Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The WAR Yankees

Generally, I distrust voodoo stats. They're like the numbers hurled in a debate: made to jump through hoops. And none seems less trustworthy than W.A.R. - Wins Against Replacement, whatever that is - a cooked-up casserole of lesser stats with a formula that reads like the federal tax code. It resembles the QB rankings of the NFL - (Huh, Eli Manning is having a good year? Who knew!) - or radio's Arbitron ratings system, the most daft accounting method for any industry, anywhere. Nobody really understands these numbers, and there's no justification for using them, but - aww, Hell - everybody does, so let's go to W.A.R.

Here are the 2016 Yankees W.A.R. rankings at each position, with a minimum 300 at bats. (Thus, Gary Sanchez doesn't make the cut. For the record, if included with his small sample size, Sanchez ranked 4th among MLB catchers - incredible - but noteworthy anyway. Trouble is, he was so steadily falling at the end, and we still don't know where a full season would place him.)

The rankings:

c McCann 15th
1b Tex 33rd
2b Castro 27th
ss Didi 16th
3b Headley 15th
lf Gardy 4th
cf Ellsbury 14th
rf Hicks 29th
dh Beltran 6th

Clearly, these W.A.R.s reflect the utter mediocrity of the 2016 Yankees. We land in the middle, right where we belong. We suffered three big craters - Tex, Hicks and Castro - of which two should be gone. Thankfully, Tex is retiring. I cannot imagine Hicks getting another 100 at bats without a dramatic improvement, and Castro's low ranking is sort of a surprise. (I think it's because 2B is now a major offensive position, and he sucks at On Base Percentage.) 

In the outfield, Brett Gardner is the surprise. He is still a grinder, though his lack of power and stolen bases should worry us. He is probably just holding the slot until Aaron Judge, Clint Frazier, Mason Williams, Tyler Austin - or somebody - moves in. He or Ellsbury will probably be traded, and what we get depends on how much contract Hal is willing to eat. The truth is, we probably won't get much, unless they are bundled into a huge deal, the kind that generally terrifies us.

Finally, there is Headley. Whenever I think of Headley, I see him shaking his head, as he jogs to the dugout following a popup. I cannot help but think Ronald Torreyes would have had a better full year, if were hadn't been lashed to the whale of Headley's contract. At the end, Girardi was playing him more and more. There are whispers of Castro moving to 3B next spring - he certainly has the arm - but it's just rearranging deck chairs, right? And the Yankees clearly think Rob Refsnyder is a Scranton yo-yo.

There will probably be an earthquake of a trade. Frankly, I dunno know what else to do, because we don't have a 3B prospect ready for prime time, and we haven't developed one in 20 years. If Headley played on the 1999 Yankees, he'd be Scott Brosius, and we'd love him. On this team, he's just another nothing burger whose most formidable stat is his 4-year deal, which ends after 2019. Yeuch.

Not that I'm complaining. Nope. Not me. The Redsocks have gone home, and I'm happy as a lark. Ha-ha. Surely, we will see improvements next year at 1B and RF - two of our problem areas. But we still have to figure out 2B and 3B. The fact that Yoan Moncada plays both positions doesn't matter. Nope. Not one bit.


Alphonso said...

I think you missed a few vulnerabilities;

1. An organization ( read Cashman ) that is an astute judge of talent and efficient in developing baseball skills amongst young players.

2. Starting pitching.

3. A relief corps that is deeper than one guy ( read Bettances).

4. A manager with an ability to adjust, adapt, innovate and motivate.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

That's WINS ABOVE REPLACEMENT, duque--where's your copy editor when you need him/her? And Gardy's no surprise--I noted that he had the team's highest WAR a couple of months ago when you and others in the group were dissing him at least twice a day--because you focus on useless antiquated stats (yes, stats, but crappy old stats) like batting average while ignoring Gardy's strengths as reflected in his OBP, his speed on the bases (advancing even if not frequently stealing) and superlative defense--range, steadiness, very good arm--one of the best left fielders in the majors.

So there. Told ya' so. Don't take pride in being such a philistine fogie on such matters. People with tens of millions invested in players' salaries don't dwell on batting averages any more. Think about the reasons for that sea change.

Parson Tom said...

Whether it's Against or Above Replacement, it's a small-ball stat, especially for a guy like Gardner. As Anon. notes, his defense is superlative, but his offense was weak this year, poorest numbers since 2011 in OPS and his Total Bases were down about 15 percent from what he had been averaging for three years. Just another anemic bat in an anemic lineup. Sell-by date expired.

If the Yankees are going to compete, they can't have a lineup loaded with guys like Gardner. Compare his batting average, slugging, on-base or any other number you care to look at with the numbers at the top of the Boston or Toronto lineups. The differences are stark.

Anonymous said...

Tom is again conveniently ignoring half the game--maybe more than half: defense and speed. He gives defense a cursory nod but then goes on to dwell on offense, ignoring Gardy's excellent OBP in the process. He's comparing apples and oranges. No lineup has sluggers in every slot. You need guys to get on base ahead of the sluggers to there's someone there to drive in. That's the role of guys like Gardy in the division of labor. To compare him to guys like Bautista is to miss the point on several fronts. Think Vada Pinson or Mickey Rivers--every team needs a couple of guys like that to complement Frank Robinson or Reggie Jackson. The anti-Gardy crusade is awash in sophistry and bad faith and plain old missing the point.

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