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B-R Blog: About oWAR and dWAR and responding in a timely manner

Posted by Sean Forman on January 25, 2011

Reader mail of the day: fielding WAR for DH?  THE BOOK--Playing The Percentages In Baseball

I'm a busy guy, so I don't always read all of the blogs out there that you might think I do.  


18 days ago Tangotiger posted a reader letter by Pete L (who appears to be Edgar Martinez's Rich Lederer and as best I can tell has never e-mailed me directly) and added comments that disagreed with our presentation of oWAR and dWAR.  Inside the Book is in my RSS reader, but the title of the post was simply "Reader Mail of the Day:Fielding WAR for DH" so I'm sure I just skipped it unread.   Today, Tangotiger e-mailed about the post.  I'm happy to respond to the criticism of the stat, but I feel the following in Tango's blog casts me personally in a mildly negative light and that I should comment on that first.

I know that sometimes my peers have said that, that they would have preferred that my criticism had been addressed to them directly in private.  I do that sometimes, but not very often, for a good reason: when I broadcast it here, I don’t have to repeat myself.  Because if I’m thinking it, others are too.

And the first time I saw the presentation at B-R.com for what the reader below is talking about, I was bothered.  I had meant to tell Sean, but I forgot.  But, now this reader wrote a long and well-thought out letter.  So, should I now simply have a three-way dialogue with the writer and Sean?  Or, just be honest here, respond the reader, and let Sean address it as he sees fit?  Even if my choice in this instance will be a poor one, overall, it’s a good way to do things.  Most people will benefit, we all get to watch, and things are transparent.  And that may spur even more discussion by readers here, similar to Sean’s “suggestions” page from a few years ago.  Given a choice, I prefer to post out in the open, and I wish alot more people would do this.

First off, I've never asked Tom to make any criticism of me private.  I know that he wasn't singling me out when writing this, but since he wrote it prefacing comments on me and me alone I hope others won't read it that way.

Second, we can't have a three-way dialogue when the third party is never invited to the discussion.  I feel his preface implies that I was invited to join in, but I decided not to join and therefore was ducking the conversation.

<cheap shot>I'm a little sick of bloggers like Murray Chass and Tangotiger assuming that I read every they write and will respond immediately to what they have to say.</cheap shot>  

If you want my response, take two minutes and send me an e-mail.     Then give me one business day.  I'm one of three employees running a company with seven separate websites, so I do not do B-R stuff every single day of the week.

I've only scanned the critiques given that there are 27 long comments on the material and I have alot of other things I have to do today.

Why is oWAR put together as batting + the position adjustment + replacement level adjustment?

Some of you may be aware that there is some dispute around the veracity of the defensive numbers here, at FanGraphs, and and voted by Gold Glove voters. oWAR is simply everything except defense. Assume everyone is an average fielder and compute their WAR that way. My sole intent in splitting things this way was to present a WAR value without the contentious defensive numbers because so many people (meaning those who aren't going to Inside the Book) seem willing to throw out the baby (WAR) with the bathwater (defensive numbers) over the defensive numbers.

I think WAR is a fantastic framework for looking at player value. But people many can't get over the defensive component, so oWAR just takes it out. And then dWAR is simply WAR - oWAR.

Is it wrong to present dWAR this way (or call it above replacement) when TZR is versus average rather than replacement level?

Tango himself has suggested that replacement level players are around league average defenders. So when you compare Ozzie Smith's defensive contributions above what is contributed by a replacement level shortstop it seems to make sense that using average as the baseline is appropriate and is still, in fact, an above replacement value.

Wow, are you really this oversensitive?

Yes.

Given time, I'll more fully read and digest the critique laid out in TangoTiger's blog and if appropriate I'll make the necessary changes.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 at 11:35 am and is filed under Fielding Stats, Uncategorized, WAR, Whining. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

42 Responses to “B-R Blog: About oWAR and dWAR and responding in a timely manner”

  1. Thanks for addressing this Sean. I'll sum up my views:

    * Your "oWAR" is a fine stat and I agree with you about it's uses. It's basically VORP. The name is a bit misleading, however, because position isn't really offense.

    * dWAR is extremely misleading, because it ignores position, and it's redundant, because you already have a column for fielding. For example, Justin Morneau has a higher 2010 dWAR (+12) than Chase Utley (+7). Does that mean Morneau was a more valuable defender? Not at all. dWAR should be fielding+position, giving Utley the edge, +9 to +7. No, it's not the complement of "oWAR", but it's more meaningful and useful.

    * Finally, it would be great to add a stat that IS the complement to the prior defense stat (field+pos). Call it offensive runs above average and add together all the offensive stuff (but not rep runs).

    That gives us offensive runs above average, defensive runs above average, and a VORP-like stat. In combination with single stats that already exist (like fielding and rep runs) that gives us a nice collection of stats to address various ways we want to answer questions.

  2. I posted on my thread, but I will repeat here:

    [quote]
    For whatever reason (mostly laziness and partly carelessness), I never alerted Sean to this thread.

    I am sorry I did not do so.
    [/quote]

    Also, no one should read my post as having any negative light toward Sean in terms of accepting or responding to criticisms. Sean's taken my criticisms like a man in public on his old suggestions pages, and in whatever emails I may have sent him.

    To me, all this is strictly business, even if I should at times be more personal.

  3. It's weird, because I have read a lot of criticism of the way WAR is split on this website, both in threads here and on Tangotiger's blog. For me, I *like* the way it's split here. I am one of many people who loves the framework and is suspect of defensive statistics, though I'm not nearly as suspect of positional adjustments. I think the way things are split is marvelous, and I wouldn't have it another way.

  4. For what its worth, the discussion of Tango's thread spilled over into a blog post here:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/9640#comments

  5. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I co-sign Sky's post #1. I've complained before about the split of oWAR and dWAR. Thinking it over some more after reading Sean's post above, I better understand why he did it that way. Let people apply their own defensive adjustment if they don't trust TotalZone's numbers. But as Sky says, I think presenting dWAR as is just leads to even more confusion and distrust of the numbers, with the implication, for example, that Derek Jeter had less defensive value than Edgar Martinez. Jeter may not be a good shortstop, but simply being able to play SS for so many games has a lot of value, and to me that is what dWAR should express.

  6. Imho dwar suffers from the deficiency that most statistcal models for defense suffer from. My last two blog posts go into more detail but the main issue is that no matter good or how bad a defense is they will make the same number of outs per game - 27. And Fielders don't compete with guys on other teams (like they do with offense) to get their share of those outs but rather with own teammates. This renders comparisons accross teams nearly useless.

  7. Twisto's Jeter v Edgar comparison is exactly the reason that I don't like dWAR as presented.

    oWAR sets it up so that you can compare the offensive contributions of players, dependent on the player's fielding position, and having them in one list has certain value.

    dWAR does not allow that kind of comparison, to have Jeter and Edgar and Crawford in the same list and have it mean anything at all.

  8. @5
    We debated this in the thread that I linked. I think it all comes down to how one views the "rPos" column. Simply being able to play SS does provide value, but the value it provides is a lower offensive replacement. So, its a bit blurry how you decide how to classify that. It is true that dWAR here is really dWAA and should probably have separate leaderboards for each position like TZR does.

    All the contributions to WAR are clearly spelled out. Its a bit of a semantic issue how one collects groups of the columns.

  9. Also, Sean:

    "bloggers like Murray Chass."

    :)

    I appreciated that.

  10. "It is true that dWAR here is really dWAA and should probably have separate leaderboards for each position like TZR does."

    This is the main issue. And not "probably" but "definitely".

  11. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Simply being able to play SS does provide value, but the value it provides is a lower offensive replacement.

    I need to think about this further. That is how it is translated into WAR, but I'm not sure that is reality. The value of being able to play SS is defensive, having a body between second and third base who contributes at least the minimum defense accepted for the position. Maybe I'm not understanding you correctly or maybe it is just a semantic issue, as you say.

    All the contributions to WAR are clearly spelled out.

    Yes, but as you can see from countless posts on this blog, a lot of people still don't understand them. So perhaps the presentation needs to be adjusted if one wants the site's users to accept them.

  12. Simply being able to play SS does provide value, but the value it provides is a lower offensive replacement.

    You can look at it that way, sure. That's why oWAR/VORP makes sense.

    Or you can combine pos+field to get an overall sense of defensive value.

    Both have good uses. As such, I advocate showing both. It's not an either/or.

    All the contributions to WAR are clearly spelled out.

    Sure. But it's quite handy to have them already combined into useful combinations, such as WAR itself. Who wants to do those calculations? That's what we have Sean for. ;)

  13. @11
    I need to think about this further. That is how it is translated into WAR, but I'm not sure that is reality.

    Oh, I was just describing how WAR is calculated. As I understand it, "rPos" is *quantified* by measuring the offensive replacement by position. Yes, certainly differences in fielding skill are involved in creating the scarcity of certain positions but "rPos" is still quantitatively measuring offense, not defense. Hence the blurriness of how to classify that number, its got elements of both in it.

    Baseball Prospectus tried having a low fielding replacement level a few years back. Critics thought that was double-counted replacement though... that "replacement players" tend to be adequate fielders. I'd have to re-read those old debates to get the details right.

  14. Charles Saeger Says:

    @6: The method on this site does not suffer from the "all teams are equal" fallacy. It never has, in fact: Sean Smith's description of it makes clear that it does count hits.

    Sean Forman: Are the positional adjustments on this site uncontroversial? I cannot imagine that being so. (I probably have more beef with them than the fielding numbers, personally.) Moving the positional adjustment into dWAR does exactly what you want: gives you a version of WAR (oWAR) without the contentous defensive numbers.

  15. I've been thinking about how to better recognize base-stealing in a player's fundamental offensive line.

    Here's my idea for a formula:
    Base-Stealing Adjusted OPS.

    Stolen bases are added to Total bases (SLG).
    Caught-stealings subtracted from OBP.

    For example: Brett Gardner 2010
    OBP .383
    SLG .379
    OPS .762

    Add 47 steals to SLG and subtract 9 CS from OBP and you get
    OBP .367
    SLG .478
    OPS .845

    What do you'all think of that?
    Scoring runs is just as important as driving them in.
    Getting into scoring position via BB/SB does not produce runs on the front end like a 2B will, I understand. But there must be a way to recognize its value in the fundamental number set that we use to assess players.

    I

  16. DavidRF/13 - The position adjustment is actually based on the relative difficulty of the defensive positions and ignores offensive production. Simply put, Sean Smith compared fielding ratings of players who played multiple positions. As an example, players switching between LF and CF tended to score 10 runs better per season as a LF than a CF. Thus, the LF position adjustment is ten runs lower than the CF position adjustment.

    Here's his article at Fangraphs:http://goo.gl/7orE9
    And here's a nice summary of the results, across decades: http://goo.gl/LUx9G

  17. @15, Xander -- It's an interesting project. Can you give your exact method for "Caught-stealings subtracted from OBP"?

    I don't think that's the best way to treat caught stealing. In terms of run expectancy, caught stealing is worse than a batter simply making an out; once he's on base, that runner has a much greater chance of scoring than he did when he stood in the batter's box.

  18. @14: I'll gladly admit that I don't know how this site, or any other, calculates dWAR. I use the data, because it GENERALLY makes sense, but I'm not sure it's COMPLETELY free from SOME KIND of "all teams equal" fallacy. (Though I'm encoraged that people here actually know what I'm talking about, and even have a NAME FOR IT! You'd be amazed how many blank stares I've gotten trying to explain this concept to people!)

    But I'm not 100% convinced. I've come across a few... shall we say GOOFY examples... but the one that really sticks out in my memory was Bob Boone: He had 0.5 dWAR after 10 years in Phillly and 7.7 after 7 years in Cali. Last time I checked Catcher don't generally get better with age, so how does Boone accomplish twice as much EVERY YEAR in Cali than he did in an ENTIRE DECADE in Philly?

    My guess/hypothesis was that the young Schmidt, Maddox, Bowa & Carlton (along with Boone) were cancelling each other out, while the mostly washed-up Carew, Grich, DeCinces, Jackson, etc... made for a more favorable team for Boone's abilities to show though on.

    Now... I COULD BE WRONG. (It happenes, that's life.) But if I'd like an alternative explanation for how Boone ends up an order of magnitude better AFTER age 34 (!) as a CATCHER, before I'll be completely sold on the idea. (And like I said: In the meantime, I'll still USE the data.)

    There were other examples, that one juts sticks out in my memory as particularly apt.

    Any takers?

  19. @15 & 17:

    How about modifying the "total average" formula?

    Instead of: (TB + BB + SB) / (PA), just make it make it (TB + BB + SB) / (PA + CS). That way, the batter is charged twcie for the AB/BB that he got CS on.

    15-20 of those could be pretty significant, if you'e got one of those no-power/few-walks guys.

  20. @18 - I'm not sure if this is correct, but if the defensive ability of Boone's catching cohort for the year decreases this might increase his value if he stays roughly as good as he was defensively.

    As an example, 1970s Bob Boone was being directly compared to 1970s Johnny Bench, and 1980s Boone ... well, I'm not sure who he was being compared to, but he did win Gold Gloves from 1986-1989 (when he was 38-41 years old). Now, I know that Gold Glove awards tend to be less than perfect measures of defensive value, but (1) if Boone's cohort isn't great and (2) there is no flashy newcomer to give the award to, that might explain how Boone got "better" defensively as he aged (and why he won the Gold Gloves). Sundberg was basically through by then, Lance Parrish (who won it the 3 years before Boone) doesn't seem like the type of catcher who would age well into his 30s (and he only played half a season in 1986), and Ivan Rodriguez wasn't around yet. So perhaps it's that Boone's comps got worse and that elevated his defensive worth - just a thought.

  21. @18
    The goal of this thread is not to explain every head-scratching WAR that's encountered, but Boone's CS% numbers in California are much more impressive than they were in Philadelphia. Check out the "Standard Fielding" table on his page and you'll see the CS% column is highly correlated with the Rtot/yr column.

  22. @18, Fourfriends -- Two comments on your Bob Boone example, prefaced by the admission that I don't actually understand how dWAR is derived (so I hope I don't embarrass myself):

    1. Is a catcher's defensive performance significantly affected by that of his teammates? I'm not following the logic of your speculation that Boone's dWAR measure was suppressed by the sprightly Phillies and enhanced by the senescent Angels.

    2. Don't Boone's dWAR numbers correlate pretty well with his SB/CS numbers? For instance, his worst dWAR was -1.1 in 1981. Whatever the reason, Boone had an awful time with base-stealers that year, giving up 76 SB with a 22% CS rate. The very next year, now with the Angels, Boone gunned down 58% of would-be thieves (64 of 110) to lead the majors -- and I'm guessing it's no coincidence that he also had his highest dWAR that year, 2.0.

    Boone's 2nd-worst dWAR was -0.6 in 1974; that year, he allowed 99 SB with 33% CS. His 2nd-best dWAR was 1.6 in 1986, when he allowed just 41 SB in 144 G with 51% CS.

  23. (Nice timing, DavidRF.)

  24. @13
    Thanks for the correction. Maybe rPos is defensively determined then. I'll stop assuming its only an offensive replacement adjustment.

    Does rPos contain no offense? Smith's article repeated says things like "1990’s: The gap between infield and outfield is very similar- 12.7 on offense, 3.5 on defense, an average of 8.1." I can see where the cross-positional analysis gets him the 3.5 number but where does the 12.7 come from? That's a bit of a nuts and bolts question, but this is a nuts and bolts kind of site.

  25. @15, 17, 19 -

    I believe the TAv formula is actually something like:

    (TB+BB+HBP+SB-CS)/(PA+CS+SB)

    This gives a pretty rough-and-dirty estimation of how important it is to not get caught stealing. That's what I'd go with. Of course, it's far from perfect, but it's nice for quick comparisons. When I do it, I usually use:

    (TB+BB+HBP+SB-CS)/(Outs)

    It's basically a bases:outs ratio, with a CS penalty. I've used it on this blog before. Given time to look at all the numbers, though, I prefer wOBA, if you really want to look at a number that weights offensive events properly.

  26. Charles Saeger Says:

    @21: I actually looked at Boone's performance in Philly once upon a time, and what happened is that, while there was indeed plenty of left-handed pitching (which a well-designed system would note would improve Boone's expected caught stealing rates), Boone seldom caught one of those lefties, Lefty Carlton. Hence, if you're not doing matched pairs, Boone won't look like a good thrower, while Tim McCarver will look great.

  27. To me, it's quite apparent that someone's offensive value the the value he would give his team were he to have the same offensive performance while playing exclusively DH. So you get offensive wins, replacement wins, and whatever position adjustment DH would give you. As much as I respect the intelligence of people presenting other approaches, I just don't see them as sustainable, if one is truly operating in an Above-Replacement framework.

    And stying within the Above-Replacement framework, dWAR must, by definition, equal WAR - oWAR. The value supplied to the team by the player being able to take the field is equal to the total value supplied minus the value he would have supplied were he not able to take the field.

  28. dukeofflatbush Says:

    This is just a hypothetical from a guy who doesn't understand dWAR that well, but I would really appreciate any insight or clarification...
    The one example that comes to mind and everyone is probably familiar with is Galarga's near perfect game last year.
    During what became the 'botched call' - I personally felt that Cabrera was a bit overzealous (who wouldn't be?) and I felt that the ball would of been better played, if he covered first and let the secondbasemen take the grounder. Regardless of what you think the right call is/was - does that play increase Cabrera's zone/range, and lower the second baseman's?

  29. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Duke, my understanding is that no one would get positive credit for that play, since no out was made. Different defensive systems will handle this differently, but Cabrera might get a slight demerit if the ball was deemed to be in his zone of responsibility, albeit in an area where a lower percentage of balls are turned into outs than if hit straight at him.

  30. Hey, thanks. TotA. Total average.
    That formula accounts for double plays, too. I like it.

    My rough formula gave Gardner a .845
    TotA has him at .842.

    Check out Rickey Henderson with TotA. Barry Bonds! Mickey Mantle 1957.
    Wow. Can we have a TotA leaderboard?

  31. Gentleman:
    Can't we all just get along? Why "replacement" level as the basis of estimating value? I've got an idea for which you ALL can take credit, Let's agree at the end of a season all teams have a cumulative record of 2430 wins vs. 2430 losses. Or 30 teams average a record of 81-81.....
    Let's measure a player versus his contribution to the .500 winning percentage line. Isn't it much easier to say, "If I had a team of 9 Albert Pujols' in the field and an average pitching staff, what would my record be? Oh, maybe 130-32? (130 - 81)/9 = 5.44 wins above average and leave it at that. Then we could give the Pedro Feliz's of the world any even higher negative number to assess their lack of a contribution to WINNING (as opposed to REPLACING)

  32. @31
    If every player played 162 games, then it wouldn't matter if you used average or replacement, but some players are more durable than others. The WAR framework essentially assigns a "replacement player" to your team for when you are not in the lineup. This allows "average" players have to value -- they are not worthless. If an average player goes on the DL in mid-season, their replacement is generally a utility player or someone called up from AAA. Historically, there are a lot of teams that would have loved to have plugged a black hole in their lineup with an average player. That's the short answer.

  33. dukeofflatbush Says:

    Johnny,

    Thanx,
    But lets say the out was made, are you saying the 2nd baseman does not get affected?
    But doesn't it decrease his total chances and assists?
    And lets say, as a 2nd baseman, I play next to a very aggressive 1st basemen, whom makes an unnecessary 'Cabrera-like' play once every other game.
    Wouldn't, through no fault of my own, make it appear on paper, like I had less range?
    Like I said, I am not sure on how dWAR is compiled.

  34. I like your way Sean.

    Inherent in a player's offensive value is their position.

    Plop Mike Piazza behind the plate and he doesn't instantly become a good defensive player because his Rpos+Rfield is positive.

    Mike Piazza's positional value is that Eric Karros and John Olerud can be in his lineups with him instead of, for example, Ben Davis or Greg Zaun.

  35. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Duke, yes, the traditional defensive stats are affected. But most of the new defensive systems are not based on those stats (which is why, in theory, they are an improvement). They count (or estimate) how many balls are hit into a particular area of the field, and how many of those are turned into outs.

    I don't think a 2Bman (or anyone) should be negatively affected by a teammate poaching balls which either could field, but I don't know the systems well enough to guarantee that this is always the case. Even if it is impossible to completely erase the results of poaching from the advanced stats, I am sure the impact is far, far less than it would be for traditional defensive numbers.

  36. I don't totally grasp the debate, but it sounds like one question is whether the "positional adjustment" should be reflected in dWAR or oWAR.

    So, while this may be a stupid question, I have to ask: Why not both?

    If we want both oWAR and dWAR to work as stand-alone measures that express the win values of those two components of a player's performance, then don't they both need to be expressed in terms relative to the position played?

    It seems to me that even if I want to measure the win value of Dan Uggla's offensive production alone, I still have to adjust for the fact that he plays 2B, because that gives the Marlins a better chance to have a "plus" hitter at whatever less-challenging defensive position Uggla would otherwise play.

    The positional adjustment in dWAR should reflect the relative importance of the different positions, e.g., a SS whose defense is 20% above average keeps more runs off the board than that same caliber of defense at 1B.

    Granted, making a positional adjustment to oWAR brings selection bias into play; for example, one could argue that Alex Rodriguez could have played a competent SS for a few more years than he did, so it's not fair to "punish" his oWAR for his manager's decision to put him at 3B. But to me, that's just part of the game, no different than the selection bias involved in who gets the chance to play, period.

    If I've completely missed the boat, tell me. I'm a slow learner, but I'll try to understand.

  37. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I think you have it John. It's really just a matter of what you want to know about the player.

    If we're just comparing two players on the offensive side of the ball, we don't necessarily care what position they play. Who's a better hitter, Joe Mauer or Ichiro Suzuki? In that case you just want to look at batting + baserunning.

    What if you buy into the general WAR framework but don't like Total Zone's results? Now I better realize what Sean's initial impulse was in making the oWAR/dWAR division. So in that case, take the player's oWAR (as currently presented), and make your own defensive adjustment, or use UZR or whatever.

    What if you want to know which players have the most defensive value? Ernie Banks moved from SS to 1B during his career, did he provide more value between those two positions than a career 3Bman like Darrell Evans? Then you want the Rpos + Rfield (positional value plus defensive performance).

    Or if you just want to know who are the best fielders, regardless of position? Does Albert Pujols have a better glove than Troy Tulowitzki? You just look at Rfield (Total Zone). (Well, preferably, you look at other defensive numbers too, over a couple years, plus subjective opinion....but I digress.)

    All of these are valid questions and things that WAR can be used for, and it's great that all the components are provided so we can use the pieces we want. I still think that the positional value belongs with dWAR, because WAR is attempting to measure value. How much is this player worth on offense, how much is he worth on defense? Very recently we have had a commenter on this blog scoffing at Derek Jeter appearing to be the worst defensive player of all time, according to dWAR. Well, he had a misunderstanding of the stats which goes beyond simple WAR accounting, but Jeter's defensive value has obviously not been close to the worst ever, and this would be more apparent if his positional adjustment was included in dWAR.

    I really think Sky's idea from #1 is the way to go. The replacement value doesn't really belong either in defense or offense. "Replacement players" don't all have average gloves. I'd classify Shelley Duncan as a replacement player; his bat is average but his glove is below. What makes someone a replacement player is based on the totality of their contribution. So show offensive wins above average (Rbat+Rbaser+Rroe+Rdp), show defensive wins above average (Rfield+Rpos), and then Rrep, the playing time count, stands on its own.

  38. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Self-correction: Darrell Evans was really not close to being a career 3Bman.

  39. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    "It is true that dWAR here is really dWAA and should probably have separate leaderboards for each position like TZR does."

    In fact, a dWAR that combined rfield and rpos would really be defensive wins above average. rPos looks at what each position does relative to average. You have to add it to rRep to get a number for offensive replacement value at a position. (this assumes that offensive difference between the positions is on average about the same in runs at replacement level versus average level.

    dWAR is just rfield converted to wins, in the same way that WAR is all the run numbers converted to wins.

    The problem with dWAR and oWAR is that they are misnamed. The names imply that they are measuring defensive value and offensive value respectively. But I would agree with twisto and tango that the positional adjustment is more properly thought of as defensive value, even though B-R uses the difference between average offense at a position to *measure* this value. The method of measurement means that rPos is essentially using the market consensus of GMs/Managers to determine the defensive value of playing a given position at an average level.

    I understand what Sean was trying to do, which is to split out the one number about which there is a lot of legitimate skepticism from the rest of the WAR components. But the names are misleading. And worse, they suggest categories that I'd love to see on the site! Which I think is why so many people thing dWAR *should* mean total defensive value, because that's what the name implies.

    Why not call what is now called dWAR TZWAR? how about oWAR, pWAR and tzWAR, with a dWAR which is pWAR+tzWAR.

    You can't realistically compare players with just the current oWAR anyway, you have to add something for their defensive ability or lack thereof, it's just a question of whether you agree with TotalZone, or want to use some other metric, or just an eyeball test in its place. Personally I think totalzone is way better than an eyeball test, I just have to assign a lower level of confidence in it than I do other numbers.

  40. "In fact, a dWAR that combined rfield and rpos would really be defensive wins above average."

    That's only true if you set zero equal to a DH's rPos.

  41. "So, while this may be a stupid question, I have to ask: Why not both?"

    You in fact could do both... as long as it's clear that you cannot do WAR = oWAR + dWAR.

    You have 4 components:
    1- hitting above average
    2- fielding above positional average
    3- positional value relative to neutral position
    4- playing time value above replacement

    These are the questions you have to ask yourself as a user:
    A. Would I prefer seeing these as 4 separate columns? 3 columns? 2 columns? 1 (i.e., WAR)?

    B. Do I need to have these be non-overlapping? Or can I overlap and have for example Item 3 be in multiple columns?

    C. Once I have decided on these constraints, how can I best combine these 4 items?

    So, ask yourself these questions, then show us your answers, so we can see how users would prefer to use this data.

  42. # 31, 32. One area in which the concept of replacement level is vital is player transactions. Since we always should be able to get a replacement level player at league minimum salary we never should pay anything for a worse player, as we would never knowingly play him, or even put him on the roster. For free agent signings, trades, etc., we figure how much they are worth by how far above replacement level the player is.

    A replacement player does not have zero baseball value. There are enough of them that you should never pay for less than that value. Suppose the average team/league scores 4.5 rpg; pretty close to where we are now. A player with average fielding value who hit in the middle of the lineup and never missed a game would be worth about 81 runs on offense for the season. We think a replacement player is about 2 wins or 20 runs worse than average. So he would be worth about 60 runs if he played the whole season. Not worthless, but easy to get those 60 runs, so you would never settle for a player worth 50 runs since you would have to pay him the same ML minimum wage. So, in effect we ignore those 60 runs and only start counting above that level. For comparisons for the HOF and MVP's we could well use WAA, (wins above average), or an even higher standard; WAG, (wins above good.) (But now we are far out on the right tail of the value distribution curve.