WAR, standing for Wins Above Replacement (player), is part of the alphabet soup of Sabermetric terms that Mets’ manager Terry Collins has no interest in.
This is unfortunate since the stat has its value despite some nagging flaws. Its biggest shortcoming is that it depends on certain defensive stats to try and determine how much value a player adds to or detracts from his team while on the field. Since defensive stats have always had a hard time of quantifying that skill it has reached the point that there are several versions of WAR which mostly differ based on how they evaluate defense.
Some people are a bit unclear as to what a replacement level player is. This would be best described as a readily available player at the upper levels of the minors, double A or triple A. According to Fan Graphs a team made up solely of replacement level players would win 28.9% of their games meaning they would go 47-115 for a major league season.
Our beloved 1962 Mets went 40-120 which tells you that as a team they were well below replacement level.
The recent Affair de Tejada in which Ruben Tejada was placed on waivers and then released saving the team $2.5 million on his $3 million contract has pretty much solidified Eric Campbell’s spot on the opening day roster.
This is unfortunate because Campbell truly is the poster child for replacement players. A visit to the Baseball-Reference website shows that Campbell posted a +0.4 WAR in 2014 and a -0.5 WAR in 2015. Add those together and you get a minor leaguer cashing a major league check.
And it’s not like we have not been down this road before because Eric Campbell is really just Josh Satin 2.0. Most replacement level players hover around bouncing from AAA to the bigs as needed. Once in a while one of them will break out. Certainly Justin Turner was not much more than a replacement player during his Mets years and he surprisingly blossomed in Chavez Ravine.
In Campbell’s defense he did have a decent line drive rate and hit in bad luck last year. He’s clearly a below average defender pretty much anywhere that Collins puts him.
This writer advocated for the Mets to sign veteran Ryan Raburn while he was still a free agent. RR has put up an OPS over 1000 in two of the last three seasons. Admittedly he was just atrocious in 2014. The deal he ended up signing with Colorado will pay him a modest $1.5 million salary if he makes their opening day roster.
Had the Mets jettisoned Tejada sooner and used their savings to ink Raburn they would have been well ahead of the game, still saved some money, and could have played Eric Campbell where he rightly should be, Las Vegas.
It is not a tragedy that the Mets will be keeping this replacement level player on the major league roster but it certainly would be preferable to have all 25 guys be of major league quality instead of 24.