A critique of WAR

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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.

Dodgers activate Adrian Gonzalez

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The Dodgers have reinstated first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the 60-day disabled list after his recovery from a herniated disc. To make room for him they have optioned Rob Segedin to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Gonzalez last played on June 11. Since then the Dodgers have gone an astounding 46-9, with shoe-in rookie of the year candidate Cody Bellinger handling first base duties and posting a .978 OPS. When Gonzalez went down he was hitting .255/.304/.339 and only one homer in 49 games.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of playing time he gets going forward. The Dodgers, of course, have a comfortable lead in the NL West, so they could afford to allow Gonzalez to play a good bit to see if his bat sharpens up while simultaneously giving Bellinger, who has never played more than 137 games in a season, a bit of a breather. Beyond that, though, the Dodgers ain’t broke, so it’s hard to see why anyone would want to tinker with things.

Rays activate Kevin Kiermaier

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The Tampa Bay Rays have activated outfielder Kevin Kiermaier from the 60-day disabled list.

Kiermaier, who fractured his hip in early June, is batting leadoff and playing center field in tonight’s game against the Mariners. He was just 3-for-24 on his rehab assignment, but those aren’t usually predictive of anything. He was hitting .258/.329/.408 when he went down. Getting his bat — and, more importantly, his glove — back in the lineup will boost the struggling Rays in their quest for a playoff spot.