Jazayerli: The next battle in the war over WAR

From Rany Jazayerli at The Ringer on November 29, 2017, with mention of SABR members Bill James, Joe Posnanski, Sean Forman, and Jonathan Judge:

Saying that sports analytics as we know it would not exist without Bill James has been a cliché for so long that pointing out that it’s a cliché has itself become a cliché. But we still say it, because it’s still true. James didn’t just pioneer the field of sabermetrics; he literally invented the word “sabermetrics.” Everyone working in the field today was either influenced directly by James and The Bill James Baseball Abstract or by one of James’s disciples.

Since James joined the Red Sox’s front office 15 years ago, his public pronouncements have dwindled as the rings on his fingers have multiplied. So when he does talk, it behooves people to listen.

James talked recently, starting a conversation among analysts that was a long time coming. In an article he posted on his website, entitled “Judge and Altuve,” James discussed the respective MVP merits of the players who were almost unanimously considered the best in the American League this year. According to wins above replacement, a statistic that has, with good reason, become generally accepted as the best distillation of a player’s overall quality into a single number, the two players were almost indistinguishable. Baseball-Reference’s version of WAR had José Altuve ahead slightly, 8.3 to 8.1, while FanGraphs had Aaron Judge in the lead, 8.2 to 7.5. By either metric, the two players were within the margin of error of each other.

Read the full article here: https://www.theringer.com/mlb/2017/11/29/16712482/future-of-war-aaron-judge-jose-altuve-bill-james-debate

Originally published: November 29, 2017. Last Updated: November 29, 2017.