Originally Posted by Patrick Bateman
Simply put, because no, I am not making the argument for you, and I disagree with the bulk of this....
But, there would be no need for a positional adjustment if WAR's basis was to compare players at their own position. Yes, it does do that as well, however, as every catcher gets the same positional adjustment as every other catcher (and so on for other position), there would be no rhyme or reason for it to exist if the purpose was to compare players at their own position. They all start on the same basis.
However, a catcher, and a first basemen do not, because the positional adjustment works to give credit, essentially to the positional scarcity that players that play more difficult positions deserve in making an even playing field. It allows for a more even baseline so that we can judge players relative to others at their own position for the purpose of comparing the same player to all other positions.
So yes, you are correct in saying one component of what it does, however, it does so for the purpose of being able to directly compare overall value to other positions, which is the end purpose of the metric. Again, we are already able to compare a catcher to another catcher without a positional adjustment. The remainder of the value components of WAR complete that purpose. It's the positional adjustment that takes it the next step. If WAR was not being used for the purpose we are suggesting, the positional adjustment would not be included, as it is null and void in completing the objective you are discussing.
You made my point because you admitted that the metric was, in fact, measuring the value of a player's contribution relative to a replacement player at his own position. If that weren't at least a partial aspect of the stat, there'd be no reason for the positional adjustment. You'd simply compare players to the total contribution of runs created/saved. You don't need to know what position someone plays to compare what they produced. We already know that without finding the replacement level of the position. You can already compare Mike Trout to Ryan Braun to see who the *better* player is. You need the positional adjustments to see what *value* they have over a replacement at the position they play.
We can argue semantics all day, but the bottom line is that the stat does absolutely measure replacement level over same position players. That's exactly what the output measures... the number of wins above a replacement player at the same position. It's astounding to me that anyone is disagreeing with that simple statement. That's the whole calculation in a nutshell. We can argue semantics at the 'purpose,' but that is in fact what the stat does.
This is basic economics. Some products might not have as good of quality as another product. But supply and demand might make that product more valuable despite being of a lesser quality. WAR doesn't aim to measure the quality of the product, but rather add in the supply/demand value aspect of the positions.
One last time... Ryan Hanigan isn't a better baseball player because he plays at a position with lesser talent. All that means is he's a more valuable baseball player. WAR is meant to measure value, not necessarily talent/production. You don't need to know replacement level to compare players across different positions if all you want to know is who the better baseball player is.