Cardinals: Evaluating "WAR" and its reflection of team success

Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is a common stat used for player performance. Teams are also given a WAR total. Do WAR totals for teams reflect accuracy in the standings?
St. Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals
St. Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals / G Fiume/GettyImages
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Wins Above Replacement is a fine comprehensive statistic to discover how much a particular player has done to help his team. According to Fangraphs, "Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is an attempt by the sabermetric baseball community to summarize a player’s total contributions to their team in one statistic. You should always use more than one metric at a time when evaluating players, but WAR is all-inclusive and provides a useful reference point for comparing players."

While WAR does provide a general context for player performance, it should not be used by itself. A player's counting stats, traditional stats, and sabermetric stats should all be used when evaluating player performance. WAR supplies the opportunity to compare players at a quick glance.

It is also possible to cumulate WAR totals for players on each team and determine the team WAR totals. Hopefully, the WAR totals of teams mirror the divisional standings. While Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs use similar statistics to come to their WAR totals, they take different routes. The defensive analysis is the primary distinction between the two websites. Fangraphs uses Ultimate Zone Rating for their defensive statistics while Baseball Reference uses Defensive Runs Saved. UZR takes a long-term approach to defensive analysis. Therefore, bWAR will value defense more heavily than fWAR.

By using current divisional standings, it is possible to determine the accuracy of these WAR statistics. Each divisional page will start with a chart showing the current standings, standings based on fWAR (Fangraphs WAR), and standings based on bWAR (Baseball-Reference WAR). Analyses of the standings will subsequently be provided. All standings and statistics are accurate as of August 13th, the beginning of the day.