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Your midseason awards winners, according to WAR

Jul 1, 2013, 6:09 PM EDT

Carlos Gomez AP

Here’s how WAR, both the Baseball-reference and Fangraphs versions, rates the top players as of the midway point of the season.

AL MVP (Baseball-Reference)

1. Manny Machado – 4.9
2. Miguel Cabrera – 4.9
3. Chris Sale – 4.4
4. Dustin Pedroia – 4.3
5. Chris Davis – 4.2

AL MVP (Fangraphs)

1. Miguel Cabrera – 5.4
2. Mike Trout – 4.7
3. Chris Davis – 4.6
4. Evan Longoria – 4.5
5. Manny Machado – 4.2

This is Cabrera’s award to lose, even though Davis has put quite the charge on. Both have 202 OPS+s at the moment, though Cabrera’s high OBP makes his line more valuable. B-ref has Machado matching Cabrera in WAR thanks to a huge defensive bonus; it rates him as the AL’s best defender by almost a full win over Dustin Pedroia. No one would deny that Machado is an excellent third baseman, but that’s probably excessive. Also, even though Machado is on a ridiculous doubles pace, he’s no Trout offensively. He’s probably been the AL’s fourth or fifth best player, which is still a massive accomplishment for a 20-year-old.

NL MVP (Baseball-Reference)

1. Carlos Gomez – 5.0
2. Clayton Kershaw – 4.8
3. Cliff Lee – 4.6
4. David Wright – 4.5
5. Matt Harvey – 4.5

NL MVP (Fangraphs)

1. Carlos Gomez – 4.5
2. Adam Wainwright – 4.3
3. David Wright – 4.2
3. Matt Harvey – 4.2
5. Matt Carpenter – 4.1

Both systems are in agreement that Gomez has been the NL’s best player so far. Still, I’m skeptical that he’d even crack the top 10 if the BBWAA held a vote. Obviously, much of his value is tied up in defense; B-ref says only Andrelton Simmons has been worth more with the glove in the NL. Plus, the Brewers have struggled all year. … If the vote were held today, I’m guessing we’d see Yadier Molina come in first and Paul Goldschmidt second. B-ref has Goldschmidt as the NL’s third best position player, while Fangraphs puts him 11th. Molina ranks 12th by B-ref and ninth by Fangraphs.

AL Cy Young (Baseball-reference)

1. Chris Sale – 4.4
2. Clay Buchholz – 4.0
3. Hisashi Iwakuma – 3.7

AL Cy Young (Fangraphs)

1. Derek Holland – 3.4
2. Max Scherzer – 3.4
3. Felix Hernandez – 3.3

Buchholz was the leader for Cy Young honors when he went down. Now it’s probably Scherzer, even though his 3.10 ERA doesn’t crack the top 10 in the league. The 12-0 record would help a bunch, as would the terrific strikeout rate. I figured Yu Darvish would fare better here than he does, but the home runs are hurting him. He’s fifth according to B-ref and sixth according to Fangraphs.

NL Cy Young (Baseball-reference)

1. Cliff Lee – 4.6
2. Matt Harvey – 4.5
3. Adam Wainwright – 4.4
4. Clayton Kershaw – 4.4

NL Cy Young (Fangraphs)

1. Adam Wainwright – 4.2
2. Matt Harvey – 4.2
3. Cliff Lee – 3.5

I’m guessing Wainwright would win the award if the season ended today, and both versions of WAR think he’s just as deserving as Harvey, even though Harvey has the edge in ERA (2.00 to 2.22) and strikeouts (132 to 114). … You may have noticed Kershaw comes in second on B-ref’s MVP list, but just tied for third here. That’s because I’m only using their pitching WAR for Cy Young.

AL Rookie of the Year (Baseball-reference)

1. Jose Iglesias – 2.3
2. David Lough – 1.7
3. Nick Franklin – 1.5

AL Rookie of the Year (Fangraphs)

1. Jose Iglesias – 1.4
2. David Lough – 1.2
3. Dan Straily – 1.1

B-ref rates Iglesias as an above average defender, while Fangraphs says below average. I’m firmly on B-ref’s side here. That said, it’s only a matter of time before he stops hitting and gets overtaken in the race.

NL Rookie of the Year (Baseball-reference)

1. Hyun-Jin Ryu – 2.5
2. Julio Teheran – 2.4
3. Shelby Miller – 2.3
3. Nolan Arenado – 2.3

NL Rookie of the Year (Fangraphs)

1. Shelby Miller – 2.2
2. Marcell Ozuna – 2.1
3. Evan Gattis – 1.8

Yasiel Puig is making a glorious charge here. B-ref had him at 2.1 and Fangraphs has him at 1.8 after a measly 26 games. Fangraphs, for what it’s worth, rates him as a bit of a liability both defensively and on the basepaths to date, no doubt because of his overaggressiveness.

  1. bmoreravens1012013 - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:19 PM

    I like how stats like “war”, which the analysts shove down our collective throats, don’t mean as much if it doesn’t fit their agenda: case in point Machado. They tell us how accurate and precise ” war” is , but when it doesn’t fit the media driven narrative, its ” excessive”. That’s why I pay attention to my eyes and not these subjective, flip flopping ” writers”. What a joke.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:45 PM

      They tell us how accurate and precise ” war” is

      No one from BPro, Fangraphs, or BRef has ever said this, ever. But continue with the straw manning…

    • Detroit Michael - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:11 PM

      The advaneced defensive statistics take a long time to stabilize, so it is appropriate to consider outliers with half a season’s data as needing some regression towards the mean. I think Craig’s remarks about Machado’s defensive rating in the b-ref version of WAR were appropriate.

      In general, the sabermetrically-oriented crowd tends to think that WAR helps inform the debate, not end it.

      • spudchukar - Jul 2, 2013 at 12:09 PM

        Were this only true.

  2. proudlycanadian - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:22 PM

    WAR seems to be at WAR with itself. The numbers produced by the 2 sources give different results. Since WAR is not a simple statistic, the weightings used by adherents are crucial. Frankly, I do not trust either source as a realistic measure of a player’s value.

  3. chacochicken - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:33 PM

    Let’s just take the players with the most RBI as the MVPs and the Pitchers with the least RBI against (and qualifying amount of innings pitched) and give them the Cy Young. Who cares about defense? You’re welcome Baseball Reference.

    • historiophiliac - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:15 PM

      With you on the ribbies, but how about most K’s for the Cy Young? 😉

      • philliesblow - Jul 1, 2013 at 10:10 PM

        If you were to base either award in a single stat, I’d use OPS for MVP and WHIP for Cy Young.

      • byjiminy - Jul 2, 2013 at 11:32 AM

        ribbies? you meant wins, right?

  4. e5again - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:36 PM

    So without Wright and Harvey the Mets would be 24-54 (4.5 games behind the Marlins). I find it interesting that the top 5 for NL WAR from BR are all on some of the worst teams.

  5. spudchukar - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:37 PM

    A couple of observations. Obviously the AL is rookie poor. WAR overvalues pitching. And in a rare agreement with Matt, the NL discussion for MVP needs to include Molina and Goldschmidt. This article does more to illustrate the frailties of WAR than it does illuminate the awards half-way battles.

    • Detroit Michael - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:15 PM

      How can you conclude that WAR overvalues pitching? MLB teams devote nearly half of their roster slots to pitchers, yet the top 10 (5 in each version of WAR) MVP candidates include 1 pitcher?

      WAR may overvalue pitching, but I have no idea why you draw that conclusion from this blog post.

      • spudchukar - Jul 2, 2013 at 12:06 PM

        What? Is reading comprehension an elective in Detroit? Baseball-Reference includes 3 pitchers in their top five for NL MVP. Fangraphs prefers two. That makes 5 of ten.

        And the roster spots argument is inane. Teams choose to balance rosters by possible usage. Every day, 4 pitchers are unavailable. That leaves 7 or 8 pitchers and 12 or 13 hitters.

  6. thebadguyswon - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    Har-veys bet-ter!
    Har-veys bet-ter!

  7. nelsonsaint - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:06 PM


  8. okwhitefalcon - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    WAR is like a credit score.

    Fangraphs and Baseball Reference can no more agree on a universal calculation than Trans Union, Equifax or Experian can.

    Maybe MLB should use a credit report to decide awards/all star rosters and banks should use WAR for lending purposes.

  9. misterj167 - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    Unless he starts failing spectacularly, and there’s no reason to think he will, Puig will be a shoe-in for ROY. Gattis may hit 30-35 homers but he’s still a PT player for now and not exactly Gold Glove material.

    • misterj167 - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:12 PM


      • Liam - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:40 PM

  10. jrocknstuff - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:22 PM

    Harvey is going to be shut down early and on a strict innings cap therefore killing any chance he would have at a Cy Young this year.

    As for Machado, he is absolutely in the same class as Trout but you’ve never given him the credit he deserves

    • ndrocks2 - Jul 2, 2013 at 9:01 AM

      Machado is A STUD but he isn’t close to Trout this season, WAR or no WAR. Trout is blowing him away in OPS, HR & SB. You picked the wrong dog in that fight up to this point in the year. Great player but better than Trout, not so much.

  11. paul621 - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:26 PM

    I thought I read that the WAR systems had agreed to one standard? Or did I just make that up?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:34 PM

      they agreed on how to calculate replacement value. the rest of the calculations are different, but components are the same.

  12. scoobies05 - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:50 PM

    baltimoreravens…..thank you!

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 1, 2013 at 9:02 PM

      He or she is wrong with pretty much every comment in his/her post, as an FYI.

  13. sharkie29 - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    Josh Donaldson?

  14. thomas844 - Jul 1, 2013 at 8:47 PM

    WAR is so overrated

  15. lawson1974 - Jul 1, 2013 at 8:57 PM

    Show me RBI’s and slugging percentage, not this crap.

  16. ajgp920 - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:26 PM

    This makes you realize how bad the rookie of the year race is in the American League

    • largebill - Jul 2, 2013 at 9:20 AM

      I wouldn’t be surprised to see ROY in both leagues be someone not even listed in this article.

  17. apkyletexas - Jul 2, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    Meh – half those guys are playing for losers, and the Pirates have beaten most of them in the past few weeks. I’ll take guys from the best team in baseball. Give me Jeff Locke for Cy Young, Andrew McCutchen for MVP, and Gerrit Cole for Rookie and I’ll be happy.

  18. crackersnap - Jul 2, 2013 at 12:28 AM

    Just as in 2011 (, this must be one of those years when Tiger fans believe in the power of WAR.

  19. jh0122 - Jul 2, 2013 at 12:29 AM

    If there’s no consensus on how a stat should be calculated, then it’s too subjective to be a stat.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jul 2, 2013 at 1:46 AM

      Why? Lots of things in life are measured in multiple ways. Is this distance calculated in miles or kilometers? Is that boiling point measured in celsius or fahrenheit? What about pounds or grams to determine the weight of something?

      • zukith - Jul 2, 2013 at 11:59 AM

        None of your examples address his point. The difference being that all the examples you gave may have different units, but measure a discreet known value. These are not subjective at all, and therefore can be directly converted from one to the other with no error.

        The fact that WAR is different among players between the two calculations means that there IS subjectivity, particularly in the determination of what aspects of the game are more important than others, and trying to quantify the differences between each.

        That said, just because there is subjectivity in the stat does not make it bad. The stat is inherently arbitrary, but seems to give a fairly decent measure between players in a game that has many different components.

  20. kundratm - Jul 2, 2013 at 7:45 AM

    Forget WAR its all about Bucco Fever.

  21. ndrocks2 - Jul 2, 2013 at 8:48 AM

    Baseball Reference NL MVP top five are on last place teams. Hard to take it seriously after reading that…

    • byjiminy - Jul 2, 2013 at 11:34 AM

      you’re right — we must adjust the formula for WAR to take into account the performance of other players

      • ndrocks2 - Jul 2, 2013 at 9:49 PM

        Most Valuable Player – most valuable to a team

        Best Player – unrelated to MVP

        Article states MVP

  22. 161andriver - Jul 2, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    WAR has never been touted as the absolute be all end all statistic. All it is, is an attempt to wrap up every skill into one number. Just to try to give a numeric value to a player’s overall performance. I don’t think you would hear anyone (with even a basic knowledge of sabermetrics) trying to say that WAR should God of all stats. The defense stats are very flaky, and obviously there isn’t a 100% absolute consensus. But if you look objectively, the top 5s for WAR are pretty much on. Maybe not in the exact order I would put them in, but any real AL MVP discussion is going to include Cabrera, Davis, Machado, Trout, and Longoria.

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