Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fun With WAR: AL's Best Players by Position at the All-Star Break

Here's a look a the top players by position at the All-Star Break for the American League.  I thought I'd do this mainly as an exercise to see how far off the Twins are at position from the best players.  I'll look at WAR and try and include offensive and defensive tidbits.  For these purposes I'll use's WAR calculation and ratings because they're much easier to pull into a report than B-R.

Catcher - Joe Mauer, Twins

The beauty of the catcher position is that there are only 7 that qualify with enough plate appearances for me to rank.  Two of them are actually Twins thanks to Doumit's multi-positional weirdness.  Mauer leads this group with a 3.9 WAR, with Houston's Jason Castro at #2 with a 2.3 WAR.  Carlos Santana is 3rd (1.7 WAR).  The best rated fielder is Matt Wieters with Mauer second.  Wieters threw out 17 of 39 base stealer guys.  Mauer's All-Star backup Salvador Perez had just a 1.4 WAR.

For numbers that people actually understand, Mauer led in hits (113), runs (50), AVG (320), OBP (402) and was .002 behind Castro in slugging at 473.  Blue Jays' catcher JP Arencibia hit 16 homers and Wieters had 44 RBI to lead those categories.    None of them stole more than a couple bases because they have knees like I do, only mine are from sitting on the couch.

First Base - Chris Davis, Orioles

This is a no brainer as Davis is right there with Cabrera for first half MVP.  "Crush" (not sure where I stand on that nickname yet...the beverage is delicious though) produced a 5.1 WAR, giving him a healthy lead over Edwin Encarnacion at #2 (2.7).  James Loney is a surprising #3 on the list with a 2.2 WAR.  Prince Fielder was way down at #11 (0.8) because he gets dinged on his poor defense.  Justin Morneau is #13 with a 0.6 WAR. 

Davis led AL first basemen in hits (108), HR (37), R (70), RBI (93), AVG (315), OBP (392) and SLG (717).  It was a clean sweep for him.  Just sick.  Loney tied him with the .315 average.  Encarnacion (25), Dunn (24) and Mark Trumbo (21) also cleared the 20 homer mark.  The best fielding rating belonged to Mike Napoli (6.2), which seems pretty weird.  Trumbo (4.9), Hosmer (4.7) and Loney (4.0) are also among top defenders.  The worst fielder was Mark Reynolds at (-7.8), with Fielder hot on his tail at -7.7. 

Second Base - Robinson Cano, Yankees

Cano is having another great year and led AL second basemen with a 3.8 WAR.  Dustin Pedroia and Jason Kipnis were right on his heels with 3.7 and 3.4, respectively.  Brian Dozier is 7th (1.5) thanks to his very good defense and base running ratings. Oh, and just to give you an idea how well no-batting-gloves Matt Carpenter is playing for the Cardinals in the NL; he has a 4.3 WAR.

Cano leads in homers (21), RBI (65) and slugging (531).  He's just average in fielding (0.4) and is actually a negative value in baserunning (-0.6).  Pedroia leads in hits (119), average (316), OBP (396), runs (57) and is just behind Omar Infante (5.1) in fielding with 5.0.  Kipnis leads in steals with 21, although somehow Zobrist gets the best base running rating with a 3.6.  Apparently he has a great UBR, which has something to do with how many extra bases he takes.

Third Base - Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (duh)

It's no surprise that last year's Triple Crown winner is on the top of the heap here.  What is amazing though is that he's nearing a second consecutive Triple Crown, which has never been done.  Blockhead Chris Davis is tripping him up right now in the homers and Davis is also right behind Cabrera in RBI.  There are some great AL third basemen this year with Cabrera (6.0 WAR), Evan Longoria (4.4), Josh Donaldson (4.3) and Manny Machado (4.2) at the top of the stack.  Poor Adrian Beltre is 6th despite hitting 316/358/543 with 21 homers.  Trevor Plouffe barely doesn't qualify, but if I lower the plate appearances standards a bit he clocks in at 8th with a 0.4 WAR.
As if you didn't know, Cabrera leads in everything with 365/458/674, 30 homers, 95 RBI and 73 runs.  Only 11 players had at least 30 homers and 95 RBI in all of 2012.  The best fielder is Manny Machado with a whopping +16 runs saved.  Our guy Plouffe is at -6.7, but Cabrera is worst at -11.9.  Miguel laughs at your defensive uber stats.  The best base runner besides utility guy Jayson Nix (2.5) is Kyle Seager (0.9). 

Shortstop - Derek Jeter  Jhonny Peralta, Tigers

Jhonny freaking Peralta is the best we have to offer at shortstop in the AL.  It's a motley crew where Mark Belanger would fit right in.  Peralta is actually hitting really well and providing average defense.  Funny that he's in better shape and playing so well in a contract year.  Peralta has a 2.7 WAR, Yunel Escobar is 2nd with a 2.3, Jed Lowrie is 3rd with a 1.8 and Pedro Florimon is tied with Alexei Ramirez for 4th with a 1.7!  JJ Hardy, who leads AL shortstops in homers (16) and RBI (52) is 6th with a 1.6 WAR because he doesn't walk and has a poor average.

Peralta leads shorstops in average (303) and slugging (447).  He's second to Lowrie (364) in OBP with a 361 mark.  Elvis Andrus leads in runs with 50 and is a +4.8 runs thanks to great base running.  Otherwise, he sucks the big one (0.6 WAR).  Nice signing, Texas.  Nice fantasy trade, WWWWWWWW. 
Florimon is the best fielder with a +9.0 runs; he's also a +2.8 base runner.  The worst fielder is Jed Lowrie (-7.9) and the worst base runner is Asdrubal Cabrera (-2.4).

Left Field - Alex Gordon, Royals

Alex Gordon is second to Mike Trout actually; Gordon has a 2.2 WAR and Kelly Johnson is third with a 1.8.  However, since 2/3 of Trout's games were in CF, we'll cover him there. There's a lot of sucky left fielders out there.  .224 hitting Josh Willingham is 14th with a 0.4 WAR.

Raul Ibanez leads left fielders with 24 homers, 578 slugging and 56 RBI.  Someone get some of that dude's pee ASAP.  Alejandro De Aza has the runs with 54.  Daniel Nava leads with a 288 average and a 374 OBP. Nate McLouth leads in steals with 24.  The best fielding LF is Andy Dirks with a +10.6; the worst is Daniel Nava at -9.5 splitting time between left and right field.  The best base runner is McLouth with a +3.6 runs; Melky Cabrera is the worst wtih a -3.3 tally.  Funny how Melky's numbers have dropped back to where he was at in his Yankee days after getting suspended 50 games for roiding.

Center Field - Mike Trout, Angels

Trout is cranking out another pretty great year; in relative silence because the rest of the Angels have been pretty sucky and Cabrera and Davis have been putting up massive power numbers.  His 5.7 WAR in the first half puts him on pace to exceed his MLB leading 10.0 WAR from last year. Colby Rasmus and Jacoby Ellsbury are tied for second at 3.5, Desmond Jennings and Brett Gardner are tied for fourth at 2.7 and Adam Jones is sixth with a 2.5 WAR.  Aaron Hicks is dead last at 15th with a 0.0 WAR.

Trout leads in AVG (322), OBP (399) and SLG (565).  Adam Jones leads in homers (19), runs (67) and RBI (67).  Ellsbury leads in steals with 36 and also is tops with a base running with a +8.7 runs.  The worst base runner in CF is Lorenzo Cain with a -0.5 runs.  Cain however, is the top fielder with a +11.8; De Aza is last at -7.9.

Right Field - Jose Bautista, Bleu Jays

Joey Bats!  His 3.0 WAR leads right fielders.  Shane Victorino is second with a 2.4 WAR; Zobrist is third with 2.2.  Torii Hunter leads in AVG (315) and OBP (352) unless we count Nava again.  Chris Parmelee isn't last!  He's second to last ahead of JD Martinez.

Nelson Cruz leads in homers (22), RBI (69) and SLG (517).  The only stat Bautista actually leads in is runs (61), but he's close in a number of categories.  The best fielder is Victorino, a converted center fielder, with +14.0; JD Martinez is worst with a -7.1 (again unless we count stone legs Nava).  Drew Stubbs is the best base runner (4.0) and Boom Stick Cruz is last with a -2.6.

Final Tally for the Twins:

C:  1st
1B: 13th
2B: 7th
3B: 8th
SS: 4th
LF: 14th
CF: 15th
RF: 14th

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