09.30.12

NYDN’s Bill Madden – At WAR With Satan Stat Geeks

Posted in Baseball at 8:24 pm by

I fully admit the above headline was a very cheap ploy to work the above Venom video in the blog.  On the (slightly) more relevant tip, however,  New York Daily News veteran baseball columnist Bill Madden bemoans the current climate in which “many scribes and bloggers across the country” have come up with arguments to deny the AL MVP or NL Cy Young Award to Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera or the Mets’ R.A. Dickey (“specially Cabrera who has fallen victim to that nebulous (I would say ludicrous) new-age sabermetric stat called WAR”) (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

This growing infatuation with WAR (wins above replacement) is, in my opinion, turning baseball into an inhuman board game. This is a stat that even its inventors can’t agree on an established formula, other than when all of these various factors of offense and defense are put into a blender and shaken well, out comes the player’s value to a team in wins above and beyond the “replacement” value of a player taken off the waiver wire for nothing. In other words, one big hypothetical. According to one blogger last week, Trout’s superior WAR demonstrates that “he has helped his team win roughly three to four more games than Cabrera has helped his.” Don’t ask how that conclusion is reached. Much of this, presumably, is based on Trout’s superior defense and speed. But again, all of this is hypothetical, and how do you vote on a stat nobody knows how to calculate? If you want concrete evidence of Trout’s value, I would present the Angels’ 6-14 record, nine games out on April 28, the day he was recalled from the minors, and their 81-56 record since. And as for Cabrera’s defense, I would also submit the fact that he willingly moved from first base (where he’d become a fairly accomplished defender) to third so Detroit could sign Prince Fielder — and, as long as we’re going to deal in hypotheticals here, how many extra wins did that give the Tigers? Lastly, it now looks like the Tigers might win the AL Central while Trout’s Angels need a strong finish and a collapse by the Oakland A’s to secure the second wild-card spot. That, too, should be worth big points for Cabrera, although for the sabermatricians that’s probably much too tangible.

Leave a Reply