value, but if anything Moyer's ONLY in the conversation because he's pitched that long, and at his current pace, he'd have to pitch at least 3 more years and get his WAR into the 55 range and get to 300 wins to even get a sniff of the Hall. 300 Wins with a WAR under 55 should not get it done.

  85. dominik Says:

    I'm also quite against Abreu in the Hall, but I have a question:

    Is ichiro a HOFer if he is done? everyone sees him a a first ballot guy, but if you compare him to abreu you see that he plays the same pos., has less power and a lower OBP(and OPS) than abreu and is still considered a first ballot guy. yes he has that MVP but the title was basically a joke and the AS appearances are due to his popularity.

    So is he a HOFer and why?

  86. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    Ichiro is a HoFer by my lights because he came into the league at 29. Japan isn' as good as the majors so you can't really count his stats, but like the negro league guys, you know when they come in and play at a high level in their late 20s or 30s, that they would have had a much bigger career if they'd been in the majors from 20-24 like most guys.

    Another thing to realize about Ichiro -- he gets a lot of props for his bat because his batting average is so high, but he's really not HoF level in the corner outfield on his bat alone. The reason he's great is that he is very strong on the bases, among the best ever at his position in the field, and possibly the most impressive thing on his resume is that despite hitting pretty much any ball within walking distance of the plate, he manages to be extremely good at not grounding into double plays.

    The reason hall of fame voters will vote him in despite largely ignoring the things that *actually* make him a great outfielder, as opposed to merely a bit above average, is that he has a very high batting average.

    He's a lot like Abreu in terms of his value coming from a lot of different places, but because he's a slap-junk hitter with a gaudy BA and lots of hits, he's going to coast in even if he retires tomorrow, while Abreu probably doesn't get close unless he adds a few good years.

  87. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    Oops. 27, not 29. From his stardom in japan and the level of play in the majors his rookie year, it's clear if he'd grown up in the states he'd have made the majors before 27.