Sunday, September 12, 2010

Average WAR for National League Starters


In an earlier post, I discussed the pros and cons of two commonly used Wins Above Replacement statistics for pitchers:


I then took the average of those two WARs for each Tigers starter.  In a follow-up post, I did the same calculation for American Leaguers starters and found Seattle left-hander Felix Hernandez to be the top pitcher.  Today, I’ll look at National League starters


The fWAR statistic is based on FIP and innings pitched.  As such, it favors pitchers with a high number of innings pitched and strong peripherals – high strikeout rates and low walk and home run rates.  It is forgiving to pitchers with high ERAs relative to their peripherals. Table 1 shows the National League fWAR leaders in 2010.  Roy Halladay of the Phillies and Josh Johnson of the Marlins are tied for the league lead with 6.2 fWAR.  Rockies fire baller Ubaldo Jimenez (5.8) and Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright (5.4) are also more than five wins above replacement. 

Table1: NL fWAR Leaders

Pitcher fWAR
Halladay, Phi 6.2
Johnson, Fla 6.2
Jimenez, Col 5.8
Wainwright, Stl 5.4
Lincecum, SF 4.2

The rWAR statistic is based on innings pitched and runs allowed with adjustments made for team defense (as measured by Total Zone) behind a pitcher.  It is friendly to a pitcher with a high number of innings and a low RA - which is the same as ERA except it considers all runs rather than just earned runs.  A pitcher with a low RA, despite weak defensive support, will do particularly well on this statistic.  Rally’s WAR is unaffected by peripherals.
We can see in Table 2 that Halladay sits atop rWAR leader board at 6.7.  He is followed by Johnson (6.3), Jimenez (5.9) and Braves comeback pitcher Tim Hudson (5.7).  

Table 2: NL rWAR Leaders

Pitcher rWAR
Halladay, Phi 6.7
Johnson, Fla 6.3
Jimenez, Col 5.9
Hudson, Atl 5.7
Wainwright, Stl 5.5

Fans who don’t want to choose between runs allowed and peripherals ( I fall in this category) might prefer a combined WAR.  One way to do this is to compute a simple average of fWAR and rWAR as displayed in Table 3.  Using this approach, Halladay (6.4 Avg WAR) is the top pitcher, followed by Johnson (6.2), Jimenez (5.8) and Wainwright (5.4).  

Another thing to note is that some pitchers do much better on one stat than the other.  For example, the Giants’ Tim Lincecum is fifth with 4.2 fWAR but has only 2.7 rWAR.  This is because he has strong peripherals relative to his RA.  Other pitchers such as the Hudson (3.4 vs. 5.7) do better on rWAR.   

Table 3: NL Average WAR Leaders

Pitcher fWAR rWAR Avg WAR
Halladay, Phi 6.2 6.7 6.4
Johnson, Fla 6.2 6.3 6.2
Jimenez, Col 5.8 5.9 5.8
Wainwright, Stl 5.4 5.5 5.4
Hudson, Atl 3.4 5.7 4.6
Myers, Hou 4.1 4.7 4.4
Santana, NY 3.7 4.6 4.2
Hamels, Phi 3.5 4.5 4.0
Latos, SD 3.7 4.3 4.0
Kershaw, LA 4.0 3.9 4.0

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