Judge: Bill James vs. The Noise

From SABR member Jonathan Judge at Baseball Prospectus on November 21, 2017:

At his website, Bill James recently published a column entitled “Judge and Altuve,” as well as a follow-up column. Therein, James argues that Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is wrong to evaluate Aaron Judge’s run contributions as equivalent in “win” value to those of Jose Altuve, because the Astros won more games than the Yankees.

The backdrop for the criticism is this: wins obviously arise from runs, specifically the difference between the number of runs scored and those that a team allowed. The question is how many runs should be considered equivalent to a win, and whether that value should be static or dynamic.

James’ argument, as I understand it, is that there needs to be a 100 percent equivalency between the games a team actually wins and the runs they actually score or prevent. Thus, his “run-to-win” value would be dynamic and vary by team. WAR(P), by contrast, uses the overall league-average relationship between runs and wins to assign win value. James’ ire was focused on Baseball Reference’s WAR measurements in particular (Altuve 8.3; Judge 8.1), but the criticism is fairly generalized to any system that has a similar philosophy, and he does not limit his criticism to MVP evaluation. Rather, it is clear that James sees the MVP situation as a symptom of a larger defect in how WAR operates.

Read the full article here: https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/35455/prospectus-feature-bill-james-vs-noise/

Originally published: November 21, 2017. Last Updated: November 21, 2017.