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Baseball analytics: Are you hip to WAR, BABIP and FIP?

Some baseball questions answered using analytics.

WAR

WAR (Wins above Replacement) is a complicated equation that answers the question: "If this player got injured and their team had to replace them with a minor leaguer, how much value would the team be losing?” You can learn more about WAR at fangraphs.com but the equation factors in hitting, fielding and base running. Anything above 4.0 is considered All-Star level.

According to WAR, which position player was the most valuable to the Dodgers last season?

  1. Adrian Gonzalez
  2. Justin Turner
  3. Andre Ethier
  4. Joc Pederson

Answer: A. Adrian Gonzalez. Gonzalez had a WAR of 4.0, meaning the Dodgers would have won four fewer games if he had been replaced by a minor leaguer last season. The lowest WAR on the Dodgers was Alex Guerrero, at -0.2. The highest WAR in baseball last season belonged to Washington's Bryce Harper, who had a WAR of 9.9

Which position player was most valuable to the Angels?

  1. Albert Pujols
  2. Kole Calhoun
  3. Chris Iannetta
  4. Mike Trout

The answer is D., Mike Trout, who had the second-highest WAR in baseball at 9.4. Pujols was second on the Angels with a 3.1 WAR.

BABIP

Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) measures how often a ball in play goes for a hit. The equation: 

(H – HR)/(AB – K – HR + SF)

If a player has a high BABIP, it is likely that he was somewhat lucky, perhaps hitting a few bloopers or slow rollers. The average BABIP for a player should be around .300. Anything well above that means he got some "lucky" hits, and that player will probably have a worse offensive year the following season. So, which Dodger has the best chance of having a worse offensive season in 2016?

  1. Adrian Gonzalez
  2. Yasmani Grandal
  3. Enrique Hernandez
  4. Yasiel Puig

The answer is C., Enrique Hernandez. He had a BABIP of .364 last season. Which Dodger is most likely to improve? Grandal, who had a BABIP of .268. The highest BABIP last season belonged to Odubel Herrera of the Phillies, with a BABIP of .387. Dee Gordon was third with a .383 BABIP. The lowest BABIP? Albert Pujols of the Angels, at .217

Which Angels player had the highest BABIP?

  1. Mike Trout
  2. David Freese
  3. Kole Calhoun
  4. Johnny Giavotella

The answer: A. Mike Trout, with a BABIP of .344. But even if Trout is a little worse offensively this season, he will still be better than most everyone else.

FIP

Fielding Independent Pitching measures a pitcher's performance that removed the role of defense and luck. FIP is designed to tell you how well a pitcher pitched. If a pitcher has a much lower FIP than his earned-run average, then he pitched in bad luck and will probably have a better follow-up season. If his FIP is higher than his ERA, then he will probably have a worse season. The formula: FIP = ((13*HR)+(3*(BB+HBP))-(2*K))/IP + constant. The constant is based on what season you are looking at, and is generally around 3.10.

So, which Dodgers pitcher had the best FIP last season?

  1. Zack Greinke
  2. Clayton Kershaw
  3. Kenley Jansen
  4. Alex Wood

The answer is B., Clayton Kershaw, who had a FIP of 1.99 last season, better than his actual ERA of 2.13. Greinke, on the other hand, had a 2.76 FIP last season, much higher than his 1.66 ERA. Kershaw also had the best FIP in all of baseball last season. The worst? Aaron Harang of the Phillies, with a 4.83 FIP.

Which Angels pitcher is most likely to improve?

  1. Mike Morin
  2. Joe Smith
  3. Andrew Heaney
  4. Garrett Richards

The answer is A., Monte Morin. Morin had a 6.37 ERA last season, but his FIP was only 2.85. 

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