When we talk about WAR, we’ve historically been talking about two different metrics, actually. Because the two entities which developed and calculate WAR — FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference.com — have historically used two different values to determine the “replacement level” component of the stat.
While those of you who dig into these metrics with anything beyond a passing glance were aware of and made accommodations for this, it led to at least some confusion among more casual observers and led to a lot of potshots from the fans and the press looking to take issue with any stat more complicated than batting average. “Hey, why should we care about WAR if you guys can’t even agree what it is,” they would say, prior to coming up with some Edwin Starr/”what is it good for” bon mot which they believe to be original and clever.
Now, however: a grand agreement. From Dave Cameron:
You can calculate replacement level a number of different ways, but in the end, it always leads back to a number in this vicinity. Baseball-Reference arrived at a number a little higher than what Tango had used, while we came up with one a little lower. Because they were at opposite ends of the defensible spectrum, the different baselines gave a false sense of difference in the actual calculations. Now, with an agreed upon replacement level, those differences that are solely due to scale will go away.
There will still be some subtle differences in the ultimate calculation (read Dave’s post for more information on that) but now one big difference is gone, which should lead to a bit more harmony and less unnecessary strife when it comes to this stuff.
I’m sure some people will still take pot shots “Hey, if it’s so good, why do you have to tinker with it all the time!” they will claim, ignorant of how math and science work, but this is a good move.
(why the Mike Trout pic? Eh, didn’t want to use the calculator for two posts in a row)