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Everything You Wanted to Know About Wins Above Replacement (WAR)

Posted by Neil on October 10, 2012

With all of the controversy over the role of Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in the A.L. MVP debate, now might be a good time to remind everyone about our WAR 2.1 guide:

  • WAR Explained - This explains the basics of WAR, the philosophy behind the stat, and some of the changes we made to the formula this past spring.
  • Weighted Runs Above Average (wRAA) Explained - This describes how wRAA, the core hitting stat of WAR, is computed.
  • Position Player WAR Calculations and Details - This explains how we turn wRAA, Baserunning & Double-Play Runs, Fielding Runs, Positional Adjustment Runs, and Replacement level Runs into WAR for position-players.
  • Pitcher WAR Calculations and Details - This explains how we take a pitcher's runs allowed & innings pitched, and turn it into WAR.
  • Converting Runs to Wins - This further describes the process by which Runs Above Replacement (for both pitchers and position players) are converted into Wins Above Replacement.
  • WAR Comparison Chart - This chart shows the differences between the WAR found here at Baseball-Reference and those from a variety of other sources, including FanGraphs & Baseball Prospectus.
  • WAR Data Downloads - If you want to download the raw WAR data yourself and play around with it, you can also get the Batting and Pitching data from our site.

Many of the questions we typically get about WAR can be answered by reading the guide linked above.

36 Comments | Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement,, Features, WAR

Updated Linker and Player News Archive –

Posted by admin on October 9, 2012

Today we updated our linker software with a couple new options.

First you can now see the past news articles written for any player on These come from uses of our Linker Tool, so if you are a blogger and want your articles to appear there, let us know.

News Archive: Mark Reynolds News Archive -

We've got two years of history here, so even a player like Mark Reynolds has 800+ links. We also link to this archive from our player nav bars as well.

The linker software should also now recognize correctly written Spanish names. Unfortunately, it will overwrite them as anglicized names, but it's a step in the right direction.

Please let us know if you have any questions about the linker and how to add your site to our linker program.

13 Comments | Posted in Announcement,

Add Your Posts to Our Player Newsfeeds

Posted by Neil on October 8, 2012

Automatic Player Linker / Add your site to our newsfeeds

Just a reminder that you can request for your site to be added to our player newsfeeds. To get started, all you have to do is write a post as you normally would and use our linker tool, causing baseball-reference player links to be automatically added. Then let us know you want to be included by sending us the following information:

  • The name of your site to appear in the feed (at most 25 characters)
  • The url for your rss feed (must be a full feed)
  • A contact e-mail address
  • The url of an example page with our links in place

We'll review your request, and try to get your content added as soon as we can. It's a great way to get your content out there, and it gives your readers quick access to player stats and information.

Comments Off | Posted in Announcement,, Linker

BBR: Numerous Additions and Tweaks

Posted by Justin Kubatko on October 5, 2012

Over the last month or so I have made a number of additions and tweaks to

  • We now have partial box scores for both the 1982-83 and 1983-84 seasons.
  • Related to the above, we now have partial player game logs and splits for both the 1982-83 and 1983-84 seasons. You may have also noticed that the player's biographical information now appears at the top of both the game logs and splits.
  • On the main player pages, we have split the playoff statistics into four separate tables: totals, per game, per 36 minutes, and advanced.
  • Also on the player pages, the game logs, splits, shooting, and finder links have been moved to the navigation menu that "sticks" to the top of the page as you scroll down. There is also a news link on the navigation menu that leads to an archive of player news. (Note: If you would like to see your blog posts here, please read about how you can add your blog content to our newsfeeds.)
  • An improved navigation menu has been added to the leader pages. This will allow you to quickly switch between season, career, active, yearly, progressive, yearly, and top 10 pages for both the regular season and playoffs for a particular statistic. You can also easily switch statistics by hovering your mouse over the Leader & Records [+] tab and choosing a new statistic.
  • In the playoffs section, partial composite box scores have been added for the 1983 and 1984 playoff series.
  • The All-Star Game section has a new navigation bar on each page. This will allow you to quickly move from box scores to voting results to contest results. We have also added pages with single game and career leaders for the NBA All-Star Game.
  • Although this was announced at the end of August, don't forget that we now have a referees section with referee data for the 1988-89 through 2011-12 seasons.

OK, I think that covers it. As always, please send us your feedback if you have any comments or questions about the site.

2 Comments | Posted in Announcement,, Features

Walk-Off Plays added to Event Finder

Posted by admin on October 5, 2012

199 2012 Walk-Off PA's

Previously, you could sort of get walk-off plays, but you would also get plays where the game-ended by the pitching team making an out. I've now added a check to make sure that the batting team has won the game. So our Event Finder now lists, go-ahead, game-ending and walkoff all separately.

Note that this will not include the odd baserunning play like a walk-off passed ball, wild pitch, SB, etc.

2 Comments | Posted in Announcement,, Features, Play Index

Playoff-Related Play Index Tools

Posted by Neil on October 5, 2012

With the playoffs starting today, here's a rundown of the Play Index tools you can use to run playoff-themed searches...

7 Comments | Posted in Announcement,, Features, Play Index

2012 Baseball-Reference End-of-Year Updates: Sim Scores, Salaries, Batting Titles

Posted by admin on October 4, 2012

A few additions:

  1. We've added a page for Batting Titles and Pitching ERA Titles. These are the title holders as they were named at the time.
  2. These titles are marked on the pitching and batting tables with a golden glimmer. For instance, in 1910 Cobb was credited at the time with the batting title, but later research showed Lajoie ahead, so Cobb gets the gold background and Lajoie the black ink. For the purpose of the black ink test we'll give both of them credit.
  3. This gold styling is also applied to entries in the player stats that correspond to all-time career records, see Barry Bonds.
  4. For the 2012 Melky ruling, we've excluded Melky Cabrera from batting title consideration. I had some concerns about how the rule was implemented, but ultimately I've decided to go along with MLB's ruling in who we recognize as the highest BA. Previously, I had mistakenly thought that the rule waiver was applying to all players like Joey Votto and Giancarlo Stanton as well.
  5. 2012 Similarity Scores have been updated
  6. 2012 Salaries were finally updated. Salary leaderboards will update tomorrow.
  7. Added Wil Myers as BA minor leaguer of the year on Minors Section

6 Comments | Posted in Announcement,

CFB Updates

Posted by Neil on October 4, 2012

A quick note about several updates that we added to SR/College Football this week:

Comments Off | Posted in Announcement, CFB at Sports Reference, Features,

Were Giancarlo Stanton & Joey Votto the NL Slugging and On-base champs this year?

Posted by admin on October 4, 2012

Stanton slugged .608 in 501 PA's (sound familar?). With a hitless AB, he drops to .607 still well ahead of Ryan Braun's .595.

Joey Votto reached base 225 times in 475 PA for a .474 OBP. With 27 hitless AB's added, he drops to .448, still ahead of Buster Posey at .408.

Given MLB suspended the rule for Melky, was it also suspended for Giancarlo and Joey?

Note that rule 10.22 and 10.23 both mention the "Individual Batting and Slugging Champion" And 10.22 lists how to compute percentage records for OBP.

So I ask you, was Giancarlo the NL Slugging Champion for 2012? Should he or Braun get the black ink?

UPDATE: I was wrong as the rule was tweaked only for those suspended due to drug suspensions.

Apologies for my incorrect reading of the story I saw.

14 Comments | Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement,, Data, General

Why Can WAR Change From One Year to Next?

Posted by admin on October 4, 2012

One of the unsettling things for fans who are trying to get a grasp on Wins Above Replacement is that the numbers can and have changed over time. Setting aside the 1000's of historical errors in the baseball record book that are being searched out one-by-one, Miguel Cabrera's batting average is and will always be .330. His WAR (for of 6.9 Wins however may change slightly over time.

Why is this? While we want to think of WAR as a statistic like batting average, it is an estimate rather than a precise measurement. Lots of factors are put used in estimating this value and sometimes they change as better estimates become available either due to more advanced research or new data. Now obviously we think it is a pretty good estimate (at least as good as any other measure of player value). Each step has been rigorously researched and justified and is available for you to review and poke holes in (see the link below).

I think an interesting parallel is stock valuation. The techniques used to value stocks in 1980 or even 2005 are different from the techniques used to estimate the value of stocks in 2012. More data is available now, new computing techniques and even newly discovered mathematics. If we were to go back and apply 2012 techniques on 1980 stocks we would have different valuations using 2012 techniques than what we had in 1980 using 1980 techniques, and we'd probably be a lot more accurate.

Another example would be estimates for the size of the earth. This number has been refined and improved over 1000's of years as new techniques for making this estimate have become available. But even now this size is not a direct measurement (there is no measuring tape or scale big enough), but an estimate.

Now the difference is that probably few people care about that difference when it comes to stocks or the size of the earth, but we continue to be fascinated by past baseball seasons. So when we go to a great deal of study to estimate the effect of not having batter strikeout data on the value of outs in early 1900's baseball or the value of an infield single or an IBB in 2005, that affects our view of how valuable that player was in that season. At the time in 2005, we didn't consider IBB's as different from non-IBB's and we didn't differentiate between infield and outfield singles. Now we know the value of those differences and we apply it to our understanding of 2005, 1955 and 1905 baseball.

Previous to this season, we made several large changes to how we calculate player value. They are all listed below in the link, but the major one is the use of Baseball Info Solutions Defensive Runs Saved. Switching from Total Zone to DRS for 2000-present caused some very large swings in defensive value.

Defense is hard to measure as there are dozens of factors that go into its measurement, but we feel confident that their system is the best. They also are continually trying to improve the system. For instance, this past offseason they added batted ball timer data to refine their estimates of player defense. That means every ball in play for a substantial number of years was reviewed and timed (by hand). This then changed the defensive estimates for nearly every player. The stat got better as newer techniques and more data was applied to the question.

And even then if you think all defensive measure are bunk, use oWAR. It is every part of WAR, but assumes everyone is an average defender.

And if you think replacement level is bunk use WAA or wins above average. For single season measures like MVP races it works just as well as WAR. For careers, you'll probably undervalue average players with long careers.

Now could Cabrera and Trout's numbers for 2012 change next year? Yes, park factors are one factor in how batting is considered and we use 3-year park factors, so ideally the 2012 park factor includes 2011, 2012, and 2013, so if Comerica or Anaheim play much differently next year that could cause a change (albeit small--like half a win at most extreme) in their WAR totals.

Let me say one other thing, because of the fuzziness, I would never look at a WAR of 7.6 and a WAR of 6.5 and say the first player is "clearly better than the second". I would say that the first player is "probably or likely better than the second". However in the AL MVP race we have a 4 win difference which as far as WAR goes is huge, so in my opinion (and yours may be different) Trout was clearly a more valuable player than Cabrera this year. And, of course, if playoff appearances to leaderboard troikas are super important for you and overrides whatever else happened in the regular season then WAR isn't really applicable.

WAR fully explained

44 Comments | Posted in Advanced Stats, Announcement,

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