With baseball season upon us, sports fans turn their attention to America’s pastime. One of the beautiful things about baseball is that it’s chock-full of statistics that cannot only be utilized in the moment to evaluate a player’s performance, but can also be applied, relatively speaking, as compared to players of a bygone era.
Statistical analysis has become such a popular part of the game that there’s even a name for it, sabermetrics. Coined by Bill James, the term refers to the empirical analysis of baseball.
One statistic that has always fascinated me is called W.A.R., which stands for Wins Above Replacement. This stat attempts to summarize a player’s total contributions to their team in one statistic via a formula that factors in a myriad of common performance metrics.
In other words, how do you translate a player’s performance to the number of games he directly will help his team win in a given season? The above replacement part refers to the difference in games won in a season, between the actual player versus the typical minor league player who would presumably replace the aforementioned player in the event of injury or trade.
For instance, a player with a W.A.R. of 4 would mean that he would help the team win four additional games this season compared to a replacement.
W.A.R., like all statistical analysis, is not meant to be the only evaluation used in decision making to determine value. Even the most hardcore sabermetrician would admit it’s not a perfect measurement device. However, the concept of W.A.R. in baseball -- breaking down a player’s contributions or predicting victories with one simple number -- can be a useful tool. This goes for the average fantasy baseball player up to the general manager of your favorite Major League team.
If a complex formula existed for your business that spit out a number with your W.A.R., measuring your contributions versus a replacement employee, what would your number be? Are your contributions 1.5x, 2x, or even 3x of what a replacement would offer? Determining your W.A.R. is a practical way to figure out what areas of your business you can improve the most to make the greatest impact.
We’re going to forgo complex mathematics, and simply look at your W.A.R. in terms of categories for self-evaluation:
Leadership: Is your leadership making your team and everyone on it better?
Culture: Do your leadership and personal actions strengthen your organization’s culture?
Decisions: How would you evaluate the strategic decisions you’ve made for your organization over the past year?
Mental Toughness: Not a typical workplace year-end review category, but one that I believe is predictive of success. How do you rank against the average worker when it comes to overcoming obstacles and adversity?
Of course, W.A.R. is a formula crafted particularly for the sport of baseball and cannot be directly transferable to other sports -- or uses -- without modification. The same can be said for the above categories of leadership, culture, decision-making and mental toughness, although they are probably universal performance categories.
For your business, determine your own W.A.R. with the most relevant categories. Developing a formula with a specific number or fraction isn’t critical, but what’s important is measuring your performance in objective terms: How much value do I bring to the team versus anyone else? If the answer is greater than 1x in all of the key result areas of your business, then you’re on the right track.