Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Glimpse at Pitcher WAR

Happy New Year!

There has been a lot of hubbub by Adam Darowski over at Beyond the Box Score on Hall of Fame Wins Above Replacement, and how to better get an idea of peak value and career value for people who weight them differently.

You can see his work here and here (it is awesome and interactive).

Personally I believe a lot in the power of the eye and what it sees when it takes a look. Design a graphic using your brain, and let your eyes soak it in and let your gut come to a conclusion about the data. While I love Adam's graphs, I don't know if "Weighted WAR" is the way to go -- it is quite arbitrary, and doesn't really measure peak performance as much as it measures performance over a certain level. A player who has an incredible 10 WAR season at age 22 and a 10 WAR season at age 32 will look like they have the same peak (8 WAR above MVP) as a player who has 7 WAR from 10 straight seasons.

So I thought to myself, "How can we make that distinction?" I diddled with a lot of data, and I came up with this:

(Click for a larger version)

The graph includes all the players in the top 50 for career pitching WAR, as well as any player in either the Hall of Fame or the Hall of Merit.

Let your eyes come to your own conclusions, but here is what I noticed:
  • Early careers were a lot shorter than they were later on
  • The best pitchers jump right out -- Young, Nichols, Johnson
  • Pitchers in the modern era are starting their careers a lot later, and ending them earlier than they did in the Expansion Era
If you have any suggestions, improvements, etc., let me know. I will be doing a version for batters on FanGraphs in the near future.

Created using Excel for initial formatting, and Adobe Illustrator for prettying up. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial License.

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