There has been a revolution in the baseball world, which has happened in the last few decades. How many people watch the game has changed. And while no metric can determine the dimensions of a game as a whole, baseball and those around it have great ways of breaking down what is happening now and what could happen next.
In addition to batting averages, RBIs, pitcher wins and ERA, some advanced metrics – fWAR, wRC +, BABIP, FIP, OOA, wOBA and many more – give us a more complete picture of what’s going on or why something happened. It’s not just about changing the “eye test” or scouting, it should be layered on top of everything else, like the blueprint.
And why is it important for this metrics to appear in our coverage, in addition to being able to tell more stories and in more accurate ways?
It’s simple: because teams are using advanced metrics as part of their decision making, whether it’s entirely player evaluation, free agency, trade decision or draft. Anything and everything. And since teams have come up with analytical ways to evaluate players in their decision making, it is imperative that they reflect the coverage of those teams.
Otherwise, in this modern age of baseball, readers and listeners will be left with the key aspects of evaluating how teams work. Pitchers win and leave a lot of references on the RBI table if they are used to evaluate players against each other.
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Some readers have sent emails asking for explanations of some of these advanced numbers, so we thought we would offer some explanations for additional references. And in the future, whenever these metrics are used in stories, these explanations will be linked and readily available for refresher.
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First up: War.
What is Vince Above Replacement (WAR)?
The goal of the Vince Above replacement is to calculate the value of the player for his team in all aspects of the game by mentioning how many extra wins the replacement-level player will receive, be it a minor league or readily available free agent fill-in.
So if a player wins 4.5 in a given season, it means that a replacement-level player deserves to win an additional 4.5 for his team rather than what he has produced. An all-star caliber player is around at least 3-6 battles in a season. Once you have won more than 6 battles for a single season and especially once 7 or 8 battles have been taken, you are probably talking about MVP candidate.
Batting, base running and fielding are all factors for position players. It is then adjusted to the position and league trends of that year, making it easier to compare the value of a particular second baseman in 2022 with that of a particular left fielder in 2016. The calculation of pitchers is adjusted for league trends and ballpark elements.
Different sources have different calculations. When you look at “fWAR” referring to the Fangraph’s formula, “bWAR” is a baseball-reference and is used by the WARP (Vince Above Replacement Player) baseball prospectus. Fangraph’s formula – fWAR – is mostly used in our coverage.
Since it relates to parents, the previous year can be analyzed.
Jose Ramirez (36 home runs, 103 RBI, 27 stolen bases, above average fielding rating) was worth 6.5 fWAR, again at the top of the league. (He has already accumulated 3.8 fWAR in 59 games this season.) Amed Rosario, after his strong second half, came in at 2.4 fWAR – a positive contributor. Jake Bowers, on the other hand, who struggled in Cleveland and could not survive the first base job, was priced at -0.4 fWAR, meaning he was lower than the replacement-level player rate.
For additional reference, see Cleveland’s 2018 season. Ramirez and Francisco Lindor, both of whose seasons were strong, came in at 8.1 fWAR and 7.8 fWAR, respectively. Michael Brantley, who was strong but much smaller than the MVP candidate, had a 3.7 FWAR, meaning he had 3.7 extra wins than the substitute would have given. On the pitch side, Cleveland got a strong season from four starters: Trevor Boer (5.8 fWAR), Corey Kluber (5.5), Carlos Carrasco (5.2) and Mike Clevinger (4.2). A newcomer named Shane Bieber was priced at 2.6 fWAR.
Ryan Lewis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about parenting at www.beaconjournal.com/sports/cleveland-guardians. Follow her on Twitter at ByRyanLewis.