The hitting side of WAR is straight forward, as there is little argument that wOBA is the best stat to determine a hitter’s all around worth. The biggest issues with WAR for hitters are the inconsistency of fielding statistics and how much positional value factors into the equation.
But it turns out WAR is actually an extremely accurate predictor of a team’s record even with the inconsistencies and flaws in some of the stats. Before we get into the data, here’s how to project a team’s wins with WAR:
Normally, in one year there would be 2430 wins total between all 30 teams (81*30 = 2430). However, in 2011, there were 2429 total wins because the Dodgers and Nationals had a game rained out that was never made up.
This year FanGraphs gave out a total of 1163.2 WAR, leaving the league replacement level at 2429 minus 1163.2, or 1256.8.
To find the replacement level per team, you then divide 1256.8 by 30, which equates to 42.2. So, to project a team’s record based on WAR, add 42.2 to their total WAR. Now, let’s explore the 2011 WAR data.
Here is a list of every team’s batting WAR, pitching WAR, and total WAR:
|Team||Batting WAR||Pitching WAR||Total WAR|
In 2009, FanGraphs found the correlation of WAR to actual wins to be 0.83. With the addition of Ultimate Base Running this year, WAR was expected to become more accurate, and it has. I compiled a ton of WAR data in an excel sheet and determined that the correlation between WAR and actual wins for the 2011 season to be 0.88.
One standard deviation of the difference between WAR and actual wins is 4.61 wins, which is more accurate compared to the 6.40 FanGraphs found in 2009. Here are some more facts about this year’s WAR numbers compared to actual wins:
- 18 of the 30 teams were within one standard deviation.
- 28 of the 30 teams were within two standard deviations (9.32). Only two teams — Boston (11.9) and Kansas City (10.1) — were more than two standard deviations away.
- WAR standings would give us the same order of standings for two divisions: the AL West and NL West.
- The top nine teams in WAR wins includes all eight playoff teams.
- If Boston had made the playoffs, the top eight teams in total WAR would have been the eight playoff teams.
Here are the 2011 regular season standings side-by-side with the 2011 WAR standings:
The purpose of WAR is to provide a stat that quantifies a player’s total value in one easy to use metric. WAR does just that. And with the .88 correlation, it’s exceptionally accurate.
The only thing about WAR’s accuracy that scares me: The Orioles, who posted 22.9 WAR in 2011, need to add 27-37 WAR to give themselves a chance at the playoffs. That’s a tough task.