Reconsidering wins above replacement as a metric

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Conference Proceeding

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This paper analyzes the use and value of the now commonly known baseball metric Wins Above Replacement (WAR). The metric estimates the number of wins a player brings to his team that the average replacement level player wouldn’t. I argue that this widely used statistic is of questionable morality, unnecessary, and frankly irresponsible. The concept that few individuals or organizations consider before using a metric to determine a player’s whole ability and value is that any single number that attempts to show a human being’s entire ability to perform an action will always lose an immense amount of detail. I argue that if a metric is created that will intentionally ignore detail to the extent that WAR does, then using it at all is not necessary or appropriate in any important decision-making situation. To extend the thought process further, one can question how responsible it is to use a statistic like this so often in the public eye. It has the potential to spread misinformation and ill-conceived notions about players and their value. The easy alternative to using WAR is to simply use a range of diverse statistics and metrics to sufficiently display all the quantifiable qualities of a baseball player. Examples of metrics that do not suffer from these defects will be presented.


Presented at the 7th Annual Conference of the Upstate New York Chapters of the American Statistical Association in Rochester, New York, April 21, 2018.

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