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WAAS: Wins Above All-Star Level

Posted by John Autin
(Errors in the HOF list in an earlier version of this post have been corrected.)

In two recent columns (insider), ESPN's Peter Keating proposes evaluating HOF candidates with a WAR-based stat he calls Wins Above All-Star level, or WAAS. In a nutshell:
  • Season WAAS = WAR minus 2.5, except that...
  • Season WAAS cannot be less than 0.
  • Career WAAS = sum of season WAAS.
  • Threshold for HOF consideration is about 20 WAAS.

In Keating's words:
"[I]t's quite possible to pile up [career] WAR without having superstar seasons. ... Wins Above All-Star Level is my way of rewarding greatness, rather than mere longevity. Players having marginal All-Star years average about 2.5 WAR. WAAS simply looks at a player's WAR, year by year, subtracts 2.5 from each season and adds up the total. Any season whose adjusted WAR is negative is thrown out, since WAAS measures a player's peak performance. The results speak for themselves. Sandy Koufax has 54.5 WAR, fewer than Frank Tanana (55.1), who pitched 1,800 more innings. But Koufax has far more WAAS: 32.6 versus 19.7."
I calculated the top WAAS values (based on B-R WAR) among position players who have appeared on a HOF ballot but have not yet been elected.

Non-HOF Batters with at least 20 WAAS:
(Only HOF-eligibles with at least 1 year on the ballot)

Position Player
WAAS
Jeff Bagwell
45.2
Edgar Martinez
34.8
Jim Wynn
33.7
Dick Allen
33.5
Bill Dahlen
33.4
Sal Bando
32.7
Bobby Grich
32.3
Alan Trammell
32.1
Mark McGwire
30.5
Keith Hernandez
29.5
Larry Walker
29.3
Ken Boyer
28.7
Minnie Minoso
27.6
Bobby Bonds
27.4
Lou Whitaker
27.1
Tim Raines
27
Rafael Palmeiro
26.8
Reggie Smith
26.8
Jack Glasscock
25.9
Graig Nettles
25.5
Buddy Bell
25.4
John Olerud
24.7
Cesar Cedeno
24.5
Dale Murphy
24.1
Sherry Magee
24.1
Cupid Childs
23.1
Jim Fregosi
23
Ted Simmons
22.8
Will Clark
22.8
Robin Ventura
22.6
Dwight Evans
22.4
Dolph Camilli
22.3
Tony Oliva
21.8
Charlie Keller
21.6
Ron Cey
21.2
Bernie Williams
21.1
Darrell Evans
21.1
Willie Davis
21.1
Stan Hack
21
Vada Pinson
20.9
Bob Elliott
20.7
Bob Johnson
20.7
Fred McGriff
20.6
Joe Torre
20.6
Gene Tenace
20.5
Rocky Colavito
20.5
George Burns
20.1


That's fine, but what we really want to know is how those numbers stack up to the current HOFers. So I integrated the players from the first list into the list of HOFers.

HOFers plus Eligibles with at least 20 WAAS:
(Eligibles in bold italics)
Position Player
WAAS
123.9
104.3
103.4
90.2
88.9
86.8
85.4
83.1
82.6
79.4
78.4
76.6
70.2
65.2
64.4
61.1
59.3
58.6
58.6
57.7
51.1
49.5
47.3
46.8
46.8
46.6
46.3
46.1
45.4
Jeff Bagwell
45.2
45.1
44.3
43.5
43.4
39.7
39.4
39.0
38.4
38.2
37.8
37.4
37.4
36.9
36.2
35.5
35.4
35.3
35.2
Edgar Martinez
34.8
34.6
34.2
33.7
Jim Wynn
33.7
Dick Allen
33.5
Bill Dahlen
33.4
33.0
32.7
Sal Bando
32.7
32.4
Bobby Grich
32.3
Alan Trammell
32.1
31.9
31.7
31.6
31.5
31.1
31.1
Mark McGwire
30.5
30.3
30.2
29.8
29.7
Keith Hernandez
29.5
29.4
Larry Walker
29.3
29.3
28.8
Ken Boyer
28.7
28.7
28.2
28.1
28.1
28.0
27.7
27.6
Minnie Minoso
27.6
Bobby Bonds
27.4
27.4
Lou Whitaker
27.1
Tim Raines
27
Rafael Palmeiro
26.8
Reggie Smith
26.8
26.7
26.6
26.3
26.2
Jack Glasscock
25.9
25.8
Graig Nettles
25.5
Buddy Bell
25.4
25.2
25.1
24.7
John Olerud
24.7
Cesar Cedeno
24.5
24.2
Dale Murphy
24.1
Sherry Magee
24.1
23.8
Cupid Childs
23.1
23.0
23.0
Jim Fregosi
23
23.0
Ted Simmons
22.8
Will Clark
22.8
Robin Ventura
22.6
22.5
22.5
Dwight Evans
22.4
22.4
Dolph Camilli
22.3
22.2
Tony Oliva
21.8
Charlie Keller
21.6
21.5
Ron Cey
21.2
Bernie Williams
21.1
Darrell Evans
21.1
21.1
Willie Davis
21.1
Stan Hack
21
Vada Pinson
20.9
Bob Elliott
20.7
Bob Johnson
20.7
Fred McGriff
20.6
Joe Torre
20.6
20.5
Gene Tenace
20.5
Rocky Colavito
20.5
20.2
20.2
20.2
George Burns
20.1
19.9
19.5
19.3
19.3
19.2
19.0
18.7
18.7
18.5
18.4
18.4
18.2
18.2
18.1
17.8
17.6
17.6
17.6
17.5
17.4
16.9
16.9
16.8
16.5
16.4
16.3
16.2
16.1
15.0
14.0
13.9
13.1
12.2
11.7
10.6
10.6
10.4
10.3
10.2
10.2
9.6
9.5
9.2
8.9
7.1
6.8
6.4
5.7
4.5
3.4
3.3
2.2
1.4
1.3
0.8
0.7
0.7
(I didn't bother to delete those elected on the basis of their managing career or Negro Leagues careers.)

Some of the players most often put down as "compilers" -- Ted Simmons, Darrell Evans -- do, in fact, drop down the rankings when their WAR is translated into WAAS. But others, such as Trammell and Whitaker, hold up quite well.

The biggest surprises to me in these tables are Jimmy Wynn and Bobby Bonds.

P.S. I'm sorry for not having links on all the player names, but in order to calculate the WAAS values I had to copy data from the Play Index into Excel and then use the subtotal feature; that last step lost the links.
(And now I've realized how to do it and preserve the links, but I'm not going to redo all the work!)

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