WAR and peas UpdatedFebruary 2nd, 2013 by terrybenish
Dave Cameron responds to Caple and in a somewhat disingenuous effort does not touch on the huge flaw in WAR which is UZR.
Jim Caple formerly of the Bellevue Journal American and now of ESPN has a nice riff on the evils of Wins Above Replacement player as an ultimate judgement of players. Buried within the woodpile of the piece is the demon stat UZR. There is a link to his free piece on ESPN below. Great read.
There is a recent Peabody piece not about peas, but about how the WAR value for Michael Bourn is bad and why etc. It is in the archive for your perusal.
I would argue there is a much better and direct way to evaluate this in a fashion that is out in the open. Offensively it is very easy to sum up every positive number that represents a base attained. Every hit and walk and hit by pitch and stolen base, every extra base from doubles, triples and home runs. Subtract from that sum every caught stealing and every ground into double plays and then divide that net number by plate appearances. For defensive prowess of infielders total chances by innings played. Compare to peers by position. For outfielders same thing plus double plays and assists. Even this is open to interpretation in that people don’t run on great arms so the assists and double plays don’t necessarily reflect how good an arm might be. Compare to peers by position. Catchers can not let balls get by them, whether the local scorekeeper calls it a passed ball or wild pitch. There is some effort to quantify catcher’s pitch framing ability by examining examining expected strikes versus actual strikes based on where data shows strike to be. Data would say catcher gets more strikes than what should be or less than would be there. If a catcher worked with the 1970 Orioles he would have more strikes than say Jerry McNertney had with the 1969 pilots. Data might suggest that McNertney was a superior receiver to Andy Etchebarren and would not be correct.
There is a similarity to hitting and catcher receiving. The
hitter must start his movements early enough so that he is able to
get the barrel of his bat on the ball in the hitting zone. He can’t
be late. For a catcher he must get the mitt to the point where the
ball intersects before the ball does so that his mitt is stable and
the mitt does not flash through that intersection point. Umpires
don’t like catchers that stab the ball and keep on moving. They
like big loud tone of ball thudding into mitt. They don’t like
catchers fooling them with positioning moves, shifting mitt backward to zone or sidewise positioning of mitt. It is hard to quantify that directly, although scouts grade it.
Last year of the three catchers Jaso and Montero did this better than Olivo did, who was terrible at this. Couple of years ago Johjima could be characterized as a stabber. Another way to describe this is that Johjima’s movements to the ball with his mitt were tardy. Which could be described to inflexibility or lack of core strength, being used too much or some combination thereof.
For pitchers it is possible to account for hitter’s success against them in the exact same way as how the hitter’s numbers are amassed. Both really amount to a more refined version of OPS.
Looking at players in this fashion is right in front of fan. There are no Merlinesque calculations of what a replacement player is this year, or to explain why that number shifts from year to year.
Mr. Caple has an obligatory reference to Edwin Star’s song War, so here you go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01-2pNCZiNk
War and Peace by Lev Tolstoy is about the invasion of Russia by Napoleon, my reference is about super bowl fare…beef stew and peas, with a good red wine at half time.