Going to WAR between Wil Myers and David Lough

If the Royals kept Wil Myers and didn’t trade for James Shields, Wade Davis and Elliot Johnson, would the Royals make the playoffs? We’ll never know for sure, but using WAR (Wins Above Replacement), we can see if having Myers patrol right field with the Royals would have made a difference.

Myers-Lough

To start, I’m going to compare the stats of Wil Myers and David Lough, who played most of their games in right field. Myers made his season debut with the Tampa Rays 6/18/13, playing 88 games. Lough made his season debut with the Royals 5/17/13, playing 96 games. Myers had a .293/.354/.478 line with 53 RBI, and 13 home runs in 335 at-bats, while Lough had a .286/.311/.413 line with 33 RBI and five home runs in 315 at-bats. Myers had 91 strikeouts and 33 walks, while Lough had 52 strikeouts and 10 walks.

Comparing the statistics, they’re about the same, with a power and offensive edge going to Myers. But Myers had a 2.0 WAR, and Lough had a 2.7 WAR. So it shows Lough had more value when it comes to wins compared to Myers. Using the WAR metric, a half season with Myers would give the Royals a 83-79 record. How is that possible, seeing Myers has a .7 less WAR compared to Lough? Don’t forget the Royals got James Shields, Wade Davis and Elliot Johnson for trading away Myers. Shields had a 4.1 WAR, Davis had a -2.1 WAR, Johnson had a .2 WAR. If you take the Royals 86 wins, subtract 4.1, add 2.1, subtract .2 and subtract the .7 WAR difference between Lough and Myers, you get 83.1 wins, rounded off to 83 wins. So if Myers played with the Royals half a season and replacement players took Shields, Davis and Johnson’s spots, the Royals would be 83-79, based on WAR.

But what if the Royals didn’t trade for Shields, Davis and Johnson, kept Myers and played him a full season instead of Jeff Francoeur and Lough stayed in AAA Omaha? Well, if you keep Myers 2.0 WAR and get rid of Francoeur’s -0.9 WAR, the Royals would be 84-78. And if the Royals traded away Myers for Shields, Davis and Johnson and Lough played a full season instead of Francoeur, the Royals would be 87-75, still out of the playoffs.

It’s true you can’t base a team’s win-loss record on WAR alone. But WAR does show at least for the 2013 season, trading Myers for Shields, Davis and Johnson and having Lough patrol right field half the season wasn’t a detriment to the Royals, even with the lousy play of Davis and Johnson. Bottom line? If Myers was in the lineup and Shields, Davis, Johnson and Lough wasn’t on the team, Myers’ offense would help, but that alone would not improve the Royals record or help them make the playoffs for 2013.

Yes, it would be nice to have Myers with the Royals, but the team needed pitching, so Myers is with the Rays. And Myers could improve or regress in the future. The Royals can get a right fielder via trade or free agency, stay with Lough, or platoon Lough and Justin Maxwell in right field. And there’s minor league outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, one of the Royals top prospects and projected to be in the Majors by 2015. The Royals have options in right field, it’s just not Wil Myers.

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