There was some big news in the baseball stats community recently, as Baseball Reference and FanGraphs agreed to a common replacement level in their Wins Above Replacement statistic. Though the two sites’ computation of the statistic still differs in other ways, creating some uniformity in replacement level should clear up some of the confusion around the stat among casual observers.
Sean Forman, the creator of Baseball Reference, responded to some general criticisms of WAR yesterday. Most notably, he referred to WAR as “GDP for baseball”. GDP, of course, stands for Gross Domestic Product, an estimate of the market value of a country’s goods and services. WAR often gets tossed aside because it’s complicated, requires a lot of steps to calculate correctly, and is a single number that covers broad subject matter, but Forman shows how those criticisms are not levied against GDP despite being very similar in nature. If you trust GDP, you should trust WAR.
(Obligatory picture of Mike Trout above, just because.)
The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.
Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).
Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.