MONEYBALL COMES TO RANKING GENERALS. Ethan Arsht has used sabermetric methods from baseball to rank almost every general in history. His article is here on the Towards Data Science site (link via Tyler Cowen at the Marginal Revolution site). Specifically he has calculated a “Wins Above Replacement” (WAR) statistic for each of 6619 generals who held command in 3,580 battles listed by wikipedia. Arsht’s WAR statistic compares each general’s results with what an average (replacement level) general would have achieved.
Arsht uses the Battle of Borodino to illustrate the method: “Since French troops slightly outnumbered the forces of Russian Empire, the model gives a replacement general in Napoleon’s position a 51% chance of victory. The WAR system assigns Napoleon 1 win for his victory, but subtracts the chance a replacement general would have won anyway. Thus, Napoleon gains .49 wins above replacement.”