Sports Reference Blog

Adjustment to WAR Replacement Level

Posted by sean on March 29, 2013

In a move to 1) reduce the number of negative WAR long-time players and 2) create a bit more consistency between our version of WAR and that on, we have agreed with them (their article about this change) to move the replacement level to .294 or 1,000 Wins for current seasons (30 teams * 162 games * (.500 - .294) = 1000). Pre-30 teams leagues will likewise be adjusted. Our previous Replacement Level was .320 or 875 wins, so we are now giving out 125 more wins than we were before. FanGraphs previously had a .260 replacement level, so they are going from 1,166 wins to 1,000. The net result is that these adjustments are given to players in a manner proportional to their playing time regardless of their quality of play.

The main outcome of this on is that everyone gets an increase in their WAR of about .2-.4 WAR/year for full-time guys, and over a long career this is a boost (4-5 wins).

The main benefit of this change is that and Fangraphs are now handing out WAR from the same sized basket, so any differences in WAR totals is now due to our differing methodologies for evaluating pitcher value or batter defense, etc rather than just an issue of scaling.

For example, the scales on our leaderboards are now very similar. Before, the ordering would have been similar, but the values would have been much different, now the ordering is similar and the values are similar.

All-Time Batting WAR (all #'s rounded)
B-R followed by Fangraphs,
#1, Babe Ruth-163, Babe Ruth-168
#2, Barry Bonds-163, Barry Bonds-164
#10, Eddie Collins-124, Stan Musial-127
#20, Joe Morgan-100, Nap Lajoie-101 (note we both now have exactly 20 100-WAR players)
#50, Reggie-74, Carew-73
#100, Lou Boudreau-63, Gary Sheffield-63
#500, Kevin McReynolds-30, Kevin Mitchell-30

All-Time Pitching WAR (all #'s rounded), Note that we have big methodology differences here, but the scale is the same.

#1, Cy Young-170,Roger Clemens-140
#2, Walter Johnson-153,Walter Johnson-126
#10, Phil Niekro-97,Pete Alexander-98 (note we both now have exactly 9 100-WAR pitchers)
#20, Nolan Ryan-84, Warren Spahn-81
#50, David Cone-62, Ted Lyons-62
#100, Hoyt Wilhelm-50, Mordecai Brown-48
#500, Denny McLain-21, Jim Scott-22

Another example to give you. This offseason B.J. Upton signed with the Braves and ESPN the Magazine noted that over the last three seasons FanGraphs gave Upton 13.9 WAR and B-R had him at 7.2 WAR a pretty major difference, but this difference was made up entirely of two things. 1) the different replacement level and 2) a difference of opinion on our defensive metrics.

Using the new unified replacement level, FanGraphs rates Upton (who they rate as an average fielder over the last three years) with 10.7 WAR from 2010-2012, while B-R (who ranks him as a poor fielder) has 7.3 WAR, however if you look at our oWAR stat, which treats every player as an average fielder, we now have Upton with 10.6 oWAR (compared to Fangraph's 10.7 oWAR). The same amount, so now the difference depends entirely on your defensive view of Upton.

Likewise on the career level, our differences for Jack Morris were reduced from 20 WAR to a smaller, but still significant 9 WAR.

Here is a rundown of articles either about this change or WAR in general.

11 Responses to “Adjustment to WAR Replacement Level”

  1. My Answer to I Don’t Like How Complicated WAR Is and How It Is Constantly Changing. » Sports Reference » Blog Archive Says:

    [...] by admin on March 29, 2013 « Opening Day Lineups Adjustment to WAR Replacement Level [...]

  2. Adam S Says:

    Amen and congratulations on getting both sites on the same page.

    Exactly 1000 WAR is a bit too convenient though it's an improvement over 52 wins as replacement level which intuitively hits me as too high.

  3. Johan Santana faces an uphill climb to Cooperstown | Hit and Run - Says:

    [...] its WAR — slightly lowering its replacement level to align with that of FanGraphs (explanation here) — and that we can thus expect the numbers to shift slightly upwards for nearly everyone, Santana [...]

  4. Justin Verlander's new contract with the Tigers sets new standard, but doesn't break $200 million barrier | Hit and Run - Says:

    [...] these WAR values have risen slightly since my February piece, as has just lowered its replacement level to align with that of FanGraphs; the two measures are computed differently but are now on the same [...]

  5. DavidRF Says:

    Are the bb-ref changes live already? Or do we have to wait for an update to be run?

  6. Chris J. Says:

    1974 Cubs - still the worst fielding team of all-time going by dWAR.

  7. Sean Forman: WAR is “GDP for baseball” | HardballTalk Says:

    [...] was some big news in the baseball stats community recently, as Baseball Reference and FanGraphs agreed to a common replacement level in their Wins Above Replacement statistic. Though the two sites’ computation of the statistic [...]

  8. Nando Tater Says:

    Are these figures still being updated/tweaked? I've noticed many changes in the last 24 hours or so, especially among active players WAR totals/ramking on the leaderboard.

    Also, any idea why there is a discrepancy (although minute) between WAR totals on the leaderboard and the actual player pages? Which is more accurate? (I think they tend to be slightly higher on the player pages...)

  9. Rangers lock up Andrus; what does it mean for Profar? | Hit and Run - Says:

    [...] Overall, he was worth 3.7 Wins Above Replacement according to’s recalibrated WAR figures (which lower the replacement level to place them on the same scale as FanGraphs’ WAR), and [...]

  10. Rangers lock up Andrus; what does it mean for Profar? – | Says:

    [...] average. Overall, he was worth 3.7 Wins Above Replacement according to’s recalibrated WAR figures (which lower the replacement level to place them on the same scale as FanGraphs’ WAR), and has [...]

  11. Nando Tater Says:

    I don't suppose anyone checks these threads for comments/questions after they're posted?