What Is WAR in Baseball?

Performance metrics are necessary for all sports, including baseball. They provide an objective view of how skillful players are based on the numbers. So, you may have favorites and feel loyal to a specific team or players, but these metrics will give you a realistic picture of their strengths. And that’s why WAR is critical. But, what is WAR in baseball?

No, I am not referring to the rivalry between some baseball teams or players. I am referring to a metric that can help gauge how feasible it is to replace an existing player with another in the same category. I understand that this sentence might be confusing, but there’s no need to worry.

This blog will explain what WAR is and provide the formula for its calculation.

What Is WAR in Baseball

What Is WAR in Baseball?

WAR is an acronym for Wins above Replacement, a non-standardized baseball statistic. This statistic assigns a value to a player based on their existing and potential contributions to the team to provide an objective comparison against an average player in the same position.

In simple terms, all players get a score based on their current and potential contributions. These numbers help concerned parties know if it’s beneficial to replace one player with another having a similar skill forte. The closer the numbers are to each other, the more complex the decision.

Wins above Replacement is a reliable metric because it disregards unnecessary details and objectively analyses data. However, it is not entirely accepted as a standard practice, so it is an additional calculation.

I hope this explanation provides a sufficient explanation for the question, ‘what is WAR in baseball?’

Calculating WAR for Hitters

All objective calculations come with a formula, and WAR is no different. As with most such games, there are two formula forms, one for hitters and another for pitchers. Following is the formula for hitters:

  • (Batting Runs + Base Running Runs +Fielding Runs above Average + Positional Adjustment + League Adjustment +Replacement Runs) / (Runs Per Win)

The formula looks simple enough, doesn’t it? Think again. While the core formula is straightforward, getting figures for each variable is challenging. For example, let’s consider Batting Runs.

To get the batting run value for the player, you first need to calculate Weighted Runs Above Average (wRAA). The wRAA calculation requires you to determine the value for another four or more variables. It would be great if that were the extent of the challenge, but nope. There’s more.

Each variable in the original formula requires you to go through similar hardship to get the correct value. The only good news is that you can get the necessary figures on several baseball fan websites, so you at least know where to get information.

However, if you are willing to do the work, you will get the values you need. I feel like the metric requires too much work, but it is surprisingly popular among serious baseball gamblers who conduct extensive research before placing their bets.

Calculating WAR for Pitchers

I have kept two separate heading for the two calculations because the formula for pitchers is significantly different from the one for hitters. The formula for pitchers is:

  • Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) = (Homeruns + Base on Balls + Hit-By-Pitch + Strikeout + Infield Fly Ball Rate)/Innings Pitched

The above formula also requires some work. However, it is not as complicated as the working for hitters. Hence, you wouldn’t find it challenging to get this value for your preferred players.

Which Baseball Players have the Highest WAR Right Now?

The best part about baseball fans is that no level of challenge stops them from getting as many statistics as possible. You guessed correctly; there are complete and updated lists of WAR scores for active players that show which players are in leading positions.


Rank Players WAR Position
1. Albert Pujols 99.6
2. Mike Trout 78.8
3. Miguel Cabrera 68.7
4. Robinson Canó 68.4
5. Joey Votto 64.2
6. Evan Longoria 57.5
7. Paul Goldschmidt 53.6
8. Mookie Betts 53.2
9. Manny Machado 48.4
10. Nolan Arenado 47.0
11. Josh Donaldson 45.9
12. Giancarlo Stanton 45.1
13. Andrew McCutchen 45.0
14. Freddie Freeman 44.8
15. Jose Altuve 42.8
16. Nelson Cruz 42.4
17. Yadier Molina 42.3
18. Bryce Harper 41.6
19. Jason Heyward 38.9
20. Lorenzo Cain 38.6

Albert Pujols is, without a doubt, the leading hitter at the moment. There is at least a difference of 20 points between his and Mike trout’s scores, proving that his performance has been exceptional. Hence, he is a significant asset to St. Louis Cardinals and shows exceptional promise.


Rank Players WAR Position
1. Justin Verlander 74.1
2. Clayton Kershaw 70.5
3. Zack Greinke 68.9
4. Max Scherzer 67.0
5. Chris Sale 45.6
6. Adam Wainwright 41.9
7. Jacob deGrom 39.7
8. David Price 39.6
9. Johnny Cueto 35.8
10. Madison Bumgarner 34.8
11. Corey Kluber 34.5
12. Gerrit Cole 31.9
13. Stephen Strasburg 31.2
14. Lance Lynn 30.6
15. Anibal Sanchez 29.1
16. Yu Darvish 26.6
17. Aaron Nola 25.4
18. Jose Quintana 25.1
19. Sonny Gray 23.7
20. Kyle Hendricks 22.4

Justin Verlander of the Houston Astros is the leading pitcher at the moment, but this category does not have as much of a difference between the top three players. The significant dip comes after Max Scherzer, who holds the fourth position with a WAR score of 67. The fifth-best score, 45.6, belongs to Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox, who is reportedly dealing with a medical setback.

What Makes WAR a Good Metric

I acknowledge that WAR scores are not the easiest to calculate. However, it is still a good metric for player performance and potential evaluation. The metric considers historical and existing performances and covers as many skill aspects as possible.

This comprehensive approach is why I think WAR is an excellent metric for this purpose.

Our Final Thoughts

To sum up the answer for ‘what is WAR in baseball?’ it is a metric for assessing player performance. I hope you enjoyed reading the blog and will use WAR to remain updated on the latest statistics.

About The Author