WAR, Wins Above Replacement, is one of the most used and least understood metrics in all of baseball. Fortunately, FanSided’s own Lewie Pollis of Wahoo’s On First has developed a simple WAR calculator that uses basic stats to estimate WAR. While this calculator won’t give the same WAR values as Baseball Reference or FanGraphs, it does all you to input the numbers yourself. This allows you to do your own projections and see just how much it would matter if, for instance, Alfonso Soriano could draw twice as many walks.
The calculator only works for hitters, but that still leaves us with lots of players to project.
For example, what WAR could we expect from D.J. LeMahieu if he becomes the starting second baseman next season? LeMahieu is considered one of the best hitters in the organization, but he does not show much power. He walks a little, not a lot, but he won’t strike out a great deal either. I would project his numbers like this:
Home Runs: 10
BABIP: .315 (This one can be tough to project).
Plate Appearances: 600
Defense: 4 (He’ll make the plays he is supposed to make and turn a good double play, but he doesn’t have very good range.)
Baserunning: 1 (He’s not a fast guy, but racked up the steals in the AFL. That’s the mark of a very good baserunner).
Plug in the numbers, and we have a WAR of 2.6 for LeMahieu in 2012. That’s not bad for a guy’s first full year in the majors. But what if the scouts are right and he adds some power? What if he hits 20 home runs instead? Then his WAR jumps to 3.9.
Don’t expect this calculator to be more than what it is. There are a lot of numbers it does not take into account, and it will not return the same numbers as the two major outlets… but those outlets don’t let you turn your own projections into WAR either.
So wander by Wahoo’s On First and run some projections of your own. Do you think DeJesus is a great defender, great base runner, and a guy who can hit 25 home runs in Wrigley? Plug in the numbers. Wonder how valuable Soto would be if he had to move to first? Plug in the numbers. Think Pena was undervalued last year on defense? Run the numbers and see his real value.
And let us know what you come up with in the comments.