The Hall of wWAR: Updated for Baseball-Reference's WAR

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Jesse Tannehill: Hall of wWARior (image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)

It has now been 7 months since I published the latest version of my baseball baby, the Hall of wWAR. Since then, I've been working on improving the method, the formula, and the website itself.

I have some ideas on those fronts, but they recently took a back seat. You see, Baseball-Reference kind of pulled the carpet out from under me and totally revamped their WAR framework. You might think that would cause me to flip a table or something. Except for one thing…

The update is incredible.

Not only do I feel the WAR formula is much improved, Baseball-Reference has really taken a huge step in sharing their data. I don't know if your realize this, but Baseball-Reference is providing daily updates of their WAR numbers in CSV format. I know the Lahman database and other sources have been doing this for years with traditional stats. But this is the first time it has been done with a WAR framework that covers all of baseball history. I find it incredibly generous and I applaud the folks at Baseball-Reference.

What are the differences between WAR 1.0 and WAR 2.0 (well, 2.1 already)? I figured a good way for me to gauge that was to see how the update affects the Hall of wWAR. So, I've updated it using the exact same methodology. The only difference is the WAR version.

Here's what happened…

20 players were bumped from the Hall of wWAR while 20 new members were added.

New Hall of wWAR Inductees:

  1. 91.6 Tommy Bond
  2. 86.4 Clark Griffith
  3. 81.9 Noodles Hahn
  4. 80.8 Bucky Walters
  5. 80.4 Pud Galvin
  6. 79.9 Urban Shocker
  7. 79.4 Hoyt Wilhelm
  8. 78.6 Nap Rucker
  9. 77.0 George Uhle
  10. 76.7 Burleigh Grimes
  11. 76.6 Ned Williamson
  12. 75.4 Babe Adams
  13. 74.7 Ralph Kiner
  14. 74.5 Ted Breitenstein
  15. 74.2 Willie Davis
  16. 73.7 Dwight Gooden
  17. 73.5 Chuck Finley
  18. 73.3 Wilbur Cooper
  19. 72.8 Jack Powell
  20. 72.4 Jesse Tannehill

Clark Griffith, Pud Galvin, Hoyt Wilhelm, Burleigh Grimes, and Ralph Kiner are currently Hall of Famers. This list seems to be pitcher-dominated.

Players Removed From the Hall of wWAR:

  1. 72.3 Ross Barnes
  2. 72.2 Frank Tanana
  3. 72.1 Will Clark
  4. 71.9 Billy Pierce
  5. 71.7 Hughie Jennings
  6. 71.3 Cesar Cedeno
  7. 71.2 John McGraw
  8. 70.5 Joe Kelley
  9. 70.2 Billy Herman
  10. 70.2 Minnie Minoso
  11. 65.8 Bob Lemon
  12. 65.7 Frank Chance
  13. 65.6 Bid McPhee
  14. 65.6 Roy Campanella
  15. 69.8 Harry Stovey
  16. 68.9 Stan Hack
  17. 67.5 Silver King
  18. 64.6 George Gore
  19. 63.6 Cupid Childs
  20. 56.0 Hugh Duffy

From this list, Joe Kelley, Billy Herman, Bob Lemon, Frank Chance, Bid McPhee, Roy Campanella, and Hugh Duffy are in the Hall of Fame. So, the overlap between the Hall of wWAR and the Hall of Fame gets a bit smaller (by two players). The names on this list are not very surprising—Tanana, Pierce, and Chance were already so close to the borderline that they were originally added to the Hall of wWAR after it was originally published.

Two names here bum me out—Roy Campanella and John McGraw. Campanella was doubly screwed and wWAR just doesn't factor this in. He got a late start because of the color line and an early ending because of an accident. Obviously, I believe that Roy Campanella (and Minnie Minoso and Larry Doby) should be in the Hall of Fame. I just simply can't account for their entire Hall case objectively. Yet…

As for McGraw, he had a short career, too. I thought it was awesome that he was able to get in even with his limited playing time. I guess he'll have to settle for being a Hall of Fame manager. In a full career, though, he would have been a slam dunk.

Another thing I was curious about was who made the biggest gains and losses in wWAR. This list doesn't include every player in history. This is just from Hall of Famers, Hall of wWAR(iors?), and active/recently retired players on the Hall path.

Biggest wWAR Gains:

  1. 40.5 Cy Young
  2. 36.2 Walter Johnson
  3. 21.0 Chase Utley
  4. 21.0 Eddie Plank
  5. 20.4 Pete Alexander
  6. 20.3 Rube Waddell
  7. 19.5 Kid Nichols
  8. 19.4 Curt Schilling
  9. 17.6 Ted Breitenstein
  10. 16.6 Lefty Grove
  11. 16.6 Tommy Bond
  12. 16.1 Pedro Martinez
  13. 15.3 Vic Willis
  14. 14.9 Hoyt Wilhelm
  15. 14.8 Jack Powell
  16. 14.8 Roberto Clemente
  17. 14.7 Al Orth
  18. 14.5 Randy Johnson
  19. 14.1 Christy Mathewson
  20. 13.7 Ozzie Smith
  21. 13.5 Joe McGinnity
  22. 13.3 Noodles Hahn
  23. 13.2 Pud Galvin
  24. 13.2 Ed Walsh
  25. 13.1 Nap Rucker

Looks like a lot of pitchers. And Chase Utley. Wow, DRS likes him better than Total Zone!

Biggest wWAR Losses:

  1. -47.3 Babe Ruth
  2. -44.5 Barry Bonds
  3. -37.7 Mickey Mantle
  4. -37.4 Al Spalding
  5. -36.8 Ty Cobb
  6. -33.0 Bob Caruthers
  7. -30.4 Lou Gehrig
  8. -25.9 Jim Edmonds
  9. -25.1 Ed Delahanty
  10. -24.5 George Davis
  11. -23.1 Eddie Collins
  12. -22.0 Joe DiMaggio
  13. -21.3 Roger Connor
  14. -20.5 Hughie Jennings
  15. -20.4 Willie Keeler
  16. -20.2 Fred Clarke
  17. -20.1 Hugh Duffy
  18. -19.7 Honus Wagner
  19. -19.7 Billy Hamilton
  20. -18.6 Mike Schmidt
  21. -18.4 Joe Kelley
  22. -18.3 George Gore
  23. -18.1 Rickey Henderson
  24. -17.7 Bid McPhee
  25. -17.6 Joe Morgan

Obviously, the more wWAR you have, the easier it is to lose it in an adjustment like this. That explains many of the players near the top. Spalding was expected since I originally needed to estimate his National Association pitching WAR. It makes me sad to see Bob Caruthers take a big hit. He's still a Hall of Famer by a longshot, though.

How did the position breakdown change with the new update?

  • C: From 15 to 14 (–1)
  • 1B: From 23 to 21 (–2)
  • 2B: From 17 to 13 (–4)
  • 3B: From 17 to 15 (–2)
  • SS: From 17 to 16 (–1)
  • LF: From 21 to 19 (–2)
  • CF: From 12 to 11 (–1)
  • RF: Remained 20
  • DH: Remained 2
  • Position Players: From 144 to 131 (–13)
  • Pitchers: From 64 to 77 (+13)

The new Hall loves pitchers, that's for sure. No other positions made gains. The "Who's In?"/"Who's Out?" lists go from 66 to 63 while the "Who's Next?" list (active or not yet eligible players who have reached the Hall of wWAR cutoff) goes from 38 to 37 (we gained Adrian Beltre, Johan Santana, and Chase Utley while losing Lance Berkman, Jeff Kent, Joe Mauer, and Jorge Posada. Obviously, Berkman and Mauer still have time to crawl back over the line.

By position, the 37 players on the "Who's Next?" list include 2 C, 4 1B, 2 2B, 3 3B, 2 SS, 1 LF, 5 CF, 6 RF, 1 DH, and 11 pitchers (10 starters and Rivera). Seven are on the upcoming Hall of Fame ballot—Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, Biggio, Kenny Lofton, and Sammy Sosa. There has been some speculation that just Biggio will get in this year. If that happens, the Hall of wWAR would add those seven while removing six players already enshrined (because the Hall of wWAR always remains the same size as the Hall of Fame). That would be bad news for Jesse Tannehill, Tony Mullane, Whitey Ford, Jack Powell, Wilbur Cooper, and Willie Stargell, who would all be bumped.

Lastly, here are the 66 players who are in the Hall of wWAR, but not in the Hall of Fame:

  1. 118.0 Pete Rose
  2. 117.4 Jeff Bagwell
  3. 117.2 Jack Glasscock
  4. 106.6 Shoeless Joe Jackson
  5. 103.5 Wes Ferrell
  6. 102.8 Larry Walker
  7. 102.6 Bill Dahlen
  8. 97.6 Bobby Grich
  9. 96.7 Alan Trammell
  10. 96.6 Al Spalding
  11. 96.3 Kevin Brown
  12. 93.9 Lou Whitaker
  13. 92.5 Rick Reuschel
  14. 92.5 Luis Tiant
  15. 92.1 Edgar Martinez
  16. 91.6 Tommy Bond
  17. 91.1 Jim McCormick
  18. 91.1 Deacon White
  19. 90.0 Thurman Munson
  20. 89.6 Ken Boyer
  21. 89.1 Tim Raines
  22. 88.3 Wilbur Wood
  23. 87.8 Bob Caruthers
  24. 87.6 Joe Torre
  25. 87.3 Charlie Buffinton
  26. 87.3 David Cone
  27. 87.2 Ted Simmons
  28. 85.8 Graig Nettles
  29. 85.7 Rafael Palmeiro
  30. 85.2 Dick Allen
  31. 83.8 Eddie Cicotte
  32. 83.2 Charlie Bennett
  33. 82.9 Sal Bando
  34. 82.5 Dwight Evans
  35. 82.5 Buddy Bell
  36. 82.5 Bret Saberhagen
  37. 81.9 Noodles Hahn
  38. 81.8 Mark McGwire
  39. 81.0 Paul Hines
  40. 80.8 Keith Hernandez
  41. 80.8 Bucky Walters
  42. 80.8 Willie Randolph
  43. 80.5 Reggie Smith
  44. 80.1 Dave Stieb
  45. 79.9 Urban Shocker
  46. 79.7 Jim Wynn
  47. 79.6 Bobby Bonds
  48. 78.6 Nap Rucker
  49. 78.5 Orel Hershiser
  50. 78.1 Gene Tenace
  51. 77.4 Sherry Magee
  52. 77.0 George Uhle
  53. 76.8 Kevin Appier
  54. 76.6 Ned Williamson
  55. 75.4 Babe Adams
  56. 74.7 Darrell Evans
  57. 74.5 Ted Breitenstein
  58. 71.9 Jesse Tannehill
  59. 74.2 Willie Davis
  60. 73.7 Dwight Gooden
  61. 73.5 Bill Freehan
  62. 73.5 Chuck Finley
  63. 73.4 John Olerud
  64. 73.3 Wilbur Cooper
  65. 72.8 Jack Powell
  66. 72.5 Tony Mullane

I took great pleasure in telling people that Jeff Bagwell was the best player not in the Hall of Fame. But it looks like Pete Rose edges by him. How about that Jack Glasscock? Not just a pretty face.

Spalding falls from first to tenth. Bagwell stays second. Caruthers drops from third all the way to 23rd. Rose jumps from fourth to first. Joe Jackson slides up one to fourth. Then there's Wes Ferrell, one of my pet cases. He was 17th last time. Now he jumps all the way to fifth. Wes Ferrell is the real deal.

Tommy Bond went from being outside of the Hall of wWAR to being the 16th best player outside the Hall of Fame. wWAR is still quite partial to 19th century pitchers, so I'm not sure where he should rank. For example, we have Spalding tenth, Bond 16th, Jim McCormick 17th, 23rd for Caruthers, and 25th for Charlie Buffinton. There are plenty more, too.

How do these 66 players break down by position? 6 C, 6 1B, 3 2B, 7 3B, 3 SS, 4 LF, 3 CF, 4 RF, 1 DH, and 29 pitchers. Of those 29 pitchers, Wes Ferrell actually ranks first while Caruthers slips ninth, behind the likes of Bond and even Wilbur Wood. Wood, interestingly, gets the sort of boost that 19th century pitchers get from wWAR, having thrown 1681.2 innings in a five years span (while earning 37.5 of his 49.3 WAR).

Anyway, I could talk about this forever. What looks interesting to you?

Visit the updated Hall of wWAR site. The old version (based on Rally's WAR) has also been archived (and is accessible through the "More Visuals and Research" menu). As always, the site is open source, if you'd like to take a peek at the HTML, Sass, Javascript, and CSS used to create it.

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