Photo by SD Dirk

 

The holy grail of baseball analysis is the one measure that records everything. We've got ERA for pitchers and batting average for batters, but how do you compare a 3.00 ERA to a .300 batting average? How do you compare a power hitter like Adam Dunn to a speedster like Juan Pierre? How does defense and team play entering into the discussion? This line of thought was one of the driving forces of the creation of sabermetrics.

There is always something new to write about in the world of baseball, and much of the innovation we have witnessed in recent years revolves around the aforementioned sabermetrics, or the objective analysis of baseball through empirical means. Basically that's just a fancy way of stating that sabermetrics tries to cut through B.S. and perception to objectively analyze player performance. One of the leading proponents of this line of thought is the man who coined the term, and that is Bill James. Bill's initial attempt to rate all players, regardless of skill set or position, on one continuum is called Win Shares, and I'll touch on that briefly in this article.

WHAT IS WIN SHARES?

Win Shares attempts to measure how many wins a hitter or pitcher has personally notched for his team in the standings.

Win Shares puts all players on one continuum meaning hitters and pitchers are all lumped together.

Win Shares are handed out based on a players impact at helping his team win games. Unlike other new-school stats, Win Shares look quite explicitly at the standings. The team's number of Win Shares is equal to its win total times three. Eighty team wins gives 240 win shares to be spread amongst people on that team. Therefore, it doesn't matter if a player is on a team that wins 95 or 75 games – they should still be rewarded in an equitable manner.

Win Shares is complicated to figure out, and has negatives (you can find the actual formula in my Sabermetric Glossary). James realized some limitations in Win Shares and later invented “Loss Shares” because Wins Shares are only positive. Win Shares has also been replaced in most people's minds by a measure like WAR (Wins Above Replacement level), but Win Shares was the first systematic attempt to put all aspects of baseball performance into one number that really caught on (James wrote about it in Win Shares, a massive 728 page book that was published in 2002).

To put the numbers you are about to review in context, here is a brief key for seasonal performance.

*** All-Star: 20+ Win Shares MVP Level: 30+ Historic level: 40+

With that brief lead in, here are the 2010 leaders according to Win Shares.

2010 LEADERS – HITTERS 35 Adrian Gonzalez 34 Jose Bautista, Robinson Cano 33 Joey Votto 32 Albert Pujols, Carl Crawford 30 Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton 29 Paul Konerko, Rickie Weeks 28 Aubrey Huff, Evan Longoria 27 Shin-Soo Choo, Joe Mauer 26 Adrian Beltre 25 Ryan Braun, Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Holliday, Troy Tulowitzki, Chase Utley

2010 LEADERS – PITCHERS Anything over 20 is a Cy Young worthy season.

25 Roy Halladay 23 Felix Hernandez 22 Ubaldo Jimenez 20 Tim Hudson, Adam Wainwright 19 CC Sabathia, Jered Weaver 18 Roy Oswalt, Clay Buchholz 17 Jon Lester, David Price, Justin Verlander, Brett Myers, Billy Wagner, Brian Wilson 16 Trevor Cahill, John Danks, Cliff Lee

 

By Ray Flowers




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About Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Fri 7-10 PM EDT), Ray also hosts his own show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.

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