Change-UpJuly 01, 2009
A Different Sort of Mid-Year Report
By Patrick Sullivan

It's July 1, three months into the baseball season. With another three months remaining, it's a popular time for mainstream media members and basement dwellers alike to look back and determine their respective all-star teams, evaluate trade needs and look forward to what we might be able to expect the rest of the way.

In baseball we have grown accustomed to certain start and end points. The "first half" equals pre-All Star Game. So readily available, monthly splits are now popular. Understandably, the beginning of any given season represents the most widely cited starting point. There have been no shortage of great 10-game stretches by ballplayers in 2009, but remember when Emilio Bonifacio was making an MVP push back in mid-April?

One of many gifts that Fangraphs has given baseball enthusiasts is the ability to sort 365-day leaders in any number of statistics. So at the halfway mark of the 2009 season, I am going to take a different approach and put together an All-MLB team of sorts based on players' performances over the last 365 days - more or less a full season's worth of baseball. The only difference is that I will be using start and end points less commonly cited.

I will list my three top players since July 1st, 2008 at each position, toss in a starting rotation and then three relievers. You will notice that I highlight wOBA, as good a measure of offensive output as any. It combined on-base and slugging, but in a way that more accurately reflects their true respective values. Whereas OPS weights on-base and slugging equally, wOBA makes the proper adjustments. Its creator, Tom Tango, describes it this way:

Do we really need another statistic? Yes, we do. Instead of trying to take two statistics (OBP, SLG) and combine and correct their flaws in the hopes of getting one number, we prefer to start from scratch. Furthermore, by recasting the number onto the OBP scale, it makes it much easier for the reader to get a grasp on the number. wOBA is weighted on-base average (we call it an average rather than a percentage). When you look at wOBA numbers throughout the book, just think OBP, and you’ll be fine. In other words, an average hitter is around 0.340 or so, a great hitter is 0.400 or higher, and a poor hitter would be under 0.300.

Without further ado...


             AVG   OBP   SLG   wOBA
Mauer       .356  .434  .547   .420
McCann      .308  .389  .509   .390
Soto        .263  .351  .441   .344

Notes: Joe Mauer is your clear leader here.

1st Base

             AVG   OBP   SLG   wOBA
Pujols      .345  .448  .702   .466
Teixeira    .309  .414  .591   .425
Youkilis    .314  .419  .592   .424

Notes: I can see an argument of Miguel Cabrera over Kevin Youkilis here, since Miggy has played 22 more games than Youk since last July 1.

2nd Base

             AVG   OBP   SLG   wOBA
Utley       .294  .403  .508   .398
Pedroia     .320  .388  .467   .378
Kinsler     .283  .353  .508   .378

Notes: Ben Zobrist didn't play enough games to get in the mix here but in case you had not noticed, he has been ridiculously awesome this season.

3rd Base

             AVG   OBP   SLG   wOBA
Wright      .331  .417  .537   .413
A-Rod       .267  .389  .535   .398
Longoria    .291  .366  .553   .391

Notes: Chipper Jones misses this list by a hair. Given how much more durable he has been than A-Rod, Longoria and Chipper, the extent to which David Wright (at least at the plate) has separated himself from the MLB third base pack is notable.


             AVG   OBP   SLG   wOBA
Ramirez     .325  .412  .559   .414
Jeter       .312  .382  .437   .368
Tulowitzki  .287  .367  .471   .354

Notes: There is a real logjam for that third slot. Jose Reyes did not play enough games, while Michael Young, Stephen Drew and Jhonny Peralta are all right there.

Left Field

             AVG   OBP   SLG   wOBA
Braun       .305  .383  .564   .406
Ibanez      .309  .371  .576   .401
Holliday    .292  .387  .479   .386

Note: Matt Holliday edges Jason Bay and Adam Dunn because the latter two don't play any defense.

Center Field

             AVG   OBP   SLG   wOBA
Beltran     .314  .400  .523   .399
Hunter      .309  .371  .529   .388
Granderson  .266  .361  .486   .372

Notes: Due to his standout defense, Matt Kemp may deserve a slot on this list. No matter how you cut it, these three plus Kemp have really separated themselves.

Right Field

             AVG   OBP   SLG   wOBA
Hawpe       .315  .396  .560   .405
Choo        .306  .403  .508   .398
Ethier      .297  .381  .538   .390

Notes: There are a lot of good right fielders in baseball right now. There are a few more players who may have a justified claim to this list.

Designated Hitter

             AVG   OBP   SLG   wOBA
Thome       .253  .382  .517   .385
Huff        .305  .359  .529   .373
Lind        .306  .361  .501   .369

Note: There is a pretty underwhelming crop of DH's in MLB these days.


Starting Pitching

               IP     K/BB   ERA
1. Lincecum   231.1   4.10   2.61
2. Greinke    211.2   5.20   2.68
3. Halladay   233.2   5.91   2.50
4. Sabathia   247.2   3.64   2.58
5. Haren      220.1   6.19   2.98

Notes: I leave Johan Santana off because he lags these guys on his fielding independent numbers and has a high strand rate.


             K/9    K/BB    ERA
1. Rivera   10.23  12.50    2.45
2. Broxton  13.13   3.89    2.50
3. Nathan   10.52   4.22    1.38

Notes: Look at Mariano Rivera's K/BB!


There's my All-365 team. What would yours look like? Who's going to make a strong push over the next 365 days and show up on this thing next July 1? A couple of Justins - Verlander and Upton - come to mind.

As we get set for what is shaping up to be one of the most exciting second halfs in a while, whether looking back or ahead, we definitely welcome your take in the comments section on where things stand at the 2009 midway mark.


Maybe say how you get this on Fangraphs, can you show all players? Also, looks like part of Rivera's data is on Nathan, I don't know how to look up the correct numbers.

1. Rivera 10.23 12.50 2.45
2. Broxton 13.13 3.89 2.50
3. Nathan 10.52 12.50 2.45
Notes: Look at Mariano Rivera's K/BB!

Good catch, Gilbert. Fixed.

This is a good place to start at Fangraphs.

Halladay has more innings, better K/BB and ERA than Lincecum in a tougher evironment, but Lincecum is 1 and Halladay is 3... I don't get it.
Also, I think ERA+ should be better than ERA to judge pitchers. Take 2.98 ERA of Haren, in a hitters park, analyzing ERA+ Haren may probably be higher than number 5.

Halladay pitches in front of a better defense. Lincecum's fielding independent and HR/9 numbers are way better than Halladay's.

The biggest gaps between the top player and next best player are Pujols and Hanley Ramirez. The gap at SS is not surprising in that SS is not a position loaded with good offensive players. Pujols 40 point advantage at 1B really illustrates what an offensive force he is. At the position with the deepest and best production of any position on the field Pujols has a larger gap between his production and the field. That is ridiculous!

One player whose "365" numbers are probably not fully indicative, because he is new, young, and clearly growing in several ways, is what one sportswriter, correctly I think, jocosely referred to as "that force of nature called Pablo Sandoval" (who had only 154 plate appearances in 2008).

He has kept his .340-or-so batting average from 2008, while significantly raising his power and--quite significant--his walks rate; that last is still below league average, and doubtless always will be, but his current OBA is around .380.

For 2009 through June, Sandoval's overall offensive worth is, as I calculate, about 98% of Wright's. Sandoval, who came up as a catcher (and seems to be a better-than-decent one--check Barry Zito's ERA with Sandoval catching) is still learning third, but already looks pretty good, and despite his bulk is a suprisingly fast runner; and he is a heady player, too.

I suspect that he and Wright will be the premium players at that position over the next few years. (Better than A-Rod? Better than Longoria? Quite possibly.)

Right field really is packed this year. Zobrist is wOBA sitting pretty at .436, Jermain Dye is at .393, and Ichiro is at .392. Awful lot of good hitters playing RF.

Out of curiousity, where's Jason Bartlett on the SS list? I'm guessing he hasn't played enough games either?

Or I could exercise reading comprehension and realise Bartlett was terrible last year. So failing that, what about Mike Napoli at catcher?

Pujols is just ridiculous. It's like Gehrig but with gold glove fielding and better base running skills. I don't think the average fan has any idea how good this guy really is.

In 85 games over the last 365 days, Napoli has hit .320/.408/.588.

Not bad!

@Hugh, While I agree that "Pujols is just ridiculous" (one of the all-time greats already), I'm not so sure he's a better fielder and baserunner than Gehrig. The latter was considered one of the best fielding first basemen of his era and was a fast runner in his prime, as evidenced by starring as a halfback on the Columbia football team and even stealing home 15 times in the majors. Check out the number of SB and triples through 1931, his age 28 season. Based on the stats and reports I have read, including Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig by Jonathan Eig, I believe he was in the same league as Pujols with respect to both defense and baserunning -- and that is not meant to take anything away from Pujols.

Even missing 50 games Manny has a higher total wRAA than the three LF on your list. I am not sure why you used wOBA as your evaluation method since wRAA combines rate and playing time and you seem to want to include both in making up your lists.


Barlett actually had an excellent 2nd half of the year in 2008 (the 1st half was truly pathetic). His slash line was .331/.374/.464 in 196 Plate appearances.

So you're choosing players for your all-star team without considering defensive ability?