Bill James may be baseball’s most valuable expert, unless of course he didn’t make the playoffs this season. And his "Win Shares" formula is an interesting statistic that gives an indication of a players value throughout the course of a season and also throughout the course of a players career. Comparing position players is meaningful in using this Jamesian statisitic, but when one crosses the threshold and compares position players to pitchers, I believe it loses some of its value. I am not one to say that anything is not accurate without truly knowing its worth, especially when the opinion was formed by the great Bill James. But I do think I have a rather compelling argument when I say that CC Sabathia was more valuable than Raul Ibanez this season. But "Win Shares" would lead one to believe otherwise. Raul Ibanez and CC Sabathia are tied with 24 "Shares" a piece. In fact, Sabathia led all pitchers with 24 of these "Win Shares," meaning that in terms of this stat, Ibanez was more valuable than any pitcher in baseball outside of Sabathia, and as valuable as the large bodied lefty himself. So do I have a case to question this formula? I believe so.
Alex Rodriguez led all players in the game with 39 "Win Shares." And it is obvious that he was the most valuable player this season, in both leagues. Second was Magglio Ordonez. No complaints there. The next five in succession were: David Wright, Ichiro, Pujols, Grady Sizemore, and Vlad Guerrero. Once again, all great players, so I do not see anything to disagree with, at least not to any significant extent. And if the statistic values a great position player over a great pitcher then I don’t have as much of a problem with it, because I am not completely sure they aren’t more valuable. Even though I do value pitching as a whole over offense. But as one scrolls down the list trying to come across the first pitcher it gets a little frustrating. Once my eyes passed the likes of 25 position players I began to grow anxious. Until I hit Sabathia in the list. And they were all good players ahead of him, or at least players who had good years. But when I saw Sabathia, I immediately saw Raul Ibanez with the same integer and again I questioned the formula. "Pitchers must be undervalued," I thought to myself. Ibanez had a solid season. Twenty one homers, 105 RBI’s, a line of .291/.351/.480, 104 Runs Created, and batted .329 with RISP. But to say that he had the same value as the Cy Young winner, there must be an inaccuracy in the system. Not only did Sabathia win the Cy Young, he deserved to win it. And although he is not the absolute best pitcher in baseball, he is one of the best, and was the most valuable this season, in part because of the amount of innings he threw.
So while I still don’t know the exact formula for Win Shares, as I do not feel like purchasing the outdated book by James. I do know that I would much rather have had Sabathia this season than Raul Ibanez. And I truly believe that Sabathia was much more important a piece of the Indians, than Ibanez was for the Mariners. Independent of one’s team, Ibanez still falls well short of CC I would think. And I think that the value of a pitcher needs to be looked at a little more closely within this formula.