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WAR on the Move: Gaining and Losing Via Trade

Please see a note on methodology and opportunities for improvement after the jump. - ed.

For some reason, I decided to spend the last 10 days digging through MORE trade data. I think it's some sick, self-destructive disorder I have, because it was in no way fun. But, what I ended up with is a comprehensive spreadsheet of every trade in the past five seasons, and the WAR each team lost and gained with those trades. (Despite the tedious and mind-numbing task it was to put it together, it's kind of awesome, so I'm making it available for your viewing pleasure / future use as a multi-tabbed , year-by-year Google spreadsheet.) Then I had to find out how to turn it into something pretty to look at. It's not nearly as complex as my first tangled web of a graphic, but it's interesting nonetheless. I'll let you all play around with it (it's interactive again) and draw your own conclusions, and I'll save my thoughts for after the jump. Enjoy!

(Again, due to size constraints, I've posted a bigger version over on my own site.)

Alright, here are a few thoughts from the saber newbie:
  • Texas has lost a potential 60.8 WAR in the past five years. I think this could be indicative of a few things, (some related to the reliability of WAR and some purely related to the Rangers' front office management) but I'll leave let you all ponder/argue about them in the comments instead of addressing them here.
  • Despite the fact that the Padres sit atop the graph, the recent dealing of Adrian Gonzalez means that probably won't last long.
  • A few teams at the top (Tigers, Nationals, Orioles, Blue Jays) have been pretty bad in the past few years, but these numbers make me wonder if the next few seasons could potentially be bright for them.
That's as much analysis as you'll get from me on this one. I'm still reading up on as much saber stuff as I can (parents bought me Tango's The Book for Christmas and I'm devouring it), but I'm still a novice compared to most. If you feel the same way I do (i.e. inferior), check out Steve Slowinski's wonderful Saber Primer series. It's helped me a lot.



I've gotten a lot of questions (in the comments and via e-mail) about my methodology for this project. I'll admit that I stupidly forgot to include a note about it in the original post, so I'll attempt to explain it here. Before I jump into anything, however, I want to let everyone know that I'm not 100% certain that my method was the best one, or that it was even correct. Your (kindly-worded) comments and corrections are welcome and encouraged.

- - -
To calculate WAR Sent, I included all WAR accumulated by a player after he left the sending team, no matter how many seasons he played after the trade or how many teams he played for after the trade. I'll use Mark Teixeira as an example. The Rangers sent Teixeira away in 2007. From the day that trade was made until now, Teixeira has accumulated 19.7 WAR (6.3 in Atlanta, 3.3 in Anaheim and 10.1 in New York). Theoretically, had Teixeira stayed in Texas, he would have contributed that 19.7 WAR to the Rangers instead. Thus, 19.7 WAR is placed in the Rangers' WAR Sent column.

To calculate
WAR Received, I used a similar method. I included all WAR accumulated by a player during his time spent with the receiving team. Again, I'll go to the Teixeira example. As I mentioned before, Teixeira was sent to the Braves in 2007. During his time with the Braves, he accumulated 6.3 WAR. That value is what I placed in the WAR Received column, because it is what Teixeira contributed to Atlanta.

This method, as I mentioned before, isn't flawless. Had Teixeira stayed in Texas, it is possible that he might not have contributed 19.7 WAR. He may have over- or under-performed that value based on many factors. But this method is what I considered to be the simplest and most effective. Some have mentioned that I should instead focus on a different metric, one that could potentially be labeled
Dollars Per WAR. This would put a value on the money each team spent per WAR. It's an interesting concept, and one I might examine soon. Thanks so much for your thoughts thus far. You're helping a young saberist learn and grow.