Posted by Jonah Gardner on April 11, 2022
As the 2022 season begins, we have made some updates to our Wins Above Replacement calculations. You may notice some small changes to figures as you browse the site. As always, you can find full details on how we calculate WAR here.
New Data For Negro Leagues Players
Recently, we updated the site with the latest player records for Negro Leagues players. This update included biographical updates (such as full names, handedness, and birth/death information) but also added data for many new box scores discovered by the team at Seamheads.
For example, Kansas City Monarchs All-Star Herb Souell added 186 plate appearances to his record and pitchers Hilton Smith and Verdell Mathis added 69⅓ innings (the most as part of this update). Mathis adding high-quality innings saw his WAR rise by 1.2 over his career, while Hilton’s additional innings came with additional runs allowed, so his career WAR sees a small drop of 0.2 wins. Another good example of the changes made can be seen with Neil Robinson. The first three seasons of his career were discovered to actually be a different player (Johnny Robinson), so those were removed. But he also had 80 of his own plate appearances discovered, which more than offset the misidentified seasons and resulted in a WAR increase of 0.2 for his career. See the blog post for more details.
Defensive Runs Saved Changes
Before last season, we updated Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) totals across the site with new figures from Sports Info Solutions that incorporate more accurate hit timing data. However, these numbers were not applied correctly when adjusting pitcher performance to account for the quality of the defense behind them. Now that this is resolved, some pitchers from 2017 to 2020 have seen changes, like Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob deGrom in 2019 each seeing a drop of about 0.6 WAR. This is a result of the Mets seeing the biggest improvement in their defensive metrics with the update to DRS. You can read more about the updates in the Sports Info Solutions blog, including which teams and fielders were most impacted.
2020 Park Factors
Park factors for 2020 have been re-computed to include the 2021 season, since WAR uses a three-year average for park factors when computing pitching WAR. The most significant change here is the Oakland Athletics, whose pitching park factor fell from 97 to 94 (where <100 represents a pitcher’s park and >100 represents a hitter’s park). With the short season, the impact of this on any individual player is miniscule, with Chris Bassitt’s WAR move from 2.3 to 2.1 representing the largest change from this park factor update. All other changes to pitching WAR from updated park factors are smaller than Castillo’s 0.7 WAR gain in 2020.
New Data From Retrosheet
Today, we are also deploying an update to past box scores, play-by-play, and game logs from Retrosheet, including play-by-play for 1,519 games that previously did not have play-by-play coverage, including 841 games in 1915, a season which previously had no play-by-play coverage at all.
Biggest Career Movers
The top mover for position players in career WAR is Herb Souell, gaining 0.5 wins with the updated Negro Leagues data taken into account.
On the pitching side, we see Eugene Bremer with 1.4 wins removed from his total as described above. Among recent players, Rick Porcello saw his career total drop by 1.3 wins on account of the Defensive Runs Saved changes described above.
We’ve highlighted some of the more extreme changes here, but to see full lists of the largest changes to season and career WAR totals, please see the spreadsheet here.