A Different Sort of Mid-Year Report
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.
AVG OBP SLG wOBA Pujols .345 .448 .702 .466 Teixeira .309 .414 .591 .425 Youkilis .314 .419 .592 .424
AVG OBP SLG wOBA Utley .294 .403 .508 .398 Pedroia .320 .388 .467 .378 Kinsler .283 .353 .508 .378
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
AVG OBP SLG wOBA Braun .305 .383 .564 .406 Ibanez .309 .371 .576 .401 Holliday .292 .387 .479 .386
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.
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.
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.
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.