Sean Forman: WAR is “GDP for baseball”


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.)