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Thread: Anti-WAR protest

  1. #1
    Haunted by walks
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    Anti-WAR protest

    Here's a blog item by Steve Buttry, a newspaper editor and Yankees fan, for what that's worth, making a case that Wins are a better stat for pitchers than WAR. Much of it is the usual "it's a pitcher's job to win," but he makes an interesting point about Ron Guidry's 1978 season. We know that factors other than the pitcher contribute to wins and losses, but Guidry was so dominant, far above the replacement pitcher and even the other top starters, that his true contributions to the team's wins didn't show up in WAR. See what you think.

    http://hatedyankees.wordpress.com/20...tats-like-war/

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    Re: Anti-WAR protest

    What is it good for?

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Anti-WAR protest

    I stopped reading two paragraphs in when I got to this

    I’d try to figure out WAR if it measured actual performance or measured something that really matters. Or if it were accurate.

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    Re: Anti-WAR protest

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    I stopped reading two paragraphs in when I got to this
    I know, there's more that, but keep reading. I'm curious what people think of Guidry's season.

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    757690 (01-13-2014)

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    Re: Anti-WAR protest

    Quote Originally Posted by BCubb2003 View Post
    I know, there's more that, but keep reading. I'm curious what people think of Guidry's season.
    I think when one needs such an extreme example in order to make their point, the point they're making is on rather shaky ground.
    Sabermetrics is this: A batter's goal is to extend the inning. Extend enough innings and you're going to score runs. Extend more innings than your opponent and you're going to score more runs than him.

    Forget the rain. It's never an official game until the Reds piss away a run between third base and home plate. - Bluegrass Redleg

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    Re: Anti-WAR protest

    Quote Originally Posted by BCubb2003 View Post
    I know, there's more that, but keep reading. I'm curious what people think of Guidry's season.
    I am not going to keep reading when the guy openly admits he hasn't even tried to understand WAR, but he wants to tear it down. It is like me saying water isn't wet, but I will not actually touch water to find out.

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    Re: Anti-WAR protest

    I love how somehow the "win" is a real stat and WAR isn't. What on field event is a "win"? And does just the pitcher do it? Funny how there wasn't a single mention of run support.

    I think some people really just can't see that their favorite stat isn't necessarily more "real" or pure than newer ones.

    And anyway, Guidry's 8.8 WAR was just 0.1 behind Phil Neikro for the best in the majors in 1978 and Neikro had 60 more innings (44 G, 42 GS). Put differently, WAR agrees that Guidry was the most dominant player in 1978. What's the debate?

    Does he want to argue that Guidry's '78 was better than Seaver's '71 (20-10), Pedro's '00 (18-6) or Big Unit's 2004 (16-14)?

    But ultimately, I think what bugs me most is that articles like this essentially presuppose that the "WAR" crowd hasn't considered all of these arguments before. They go on at length without touching on elementary things like run support, like the role defense, etc. Ultimately, this isn't about WAR at all; it's not considering the strength & weaknesses of each approach. It's a rage against the dying of the light for a generation of thinking whose time has come and gone.
    Last edited by RedsManRick; 01-13-2014 at 01:06 PM.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Re: Anti-WAR protest

    I don't know if anyone actually read the article, but he makes a lot of good points.

    WAR for pitchers has always been much more inaccurate than WAR for hitters, imo, because it doesn't include all of a pitchers results, only ones that it deems important. It gives an incomplete picture of what a pitcher did. There are reasons for this, which I strongly disagree with, but I'd rather focus on what thus writer is proposing.

    He breaks downs wins into four categories.

    Dominant Wins
    Should Wins
    Keep Your Team in the Game Wins
    Lucky If Your Team Wins

    I like those categories, and I would love to see how other pitcher's seasons broke down along these lines. I think this might be a very effective, quick tool to accurately judge how much a pitcher helped his team win games over a season.
    "Man, the pitch looks fast, even in slow motion." Thom Brennaman on Chapman's fastball.

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    REDREAD (01-14-2014)

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    Re: Anti-WAR protest

    Quote Originally Posted by 757690 View Post
    I don't know if anyone actually read the article, but he makes a lot of good points.

    WAR for pitchers has always been much more inaccurate than WAR for hitters, imo, because it doesn't include all of a pitchers results, only ones that it deems important. It gives an incomplete picture of what a pitcher did. There are reasons for this, which I strongly disagree with, but I'd rather focus on what thus writer is proposing.

    He breaks downs wins into four categories.

    Dominant Wins
    Should Wins
    Keep Your Team in the Game Wins
    Lucky If Your Team Wins

    I like those categories, and I would love to see how other pitcher's seasons broke down along these lines. I think this might be a very effective, quick tool to accurately judge how much a pitcher helped his team win games over a season.
    Pitcher WAR is generally based upon FIP which attempts to isolate the impact of the pitcher from the overall results. It's not really correct vernacular to describe that as "only considering what it deems important". It's actually only considering things that the pitcher can control. Some might argue it's semantics but regarding an understanding of what pitcher WAR attempts to do, it's a very important distinction because it isn't an arbitrary formula and it cuts to the very heart of the issue.
    "This isn’t stats vs scouts - this is stats and scouts working together, building an organization that blends the best of both worlds. This is the blueprint for how a baseball organization should be run. And, whether the baseball men of the 20th century like it or not, this is where baseball is going."---Dave Cameron, U.S.S. Mariner

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    Re: Anti-WAR protest

    I’ll just explain, using Guidry’s 1978 season, which Andy and I were discussing, why WAR isn’t nearly as accurate or as valuable as measuring what the player actually did.

    In 1978, Guidry’s record was 25-3, 22 games over .500. We don’t have to speculate about what a “replacement” player on the Yankees would have done. Jim Beattie was a replacement pitcher, a rookie who started 22 games, making the team in spring training after some injuries to veteran pitchers. He lost seven games in a row at one time and slipped out of the rotation for a while but ended up with the fourth-most starts on an injury plagued staff. Since Beattie actually played pretty much the whole season, he’s actually a notch above replacement (which WAR confirms by giving him a rating for the year of 0.7 WAR). But he’ll do.

    Beattie was 6-9. So one way to measure his wins over replacement would just be Guidry’s wins (25) minus Beattie’s (6), or a WAR of 19. I think that’s a fair way, because a replacement player isn’t generally going to play a full year anyway. But that doesn’t count losses, and Beattie lost three times as many games in his 22 starts as Guidry lost in his 35 starts.

    A better way to count in my view would be to compare how far they were above or below .500. The Yankees were 22 games over .500 with Guidry getting the decision, three games under when Beattie got the decision, so that way, Guidry’s WAR would be 25.

    Or maybe you want to project Beattie’s performance over 35 starts, which would give him a record of 10-14. That would change the WAR to 15 just counting wins or 26 counting wins and losses.

    But WAR doesn’t work that way. The WAR formula gives Guidry 9.6 wins above a mythical replacement pitcher. It tries to slice and dice a player’s contributions to the wins to figure hypothetically what that player’s number of wins is. And it’s flat wrong.
    Nonsense writing like this is what widens the gap between the "saber-crowd" and the "old-school crowd." (I'd say the saber-version of this would be an article that outlined how the only things that matter in baseball are what happen on the field, and there is no such thing in any world as clutch, clubhouse chemistry, or disruption- except written in an article with absolutes and ridiculing anyone who questions it)

    This is an author who has no idea what he is talking about re: WAR and is trying to make his own argument using cursory, ridiculous arguments.

    Regarding his four categories of wins, my counterpoint is that there are times where a pitcher's performance could fall into multiple categories- what kind of performance would these be?

    Leake: http://www.baseball-reference.com/bo...01307240.shtml
    Arroyo: http://www.baseball-reference.com/bo...01306140.shtml
    Latos: http://www.baseball-reference.com/bo...01309250.shtml

    Anecdotal categorization ignores context, and undermines the actual performance in the actual game by boiling everything down to "what does the box score say?" It's like sabermetrics without computers or calculators, and is just as guilty of ignoring context or real performance of players on the field as this Quixote-ian tilt against the author's imaginary WAR is.
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    Re: Anti-WAR protest

    Beattie was 6-9. So one way to measure his wins over replacement would just be Guidry’s wins (25) minus Beattie’s (6), or a WAR of 19. I think that’s a fair way, because a replacement player isn’t generally going to play a full year anyway. But that doesn’t count losses, and Beattie lost three times as many games in his 22 starts as Guidry lost in his 35 starts.
    I try not to dismiss something someone wrote so easily, but it really is hard to take someone seriously who would write the paragraph above. It's like he has no idea not just the basic math behind WAR, but also how a team actually wins a game. I'm not a big fan of WAR to begin with and think there are too many issues with it to take it as anything more than directionally accurate, but this is one of most poorly constructed arguments against it I've seen. It's basically the RBI argument (assuming all things are equal in comparing player RBI totals) applied to pitchers.
    Last edited by MWM; 01-13-2014 at 01:43 PM.
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    Re: Anti-WAR protest

    I don't use WAR at all for pitchers. I don't like the weighting. I think it grades for style more than substance, contributing to the (wildly incorrect) view among some that there's only one way to succeed on the mound and everyone should fit into that cookie-cutter model. I generally don't think it tells you anything you didn't already know without WAR. I think replacement-level pitching is sub-functional and therefore a ridiculously bad baseline. However, that's one terrible article. Dopiness of that vintage is 15 years past its expiration date.
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    Re: Anti-WAR protest

    Do you all think that the name of WAR should be changed because I find, in my discussions with non-saber people, that Wins Above Replacement is kind of confusing for them. Honestly, I think it should be called Performance Above Replacement. Of course, that would confuse golfers but who cares about them
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    Posting in Dynarama M2's Avatar
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    Re: Anti-WAR protest

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeThierry View Post
    Do you all think that the name of WAR should be changed because I find, in my discussions with non-saber people, that Wins Above Replacement is kind of confusing for them. Honestly, I think it should be called Performance Above Replacement. Of course, that would confuse golfers but who cares about them
    Honestly, I think we need to get away from trying to shoehorn the entire game into one number that rules them all.
    Last edited by M2; 01-13-2014 at 03:38 PM.
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    Re: Anti-WAR protest

    Quote Originally Posted by M2 View Post
    Honestly, I think we need to get away with trying to shoehorn the entire game into one number that rules them all.
    Yeah, does anyone say "we need an X WAR player to get us over the top" without any regard to what that player offers?

    Maybe it's just me, but I've enough time on my hands to look at more than one number.
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