Friday, September 9, 2011

Because Baseball Needs Another Statistic: the WASP

For those not familiar with baseball statistics or sabermetrics, "WAR" has been the hot statistic of the past few years. WAR (meaning Wins above Replacement or Wins After Replacement) combines statistics for both hitters and pitchers and tries to determine how many wins the player gave his (or her in softball I guess) team. A great, simple intro to WAR can be found here. So (at least theoretically) WAR measures players and make them easier to rank. So, for example, Derek Jeter (with a 1 WAR this year, which is not great by any means) is better than backup middle infielder for the Rangers Andres Blanco (with a 0 WAR this season, meaning he is, to use a fun sports term, "just a guy", any major leaguer that belongs in the majors could replace him). However, this doesn't tell us that Derek Jeter is paid much more than Blanco. There is a (sort of) relationship between salary and WAR, but not in the sense that I will suggest should be taken in account. Before we look into the details of the proposed statistic, I will first admit that this isn't necessarily new. I am just doing it in a different way, there are ways certain sites and people measure this, but to my knowledge they aren't using the formula I will give.
I call this statistic WASP (standing for War and Salary Per). It's really simple. First, take the player's salary, and since we mentioned Jeter, let's start with his salary of 15 million dollars (according to Then, because everyone in the MLB makes at least 6 figures, cut off the last 3 zeros. So we are stuck with the number 15,000. Next, you divide it by his WAR, and because Jeter's WAR is 1, you are left with 15,000. The rule for this stat is that the higher the number, the worse off. You want a low number (similar to ERA or WHIP for pitchers). So lets compare Jeter with Blanco. Blanco's salary is a much smaller $520,000. Obviously we chop off the last 3 zeros to get us to 520, but we have to treat negative and even WARs differently than a positive WAR, so the formula changes. On an even or negative WAR, you add (technically subtract, you are actually adding -2) 2 to the WAR (so if the WAR is -.5, change it to -2.5), change it to positive and multiply (not divide) it by the salary number (maybe I lied about the simplicity). So we change Blanco's 0 to 2 and then times it by 520, which gives you 1040. This number is lower (and lower is better, remember) than Jeter's. This means that Blanco is more "valuable" (in dollars and cents terms) than Jeter (statistically of course, this doesn't measure unmeasurables like leadership, I am looking forward to your comments Yankee fans). This is a statistic that is especially important to teams like the Athletics (it is kind of a "Moneyball" inspired statistic), Rays, and Marlins who have little to no money to spend. These teams must get the most value out of players as possible. So lets just look at how some other players stack up according to WASP. Mike Stanton of the Marlins has a WAR of 5.1 and a salary of 416,000. This gives him a WASP of 81.5, which is an absolute blowout of Jeter and Blanco. Jacoby Ellsbury, a MVP candidate outfielder for the Red Sox, has a salary of 2.4 million, and a 6.8 WAR. This gives him a WASP of about 353. Adam Dunn has a shocking WASP of 52,800, Justin Verlander has a 1655, Cliff Lee a 1833, Carlos Pena 5555, C.J Wilson 1639, Pat Burrell 1111, and Matt Latos at 287.5. It is certainly a stat that rewards any kind of production from players that are paid less than a million dollars. You can easily calculate the WASP of your favorite players or players on a certain team by using sites like and and a calculator. I will be playing around with this stat on the blog in the future, and if you have any interesting findings be sure to comment on the blog or email me at or follow me on twitter @clinthulsey.

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