WAR is the sexiest of all the new age baseball stats. It is powerful and all-encompassing, and even though you’ll never hear it uttered at the ballpark or in a discussion among friends, if you ever engage in baseball talk online, it’ll likely be the first stat mentioned. If you’re blissfully unaware of WAR, you can read up about it here.
But wait! In a lengthy and insightful blog post by a gentleman named Hippeaux at It’s All About the Money, Stupid, WAR has finally been challenged.
While I applaud WAR (and other metrics) for aiding in our appreciation of defense and baserunning, it’s beyond asinine to conclude that Ellsbury is twice as valuable as Fielder. Too often WAR is used as a means of comparing oranges to apples. One of the things that makes baseball great is the diversity of the fruit basket. WAR give incredible weight to scarcity of shortstops, but no weight to the scarcity of pitcher-intimidating, strategy-altering cleanup hitters, which I see as a form of reverse discrimination.
If you like that, you’ll love this:
WAR evaluates catching using only the ability to control the running game. There is abundant evidence that certain park factors have not been sufficiently accounted for. I’m not arguing, however, that WAR should be completely discounted. As yet, it is probably as good a singular statistic as is widely available. But, WAR is not a debate-ending statistic, especially for single seasons.
You’ll want to familiarize yourself with Hippeaux’s talking points. Next time someone tries to drop the mic and walk off stage by rattling off some WAR numbers, pull a Lee Corso and say: “Not so fast, my friend,” fist your No. 2 pencil in the air and go Hippeaux on their ass. Then, say, Curtis Granderson is first in runs (by a mile), second in triples, second in homers, and tops in RBI: Give that man the MVP … just to watch smoke come out of their ears. [It’s All About the Money Stupid]