No, not war. WAR. As in, Wins Above Replacement level. Hippeaux at IIATMS has a lengthy column up today looking at the stat (it’s actually multiple stats complied via different methodologies by different folks) and pointing out a potential flaw. Specifically, that one of its components — the defensive metric, Ultimate Zone Rating or UZR — that Hippeaux argues distorts WAR.
I am quite obviously not a stats guy, so I can’t say that I have any real insight here. I’m mostly waiting to watch the arguments and counterarguments to the piece, which is how most folks who don’t have their own aptitude with this stuff should probably proceed. Over time you get some clarity as to whether the critique makes sense, if the counterarguments make sense, etc., and then eventually you get something approaching an advancement in real knowledge. Kind of like science, you know.
But this article is getting a lot of play this morning, pro and con, so it’s worth throwing out there.
One warning: I’ve already seen a couple of decidedly non-statty writers link to this thing and say something to the effect of “see, those holier-than-thou stats types don’t know WHAT they’re talking about.” To those people I offer a hearty “shove it.” A critique of a component of an analytical tool does not constitute a repudiation of the analytical tool any more than a faulty component in your engine constitutes a totaled car. If it makes you feel better to say “see, those statheads aren’t God,” so be it. But do know that the statheads have never been interested in being God. They just want to understand stuff, and this sort of intellectual give and take is how that occurs.