WARPed on WAR: How each site’s WAR views the Colorado Rockies
By Kevin Larson
After a lot of the breakdown of the differences in Fangraphs vs Baseball Reference, it should be pretty clear that Baseball Reference is generally going to view the Rockies a bit more favorably. It’s generally going rate players more positively than Fangraphs, though, as we can see with the comparisons with the Rays, Indians and Tigers (though the Tigers are a bit of an anomaly here).
For the Rockies it appears that the biggest reason that Baseball Reference can view players more favorably is how it calculates Pitching WAR. In all but 2016, Baseball Reference was the highest on Rockies pitchers. This is almost assuredly the difference between Fangraphs using FIP and Baseball Reference looking more at Runs Allowed. Baseball Prospectus is consistently harsh on Rockies pitchers compared to the other two, but we’ll evaluate that later.
One of the more drastic notices that we already pointed out was Kyle Freeland’s 2018 season. His fWAR/bWAR/WARP splits were 4.1/8.4/3.3. So why did Baseball Reference view him so much more favorably than Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus? It comes down to the fact that Freeland’s season was predicated off of him pitching more to contact rather than getting strikeouts.
Fangraphs’ discrepancy can be related more to FIP while Baseball Prospectus is more complicated. It uses a stat called DRA (Deserved Runs Allowed) that’s very similar to FIP but encapsulates more factors than just the Three True Outcomes. Between that and its park factors being different, that’s why Baseball Prospectus viewed Kyle Freeland so much lower than Baseball Prospectus.