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FanGraphs and Baseball Reference agree on a value for replacement level in WAR

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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)

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.