Chicago players at WAR — wins above replacement, that is
The White Sox’ Tim Anderson leads the way at 2.1, with teammate Jose Abreu and the Cubs’ Ian Happ (1.9) close behind. Here’s how they got there.
This has not been a banner season for the Cubs’ offense, which is averaging 4.6 runs per game, below the 4.71 MLB average.
But it has been a banner season for Ian Happ despite a rough last week. At 1.9 wins above replacement as listed at Fangraphs.com, Happ ranked ninth through Sunday in the National League, where the leader was Padres rookie star Fernando Tatis Jr. at 3.0.
Meanwhile, there have been banner offensive seasons all around on the South Side. The White Sox’ 5.5 runs per game ranked fourth in MLB. Tim Anderson (2.1), Jose Abreu (1.9) and Luis Robert (1.8) were fifth, sixth and seventh in American League fWAR. A pair of Angels, Anthony Rendon (2.4) and Mike Trout (2.3), were at the top.
WAR isn’t all offense. A run is a run in WAR calculations, whether it’s created at bat, on the bases or saved on defense.
There are too many variables to give a full calculation, but we can look at some numbers for the local leaders to get an idea of what it means.
WAR adjusts for park effects and opposition, but it starts with calculations of how many runs a player’s production normally would be expected to produce.
Quantity matters. By wRC+, which weighs every PA from home runs to double plays then normalizes so 100 is an average hitter, Anderson (168) leads Abreu (163).
But Abreu has produced at that level for 202 PA to 164 for Anderson, so Fangraphs lists Abreu with 16.4 offensive runs to 15.2 for Anderson.
Steals and caught stealing are factors in baserunning runs, but so are staying out of double plays, taking extra bases such as going from first to third on a single and avoiding outs on the bases.
Fielding runs involve positional adjustments in addition to calculation of how many runs a fielder is worth compared to an average player at his position.
Run totals lead to calculations of expected wins. Those wins are compared to replacement level, defined as players whose output would be expected to lead to a .294 winning percentage.
With those basics, how do the Chicago leaders compare?
Abreu leads Anderson in offensive runs, but Anderson leads 1.2-0.6 on the bases. Both are on the minus side on defense, but Anderson leads -0.7 to -5.2.
Robert is a positive in all three categories but has been less consistent at bat, where his 125 wRC+ means he has been 25% better than league average but is far behind Anderson and Abreu. His 5.9 offensive runs are augmented nicely by 5.2 on defense and 0.5 on the bases.
Happ is at 13.3 offensive runs with 0.9 on the bases and -1.5 on defense.
Once all adjustments are made, wins calculated and compared to replacement, the fWAR leader among Chicago position players is Anderson at 2.1, just two-tenths of a win ahead ofHapp and Abreu and three-tenths ahead of Robert. Bubbling under the big four: the Cubs’ Jason Heyward, 1.6.