February 20, 2014

Fangraphs vs Baseball-Reference — my winner is?

Fangraphs vs. Baseball-Reference? Which do you go to first to judge baseball players?

For me, it's B-R, and will remain so, despite the omniscient Jonah Keri poo-poohing it. 

I like that B-R separates out O-WAR and D-WAR, too, and has a little bit of explainer, about how they related to, but don't add up exactly to, overall WAR, and why.

Second, I generally agree with B-R's D-WAR ratings.

D-WAR is a toughie, but, Fangraphs differs a lot, apparently, from B-R at times. B-R has Ozzie Smith 5 career WAR higher than Derek Jeter while Fangraphs has him about 6 points lower, based largely on D-WAR calculation differences.


The difference is even bigger with some other players. Fangraphs ranks Rod Carew nearly 10 points lower in career WAR.

It's also "interesting" that Fangraphs, despite Jaffe's JAWS system being nearly a decade old, doesn't incorporate it. To me, it's the best easy-to-use system of trying to find a sweet spot between career and peak performance.

Also, B-R has the Javascript balloons when you hover over the head of each category for lists, like JAWS lists, and not just for individual players. Better website design, that way.

And, on Hall of Fame judgments, I like B-R's Wins Above Average, or WAA, even better than WAR, no matter which site it comes from, if Fangraphs had WAA, which it doesn't. 

Finally, B-R has complete vote listings, with player stats for that year, on all major award. It's a hell of a lot easier to ask, whether Roberto Clemente, Sandy Koufax, Willie Mays or Juan Marichal should have won the 1966 National League MVP award, when it's all laid out in front of you.

Ditto for 1987, when we can argue that Oz, Dale Murphy or Tony Gwinn should have won the NL MVP over Andre Dawson when it's all in front of us, as well as to wonder if a third MVP for Murph gets him in Cooperstown, while none for the Hawk keeps him out.

On the other hand, as a spring training approaches, Fangraphs has Steamer, Oliver and other projections for the future season for players.

Summary? Fangraph is pitched to hardcore stats-heads, or rather, hardcore Level 2 or above sabermetricians. Baseball-Reference is pitched to serious baseball fans who want, and get, enough sabermetrics to have serious, informed discussion about relative player value.

Related to that, B-R's site is in general easier to use.

So, I'll still primarily use B-R, in part because it's kind enough to do RSS feeds of we bloggers who are registered with it and link to players on it (get with the program, Fangraphs!) but, I'll take at least a bit more of a look at Fangraphs. 

And, even if Fangraphs isn't an ad-based site, just like B-R, still pageviews can drive people to at least consider the paid version of either website. So, Fangraphs folks, another reason for you to follow the B-R lead and run blogger RSS feeds.

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