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Friday, September 2, 2011

Professor Sam Fuld Explains WAR

TAMPA BAY (Bottom of the Fourth) - It's time again for a visit from Bottom of the Fourth's resident statistician, Professor Sam Fuld. Dr. Fuld first graced us with his presence when he explained sample-size issues in an earlier article. Today he'll be delving into WAR, one of the most widely-used statistics on the sabermetric landscape today. Take it away, professor!

Greetings, statheads and statheadettes! I'm very pleased to be here to explain the fascinating statistic WAR. It's confusing, I know. Don't worry. I went to Stanford. Let's dive in.

WAR is a stat that measures the overall "goodity" of a player, in the same way that how many friends you have on Facebook measures your "coolity". 

WAR for a position player has three components: batting, base-running and fielding. If a player is "good" at batting, they receive 1 point for batting. If they are "not good" or even "bad" at fielding, they receive 0 points for batting. The same system is used for both base-running and fielding. Thus the maximum score is 3 points for a player who is "good" at batting, base-running and fielding. The other possible scores are 2, 1, and 0. 

For example, Ryan Roberts of the Diamondbacks is one of the top players by WAR, because he is "good" at all three categories. He is one of the few 3-WAR players. Albert Pujols is an example of a 2-WAR player because he is "good" at batting and fielding, Ryan Howard is a 1-WAR player (batting) and Vladimir Guerrero is a 0-WAR player (bad at all three).

WAR is a useful statistic because it separates the "very good" players, the "good", the "bad" and the "very bad". That's as separated as it gets, though. As previously mentioned, there are only four groups (3, 2, 1 and 0). To rank players more precisely would require more computing power than is currently possible. However, we here at Fuld Labs are working on the problem and expect a solution within the next 10-20 years.

Bottom of the Fourth would like to thank Dr. Fuld for his detailed and enlightening explanation of WAR.

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