Mike Trout is good at baseball. Very good at baseball. He is without a doubt the best player in baseball today. He’ll be remembered as one of the all time greats of the sport. And to me, he is a perfect example of why baseball WAR stat is seriously flawed to the point of irrelevance. Right now, Mike Trout is hitting 286/398/597 for batting average, on base percentage, and slugging respectively. He has hit 7 HRs so far, which leads the league. That is outstanding. He’s homered every 13 PA or so, putting him on pace for about 45 HRs. Thats a great season, which combined with his defense and base running value makes for a strong MVP caliber season. And baseball reference’s WAR has him on pace for 14 WAR this season, which is the second greatest season ever. What’s number 1? Babe Ruth ushering the live ball era.
In 1920, Babe Ruth outhomered every team in baseball save the Phillies, and Baseball Reference is telling me that Mike Trout is having a better season. so how does he match up against other great seasons? How about Barry Bonds 73 HRs and 232 walks in a season? Good but not Mike Trout. Sorry, I cannot buy that.
WAR is designed to be a stat to compare across eras. The question isn’t how good were you relative to someone playing 100 years later, but how good you were compared to how a replacement player would be that year. So 2018 Mike Trout is arguably the best season a baseball player has ever had relative to his peers? Nope, sorry. There are two things in this world: dice, and no dice. This here is no dice. Anyway you slice it, this does not make sense. And if WAR gets it so wrong here, then why are we trusting it? Why does it hold more weight among many people than other stats. If it is so flawed, maybe it’s time to retire it.