Why WAR Isn’t Everything: 3 Reasons Why It’s Not the Only Statistic to Determine a Great Baseball Player

Carlos Correa, one of the top shortstops in Major League Baseball, is not shy about letting people know about his stats. He has repeatedly claimed that he is the best player at his position because he has the highest Wins Above Replacement (WAR). According to Correa, his WAR demonstrates his value to his team and his importance to their success.

In addition to his defensive prowess, Correa is also an accomplished hitter, with a career batting average of .279 and a slugging percentage of .479. He was also a key contributor to the Houston Astros recent successful inception and now apports a lot for his new team, the Minnesota Twins.

Correa’s argument has merit. His WAR has consistently been among the highest in the league, and the statistic attempts to capture a player’s overall value to his team.

WAR has become an increasingly popular statistic in baseball. It measures a player’s overall value to his team by calculating the number of wins he adds above what a replacement player would provide.

Yet, there are limitations to relying solely on WAR to evaluate a player’s greatness. While it is a valuable tool, it cannot capture every aspect of a player’s performance or value; it is far from the only or most important statistic in determining a player’s greatness.

Here are three reasons why.

Why WAR Isn’t Everything

WAR is not a perfect measure of defensive ability

One of the critical components of WAR is a player’s defensive value. However, defensive metrics are notoriously challenging to measure and can often be subject to error.

For example, a shortstop may make an incredible diving play that saves a run, but if he is not in the correct position, he may receive no credit for his efforts in WAR. Furthermore, different defensive metrics can yield vastly different results for the same player, making it difficult to know which ones to trust. As a result, relying solely on WAR to evaluate a player’s defensive ability can be misleading.

WAR does not take into account situational performance

Another limitation of WAR is that it does not consider a player’s performance in specific situations.

For example, a player may hit a home run in the ninth inning of a tie game, which can be a game-winning play. However, if that player’s team is already leading by six runs, that home run will not have the same impact on the game’s outcome.

Similarly, a pitcher may strike out the side in the ninth inning of a game his team is losing by six runs, but that performance will have little impact on the final result. Situational performance is essential to a player’s value to his team, but WAR does not capture it.

READ MORE: Why FIP is a misleading stat

WAR does not account for intangibles

Finally, WAR does not account for intangible factors that can contribute to a player’s value.

For example, a player may be a great clubhouse leader who motivates his teammates and helps to create a winning culture. Similarly, a player may perform well in clutch situations or be known for his ability to come through in the most significant moments.

These intangibles can be difficult to quantify but can significantly impact a team’s success. Therefore, while WAR may provide a good starting point for evaluating a player’s value, it should not be relied on exclusively.

Wins Above Replacement can help evaluate a player’s performance; it should not be the sole determinant of their greatness.

While Carlos Correa may be justified in using his high WAR as evidence of his skill and value, it should not be the only metric to evaluate his overall greatness as a player. Defensive metrics can be flawed, situational performance can be substantial, and intangibles can play a significant role in a player’s value to his team. Therefore, when evaluating a player’s performance, it is essential to consider various statistics and factors to get a complete picture of their overall value.

Main Image:  Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

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Gabe Vaughan

The sabermetricians who come up with this stuff recognize the limitations of defensive statistics. However, they don’t always recognize the true importance of situational performance.

Michael Kovacs

I couldn’t agree more!

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