After tackling the great WAR divide for positional players, it is only logical we examine the way value is determined for pitchers. Not nearly as uniform or tidy as batter Wins, as we will soon see.
The biggest difference between Fangraphs WAR and Rally WAR is FIP. Fangraphs attempts to isolate the factors controlled by the pitcher1 (strikeouts, walks, and home runs) and work from there. They don't make "corrections" for defense because the figures they incorporate come pre-stripped of defensive meddling.
Rally WAR (pioneered by Sean Smith, a very smart guy who now works for an unnamed big league team) starts with runs allowed and works backwards. rWAR makes adjustment to the replacement level runs based on the quality of defense (Total Zone derived) and ballpark (derived using magic and answering the bridge troll's riddles three.)
While FIP and its brethren are good and runs against seems uncouth and cruel, it turns out run allowed per 9 innings pitched has the greatest correlation for year-to-year performance. So I can see value in each of these methods.
This schism within the nerd herd threatens to split the fraternal brotherhood like nothing since Princess Lea in the Gold Bikini versus the Canadian broad on BSG. The great love of over-complication called out by the simplistic. WHO WILL TRIUMPH???
As it turns out, us. The functionally nerdy benefit from the spastic yelps of socially-bereft savants lurking in dark corners of the computer supply store. Let's see how it shakes down. First is Baseball Reference's version with Fangraphs below. The rWAR sits on both for comparison purposes.
Weep for Brandon Morrow. Deprived of his gaudy components, Morrow is left to rot as a below-average starter. You know that isn't true, and I know that isn't true, but runs allowed shows no mercy.
Notice the lack of defensive adjustment afforded any Jays pitchers. Total Zone ranks the Jays as pretty much neutral, which is hard to argue unless you try. I can't imagine what sort of ballpark factor is included but if it doesn't cut the Jays plethora of lefties a break then consider me highly dubious.
Relievers who pitch loads high-leverage innings benefit greatly under the Rally system. The adjustment for leverage index/saving grace of runs allowed pumps up the value of both Shawn Camp and Kevin Gregg. I prefer to think of relievers as interchangeable, with the replacement bar set very high as other guys on the same staff can often step into bigger or higher-leveraged roles without issue.
One thing both systems — and all of humanity, I trust — can agree on: Brian Tallet is terrible. That Baseball Reference and Fangraphs can join in chorus proclaiming Brian Tallet is fundamentally awful gives me hope through this dark and gloomy holiday season. Hallelujah!
1 - This is contentious assumption number 1 of many. But we soldier on.
Thanks again to Fangraphs and Baseball Reference for the data. And Modern Life is War for actually writing a song with a decent payoff.