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.

Brewers to give Mike Moustakas a look at second base

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The Brewers reportedly signed third baseman Mike Moustakas to a one-year, $10 million contract on Sunday. While the deal is not yet official, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports that the Brewers plan to give Moustakas a look at second base during spring training. If all goes well, he will be the primary second baseman and Travis Shaw will stay at third base.

The initial thought was that Moustakas would simply take over at third base for the more versatile Shaw. Moustakas has spent 8,035 of his career defensive innings at third base, 35 innings at first base, and none at second. In fact, he has never played second base as a pro player. Shaw, meanwhile, has spent 268 of his 4,073 1/3 defensive innings in the majors at second base and played there as recently as October.

This is certainly an interesting wrinkle to signing Moustakas, who is a decent third baseman. He was victimized by another slow free agent market, not signing until March last year on a $6.5 million deal with a $15 million mutual option for this season. That option was declined, obviously, and he ended up signing for $5 million cheaper here in February as the Brewers waited him out. Notably, Moustakas did not have qualifying offer compensation attached to him this time around.

Last season, between the Royals and Brewers, the 30-year-old Moustakas hit .251/.315/.459 with 28 home runs and 95 RBI in 635 plate appearances.