Sabermetric Sunday: WAR


As I continue my weekly look at sabermetric stats here at Rum Bunter, today we will take a look at winds above replacement. Or just simply WAR.

In recent weeks here at Rum Bunter I have taken a look at various sabermetric stats. I have done this to help baseball fans that do not know much about sabermetrics learn a bit and expand their knowledge. That continues today as I take a look at wins above replacement, or WAR for short.

Anyone who reads my work knows that I am big believer in sabermetrics. In my opinion, sabermetrical stats are the best way to evaluate baseball players. Even though this often times gets be called things such as a ‘know nothing nerd’ by a lot of old school baseball fans that either refuse to accept new things or are too lazy to learn about them, I still remain a big believer in sabermetrics.

Wins above replacement, or WAR, is a stat that attempts to summarize a player’s total contributions to his team. WAR takes into consideration a position player’s hitting, fielding, and base running. For pitcher’s, WAR uses batting runs, fielded runs, and FIP to determine a pitcher’s value.

WAR attempts to answer the question of how valuable is each player to his team? There are multiple ways players can help or hurt their team in baseball, hence the need or a stat like WAR. Due to these multiple ways to help, this also makes WAR a very valuable stat.

How to properly use WAR is something that sabermetricians have argued over time and time again. In fact, as FanGraphs’ sabermetrics library points out, how to use WAR might be the most highly debated topic among those who use sabermetrics. Why is this so highly debated? Well, I’ll discuss that next!

Due to the way WAR is calculated, it should be used for separating players into various groups based on performance more so than deciphering between individual players. For example, Gregory Polanco currently leads the Pirates in WAR at 2.9 and Starling Marte is second at 2.5. While Polanco and Marte’s WARs are too close to get a true assessment on who has been the better player this season, both rank in the top 15 in the National League in WAR so both have been great players this season.

The current Major League leader in WAR is Mike Trout at 4.2. For comparisons sake, when Andrew McCutchen won the National League MVP Award in 2013 he finished the season with a WAR of 8.4. This 8.4 WAR was the second highest, behind Trout, in all of Major League Baseball in 2013.

Courtesy of, a chart breaking down the groups in which WAR puts both position players and pitchers is below:

Scrub0-1 WAR
Role Player1-2 WAR
Solid Starter2-3 WAR
Good Player3-4 WAR
All-Star4-5 WAR
Superstar5-6 WAR

One other important aspect about WAR is that it is a cumulative stat. WAR is a stat that is either added to or subtracted from as the season progresses. Due to this, Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte’s WARs make them better than a solid starter. They are both on pace to finish the season in the superstar category at the end of the season.

Next: A Scouting Report On Sunday Night Starter Chad Kuhl

Another reason WAR is a valuable stat is that it is league and park neutral. This means it takes out league and ballpark affect when calculating a player’s value. This makes WAR a stat that can be used to compare players across leagues, as well as across seasons.

WAR can also be used to evaluate a player’s contract. WAR is the one stat that can be used to determine if a player’s contract is a bargain, paying them what they are worth, or overpaying them. How so? It is quite simple actually.

A WAR of 0.0 is considered a replacement level player, so any player with a WAR over 0.0 is considered to be above replacement level. Each point (1.0) of WAR is worth about seven million dollars. If a player has a WAR of 1.0, then they are worth seven million dollars that season. If their WAR is 2.0 it jumps to fourteen million dollars, and so on down the line.

Jun 24, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) at bat against theLos Angeles Dodgers during the fifth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 24, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) at bat against theLos Angeles Dodgers during the fifth inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

To further examine this we will use Andrew McCutchen. In recent seasons many people have said Andrew McCutchen has the most team friendly contract in all of Major League Baseball. Prior to this season, this very well may have been the case.

Between 2013 and 2015 Andrew McCutchen made 22,649,999 dollars. This may sound like a lot of money because, well, it is. However, this was well below what McCutchen was worth.

During that three year stretch McCutchen accumulated a WAR of 21.1. A WAR of 21.1 indicates that Andrew McCutchen was worth 147,700,000 dollars from 2013 through 2015. So WAR indicates that the Pirates paid McCutchen 125,050,001 dollars less than he was worth over that three year stretch. Yeah, I feel safe saying that contract might be the best bargain in all of baseball.

For readers out there that did not previously know much about WAR, or did not understand it, I hope this article helped. For further help on understating WAR, checkout FanGraphs’ sabermetrics library where I pulled everything from for this article. If you have any other questions feel free to post them below or to ask on Twitter!

Other Sabermetric Sunday Posts