Introducing our new version of Wins Above Replacement

In celebration of the new season, and The Baseball Gauge are proud to announce our new Wins Above Replacement. The updated calculation has two major changes from our previous system.

The first upgrade is our Fielding system, which now uses Runs Saved from Michael Humphreys Defensive Regression Analysis. This allows us to compare and evaluate fielders from all eras of Baseball history and accurately place a value on their performance. To find out more about DRA, check out his book Wizardry and/or take a look at the DRA series at The Hardball Times. Humphreys also provides an extremely informative appendix, describing the method.

Not only does this new fielding system allow us to evaluate defensive ability, it also helps us estimate how a team’s defense helps or hurts its pitching staff.

Previously, our Pitching WAR was DIPS based (Defense Independent Pitching) and because of that, it did not have the ability to measure a pitcher’s ability to control the running game and preventing extra base hits, along with other skills. We now take each pitcher’s runs allowed and then adjust for Defense, Bullpen, and Ballpark to determine the pitcher’s value.

For more information on our new Wins Above Replacement, please take a look at the glossary, which describes the calculation in more detail.

Just as before, the user has the ability to view these numbers in a large variety of different ways. There are “All-Time Teams”, where you can view the best players from different eras, decades, seasons, countries, states, universities, and high schools. These new WAR totals are also used in analysis of Amateur Drafts, transactions, awards, hall of fame voting, and expansion/rule 5 drafts.

Also, as we have done in the previous two seasons, we will be updating the site on a daily basis during the 2012 regular season. Enjoy!

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24 Responses to Introducing our new version of Wins Above Replacement

  1. Dr. Doom says:

    I’m interested to look at the new leaderboards. Nice update, Dan. I look forward to using it.

  2. Dr. Doom says:


    Have you been keeping up with the stuff Bill James has been doing with Win Shares lately? In case you’re not aware, you should look at the article he posted at Grantland from a while ago. Apparently, he’s planning on writing a new book sometime (who knows when) which will include Win and Loss shares. This is jumping the gun, because that project may still be a few years off, but are you considering revising the Win Shares on this site to reflect that change when it comes about? Just curious.

    • Dan Hirsch says:

      I’ve been hearing that he has been revising Win Shares and adding Loss Shares as well, but like you, I think it will be a while before the formula is released. I like Win Shares, but I believe they are outdated and have flaws as pointed out here.

      There are some corrections to Win Shares that I would make, but I choose not to on the site because I believe that most users would rather have the original formula.

      Once the book/calculation does come out, I certainly plan on adding them to the site, given that I have all the necessary stats.

  3. scott says:

    on a first glance, i really like the look of this – defense looks like a major step up, pitching now correlates more to overall range of abilities, which i personally consider very important. a quick check of 2011 aced the ‘well, it looks right’ test, too. =)

  4. John Q says:

    It looks like Jeter takes a massive hit in this version of WAR. In this version he’s ranked 184th among position players!! In BRWAR, FangraphsWAR, and Win Shares he’s ranked around 50th all time.

    • Dan Hirsch says:

      That’s mostly due to the fact that DRA really dislikes Jeter. It has him as not only the worst fielding shortstop of all time, but the worst at any position. And it’s really not that close. Michael Humphreys points out in his book that Tango’s pWOWY system had Jeter at -267 Runs through 2007 while DRA had him at -233, so there are other systems that have him as even worse.

      He also says that “DRA rates him more negatively than other systems, but those incorrectly underweight plays missed in the gaps between 3B and SS and between SS and 2B, and overrate SS with high fielding averages”.

      • John Q says:

        Yeah, Jeter is really one of the most unique players of all time. He’s very sure handed so he hardly makes any errors but if you watch him closely he misses tons of balls hit in his general area. Realistically he probably should have been a 3b all his career. I think the only way the Yankees could have had him at SS was to have great fielding 3b like Brosius or Ventura and then they put a BETTER fielding SS at 3b in A-Rod. There’s no way he deserved those gold gloves and there’s no way he deserved the reputation he received. BRWAR, FangraphsWAR and win shares also give him lousy marks but I guess their systems compensate quite a bit because of the difficulty of the position.

  5. John Q says:

    For the most part the players/rankings are basically the same in the other WAR systems but there are a few surprises.

    I guess the biggest surprise is how well Roy White does in this system basically this WAR system ranks him as a HOF. Tony Phillips is another surprise who basically ranks as a HOF in this system. Darrell Evans really does well in this system and so does Tommy Leach. K. Hernandez really does well so does J. Edmunds. B. Giles and Norm Cash also rate highly. Mike Griffin also ranks highly. They all basically rank as HOF in this system.

    On the flip side Andre Dawson really suffers in this system and shockingly so does Duke Snider. Third Basemen in general do poorly in this system as we see Santo, Bando, Cey, Bell, Boyer, Hack and Ventura finish rather poorly.

    T. Gwynn, B. Robinson, O. Smith, Pee Wee Reese, Lofton, Banks, Winfield, L. Walker, Dw. Evans do rather poorly in this system.

    • Dan Hirsch says:

      There are quite a few players who have some surprising career totals, and like you mentioned, enough to either make them a HoFer or non-HoFer. Michael Humphreys mentions a lot of these players in Wizardry and has explanations for their rankings.

      For Larry Walker (and other Rockies OF), I think they are a little undervalued due to Coors Field. There is a “Green Monster Adjustment” for Boston LF, but I’m pretty sure there isn’t one for guys like Larry Walker. The Coors outfield is so big that more balls fall in for hits than other parks, and it could possibly make their OF look worse than they really are.

      • John Q says:

        Yeah Coors Field has a very unique history in baseball. On the one hand it’s a great hitter’s park but that advantage comes altitude not the size of the park. The park itself is rather large so you really have to have outfielders that can really field like it’s a pitcher’s park. I think the Rockies were rather slow to understand this paradox and mistakenly put guys like Dante Bichette left field. Bichette would hit a ton of home runs yet he played such horrible defense that he negated all the positives he gave on offense.

  6. Matthew Cornwell says:

    Noticed that the Braves Big 3 pitchers all score between 7-12 WAR higher here than according to Sean Smiths version. I am assuming that DRA is not as big on the Braves’ defense in the 90’s that Total Zone is.

    Anything stand out on Humphrey’s defensive system that can explain that?

    • Dan Hirsch says:

      DRA has the early 90’s Braves Fielders as above average, but they become “below average” in the mid 90s. DRA really doesnt guys like Chipper, McGriff, Klesko (rightfully so). But once Andruw Jones became a regular, the Atlanta defense was exceptional in the late 90’s/early 2000’s. I can’t think of anything in particular of why DRA would rate so differently than Total Zone. But the change throughout the years does make sense based on who they had on the field.

      • Matthew Cornwell says:


        On the same vein, I was digging around those Braves teams, and noticed that in 1993, the Braves DRA was +40 runs, but Glavine was awarded with +.1 runs prevented by his defense. What would cause that? There were several years like this for Glavine, especially. Weird batted ball distribution? Something to do with handedness? Any ideas?

        Thanks by the way! Great work – I really like the construct of this version of WAR. I am still not sure about the ability to quantify league quality into WAR, but I like that you have taken a stab at it.

        • Dan Hirsch says:

          Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you are enjoying the site.

          The ’93 Braves had +40 runs saved, but we have them at just 1.6 for our 3-year average which tells me that some of their fielders (ie Pendleton) got a little lucky in ’93. So Glavine just received .1 of the team’s 1.6 runs.
          We increase the sample size to 3-years to give a better representation of the player’s skill at a position.

          • Matthew Cornwell says:

            So pitchers are getting the WAR benefit for fielder’s luck?

          • Dan Hirsch says:

            Actually, we are avoiding that by getting a better measure of the fielders skill by using a 3 year average. The larger the sample, the less of a chance that luck can be a factor

  7. John Q says:

    This is a bit off topic, but this site is fantastic! One thing I really love is the manager’s page and the manager point system. It’s funny because if you look at the names and the ones that are in the HOF it looks like the veteran’s committee did a wonderful job in selecting managers to the HOF. The only clunker I see is Wilbert Robinson. How the heck did he get elected to the HOF?

    What your list shows is that Billy Martin is a glaring omission to the HOF. Maybe the circus that Steinbrenner created distorted peoples appreciation of Martin’s work. I never quite understood why Ralph Houk and Danny Murtaugh were never elected to the HOF as well. It also looks like Charlie Grimm and Hughie Jennings should have been elected to the HOF.

    What’s interesting is that realistically Fred Clarke, Cap Anson, and Frank Chance should be in the HOF as both players and managers. Charles Comisky probably deserves to be elected as both a pioneer and a manager. You can also make a case that John Mcgraw should have been elected as a player as well.

    • Dan Hirsch says:

      Thanks! I’m not a fan of how the Hall of Fame will only elect someone in one category and not from their entire careers. Piniella probably isn’t a HoF manager, but maybe he’s a HoFer if you add his playing career. Joe Torre will get in easily, but it won’t be from his playing days which have always been underrated IMO.

      Wilbert Robinson is an interesting case and while he was inducted as a Manager, I think voters may have taken his entire career into account. He was the catcher of the great 1890’s Orioles teams and was a coach for the NY Giants when they were winning multiple pennants. As a manager, he was so well liked that they pretty much changed the team name to Robins because of him and weren’t the Dodgers until after he was gone.

      And Billy Martin should be in the HoF easily IMO. He took 4 teams to the playoffs and had a +.500 season with all 5 of his teams. Unfortunately, he’ll be remembered for the craziness of the Bronx Zoo with Steinbrenner.

      • John Q says:

        Oh I think Piniella is going to get elected to the HOF. He’s got 1800+ wins 7 play off appearances, 6 divisions. Plus more importantly he was something of a media darling, whatever he did they ate up for some reason. I never much cared for him I thought he was overrated and I didn’t really care for his yelling and screaming schtick.

        The big knock against Piniella IMO is that he made only one WS appearance in 7 play-off appearances. Seriously how did he never make it to at least one WS with those Mariners teams? R. Johnson-Griffey-A-Rod-Edgar and not one WS appearance? Then no WS with the Ichiro-Olerud-Edgar-Cameron group either.

        Your point on Robinson is a valid one. I think he got something of a lifetime achievement induction because his managerial record is fairly mediocre. Basically inducted him as a manager is kind of like inducting Chuck Dressen. As a player there’s not really anything special about him, actually he was a rather poor player according to WAR, Win shares. The coaching he did on those Giants teams was probably the only thing that distinguishes himself. In many ways inducting him is like inducted Don Zimmer. Sort of like, “you were a mediocre sometimes terrible manager, a rather poor player, but you were a coach on some great WS teams and you’ve been in the game for 60 years so here’s a plaque.”

        You also bring up an interesting point in that they should have a separate category for combined achievement, i.e, player-coach-manger-executive. That would be for guys like Gil Hodges, Jim Fregosi, Mike Hargrove etc. Basically good to very good players who bumped up their status with some very good/great managerial work or coaching. I think that’s what they did with Red Schoendienst.

        I have some minor disagreements with your managerial page. You give credit to Dick Howser for a WS championship in 1978 when he only managed one game for the ’78 Yankees? You also give credit to Billy Martin for the ’78 Championship when he was fired half way through the season?

        You also give Howser credit for a division title in 1981. The Royals won a 1/2 division that year and then lost the western division to the A’s. So technically the A’s were the 1981 division champs. I think the 1981 Royals are the only team in BB history to make the playoffs with a losing record 50-53. 1981 was very weird overall in that the Reds and the Cardinals had the best overall record in the National League and neither teams made the playoffs.

        • Dan Hirsch says:

          For playoff teams that had more than 1 manager, I prorate their playoff “bonus” point based on their marginal wins. So while Billy Martin wasn’t the manager that won the WS, he did still manage them to 52 wins. So Martin gets credit for 3.6 while Lemon gets 5.5.

          Since Howser only managed 1 game and lost that game, he actually gets credit for negative bonus points because he actually hindered the teams chances of making the postseason.

          It’s not perfect and I should probably give more credit to the manager who actually managed the team in the postseason, but I still think that the others deserve some credit as well.

          • John Q says:

            I was responding more to the columns at the end of the page that tally up wild card, division, league championships, and WS championships. Howser is listed as a manager who won 2 WS championships. I don’t think anybody would list the 1978 Yankees as a managerial championship for Dick Howser. He also gets credit for a division, league championship for his 1 game of managing the ’78 Yankees as well. 1981 was an odd situation but he also receives a division title under your listing. He’s listed as having 5 division championships under his belt but realistically he only won 3: 1980, 1984, and 1985.

            It’s a minor quibble, overall I think the presentation of this site is fantastic.

            I love all the cool little unique things like the Trade section and the weighted balance sheet that’s offered. The players pages are excellent as well with all time team-mate page etc.

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