The "R" in "WAR"
Replacement Level Killers, Dept.


Hardball Times has an article up discussing Replacement Level Player.  You might be surprised to find a few strong visuals in the piece.  For example:


... “replacement player” conjures a fuzzy image: a man who is good enough to play major league baseball, but only if the team can’t get somebody better. If Kemp got hurt and the Atlanta Braves called up a middling outfielder from Triple-A Gwinnett to fill in for 10 days, a zero-WAR performance is what you would expect; not a star player or a prospect, just a guy who can field his position and hit a little bit. He’s not going to win many games for you, but he won’t cost you many, either.


I don't think any of us Denizens have put it exactly that way, have we?  By this definition Boog Powell was "good enough to play ML baseball," at -0.1 WAR, though we'd have wanted somebody better.  Leonys wound up at -0.4, Tuffy Gosewich at -0.6, Taylor Motter at -0.6.  Generally it seemed that Dipoto did a good job of patching up the -0.x WAR hemorrhagining.


Hardball Times notes that if your whole roster was stuffed with nothing but 0.0 WAR players, you'd get 47.7 wins in the majors.  (Per their theories, of course.)  Does any team ever do worse than that?  Sure they do.  The 2003 Tigers went 43-119, well below "replacement level."  Here is that team's WAR chart, if you want to take a gander.


It is true that the Seattle Mariners' talent pyramid is Tall and Thin.  But if you slice the top 25 players off that pyramid, it's not thin at all.   There are only two players who got much time in 2017 who hurt the Mariners:  Valencia and Motter, and they hurt only barely.  Otherwise, the 2017 Mariners piled their AB's into nine guys who helped the team.

What do you do with this kind of paradigm?  The one that says, well, your 21st position player is wayyyyy better than mine.  But I'm going to go six months and only use ten.  It's a funny thing; back in the 1970's this is the kind of baseball I used to remember, one that put your nine against my nine.  I wonder if that's still feasible?  For Dipoto's sake, it better be.


Dr D



Looking at the 2003 Tigers I'm very glad to not have been a fan of them that year.  That's a feat.  5 players at less than .5 over, 18 listed at 0.0 and 7 less than .5 under.  30 players basically replacement level for them that year.  Phenomenal.  Seeing Kingsale and Bocachica combined for 162 the Below replacement zone. How about that great 2008 Mariners squad? 6 players less than .5 over, 21 listed at 0.0 and 8 less than .5 under, 35 in total.  Seeing 21 0.0's in a row on one team is kind of breathtaking. And I watched (less and less of) that garbage.  2017 was much more enjoyable.

There's sometimes talk of fighting spirit and what it means for a teams win total over a long season.  Look at those Tigers last 6 games and especially the second to last one.  An 8 run comeback that ensured they wouldn't take the modern record for losses from the '62 Mets.  This seems to me a good example A of the argument against attitude trumping talent.

I didn't look at the 62 Mets or 1899 Spiders individual WAR totals, remembering 2008 has taken a toll...

For me it is only the rotation that I'm seriously worried about the talent and depth.  A bit with the pen but it seems closer and help seems closer.  Starting 8 fielders are already a couple tweaks away from being a solid and deep group.  I guess the same is true of the rotation even but with much bigger (cost) tweaks.  I'm not buying in to a 1 offseason wolf pack switch.  I guess if anyone can do it, it could happen in Dipoto's trade show.  There are many starting candidates that I'll admit I know less about than I often do this time of year.  It has me less confident anyway.

SonicBOOM!'s picture

DiPoto says his great achievement of 2017 has been to reduce the average of the team... not to improve WAR, or any other calculated metric. Has anyone done ant analysis on the average of a team, vs. the league? Better to have a) Mature pitchers, or b) Aging hitters? I imagine the average AL lineup "out-ages" the average NL one, but.. within a league, does experience and guile really tend to win out over strength, speed, all those youthful attributes that start fading around the (tender) age of 27!

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