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 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.

PlayerProj WARValue (millions)BaserunningDefense
Alex Gordon4.422.1AverageAbove Avg
Eric Hosmer3.517.3AverageAverage
Lorenzo Cain3.216.2Above AvgAbove Avg
Alcides Escobar315.2Above AvgAbove Avg
Billy Butler2.512.7Below AvgDH
Jeff Francoeur2.311.7AverageAbove Avg
Mike Moustakas1.99.6Below AvgBelow Avg
Johnny Giavotella1.36.6AverageBelow Avg
Chris Getz0.73.4Above AvgAverage
Brayan Pena0.52.6Below AvgBelow Avg
Humberto Quintero0.31.3Below AvgAbove Avg
Yuniesky Betancourt-0.5-2.3Below AvgBelow 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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