WAR - What is it good for? - Part 2
So last time we delved into batting wins above replacement. A convoluted system starting with a batter's wOBA and ending with runs above replacement which subsequently is reduced to wins. In the NY Times article, it stated that Zack Greinke's desire was to have a WAR value of 10. If he had done it (he achieved a WAR of 9.4), he would have been the first to do so. To put his achievement in perspective, the highest offensive WAR ever achieved by a Rox is 7.9. An even more stunning comparison is to note that the 2004 Rox team's pitching staff eked out a whooping WAR of 6.5 (that team had a record of just 68 - 94 and this year's KC record was 65 - 97 so if every team should win approximately 48.5 games based on just AAAA replacement player's performance then Greinke single handily had almost 9.5 of KC's other 16.5 wins above replacement!).
So where does the madness begin? With another esoteric statistic called Fielding Independent Pitching or FIP. The FIP calculates a pitcher’s responsibility for the runs he allows based on the three factors that a pitcher has demonstrable control over which is walks, strikeouts, and homeruns. The FIP is used because it provides a context neutral formula to a pitcher's performance similar to that of the batter's. In this way the WAR for a pitcher can be compared directly to the batter. The FIP also takes out the contribution of the fielders behind the pitcher both good or bad. Using FIP has some detractors. Another stat called tRA has some believers but it is suggested that at this point, using FIP is as good as anything else out there (or at least comparable). Once FIP is established, some hocus pocus entails using differences in replacement level for each league and role (AL is harder to pitch in then the NL), run environments (a pitcher due to his ability limits the numbers of runs scored per game), the dynamic runs-to-wins conversion, and park factors (Coors Field vs. Petco). Finally a runs above replacement is generated and once again converted to WAR.
So the spreadsheet below shows the top FIPs in Rox history (min 50 innings pitched) and the top WARs.
FIP leaders tend to be your dominant relief pitchers. Ubaldo 2009 campaign is the first starter but it is also the highest WAR in Rox pitching history. 2009 was a monster year for Rox pitchers. Four of highest WARs since 2002 were from this year's staff. Rox won 92 games, there WAR total for a team was 90.3 and so the Rox had approximately 42 wins above a replacement level team. Almost 45% of the team's wins above replacement could be attributed to last year's starters. With Ubaldo, Cook, Hammel, de la Rosa (?), and Francis (?) back next year I can say with some certainty that as the pitching goes so goes the Rox!
Next I will check out what all this WAR means from a team perspective...