Cameron: What WAR is good for

From Dave Cameron at FanGraphs on February 5, 2013:

On Friday,’s lead baseball story was title “Let’s Corral the WAR Horse,” and the image used in the rotation feature box was simply a white sign with the words “NO WAR” attached to a stick, presumably a stock image of a sign from an anti-violence protest. In the piece, Jim Caple — a writer I like, have spent a little bit of time with, and who is a pretty good advocate for logical thinking, by the way — explained why he’s a little frustrated with what he perceives as an over reliance on WAR as the stat’s popularity grows.


Caple’s correct that WAR was never designed to be the only statistic that matters, nor should we view it as some kind of infallible truth. It is not a perfect metric; it contains some imperfect inputs and it does not sum up the entirety of baseball in a single number. If it did, baseball would be boring, and talking about the sport would be a lot less fun than it is now. So, to an extent, I agree with Caple’s larger point, while not necessarily agreeing with all the points he made along the way. However, I think it’s worth talking about why WAR has become so ubiquitous over the past few years, and what its sudden rise in popularity should tell us about every kind of statistic.

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Originally published: February 5, 2013. Last Updated: February 5, 2013.