WAR's Catcher Problem, Cont.
I wrote about this a few months ago when I noticed that WAR ranked 3.5 years of Mike Trout higher than 12 years of Yadier Molina. I also noticed that the top WAR ranking for any catcher in baseball history (Johnny Bench, yo) was 48th. Seemed off.
I finally decided to run the numbers to see if WAR undervalued any other position. Here's Baseball Reference's tops at each. Excuse the lack of baseball diamond, but I couldn't find a good writable source online:
Initially, the corners are a bit undervalued but it's still mostly the backstop. In fact, before we get the best catcher in baseball history, we get the following:
- 7 first basemen
- 6 second basemen
- 7 shortstops
- 8 third basemen
- 19 outfielders
And if you add in pitchers?
- 27 pitchers
Meaning instead of the best catcher in baseball history being the 48th best player in baseball history, which is bad enough, he's actually the 75th. Every other position has at least six representatives before Johnny Bench is called onto the field. This, even though catcher is generally regarded as the toughest position in baseball.
FanGraphs' version of WAR, on their clunky site, isn't much better. It has Bench as the 42nd-best position player. I can't even calculate it with pitchers.
Thoughts, baseball fans?