War in Baseball

What is WAR in Baseball and How To Calculate it?

As you know, baseball in general stirs quite a few debates especially around who is the best player. Our eyes are not enough for us to make an educated decision so we also have to go over the figures. Over the span of 150 years, a lot of lists and statistics have been made to show who is the best player. But at one point WAR was invented and it was exactly what was needed.

So what does war actually mean in baseball and how exactly is war calculated?

WAR when it comes to baseball actually means “Wins Above Replacement.” WAR is actually made to show the change, which can be for worse or for better, that a player experiences when compared to the average, typical player.

The next part of the article will give you all the information you need about WAR in baseball and how to calculate it.

So What Is War in Baseball?

So as I said above, WAR means “Wins Above Replacement.” The statistic called WAR actually shows the number of wins a baseball team has from a certain player. This is done in comparison with the same team gaining with a player of a replacement level from the same position.

The final figure created in the case of the baseball WAR stat will ultimately be based on baserunning, pitching, offensive, and defensive figures. So the WAR metric will actually try to measure how skilled or not skilled an MLB player will be when you put him against an average regular league player.

With the help of WAR, baseball teams have an easier job of picking the best player to increase their chances of winning the game. This player will actually be the one statistics will show as the most suited on the MLB field.

The video below should help you have a better understanding of WAR and aspects of this particular metric.

Wins Above Replacement Player, or WARP

You might have also heard about WARP when people talk about WAR. This is basically the same thing as WAR. WARP is short for Wins Above Replacement Players.

This is used as a way of comparing the quality of MLB players with players that are replacements for the same positions. These are the two most widespread phrases in general in baseball statistics.

So What is a Certain Baseball Player’s WAR?

It seems that lately, it is quite the fad to apply the sabermetric war baseball stat. This is why it looks like we are getting yearly updates of these figures for all teams.

Although it might seem weird, this isn’t something that used to happen this often in the past. This is also something that doesn’t really measure up to standard charts. Even so, WAR is currently used as the most important reputation indicator.

The WAR statistic was introduced in the first half of the 21st century and it was used as a way of determining the quality of a player still at the replacement level. The WAR stat in baseball is the most comprehensive, although it is made of a single number.

You might also like my article on how l0ng is a baseball game.

WAR is used to show a summary of a certain player’s contribution to the team and will cover most, if not all of the important aspects of baseball. This is why, most players that hold a good WAR score are good in most aspects of the game. The player’s WAR will be less than great if he is only good at defending or attacking in games.

Two of the most outstanding players in all of the MLB WAR history are Mike Trout and Mookie Betts. They are known to have great plays for fielding, baserunning, and attacking.

How To Calculate War in Baseball Based on Player Position

You will calculate WAR in baseball pretty differently than you’d do this for OPS, WHIP, ERA, or other similar stats. A certain player’s WAR can’t be determined over a short period of time using just one formula. The WAR of a player will depend on many different factors.

According to MLB calculation:

The WAR stat Graph

So war is WAR an addition of the number of runs average that an individual MLB player will be worth in the batting, fielding, and baserunning, with league adjustment, added to the position adjustment and the number of runs replacement level players would perform split by the number of runs per win.

This calculation is rather complicated and should be left to experts that really know what they are doing. As of now, there isn’t a formula considered official for the player’s WAR.

You can also check out the articles made by Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs to understand this topic in even more detail. These websites have also designed their own way of calculating WAR. This will make it a lot easier for you to figure out a certain player’s WAR, as doing this yourself can take a lot of energy and time.

Baseball-Reference also offers you some very in-depth charts so you can see the differences between the calculations done by these two websites. You will also find the WARP Baseball Prospectus.

In the end, you will find a lot of similarities between these components. But even so, the resulting WAR numbers will be pretty different if only a few elements will differ.

So What is the Most Used War Calculation?

Although the calculations done by FanGraphs are used quite a lot, it turns out that the calculation provided by Baseball-Reference is more popular. Even ESPN is known to use this data. To make sure you have a grasp on these things, I’ll also go over bWAR.

Keep in mind that it will take a few hours to research bWAR yourself. I will try to go over the basics and the most important parts of the bWAR:

  • Replacement level runs
  • Runs added or lost due to double plays
  • Positional adjustment runs
  • Fielding runs
  • Batting runs
  • Baserunning runs

Each of these components has a number of very complex formulas behind it.

How Can You Calculate Pitcher War in Baseball?

The Formula You Should Remember: Pitching WAR Metric (FIP) = [(Homeruns) + (BB + HBP ) + (K + IFFB)] / IP.

The WAR of a player is based on the Batting Runs and the Fielding Runs. But when it comes to pitching WAR, this uses FIP. So what exactly is FIP?

FIP translates to fielding independent pitching. This is basically a way of measuring the pitcher’s quality when compared to the number of runs that he will give up.

The fielding independent pitching will take an infield fly.

The Best WAR Numbers in the History of Baseball

As the number given by the WAR metric is not absolute no player can be sure he will have the highest WAR score forever. Every time the season starts, this record is broken yet again. So let’s go over the numbers for the 2021 season, for example.

  1. Barry Bonds with 162.8 career WAR.
  2. Babe Ruth with 162.1 WAR.
  3. Willie Mays with 156.25 WAR.
  4. Ty Cobby with 151 WAR.
  5. Henry Aaron with 143 WAR.
  6. Tris Speaker with 134.3 WAR.
  7. Honus Wagner with 130.9 WAR.
  8. Stan Music with 128.3 WAR.
  9. Rogers Hornsby with 127.1 WAR.
  10. Eddie Collins with 123.9 WAR.

Good WAR Values in Baseball

Up to this point, you should have a basic understanding of what WAR stands for and what the calculation actually means. So let’s go over the interpretation of this stat and what a certain WAR value means for the player’s ability.

We’ll use 0 as an average for the league. This will give you an idea of what is the player’s value based on the floor score. Check out the conversions below to better understand this:

  • 8+ is given to an individual player that has an MVP baseball season.
  • 5 – 7.9 is given to the best candidates for the All-Star team.
  • 2.1-4.9 would mean that a player should start in most games.
  • 0-2 is what a backup player would get
  • <0 is for replaceable players


This article should be enough for you to understand what WAR means in baseball. Keep in mind that WAR can be used to measure a player’s individual season as well as the career of a major league player.

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