Wins Above Replacement: Catchers

For the past few months, I've been dabbling in sabermetrics. The idea that baseball can be valued in a certain set of figures can be hard to follow. There are all kinds of figures, WAR, RAR, wOBA, OPS, BABIP and so on.

The one column that I've done the most work on is WAR, which stands for Wins Above Replacement. To my limited understanding, WAR basically shows us the value of a current player over an average player. Thus, the higher the WAR the better team should be at the end of the season. Today, I'm going to focus on the WAR's of the Catchers in the NL Central. I've been using Fangraphs.com for all the figures. Many other sites have their own figures, but I wanted to keep things simple.

Last year, Geovany Soto had a bounce back year at the plate after his performance dropped in 2009. Only, two catchers actually qualified last year in Fangraphs figures, Brian McCann and Yadier Molina. Soto only had 387 ABs with a few injuries, but when he played it was solid.

2010 WAR Figures

Brian McCann 5.3
Carlos Ruiz 4.1
Buster Posey 3.9
Geovany Soto 3.5
Miguel Olivo 3.2
Yadier Molina 2.6
Ramon Hernandez 2.6
Yorvit Torrealba 2.4
Ryan Hanigan 2.2

 

The Cubs fair well here with the top catcher in the NL Central with a 3.5 WAR. There is a flaw somewhat, because the two Reds catcher add together for a 4.8, so they actually had the best value. The Cubs were pulled down from Koyie Hill's (-0.7) value, making him the least valuable catcher in the NL last season. Isn't it great that Jim Hendry just inked Hill to another deal? 

The Cubs are in good shape, but it would be nice if Soto could get close to 500 ABs, because it would limit Hills impact in wins. For the Cubs to compete in 2011 they need Soto to be on the field.  

Filed under: Geovany Soto, sabermetrics

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  • Yarbage -
    It's important to understand that WAR doesn't measure a player against the average player at his position. Instead, it measures him against the so called "replacement level" player at that position. Replacement level players are decidedly below average. Replacement level means players that are essentially free to teams on the open market, can be called up or sent down from AAA at will, and will produce at levels on the fringe of major league acceptability. These are the Micah Hoffpauir/Bobby Scales's of the world. So you correctly note that 3 finger Hill posted a negative WAR last season. What that means is that the Cubs would have been better off using any old shmuck they called up from the upper minors as the backup C. Koyie performed worse than a replacement level player from AAA would have been expected to perform last year. So yeah, the Cubs would have been better off setting $850,000 on fire than on resigning him for 2011.

  • On that note, what's the story on Wellington Castillo? Is he to be yet another Micah Hoffpauir or Felix Pie?

  • Here's what John Sickels had to say about him:

    "Very effective against runners, has some power, but on-base skills are sketchy."

    Sounds like a major league backup to me.

  • In reply to sep484:

    That's certainly what I was thinking. I wonder if Quade will want to go with 3 catchers on the roster?

  • Fangraphs have Castillo at a .4 WAR last year, which is better than Hills. Hmm...could have saved $400 K for a player that could be better, and probably couldn't be any worse.

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