Alex Gordon projects as the most valuable Royal again in 2012 based on one resource. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

This Means WAR


I’m reasonably sure that by this point, most of those who swing by baseball blogs have an understanding of WAR (wins above replacement) or at least an idea. The short form is this if you haven’t run into the acronym: take the contributions of a player on the field, come up with a baseline for a player signed off the street or from the minor leagues and then judge how much better or worse than that “replacement” player someone is and assign a value to it.

Lewie Pollis, editor of Wahoo’s On First on the FanSided Network, built a Simple WAR Calculator and shared it with the baseball community. It’s just that – simple. The goal, as he explains, is this:

The Simple WAR Calculator is my attempt to make these value stats more accessible. By inputting just a few numbers you can get a reasonable estimate of how much a player is worth. It is my hope that it will save my fellow stat nerds some trouble calculating WAR from projections as well as helping non-sabermetrically inclined fans to understand where value comes from and how much each facet of a player’s game helps his team win.

With that in mind, I figured I’d plug in some Royals hitters and see how they wind up.

I used the collected projections on FanGraphs.com to come up with an average estimation of a player’s projection. Then I put those averages into Lewie’s WAR Calculator and looked at the results.

 

Player Proj WAR Value (millions) Baserunning Defense
Alex Gordon 4.4 22.1 Average Above Avg
Eric Hosmer 3.5 17.3 Average Average
Lorenzo Cain 3.2 16.2 Above Avg Above Avg
Alcides Escobar 3 15.2 Above Avg Above Avg
Billy Butler 2.5 12.7 Below Avg DH
Jeff Francoeur 2.3 11.7 Average Above Avg
Mike Moustakas 1.9 9.6 Below Avg Below Avg
Johnny Giavotella 1.3 6.6 Average Below Avg
Chris Getz 0.7 3.4 Above Avg Average
Brayan Pena 0.5 2.6 Below Avg Below Avg
Humberto Quintero 0.3 1.3 Below Avg Above Avg
Yuniesky Betancourt -0.5 -2.3 Below Avg Below Avg

Within the calculator, baserunning and defense are rated on a scale, so it’s not exact. I made the best estimation I could based on scouting and my own interpretations. The full spreadsheet is available here if you’re interested in seeing the collected projections and averages.

The calculator isn’t an exact tool, but it can provide an idea of potential value for Royals players (a pitching version is in the works). Players with lower projected on base percentages really took a hit. That’s to be expected. If you’re not on base, you can’t score a run and runs are what create wins. In the case of Chris Getz, who has shown skill in stealing bases and has a reputation of average defensive ability, those extra areas helped him retain value, despite replacement level on base percentage and very low slugging. Betancourt, who has no such reputation and relies on a slugging percentage that is decent for his position and is below average everywhere else, did not fare well in this exercise.

Last year’s most well-rounded player, Alex Gordon, projected to be the best again in 2012, though Eric Hosmer could easily take that spot as well if he’s able to get on base a bit more than he did last year and if he starts to develop quickly at the plate and in the field as scouts suspect he will.

I omitted Salvador Perez because it’s not clear how much playing time he’ll get and projections assumed he would get the majority of the time behind the plate. In the cases of Getz, Betancourt, Quintero and Pena, they all had a range of projected plate appearances, and it’s not clear now how often each will play. Since projected playing time for both positions (second base and catcher) ended up being a close split, so I left it’s a close enough estimation.

Cain and Escobar both benefit from speed and defensive ability, while projections are reasonably friendly to both as well. Butler’s projections were entered to consider him as a DH so defense didn’t factor in. When rated as a first baseman, his value dropped – as one would expect.

One final note: while spring training stats aren’t a great gauge of how a player will actually play once the season starts, the top players in the table are doing quite well in spring training this year. There’s something to watch during the season.

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Tags: AL Central Alcides Escobar Alex Gordon Baseball Billy Butler Chris Getz Eric Hosmer Featured Jeff Francoeur Johnny Giavotella Kansas City Royals KC KC Royals MLB Popular Royals Yuniesky Betancourt

  • jim fetterolf

    Only disagreement would be on Moustakas, whose defense was solid last year and isn’t a bad base runner. I’ld give him an average on both.
     
    Gordon and Hoz should both probably walk more this year, Billy less if Moose is hitting. Not a bad top six of the line-up. Six position players over 2 WAR will make a competitive team.

  • michael.allen.engel

     @jim fetterolf True, Moose looked alright there last year, but I’m going off the scouting through the minors that suggests he may not be much of a fielder. I could have gone average there but just wasn’t going to go that far. 

  • michael.allen.engel

     @jim fetterolf oh, and below average on baserunning for Moose because he’s not going to create a lot of runs with his legs. Hosmer and Francoeur will at least steal some bases here and there that Moose wouldn’t. He’s not bad, he’s just not good. 

  • MHunterYGY

    “come up with a baseline for a random player who’d fill in and perform completely average”
     
    Minor note: replacement level players aren’t average; they represent what a team can get from AAA or cheaply as a free agent. Average players will be well above replacement level.

  • michael.allen.engel

     @MHunterYGY You’re right, that’s my mistake. The responsible parties have been sacked.