A Weighty New Metric

So, Prince Fielder is now the “The Round Mound of Motown(copyright pending).  Those debating the wisdom of his new contract are focused on his weight, and pointing out that heavier players don’t age as well as their skinnier counterparts.  To help quantify the differences between players with and without “scale issues”, the VORG, in its on-going attempts to add to the quantification of all things baseball, is proud to introduce the “WAR/BMI” metric.

Quite simply, one takes the player’s career WAR (Wins Above Replacement), and divides it by the player’s BMI (Body Mass Index).  For those of you unfamiliar with BMI, we spoke about it in this post a few months ago.  It basically expresses a ratio of weight to height.  A 6’6″, 285 pound “slugger” can be measured alongside a 5’9″, 180 pound “gritty sparkplug.”

Prince Fielder is listed in the Lahman Baseball Database at 5’11” and 270 pounds, which equals a BMI of 37.7 (the second-biggest in history behind Walter Young).  Baseball Reference.com shows Fielder with a Career WAR of 19.9 so far.  Dividing 19.9 by 37.7 results in a WAR/BMI of 0.53.

Fielder has some work to do to catch up to the Career WAR/BMI leaders:

TOP 100 WAR/BMI PLAYERS – ALL-TIME
Name WAR Wt Ht BMI WAR/BMI
Barry Bonds 171.8 185 73 24.4 7.0
Ty Cobb 159.5 175 73 23.1 6.9
Babe Ruth 190 215 74 27.6 6.9
Willie Mays 154.7 170 70 24.4 6.3
Hank Aaron 141.6 180 72 24.4 5.8
Stan Musial 127.8 175 72 23.7 5.4
Cy Young 143.2 210 74 27.0 5.3
Walter Johnson 139.8 200 73 26.4 5.3
Rogers Hornsby 127.8 175 71 24.4 5.2
Roger Clemens 128.8 205 76 25.0 5.2
Tris Speaker 132.9 193 71 26.9 4.9
Eddie Collins 126.7 175 69 25.8 4.9
Ted Williams 125.3 205 75 25.6 4.9
Honus Wagner 134.5 200 71 27.9 4.8
Frank Robinson 107.4 183 73 24.1 4.4
Mickey Mantle 120.2 195 71 27.2 4.4
Rickey Henderson 113.1 180 70 25.8 4.4
Pete Alexander 106.8 185 73 24.4 4.4
Lou Gehrig 118.4 200 72 27.1 4.4
Mel Ott 109.3 170 69 25.1 4.4
Mike Schmidt 108.3 195 74 25.0 4.3
Greg Maddux 96.9 170 72 23.1 4.2
Joe Morgan 103.5 160 67 25.1 4.1
Tom Seaver 106.1 195 73 25.7 4.1
Kid Nichols 103.2 175 70 25.1 4.1
Nap Lajoie 104.2 195 73 25.7 4.1
Al Kaline 91 175 73 23.1 3.9
Lefty Grove 93.3 190 75 23.7 3.9
Eddie Mathews 98.3 190 73 25.1 3.9
Phil Niekro 93 180 73 23.7 3.9
Warren Spahn 89.7 172 72 23.3 3.8
Randy Johnson 89.6 225 82 23.5 3.8
Cal Ripken 89.9 200 76 24.3 3.7
Nolan Ryan 80.5 170 74 21.8 3.7
Bob Gibson 91.8 189 73 24.9 3.7
John Clarkson 81.3 155 70 22.2 3.7
Wade Boggs 89 190 74 24.4 3.6
Carl Yastrzemski 88.7 175 71 24.4 3.6
Gaylord Perry 90.5 205 76 25.0 3.6
Jimmie Foxx 95.2 195 72 26.4 3.6
Christy Mathewson 90.7 195 73 25.7 3.5
Bert Blyleven 87.6 200 75 25.0 3.5
Robin Yount 76.9 165 72 22.4 3.4
Roberto Clemente 83.8 175 71 24.4 3.4
Rod Carew 79.1 170 72 23.1 3.4
Steve Carlton 86.9 210 76 25.6 3.4
George Davis 90.3 180 69 26.6 3.4
George Brett 85 185 72 25.1 3.4
Joe DiMaggio 83.6 193 74 24.8 3.4
Fergie Jenkins 81.5 205 77 24.3 3.4
Ed Delahanty 74.7 170 73 22.4 3.3
Bob Caruthers 71.4 138 67 21.6 3.3
Frankie Frisch 74.8 165 71 23.0 3.3
Cap Anson 99.3 227 72 30.8 3.2
Charlie Gehringer 80.9 180 71 25.1 3.2
Robin Roberts 82.7 190 72 25.8 3.2
Paul Waner 73.8 153 68 23.3 3.2
Roger Connor 87.2 220 75 27.5 3.2
Eddie Plank 76.8 175 71 24.4 3.1
Mike Mussina 74.6 185 74 23.8 3.1
Lou Whitaker 69.7 160 71 22.3 3.1
Fred Clarke 73.4 165 70 23.7 3.1
Pedro Martinez 73.5 170 71 23.7 3.1
Don Drysdale 69.8 190 77 22.5 3.1
Ozzie Smith 64.6 150 71 20.9 3.1
Dan Brouthers 81.7 207 74 26.6 3.1
Jeff Bagwell 79.9 195 72 26.4 3.0
Tom Glavine 71.6 175 72 23.7 3.0
Arky Vaughan 75.6 175 70 25.1 3.0
Alan Trammell 66.9 165 72 22.4 3.0
Paul Molitor 74.8 185 72 25.1 3.0
Tim Keefe 79 185 70 26.5 3.0
Sam Crawford 76.6 190 72 25.8 3.0
Tony Mullane 69.6 165 70 23.7 2.9
Bobby Grich 67.6 180 74 23.1 2.9
Brooks Robinson 69.1 180 73 23.7 2.9
Pee Wee Reese 66.7 160 70 23.0 2.9
Bill Dahlen 75.9 180 69 26.6 2.9
Larry Walker 67.3 185 74 23.8 2.8
Edgar Martinez 67.2 175 72 23.7 2.8
Reggie Jackson 74.6 195 72 26.4 2.8
Pete Rose 75.3 192 71 26.8 2.8
Curt Schilling 67.7 205 77 24.3 2.8
Duke Snider 67.5 179 72 24.3 2.8
Carl Hubbell 63.6 170 72 23.1 2.8
Barry Larkin 68.9 185 72 25.1 2.7
Johnny Bench 71.3 197 73 26.0 2.7
Eddie Murray 66.7 190 74 24.4 2.7
Jesse Burkett 64.1 155 68 23.6 2.7
Ernie Banks 64.4 180 73 23.7 2.7
Rafael Palmeiro 66 180 72 24.4 2.7
Willie McCovey 65.1 198 76 24.1 2.7
Harry Heilmann 69.4 195 73 25.7 2.7
Kevin Brown 64 195 76 23.7 2.7
Carlton Fisk 67.3 200 75 25.0 2.7
Don Sutton 65.6 185 73 24.4 2.7
Ryne Sandberg 62 175 73 23.1 2.7
Kenny Lofton 65.3 180 72 24.4 2.7
Dwight Evans 61.8 180 74 23.1 2.7
Sammy Sosa 59.7 165 72 22.4 2.7

A few things to notice:

  • Cap Anson is the ONLY player with a BMI over 30 to appear on this list.  To be fair, there have been only 265 “BMI over 30″ players in history, and Anson was certainly even more of a physical “freak” for his era than Fielder is today.
  • Barry Bonds may have DEBUTED at 185 pounds, but I think we can all agree he didn’t finish his career at that weight.  Thus, he probably shouldn’t be #1 on this list.  Nonetheless, I used the Lahman data as it seemed to have more accurate player weights overall.
  • Nolan Ryan, with the best WAR/BMI for anyone with a BMI under 22, was another “freak” (but we all knew that already).
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4 thoughts on “A Weighty New Metric

  1. Of course, WAR is a cumulative stat so no active players make the list. I’d be curious to see the WAR/BMI metric using a seasonal average WAR instead of career cumulative so we can see how Prince Fielder or any other current player stacks up.

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