Laurila: ESPN’s Dean Oliver on WAR

From SABR member David Laurila at FanGraphs on March 8, 2012:

The sixth annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference was held in Boston last weekend, and it was bigger and better than ever. Over 2,200 people were in attendance and the list of panelists included team owners, general managers, coaches, and more. According to conference organizers, 73 teams were represented among MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, MLS and EPL. Notably, the Baseball Analytics Panel was moderated by Rob Neyer and consisted of Rocco Baldelli, Scott Boras, Bill James, Jeff Luhnow and Mark Shapiro.


During the conference’s Box Score Rebooted panel, Oliver suggested that he had a lot of opinions on Wins Above Replacement. He didn’t address them, so I caught up to him later in the day to hear his thoughts. A respected voice in basketball analytics, Oliver is currently the director of production analytics at ESPN.

Dean Oliver on defining replacement level: “I think we need some sort of consensus discussion on replacement level. Wins Above Replacement is very much defined by how you set replacement level.

“In one way, replacement level is related to how much you pay players, because minimum salary does define something about replacement quality. There are methods for setting replacement level based on who is getting that minimum, including rookie salary caps and restraints along those lines. That is valid.

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Originally published: March 8, 2012. Last Updated: March 8, 2012.