2013 Reds / All-Star Game

79 thoughts on “WAR, what is it good for?

  1. Wow. However they’re calculating WAR, it’s completely messed up. I mean, Cingrani has been more valuable than Chapman for chrissakes…..and Arroyo has 4x the number of innings.

    There’s just no way.

    Silver lining—With Chapman’s profile being raised with his All-Star selection, maybe teams value him a bit more. I still say he’s the one piece that’s 1)expendable, and 2)will bring enough back in a trade that would benefit the team NOW.

        • @Sultan of Swaff: I agree. I wonder if the Marlins would move Stanton if Chapman was involved. It’s not that they can’t afford him or anything, it’s just that they don’t want to spend money. I could get behind something along the lines of a Chapman, Hamilton, Stephenson/Corcino trade for Stanton.

        • @Jared Wynne: If I’m the Marlins, I don’t make that trade. Stephenson and Corcino along with Chapman and Hamilton may get it done but not one or the other.

        • @LWBlogger: Posted this at the bottom by mistake. I’m awesome at computers.

          I wondered how much the Marlins and the Reds value Chapman. Personally, I think you do what it takes to get Stanton. Parting with a great, if misused, closer and 3 good maybes, would be tough, but I do that for Stanton in a heartbeat.

          I can’t believe that the perceived value of a closer has been elevated so high that the Reds wouldn’t include one in a trade for a 23 year old everyday player with the ceiling that Stanton has. I can understand the Marlins hanging up the phone, but definitely not the Reds. “Mediocre Bullpen” to blazes.

        • @Jared Wynne: I don’t mind parting with Chapman, but suspect that we all (myself excepted)over-value him. Really, all he has shown is that he can throw very hard. That doesn’t, by itself, make him an elite starter or even a great closer. He has potential, yes. Speaking of potential, I really wouldn’t give up so much of our future for a guy who might be a relatively short-term addition. It’s by no means a sure thing that we’d get deep into the playoffs even with Stanton, and I, for one, having really enjoyed the BRM and having been really depressed by futility of the first decade of the millenium, have no wish to get rid of all of the young talent.

        • @greenmtred: I mean, Stanton would be young still. He’s 23. He would be the youngest player on the Reds. Think about that. It wouldn’t be like trading for Jayson Werth or anything. I just think that if there is anyway to acquire such a player, and the Marlins asked for Chapman because

          A. He’s pretty good!
          B. He’s Cuban
          C. He’s a “proven closer”
          D. They want to give him a whirl as a starter

          Then you do it in a heartbeat. I personally can’t believe the Marlins are making him available, but you have to do what it takes to get that talent. The last guy the Marlins did this to turned out pretty well.

          http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3141703

    • @Sultan of Swaff: WAR for pitchers mostly involves FIP, which is Fielding Independent Pitching. What it mostly does is try to filter out luck by acknowledging that much of what happens in a ballgame, the pitcher has no control over. What pitchers can control are strikeouts, walks, and (to some extent) home runs.

      FIP isn’t perfect, but it is much better than ERA. That said, some pitchers really don’t seem to have all of their abilities accounted for by FIP. Arroyo is one of these guys (I looked at this pretty hard a couple of years ago).

      So yeah, WAR is going to miss some of Bronson’s value, and he’s probably been worth more than Chapman. I’m less sure about Cingrani. Chapman seems less valuable because it’s easy to remember the blowups. But in context, the blowups are much less frequent for him than they are for most any starter on the staff. It’s just that a starter giving up a couple of runs is a bad inning, but Chapman doing it is a disaster. In any case, the peripherals like Chapman more than Cingrani and until Cingrani throws a lot more innings, I’m gonna go with the peripherals.

      • @Jason Linden: Missing some of Bronson’s value is a major understatement as you know. Bronson is a very valuable piece of the rotation.

        I wonder, however, how his lowered WAR will effect his market value as a free agent since WAR is a good indication of a player’s salary.

      • @Jason Linden: I admittedly don’t understand what all goes into FIP, but I don’t trust it.

        Cueto 2011: 2.31 ERA (3.45 FIP)
        Bailey 2011: 4.43 ERA (4.06 FIP)

        Cueto 2012: 2.78 ERA (3.27 FIP)
        Bailey 2012: 3.68 ERA (3.97 FIP)

        Cueto 2013: 3.33 ERA (3.91 FIP)
        Bailey 2013: 3.57 ERA (2.67 FIP)

        So unless I am missing something entirely, it keeps trying to tell me that Cueto should be worse than he is and Bailey should generally be better than he is? Is there like Bailey-FIP love and Cueto-FIP animosity?

        • @ToddAlmighty: I agree, FIP is definitely too simplistic. xFIP is better in my opinion, and it’s only one column over on the page. xFIP takes into account things like the batted ball types.

          As for Cueto, one of the things that he does that doesn’t get picked up in these numbers is how well he controls the running game (which fangraphs wrote about last year), so he does consistently out-perform his FIP.

        • @ToddAlmighty: I’m far from an expert but yeah that’s exactly what FIP is saying. Bailey has been getting the short end of the stick on luck factors and fielding, while Cueto has been benefiting. I seem to remember a few articles last year about Cueto being one of those outlier guys who consistently has been performing better than his peripherals indicate. Something about his ability to not give up home runs or something? I don’t really remember the details on it.

          If you stop and think about it though I can definitely see it being accurate.

        • @Mwv: A couple of good observations on Cueto there. Yes, he does control the running game and he hasn’t been giving up homers. He had a year or two when his home run rate was too low to be believed, but there is some evidence that pitchers have marginal control over homers (though not as much control as they have over Ks and BBs). That’s why Cueto out performs his numbers.

          Admittedly, I haven’t looked into Bailey as much, but I don’t think he’s been that much better/worse than his FIP. What is interesting though, is that FIP and xFIP both see a big improvement in his performance this year, which I think most would agree with even though it doesn’t show up in the traditional numbers (yet).

    • @Sultan of Swaff:
      I just don’t see any scenario where a team in contention for the playoffs would trade it’s closer, when said closer is still effective. Ever. Especially when said closer is Dusty Baker’s Precious.

      Now, maybe in the off-season, especially if the team fails to make the playoffs, or fails in the playoffs. Maybe.

    • @Sultan of Swaff: There is no way the Reds are going to trade Chapman. Their perception seems to be that the bullpen is marginal even w/ Chapman. They are not going to think about other closer options. The only way Chapman is moved is if the team falls out of the race or during the off-season. Even then I’d be surprised.

      I can see the argument that he should be moved even though I don’t fully agree. What I don’t see any chance of happening is for the Reds to actually move him.

      • @LWBlogger: I agree and would add that every time he alomost routinely takes 20+ pitches to complete a three out inning, it does nothing but reduce his trade value to anyone looking to use him in a different way than he is currently being used.

        The guy is still no more than a prospect as a starter and probably seen as a lesser one than previously.

  2. If you just look at the numbers, you get a much better feeling for Chapman than watching as a casual fan. The fans were so up tight the other night in his save against SF that you could have heard a pin drop with 2 outs in the 9th. That says more about Reds fans than anything else, but I have to believe that part of what they were dealing with was some Chapman anxiety.

    I’ll admit that I am holding my breath when he takes the mound, because you just never know if he is going to have major control issues or flat out dominate. Though it is usually the latter, it certainly feels much worse than the real story told by the stats. We never forget when he walks 2 guys in the 9th, but we easily forget when he goes on a streak and doesn’t give up a run in 6 straight innings and strikes out 13.

  3. I refuse to look at the innings pitched column. It’s too depressing.

    It’ll show that Aroldis Chapman has contributed fewer innings to this team than Tony Cingrani, Alfredo Simon and the combination of Logan Ondrusek and Curtis Partch.

    Chapman has thrown 36 innings. How many of those have been (a) defending three-run leads, (b) mop-up time just to give him work, (c) the Marlins and stupid Cubs?

    Sad. What a tremendous misallocation of resources by the organization.

    • @Steve Mancuso: We all know how I felt about Chapman starting but I can at least see your point when it comes to “a” and “b”. You completely lose me at “c” however. Chapman would have started against the Marlins and Cubs as well and his innings against them rather in relief or as a starter are just as important as his innings against other teams.

        • @Steve Mancuso: Dang it. Why did you have to go and do a thing like that?

          So, you are telling me that the most talented pitcher on the Reds has pitched 36 innings, and exactly 33.33% of them were situations that I would have been totally comfortable with the LEAST talented pitcher on the Reds, pitching????

          ……….just………just………I’ll quote Gob Bluth:

    • @Steve Mancuso: I think that really what you’re showing here is that the idea that you can save a closer so that he always pitches in the most important situations is a myth.

      Because of how actual human beings work, guys have to pitch some days and can’t pitch on others. Add to that the fact that the game is unpredictable (like say Chappy is warming up in the 8th with a 1 run lead and the Reds add on two more, which I’ve seen happen), and you know that a healthy amount of times that a closer pitches aren’t going to be that important.

      With that fact acknowledged, it seems like you should just give your most talented pitchers the most innings. Sure, starters pitch plenty of low-leverage innings, but as Steve showed above, so do closers. So you may as well maximize innings overall.

      The question then is, is Chapman really one of the most talented pitchers the Reds have, if used as a starter?

      • @greenmtred: I don’t think anyone is saying that he is, but use any measure you want, he’s been pretty good.

        The knock on Chapman was that he didn’t have developed secondary pitches and his command was sometimes spotty, so he should be in the pen. Well, look at Cingrani. He’s had a very nice start to his career as a starting pitcher, with exactly the same problems as Chapman, but with less fastball and a worse breaking ball. So if he can do it, why can’t Chapman.

        Of these pitchers, (Arroyo, Latos, Bailey, Leake, Cingrani, Cueto, Simon, Chapman, Hoover) who would you want to give the most innings to?

        I would go Latos, Cueto, Bailey, Chapman, Leake, Cingrani, Simon, Hoover. That’s hardly a gods-gift type argument. It’s just saying that if he’d pitched 75 innings instead of 35, the Reds probably would be doing better.

  4. Good point Steve. I wonder how many innings Chapman has pitched if just a and b are subtracted from his total.

  5. Yeah, I wondered how much they would value Chapman. Personally, I think you do what it takes to get Stanton. Parting with a great, if misused, closer and 3 good maybe, would be tough, but I do that for Stanton in a heartbeat.

  6. I’m in the camp that they just won’t trade Chapman during this season, and that there isn’t much point in speculating about it. Chapman isn’t going to be a heckuva lot cheaper than Stanton going forward, especially in WAR/$, so the Marlins aren’t likely very interested. If they trade Stanton, it will be for some near-ready, “can’t miss” (such as they exist) prosopects on whom the Marlins have cost-control.

    “Valuable” is a subjective term, so I’ll take Mike Leake as the most valuable, because he’s given the team more than it had any reason to expect. Homer is the most talented, in my view, with the highest upside. Latos is fine, but I hate slow workers from an aesthetic point of view, plus I think his motion has a few too many moving parts.

    Mariano Rivera used to pitch about the same number of innings as Chapman, and I thought the Yanks were insane for doing that, too. But there are plenty in New York who will tell you that Rivera should be a unanimous HOF pick.

  7. Baseball-reference.com states, “There is no one way to determine WAR.” Until there is one way to calculate it, as far as I am concerned, WAR is pretty much one’s opinion (“I think we should factor this in”, “But, I think we should factor this in”). For example, I believe it was the 3rd highest WAR in the NL for SS doesn’t even have an OBP near 300. And, this guy didn’t get selected in any form for the All-Star game.

    As well as, regardless of how one calculates it, it would still be a statistic, based off prior performance. A predictor? Only in as much that, for example, with the bases loaded, Joey Votto would be more likely to hit a HR than Paul Janish is. But, then, you can look at the HR stats and tell that. WAR doesn’t tell you how well someone “will do”. It tells how well someone “will do” based on what that player “has done”, again, based on “someone’s opinion” since there is no one way to determine WAR.

    Remember, OBP at one time was an “advanced metric”. Now, it is pretty much a normal stat.

    • @steveschoen: I think this is a little off-base. First off, baseball reference and fangraphs unified how they calculate WAR in March of this year, as you can read about here: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/unifying-replacement-level/.

      Second, even if two sites calculate the components a little bit differently, it’s not an opinion, it’s an algorithm. If you understand what goes into both, you can understand why they are different. It’s not guess work.

      Finally, I don’t think anyone has ever said that it’s a predictive stat. It’s clearly a retrospective counting stat, like HRs. IF a guy has 15 HRs at mid-season, do you know if he’ll have 30 at the end? No. Does that mean that we shouldn’t count HRs? No. It means that it’s a stat that tells you how valuable a player has been that season/month/etc.

      • @al: Al, the opinion would come from how the party wants to calculate it. As I specified, “I think we should factor this”, “Well, I think we should factor this.” Remember, even algorithms were created by people throwing numbers together in some meaningful arrangement for themself.

        I have been told directly it’s a predictor.

        I read the article. It is great to see that they have rectified their calculation for WAR, at least these 2 parties.

  8. Don’t flip to hitter’s WAR.

    It’s equally discouraging knowing that Cozart – the worst offensive starter on this team (excluding LF/C) and one of the worst offensive 2nd baseman has 350 ABs primarily at #2

    • @rightsaidred: This may get lost here… but given that many were face palming themselves when Didi got out of the gates hot and bemoaning more years of “keeping the wrong SS,” it’s worth noting that from June 1 through now, Didi his hitting a robust .238/.319/.267/.586. Worth checking back in again at the end of the season, but it seems like Gregorius is having a nice long visit from Uncle Regression. Not that I wish him poor performance, but just wanted to point out the danger in labeling decisions with imperfect data. Kinda fits in this conversation overall.

      • @Matt WI: I’ve been saying that all season. I do not believe it’s obvious that Didi is better than Zack Cozart. I’d say more likely than not he is, but not by that much—that is my guess.

        People cannot forget hot starts. Puig. Frenchy Francouer (who had just as hot a start as Puig, no one remembers).

    • @rightsaidred: Also worth noting, Brandon Phillips (All-Star) now has a below league average line at the plate.

      So now we have a guy hitting .235 who doesn’t walk behind Choo (with 12 GDP) and a guy hitting .265 who doesn’t walk behind Votto (with 10 GDP). But lineup construction doesn’t matter, or so I’m told.

  9. On the topic of pitchers, what’s the odds that Broxton is going to be out for the season? I was reading how it’s nearly been a month now, and he’s not even throwing yet, and there’s no progress to be mentioned.

    In my mind this is how I see it:
    -Signed for 3yr/$21m.
    -Puts up a 4.33 ERA.
    -Elbow gets hurt.
    -Pitches WITH hurt elbow so that Chapman wouldn’t have to pitch.
    -Is on the DL with a hurt elbow for nearly a month without even starting to throw yet.

    I know I might be a little paranoid, but that sounds an awful lot like “Dusty used a slightly hurt pitcher, got him more hurt, and we don’t want to put him in for elbow surgery because then it would look like Dusty directly caused a 3yr/$21m contract to have a season ending injury. So we’ll just keep him on the 15-day DL and talk about how it’s not progressing as fast as we had hoped until the season ends and then he’ll quietly have offseason surgery.”

    • @ToddAlmighty: Honestly, I would not be that unhappy from a Reds point of view if Broxton sat the rest of the season out. Nothing against Broxton, I just think they are better off without him given the way Baker uses the pen.

      • @Hank Aarons Teammate: It’s not so much a post about unhappiness on if Broxton is there or not. (Though I hope that anyone who makes $7m/yr is contributing to the team.) It’s more about a manager having a pitcher with a hurt elbow throw an inning just so Aroldis Chapman wouldn’t have to pitch.

        Imagine if it was Chapman who had a hurt elbow, and Baker used him anyway so that a perfectly healthy and rested (1 inning in the previous 3 days) pitcher wouldn’t have to. Then Chapman immediately goes on the DL with a hurt elbow and a month later still isn’t throwing at all and has zero status updates.

        Isn’t willful pitcher destruction just about the worst thing possible that a manager can do? Yet I never really saw much proper outrage.

      • @Hank Aarons Teammate: I mean, if Broxton’s elbow could be sacrificed so The Precious didn’t have to pitch.. who else would Baker be okay sacrificing in the future so The Precious wouldn’t have to pitch? LeCure? Simon?

        • @ToddAlmighty: If I recall the situation properly, Broxton had some soreness but the medical staff at the time didn’t deem it serious. I’m willing to bet that Baker didn’t think it was a serious risk. I see what you’re trying to say but there are plenty of things to get on Baker for without having to speculate on rather he worsened Broxton’s injury.

        • @ToddAlmighty:

          Yet I never really saw much proper outrage.

          Mr. Baker has already done this multiple times while with the Reds, with pitchers and position players, before and after his contract renewal, so how much outrage would you really expect? His actions obviously have the blessing of management and ownership so any outrage would have to necessarily be directed at the entire organization, including the medical staff and to what end since nothing is going to change.

        • @greenmtred: Sure, and the situation would have much more understandable if Chapman was really unavailable. But Baker explicitly said that they were just trying to save him because he’s the closer.

          It’s one thing for a guy to play while he’s hurt a little. It’s another for the training staff to agree that he should sit for a few days, and then to go back on that decision only to preserve the fiction of the closer.

          We’ll never know how much that inning added to his injury (though he blew the game and that’s bad enough), but any amount over zero is too much when they had a healthy Chapman ready to go.

        • @ToddAlmighty: Sorry: I was just making an offhanded remark not related to your post. I agree that it gives me concern what happened.

    • @ToddAlmighty: And what about the “teflon” (around here at least) GM who signed Broxton to this contract to start with>

      It is not like it wasn’t known Broxton had prior elbow issues and had danced around TJ surgery a time or two prior.

      • @OhioJim: And that’s the bigger point. That was just a bad contract, especially in light of the fact that Broxton wasn’t being used as a closer. I am not even sure I would have signed him for that if I was thinking of using him as a closer. I mean, at the time I thought Marshall would be fine closing even if the plan really was to put Chapman in the rotation.

        • @LWBlogger: I wanted Soria, who is already back pitching for the Rangers. Just way more upside than Broxton for less money, even if you had to wait half a season to realize it.

          To that end, I hope the Reds take a good long look at Brian Wilson when he’s ready to go.

        • @LWBlogger: Personally I think the timing works to support the line of thinking that the realization that Marshall had something more than a normal spring start up issue was the last straw in sending Chapman back to the pen.

          The other issue was that he needed some time at AAA for “finishing” as a starter and given his contract/ service time issue, to qualify for the big bonus at the end of this year and be arb eligible in the off season, he couldn’t afford anything less than a full year of service at the MLB level.

      • @OhioJim: There’s no doubt in my mind that the Broxton signing is currently looking like the steaming pile of doggie doo that lands on your porch on fire.

        Jocketty has made more good moves than bad moves, which is why people don’t take shots at him more.

  10. Steve put a better point on the Chapman WAR argument than I did–situations matter, yet they aren’t accounted for. For a closer, the situational leverage matters a great deal. For starters, the value comes from innings pitched and how that has a ripple effect on the bullpen usage. For that reason, I think Cingrani has been more valuable than Chapman–stepping into the rotation and into the setup role when we needed him the most.

    Aroldis is like a classic show car—only gets driven on 70 degree days when there’s little chance of rain.

  11. Glad to see that even after yesterday’s exclamation point on the stupidity of this move, Cozart remains in the two hole. Would the world come to an end if Dusty at least tried Frazier or Heisey there?

    • @Eric the Red: Yes to Frazier. I think he would see more fastballs hitting between Choo and Votto.
      No to Heisey. He is worse than Cozart getting on base.

  12. Last year, in 71 innings pitched, Chapman had a WAR of 3.6 ! Given that they WAR doesn’t give extra credit for the 9th, I don’t get that either.

    But most of the WAR numbers look good to me.

  13. “War, what is it good for ?” Did you know that was Tolstoy’s original title for War and Peace ?

  14. Today’s lineup from MLB.com

    1. CF: Shin-Soo Choo
    2. SS: Zack Cozart
    3. 1B: Joey Votto
    4. 2B: Brandon Phillips
    5. RF: Jay Bruce
    6. 3B: Todd Frazier
    7. LF: Chris Heisey
    8. C: Ryan Hanigan
    9. SP: Homer Bailey

  15. Regarding Broxton, he and/or his agent blamed his injury in LA on overuse in one specific game and then rushing back. Here is a link to an LA Times story:

    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/15/sports/la-sp-0916-dodgers-pirates-20110916

    I didn’t want him at last year’s trade deadline, and was amazed the Reds got anything out of him at all. Couldn’t believe the contract Walt gave him, figured they were trying to reassure Dusty that he had his closer for when Chapman went to the rotation, but for that much money? And with his injury history? It would surprise me not at all if he is done for the season.

      • @pinson343: Nobody can know how a pitcher got hurt. It’s impossible. Baker should just say nothing.

        We can suspect things, but we just don’t know.

  16. Saw this from Ken Rosenthal.

    REDS LACKING TRADE AMMO?

    The Reds, who want to add a right-handed bat, actually lead the NL in OPS against lefties, with four of their eight regulars – Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Bruce and Todd Frazier – above .800.

    One problem for the Reds if they want to acquire a bat or a left-handed reliever such as the White Sox’s Matt Thornton: They’ve made a number of successful trades in recent years but thinned out their talent base in the process.

    The Reds moved lefty Travis Wood to get lefty reliever Sean Marshall, shortstop Didi Gregorius to get outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and catcher Yasmani Grandal and first baseman Yadier Alonso to get righty Mat Latos.

    Baseball America ranked the Reds 15th in its organizational talent rankings entering the season.

    • @Hunt4RedsOctober: Well, the cupboard isn’t bare but it is thin. Most of the good prospects are at the lower levels too. I just don’t think they have much to give up and I also think giving up too many more prospects sets them up for having a worse version of the same problem in future years. They simply can’t replace players as fast as they are trading them. I am good with the trades they made but the fact is they may not be able to make more of that kind of trade until they restock the system some.

      • @LWBlogger: I agree 100%. There’s not much to trade (one actual real live prospect in Stephenson). But, the trades they made are good. I’d take back the Wood deal if I could in a second, but I don’t think Wood’s that good. (I’d take it back and trade him for something other than an underutilized reliever).

    • @Hunt4RedsOctober: I think they have the chips if they want to put them in the pot, but all of the guys who could bring them an impact player are more or less off limits.

      If you were another club and you had an impact bat to move, who would you want from the Reds? Cingrani, Hamilton, Stephenson, Travieso, Winker. The Reds aren’t going to get a player who matters if they aren’t going to lead with one of those guys.

      Unless…

      You take on a lot of money. If the Reds were willing to expand their payroll, then they’d be in much better shape. You could get Rios, Eithier, Soriano, and at least a handful of others without giving up any of those guys above if you took on all the salary.

      • @al: I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a move like this if they feel it’s the right person. But it’s hard to see what position they’ll move on and replace a current starter. LF would have made more sense a while ago, but now, with Ludwick so close to returning, would they really pick up someone that essentially benches him?

      • @al: There’s only one way I see any move being made for an impact player, if it involves a package that includes one of our current starters. Only as an example, a package that was to bring David Wright here and send Todd Frazier off. I don’t see that happening for a LF, though. Because, I don’t think the Reds will look to have $7 million sitting on the bench when Ludwick comes back, or have the “impact player” they look to bring in for so much to sit on the bench.

        I don’t see Stephenson, Travieso, nor Winker in that package, either. Well, maybe a small part of it. For, those players are still well off and may never make the majors. And, if teams trade for prospects, they want players closer to major league caliber ready than that.

        I do agree, also, if the Reds take on more payroll. However, I don’t think that will happen, either. The Reds took on a lot of payroll at the beginning of this season, as well as much of it sitting right now in Ludwick, Marshall, and Broxton. Not unless someone falls into Uncle Walt’s lap, I see something like the Francouer move more likely. And, something like that really scares me, giving Baker another Baker-type player, who he would play relentlessly.

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