Today at Wahoo’s on First, we unveiled our new Simple WAR Calculator. Before I published it I prepared some preemptive FAQs. Here are a few questions that I thought might arise. An updated list can always be found here.
What is the calculator supposed to do?
Check out the “About” page for information.
What do all these numbers mean?
Check out our glossary for explanations of what each number means and where it comes from.
What should I use the calculator for?
It’s designed to be used to estimate value for any situation in which actual value numbers are unavailable. You can plug in a player’s projected statistics to get a sense of how valuable he’ll be. You can compare multiple players’ projections, or get a sense of how much a player’s value would change if he took more walks or changed positions. You can find out just how good the players from your video games or other simulations are. Or you can use it as an educational tool and see how much different aspects of the game matter in assessing a player’s worth.
Is this a new variant of WAR?
No, it’s just a way to estimate how players would rank in other models (the calculator conforms closest to FanGraphs’ WAR, but it should be a reasonable approximation of the other models of value too) without having to do all the heavy lifting of manually replicating the full formulas.
Think of the calculator as like SparkNotes. If you don’t have the time or patience to read the book it’ll give you a pretty good idea of what’s going on, but no one would ever say the simple English translation is better than the actual Shakespeare.
Why don’t these numbers match up with real WAR totals?
Every ballpark creates a different kind of run environment, and every year the balance between offense and defense changes. In its current incarnation, the calculator does not make stadium- or season-specific adjustments (which is why the results should be seen as just estimates).
Bradley Woodrum’s formula for Should Hit (the basis of the calculator’s hitting component) was designed to model MLB hitting from 2009-11, but the league has changed in that time. Because offense has declined, the same hitting performance would be relatively better and therefore more valuable in 2011 than in 2009, and way more than in 2001. So the calculator will modestly undervalue a player from 2011, but it would overrate a batter from the Steroid Era.
The ShH-to-runs and RAR-to-WAR conversions have also been simplified and do not reflect differing ballpark conditions. I’m working on fixes for all of these problems.
Why can’t I customize more of the inputs?
The goal for first version of the calculator was to make it as simple as possible. I’m working on a more customizable version for more advanced analysis.
What about pitchers?
A pitching WAR calculator is in the works.