Ever since the Giants hired Farhan Zaidi as their president of baseball operations this past offseason, there have been battles between talking heads arguing on the basis of traditional baseball stats and advanced metrics.
Zaidi, who earned his bachelor of science degree at MIT and his PhD at Cal Berkeley, is widely seen as a baseball mind that leans on analytics. So-called baseball fans who don't want the game to evolve argue that he's using too many numbers to try and change the game. At the same time, Zaidi has help lead highly successful teams with the A's and Dodgers.
So, what are his thought on WAR (Wins Above Replacement)?
"Yeah, I think it's a good measure on how a guy has produced in the past," Zaidi said Wednesday on KNBR. "I think it's a nice, valuable back of the envelope calculation for how much value a specific player brought you."
"It's not the be all, end all."
The last part of his quote stands out. Far too many people assume that Zaidi would look at analytics like WAR and not take into account other parts of the game. What he does appreciate about WAR, however, is the goal of the stat is to show the totality of a player.
"I do like that it factors in all the contributions a player makes," Zaidi said. "It includes his base running, his defense, his offense and more."
For instance, Giants catcher Buster Posey is second to only Angels star center fielder Mike Trout in fWAR since 2012. In just over seven seasons, Trout has been worth 67.4 WAR according to FanGraphs while Posey's WAR is 46.5. Even though his power has significantly declined, Posey's defense and ability to frame strikes still provide value.
"His framing numbers this year are back at an elite level," Zaidi said. "When you really look at the evidence, having one of the top framing catchers in the league can save you as many runs, or produce you as many runs, as having a great cleanup hitter.
"Between all the things that he does, doing it at that position with the bat and the offense you get, that's what puts him so high up that list."
An issue with WAR is the fact that the formula is different depending on what outlet you look at. Posey's WAR since 2012 is 10.1 points lower by Baseball Reference than FanGraphs.
The fact is, however, even the brightest minds in baseball that have more of an analytical background are taking multiple factors into account when constructing their team in the now and for the future.