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  1. #1
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    Help Understanding WAR/Player Comparison

    I only recently started sorting through the Sabermetrics trying to keep up with the changing times. So consider me a newbie searching for knowledge in the whole process. I understand what the stats mean and some of them I know how to "properly" use. I understand that WAR means Wins above replacement, meaning how many wins said player is worth over a triple AAA replacement player at the same position.

    I was glancing through the WAR stats for the players on the Braves (the team I root for) and I came to notice on the 1B list that Carlos Lee has a higher WAR than Freddie Freeman (I know Lee has played 1B and OF). When comparing the stats Freeman appears to be the superior player this year, yet Lee has a higher WAR.

    Freddie Freeman vs Carlos Lee

    Freeman has played in 106 games to Lee's 105
    PA's 434 to 441
    Hits 115 to 109
    HR's 15 to 10
    Runs 50 to 43
    RBIs 52 to 60
    SBs 4 to 3
    BB% 9% to 7%
    K% 22.6 to 10.2%
    ISO .180 to .161
    BABIP .360 to .280
    AVG .296 to .270
    OBP .364 to .320
    SLG .477 to .431
    wOBA .368 to .325
    wRC+ 134 to 106
    UZR -7.2 to +7.9
    WAR 1.7 to 2.2

    Freeman appears to clearly be the superior offensive player this year, but Lee is better on defense by the metrics. So while Lee has unexpectedly generated positive defense this year, can someone help me to understand/clarify if that defensive improvement is the sole reason he worth .5 WAR more than Freeman this year?


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  2. #2
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    It's pretty much all Lee's defense. I don't know the exact formula for WAR, but I'd assume Freeman's high BABIP might be lower it a bit.

  3. #3
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    Yeah, it's mostly defense. Freeman is GREAT at picking balls out of the dirt and scooping(whatever you want to call it) but has absolutely no range.

  4. #4
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    You can pretty safely say this is just one of those cases where WAR falls short. There's a little bit of a legitimate advantage in that Lee mostly plays LF, and LF is a more important defensive position than 1b, but that's about it.

    The main difference here is defense, and two great examples of situations where UZR falls short. Carlos Lee is a +7.9 LFer this year, which extrapolated to a full season is a +18 left fielder. That's elite. That's what a CFer playing LF would put up; guys like Crawford and Gardner. Anyone who's seen Carlos Lee for more than 3 minutes knows, he's not an elite LFer, in fact he's probably not even average. This is just a small sample size fluke, which unfortunately defensive stats are prone to.

    Similar story with Freeman. Freeman is on pace to be a -12 1b according to UZR. That's simply ridiculous. Personally, I'm skeptical that anyone who's physically capable of playing the position(basically eliminating guys like Frank Thomas and Jim Thome) and actually has a good bit of experience there could legitimately be a -10 or worse 1b. A guy like Freeman, who's more than athletic and experience enough and the scouts love defensively, is certainly not that bad.

    WAR is a great tool, but its major flaw is it's reliance on defensive stats that are very limited, particularly in small samples.


  5. #5
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    Its not UZRs fault he has had the range of a lawn ornament.

    You are basically using the equivalent of "Oh well that player batting .190 probably isnt really that bad so what he did doesnt count against him"

  6. #6
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    UZR doesn't count scoops for first baseman. If Freeman is as good as ugafan says he is he's probably worth a few more runs. So give him 3 runs based on scoops he is essentially what Lee is right now. I wouldn't read too much into the WAR ratings right now

  7. #7
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    I agree with JB, WAR puts too much stock into numbers that fluctuate wildly and are gathered from a small sample size.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by cambovenzi View Post
    Its not UZRs fault he has had the range of a lawn ornament.

    You are basically using the equivalent of "Oh well that player batting .190 probably isnt really that bad so what he did doesnt count against him"
    Even guys with the "range of a lawn ornament" are not -12 defenders at 1b. To be a -12 defender at 1b, you pretty much need to be hurt or playing 1b for the first time.

    Not to mention, being a fan of an NL team if you actually think Carlos Lee is a +18 left fielder you should just have your fan card shredded right now.

    Defensive stats are iffy even over large samples, over 2/3's of a season they're practically meaningless.


  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jilly Bohnson View Post
    Even guys with the "range of a lawn ornament" are not -12 defenders at 1b. To be a -12 defender at 1b, you pretty much need to be hurt or playing 1b for the first time.

    Not to mention, being a fan of an NL team if you actually think Carlos Lee is a +18 left fielder you should just have your fan card shredded right now.

    Defensive stats are iffy even over large samples, over 2/3's of a season they're practically meaningless.
    So its impossible for Lee to make good plays in the OF if he normally isn't very good there?

    and its impossible for a 1Bman to make bad ones or not reach balls?

    Yes its a small sample size but its still a gauge of what they have done.

    When Pujols played poorly at the beginning of this season did you throw wOBA and OPS out the window?
    Because obviously he is amazing and any stat that shows he is bad must be wrong right?
    Last edited by cambovenzi; 08-10-2011 at 04:27 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by cambovenzi View Post
    So its impossible for Lee to make good plays in the OF if he normally isn't very good there?

    and its impossible for a 1Bman to make bad ones or not reach balls?

    Yes its a small sample size but its still a gauge of what they have done.

    When Pujols played poorly at the beginning of this season did you throw wOBA and OPS out the window?
    Because obviously he is amazing and any stat that shows he is bad must be wrong right?
    You clearly don't understand how UZR works.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index...hs-uzr-primer/

    For example, if you see a player with a one year UZR of +10, think +5! He might not have actually played well at all, or he might have played off the charts, but our best guess as to how he played was +5. If you see a +10 after 1 month and you have no other data or information on a player, think of that as a +1.5 (regress it 85% toward the mean). Literally forget the +10. It means nothing. It does NOT mean that he played like a +10 fielder and we are just regressing it because we are not sure that his true talent is +10. We are regressing it (heavily) because not only do we not think that he has +10 talent, but because we don’t think that he played like as +10 fielder either.
    You must regress UZR heavily. Clearly a guy can streak and slump on defense just as he can streak or slump at the plate, but UZR is not an accurate measure of that. Given that we know Lee's true talent level(and it's bad) and we have a decent idea of Freeman's from scouts(they love him, so it's likely good), the fact that their defensive ratings fly so much in the face of those makes it likely that they're small sample size flukes.


  11. #11
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    UZR in this sample size is worthless. Anyone who knows baseball knows that Carlos Lee has been a liability at every position for 3 or 4 years now. Conversely, anyone who follows scouting knows that Freddie Freeman has been highly regarded for 1st base defense for a while. The Braves were willing to let their 21 year old prospect have the 1B job outright before the season even started because they knew that at least his defense would show up and they wouldn't suffer another Troy Glausian performance there.

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