WAR, what is it good for?

WAR Wins Above Replacement Free Agency 2010

Absolutely nothing? Nah, I wouldn’t go that far but this off-season GM’s aren’t paying anywhere near WAR (Wins above replacement player) market value for free agents. What is WAR?

Via Tom Tango WAR is wins above replacement. Replacement is defined very specifically for my purposes: it’s the talent level for which you would pay the minimum salary on the open market, or for which you can obtain at minimal cost in a trade.

If you want the math behind WAR you can visit Tango’s website

The purported market value for 1.0 WAR is $4.5 million. Below is a listing of the free agent signings as of December 8th. In most instances I’ve included a few seasons worth of WAR data and valuations, along with 2010 Chone projections. Chone data is from their 2010 free agent tracker. Keep in mind CHONE predictions are typically… cautious. Players that are signed below perceived WAR value will have their names in green, above WAR value in red

Positional Players

Chone Figgins
Contract – 4 years, $36 million
WAR Values: 2.4 WAR in 2008 ($11 million), 6.1 WAR for $27.4 million (2009)
2010 Chone Prediction 3.0 WAR, roughly $13.5 million

Marco Scutaro
Contract – $12.5 million for two years. 2012 $6 million club option, $3 million player option or $1.5 million buyout
WAR Values: 4.5 WAR in 09, $20.2 value, 2.7 WAR in 08, $12.1 value
2010 CHONE 3.1 ($13.95 Million)

Placido Polanco
Contract – $18 million, 3 year
WAR Values: $13.9 mil, 3.1 in 2008, 3.1 WAR in 2009 ($14.1 mill)
2010 CHONE 2.3 WAR ($10.35 million)

Gregg Zaun
Contract – $2.75 million in 2010, $2.5 million option for 2011
WAR Values: 1.8, $8.2 mil, 1.2 for $5.5 WAR
Chone 2010 0.9 WAR ($4.05 million)

Ivan Rodriquez
Contract – 2 year, $6 mill
WAR Values: 0.8 WAR, $3.8 mill in 09, $8.5 1.9 WAR in 08
CHONE 2010 0.4 ($1.8 million)

Brian Schneider
Contract – 2 year, $2.75 million
WAR Values: 1.6 WAR in 08 ($7.3), 0.3 WAR in 09 ($1.5)

Adam Everett
Contract – $1.55 million
WAR Values: 0.9 WAR, $4.3 million in 2009
Chone 2010 0.8 WAR ($3.6 million)

Alex Gonzalez
WAR Values: 0.5 WAR in 2009 ($2.4 million), 1.7 WAR in 2008 ($10.1 million)
Chone 2010 0.2 WAR ($0.9 million)

Alex Cora
Contract – 1 yr, $2 million
WAR Values: 0 WAR, -0.1 mil, 0.7 WAR in 2008, $3.3 million

John McDonald
Contract –
WAR Values: 0 WAR in 2009, $0.2 value, -0.4 WAR in 2008 (-$2)

Omar Viquel
Contract – $1.375 mill
WAR Values: 1.2 WAR, $5.2 million in 2009
Chone 2010 not listed

Andruw Jones
Contract- $500 K, $1 mill with incentives
WAR Values: 0.8 WAR in 2009 ($3.6 million)
Chone not listed

Starters

Brad Penny
Contract – $7.5 mill, $9 if 204 IP
WAR Values: 2.5 WAR, $11.2 million in 2009
Chone 2010 2.3 WAR ($10.35 million)

Relievers

(Keep in mind WAR doesn’t give relievers much credit. Take for example Takashi Saito’s 2007 season. He posted a 1.40 ERA, converted 39 of 43 save opportunities, struck out 78 vs 13 walks in 64.1 IP, posted a 0.72 WHIP, left 92.9% of opponents on base and an overall FIP of 2.57. He earned a mighty 2.0 WAR for this effort, which is along the lines of a #4 or #5 starter eating innings and posting a 5.00 ERA. Which would you rather have?)

Billy Wagner
Contract – $6.75 mil 2010, $6.5 mill option 2011 ($250K buyout)
WAR Values: 1.2 WAR in 08 ($5.4), 0.4 WAR in 09, $1.9 value
Chone 2010 not listed

Takashi Saito
Contract – $3.2 million + incentives (check out)
WAR Values: 0.4 WAR, $1.6 mill in 2009
Chone 2010 not listed

We see a lot of green and very little red. The only negative deals so far (from a WAR perspective) have been to light hitting defensive players (Cora, McDonald, Pudge) and relief pitchers (Saito, Wagner).

WAR is on sale this off-season. Of course we all knew that Marco Scutaro wouldn’t sign for his 2009 ‘WAR value’ of $20.2 million per season. As with most stats and metrics, WAR can be useful but shouldn’t be taken as the the straight dope. We’ll do another WAR update later on in free agency season.

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has written for mopupduty.com since 2006. Follow Matthias on Twitter, Facebook and Google +

  • Best. Post title. Ever.

  • Good god y’all!

  • Ian

    Agreed! The Edwin Starr reference is very clever … I loved it!

    It’s good to see that the players with relatively high WAR are rewarded handsomely with fat contracts. It’s not the be-all end-all of baseball stats, but it does a very good job at showing a player’s worth.