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Mets reliever Robert Gsellman had a much better year than his WAR says

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 08: Robert Gsellman #65 of the New York Mets pitches in the ninth inning at Citi Field on August 8, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 08: Robert Gsellman #65 of the New York Mets pitches in the ninth inning at Citi Field on August 8, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images) /
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New York Mets relief pitcher completed a productive 2018 season with a -0.3 WAR, suggesting he was a below average player. How can this be?

WAR is the fad statistic many baseball fans will reference when measuring a player’s value. Often flawed, New York Mets relief pitcher Robert Gsellman offers a fine example of how this number barely tells the story.

WAR is supposed to showcase a player’s overall value. Of course, you can’t measure things like locker room influence or willingness to play in any role asked of you. For what it does measure, Gsellman still draws a short stick.

According to his 2018 WAR, Gsellman was worth -0.3 in this particular statistic. This tells us he’s worse than the average pitcher and not by just a slight margin. Even 0.3 points on either the negative or positive side are significant.

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Like many, my mastery of understanding WAR will never be where I would like it. Other numbers of Gsellman’s tell a far different story, making this one poor number of his look like a fluke.

In 80 innings of work, Gsellman went 6-3 with a 4.28 ERA. His 1.30 WHIP could certainly use some improvement, but it’s not such a horrific rate where I would assume his WAR would launch upward.

There aren’t any particular numbers from Gsellman’s year which would make me believe he was a negative player in value. Sure, he walked quite a few batters and could have ended the year with more strikeouts. Everyone can improve.

As a further example of how we can throw Gsellman’s 2018 WAR in the trash, Jason Vargas was better at -0.2. I don’t care what statistics you grab from him. Gsellman had the better year and it’s not even close.

For the latter part of the year, we saw Gsellman battle through some tough outings. His ERA went up more than 40 points in September, stealing away from the positivity in some of his numbers.

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Even so, Gsellman was an above-average reliever and not a negative one as this new-age statistic suggests.

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