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Don't Skip the Basics

A few weekends ago, I was lucky enough to catch a Marlins' broadcast while vacationing in the Sunshine state. Typically, I make an effort to drown out television analysts but outside of turning off the television,  I couldn't avoid the large chart displayed. The Marlins' production team was attempting to illustrate how valuable Mets' MVP candidate Jose Reyes was by showing him atop the NL Wins Above Replacement (WAR) leaderboard. While some may see this graphic as progress for  baseball geeks everywhere, I have to disagree.

Wins Above Replacement is a fantastic construct. If you're visiting Beyond the Box score you probably know that. But, you also know that it comes in various forms across the internet, and each is not perfect. [1]. We know that. But, Michael Jong and I were probably the only two of the eleven total viewers who had anyway idea what a Win Above Replacement is. [2]. 

Look, WAR is shiny. It puts a ton of information into one number. But, that number is meaningless to one who does not understand the various components or does not have an inkling of how they are calculated. [3]. Why start with SABR501?[4].

Before geeks can thrust Runs Created upon the average fan, we need them to embrace the virtues of OBP. Understand the importance of every out. Without this basic foundation, the main stream media's use of WAR may be met with something worse than fear and confusion.


JD Sussman is full time law student and co-founder of Bullpen BanterHe can be reached at or via twitter.


[1] Don't forget Baseball Prospectus' WARP. Same construct, different name.

[2] I would just like to add, after showing this chart the announcer decided to play the geeks vs. nerds/mothers' basement card.

[3] Did the broadcast denote which WAR they were using? Nope.

[4] This MAY be an overstatement, but consider the "replacement level" baseball fan's understanding. It's Batting Average, Home Runs, and RBI.