Tuesday, July 19, 2011

AL Positional WAR All-Stars

by Mike Z

Hey guys, sorry for the long delay. Here's the AL list. I'll focus on the original guys that were placed on team, instead of analyzing the 90 other players that were added a replacements. All stats are through July 18th.

C - Alex Avila - 2.7 WAR
Reserve - Matt Wieters - 2.6 WAR
Reserve - Carlos Santana - 2.4 WAR

Actual - Alex Avila - 2.7 WAR
Reserve - Matt Wieters - 2.6 WAR
Reserve - Russell Martin 1.7 WAR

Avila has quietly come out of nowhere to help a Detroit offense that would arguable be a liability without him. At the halfway point, he already had more runs, RBI and HR than he did all last year. Granted, his BABIP is .350, but he is only 23 and will probably only get better. Wieters here is why I jokingly gave Jeff a hard time in the comments a couple posts back. He's really improving as a hitter, after really looking lost his first season. His K% dropped each year from 22.3%, to 18.7% to 15.5% this year and he's slugging .425, well above league average, and even more so compared to other catchers.

1B - Adrian Gonzalez - 4.5 WAR
Reserve - Miguel Cabrera - 3.3 WAR
Reserve - Mark Teixeira - 2.6 WAR

Actual - Adrian Gonzalez - 4.5 WAR
Reserve - Miguel Cabrera - 3.3 WAR
Reserve - Paul Konerko - 2.5 WAR

Yes, by using SABR, I was able to figure out that Adrian Gonzalez is good at baseball. For me, it's fun seeing WAR numbers for the people destroying the league because they just look absurd. That said, his WAR is only 3rd highest for his team, which is surprising and I'll get to in a little bit. He's quietly having a great season again, and his WAR would be higher if he knew how to use his glove. I'd have gone with Konerko over Teixeira in the actual game as well. For the 2nd half however, keep an eye on Teixeira because he's only hitting .239 due to his insanely unlucky .221 BABIP so he could start flat-out raking soon.

2B - Dustin Pedroia - 5.5 WAR
Reserve - Ben Zobrist - 4.8 WAR

Actual - Robinson Cano - 2.9 WAR
Reserve - Howie Kendrick - 4.0 WAR

This is the first position in this post series that wildly varies from actual vs. WAR. Does it surprise anyone that Pedroia has the 2nd highest WAR in all of baseball? After having the foot injury that hampered him last year and raised plenty of questions if he could hold up over a full season, he may be having a better season than his MVP year, and nobody is talking about it. Check out these lines:

2008 157 17 118 83 20 6.9%
2011 91 13 63 50 17 15.0%

He's on pace to crush these totals. In 2008, his total WAR was 6.8 so he's just on a tear right now. If Cano weren't voted on, Pedey is on this team easy. Zobrist is interesting too because his stats are more in line with his 2009 stats than his disappointing 2010 follow up. (He's also eligible as an OF)

SS - Asdrubal Cabrera - 3.5 WAR
Reserve - Jhonny Peralta - 3.3 WAR

Actual - Derek Jeter - 1.0 WAR
Reserve - Asdrubal Cabrera - 3.5 WAR

How awesome has Asdrubal been? He's playing an amazing SS and playing a huge part in turning around the Indians. I'm waiting to see him turn a double play by fielding a grounder while doing a cartwheel. His glove is sick. I don't need to say much about Jeter that hasn't been said. I'm fine with the lifetime achievement picks like this, but I'd like to see All-Star appearances stopped being used as a Hall of Fame gauge. Props to Peralta for hitting better than he ever has--he's earned his spot as a replacement. Honorable mention to Yunel Escobar being hundreths of a point below Jhonny.

3B - Alex Rodriguez - 4.1 WAR
Reserve - Kevin Youkilis - 3.4 WAR

Actual - Alex Rodriguez -4.1 WAR
Reserve - Adrian Beltre - 3.3 WAR

Statistically A-Rod is having his best season since his 30-100-100 of 2008. He's again playing great with the bat, and his war is somewhat inflated with a high UZR rating, which I feel is skewing things slightly. Not too much going on with this position to debate. Watch Beltre in the second half as he's getting unlucky with a low BABIP and a few other things, so he may experience a spike in production.

OF 1 - Jose Bautista - 6.9 WAR
OF 2 - Curtis Granderson - 4.7 WAR
OF 3 - Jacoby Ellsbury - 4.7 WAR
Reserve 1 - Brett Gardner - 3.7 WAR
Reserve 2 - Melky Cabrera - 3.1 WAR
Reserve 3 - Carlos Quentin - 2.7 WAR
Reserve 4 - Denard Span - 2.7 WAR

Actual 1 - Jose Bautista - 6.9 WAR
Actual 2 - Curtis Granderson - 4.7 WAR
Actual 3 - Josh Hamilton - 1.7 WAR
Reserve 1 - Jacoby Ellsbury - 4.7 WAR
Reserve 2 - Carlos Quentin - 2.7 WAR
Reserve 3 - Matt Joyce - 2.3 WAR
Reserve 4 - Michael Cuddyer - 2.2 WAR

This is a great example of where the criticism of WAR is best portrayed. 4 out of the 7 on the WAR team received a huge boost due to their defensive rating. WAR has been determined to be one of the best ways to compare overall worth of players, but be sure to keep this list in mind when looking at WAR. That said, Bautista is making a mockery of the league again. 6.9 WAR is just insane. There will only be a handful of players that will break 7 WAR by the end of the entire season. Just another example of how ridiculous he's performing.

DH - David Ortiz - 2.5 WAR
Reserve - Michael Young 2.0 WAR

Actual - David Ortiz - 2.5 WAR
Reserve - Michael Young 2.0 WAR

No surprises here. I'm still slightly amazed how it looked like in 2009 that Ortiz just lost his hitting ability for half a season, then all of a sudden put it back together like nothing happened. Good for Michael Young keeping things together after "losing his position" in the off-season. Granted, there was a good bit of whining on his part and was asking for a trade, but he's put a nice season together. If Travis Hafner didn't get hurt, he would've most likely been the reserve.

Just one more post on the AL pitchers and you don't have to look at WAR again for another year.

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