WAR defined: How to understand baseball’s most important and convoluted stat.

Here Is How to Understand WAR, Baseball’s Most Important and Convoluted Stat

Here Is How to Understand WAR, Baseball’s Most Important and Convoluted Stat

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April 23 2015 3:54 PM

WAR Means This

Understanding baseball’s most convoluted and important stat.

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The art of sabermetrics—first brought to the mainstream by Michael Lewis’ 2003 book, Moneyball—is, essentially, the math of baseball. Since the book’s publication, a new breed of baseball personnel—such as the Cubs’ Theo Epstein (formerly of the Red Sox) and Boston’s Ben Cherington—have followed in Oakland A’s general manager and Moneyball star Billy Beane’s footsteps, and the way a winning team is built has changed fundamentally.

The most crucial statistic to understanding the sabermetrics revolution is WAR, or wins above replacement. It also might be the most complicated metric to understand. The above video is as simple as possible a breakdown of what the stat means and why it’s important.

Christian Lesperance is a freelance video producer and editor working with Slate. Check out more of his work here.

A.J. McCarthy is a Slate writer and producer.