Skip to content

A call for moderation in WAR usage

Feb 1, 2013, 2:34 PM EST

savingsaccountcalculator

Jim Caple of ESPN takes what I think is a decent, moderate approach with respect to the war over WAR. Basically: it’s a cool stat that can be useful, but let’s not rely on it too much or consider it an argument-ender.

Of course, because that’s moderate, I expect almost no one to like it. It’s really, really hard to be a moderate these days.

I do take issue with one thing, however. At the outset of the article he notes his displeasure with how often WAR was used in the MVP debate between Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera last year, and criticizes WAR proponents for relying on it too much. I agree WAR did become a big talking point in all of that, but it wasn’t because of the statheads’ doing.

I read a lot of baseball writing. I bet I read more daily baseball writing and back-and-forth Tweeting among baseball people than about 95% of even hardcore baseball fans do. I have to. It’s my job. And I can say that my distinct WAR takeaway from the Trout/Cabrera thing was that WAR was brought up by non-statheads as some kind of bogeyman, as opposed to statheads as pro-Trout evidence, on the order of something like 3 to 1.

The dialogue was like this:

Pro Trout guy: “Trout for MVP!”

Pro Cabrera guy: “You and your fancy spreadsheets and stats, thinking WAR is the be-all, end-all. God, Cabrera is doing something amazing! Why do you have to reduce it to WAR, WAR, WAR?!!”

Pro Trout guy: “He’s an amazing defender and a great baserunner. Who said anything about WAR?”

Pro Cabrera: “There you go again! WAR WAR WAR!! Enough with the stats! Watch some games.”

Anyway, if your mileage varies, great, but it certainly seems to me that WAR is used as an insult by those who hate it more than it’s used as an argument-ender by those who like it.

Latest Posts
  1. Peter Moylan signs a minor league deal with the Braves

    Mar 6, 2015, 8:08 AM EST

    Moylan.bmp

    The two-time Tommy John veteran reunites with the Braves.

  2. Good morning from Barry Bonds and Michael Bolton

    Mar 6, 2015, 6:41 AM EST

    Barry Bonds Glass

    Barry Bonds’ Instagram page is the gift that keeps on giving.

  3. Zack Wheeler on Bryce Harper: “We’re going to make it hard for him to get that ring”

    Mar 5, 2015, 11:01 PM EST

    Zack Wheeler AP AP

    Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is understandably confident about his team’s chances, but Zack Wheeler thinks the Mets can make things interesting.

  4. Garrett Richards ready to face hitters for first time since knee surgery

    Mar 5, 2015, 9:45 PM EST

    Garrett Richards AP AP

    Richards is scheduled to throw live batting practice on Saturday for the first time since knee surgery.

  5. Cliff Lee throws two scoreless innings in Grapefruit League debut

    Mar 5, 2015, 8:29 PM EST

    Cliff Lee AP AP

    It was his first game action since last July 31.

  6. Hector Olivera’s camp denies any damage to ulnar collateral ligament

    Mar 5, 2015, 7:33 PM EST

    Hector Olivera Getty Getty Images

    Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan hears that Cuban infielder Hector Olivera could have UCL damage in his elbow, but Olivera’s camp has strongly denied the report.

  7. UPDATE: Hunter Pence out 6-8 weeks with fracture in left forearm

    Mar 5, 2015, 7:07 PM EST

    Hunter Pence Getty Getty Images

    The Giants will likely be without Pence for the first month of the season.

  8. UPDATE: Orioles release Suk-min Yoon so he can return to Korea

    Mar 5, 2015, 6:13 PM EST

    suk-min yoon korea getty Getty Images

    He would then return to Korea, where the 28-year-old was a former MVP.

  9. MLBPA: leaks are from people “who want to see Josh Hamilton hurt personally and professionally”

    Mar 5, 2015, 5:20 PM EST

    Josh Hamilton Getty Getty Images

    Tony Clark adds that the leaks “are cowardly, undermine the integrity of our collectively bargained agreements and in some instances have been wholly inaccurate.”

  10. There was a big, big rock star at Tigers camp today

    Mar 5, 2015, 5:12 PM EST

    Joker

    He was bigger a few years ago, but he’s still a pretty big deal.

  11. Mike Minor to see Dr. James Andrews

    Mar 5, 2015, 4:46 PM EST

    Mike Minor AP

    He may be a nice man, but no one likes to pay a visit to Dr. Andrews.

  12. Yu Darvish leaves first spring start with arm tightness

    Mar 5, 2015, 3:45 PM EST

    Yu Darvish AP AP

    Darvish spent the final six weeks of last season on the disabled list.

  13. Phil Coke’s deal with Cubs worth at least $2.25 million if he makes the team

    Mar 5, 2015, 3:25 PM EST

    World Series Tigers Giants Baseball AP

    It’s a minor-league deal with major-league money attached.

  14. Alfredo Simon has some sweet wheels

    Mar 5, 2015, 2:52 PM EST

    Alfredo Simon Getty Images

    Chrome. No, not just the trim. The whole dang car is chrome.

  15. The Cardinals are boring

    Mar 5, 2015, 1:30 PM EST

    Lackey yawn AP

    Just ask them. They’ll tell you so.

  16. The Josh Hamilton decision could come as early as next week

    Mar 5, 2015, 11:39 AM EST

    Josh Hamilton Josh Hamilton

    The union and the league are butting heads, but the deadlock should soon be broken.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. R. Castillo (3123)
  2. J. Hamilton (2784)
  3. D. Viciedo (2697)
  4. C. Gonzalez (2640)
  5. C. Sale (2491)