Some of us have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the present. Like the Fan's mom, who won't be bothered learning the computer, the Fan spent much negative energy fighting modern baseball statistics. But old dogs--or Fans--can learn new tricks when motivated. Let's start with Win Shares.
Let's leave the explaining about how Win Shares are calculated to the more educated. Well, that's the problem right there in a nutshell. Growing up, the statistics that we've talked about for a hundred years were cut and dried. What was the player's batting average, ERA, RBI, HR, etc.? And Batting Average was acceptable because it was all in the multiplication and division tables. If you liked stats and had a reasonable grasp on math, then 1 hit in 7 at bats was a .143 batting average. 1 for 6 was .166, etc. It was like learning the tables.
After doing that an entire lifetime (or two of David Wright's lifetimes), WOIP, OPS+, Win Shares, etc., were not easy to figure out. You couldn't just use a simple table to calculate them. And thus, in a busy world with heavy responsibilities (I.E., not a paid baseball writer), it was too much trouble to try and sort it all out.
The Internet has come to the rescue and proven once again that you do not have to be intelligent to get your hands on the information you need. It's out there with the correct key words plugged into Google. If someone else wants to do the work, then we benefit from seeing the results on-line without having to think about it or learn where the numbers come from.
Okay, back to Win Shares. Clearly the Fan doesn't understand where the numbers come from. But simply put, the Win Shares show the value of the player relative to the rest of the league in fielding, batting and pitching. That sentence doesn't come close to conveying anything that will help you know what a Win Share is. Don't be alarmed. Simply go to Wikipedia and look it up. It's there.
The Fan has found a great tool that gives the needed information in a sortable format so it makes sense. The tool is here. From this site, courtesy of The Hardball Times, you can sort the players by position and see the Win Shares for that player compared to others that played his position.
By doing this, you get a nice synopsis of what Win Shares is saying about players relative to position. Cool. By using the nice sort features on the site, we learn that Lance Berkman led Albert Pujols in Win Shares by first basemen. Berkman had more batting Win Shares and Pujols has more fielding Win Shares. We also learn that Alex Rodriguez tied for second among third basemen (tied with Aramis Ramirez) and trailed only David Wright. But who would have guessed that A-Rod also came in second for fielding Win Shares for his position?
Win Shares also tell us that Mariano Rivera was the best reliever in baseball last year even though K-Rod broke the save record (K-Rod was tied for fourth on the list, five Win Shares behind Rivera). They also tell us that Carlos Beltran (Really?) let all outfielders in Win Shares last year. Oh! But there is a catch there. Manny Ramirez's Win Shares are split up between his time in Los Angeles and in Boston. So you have to watch for that. The same thing happened with Teixeira at first base.
Okay. Using this tool, the Fan can live with this new stat and start using it in evaluations. Next up is OPS+ and Egads! WOIP.