by Thomas Callahan
(All statistics contained in this article are from last weekend)
Al Gore was right.
The carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have made our synapses fire worse than an old Ford on diesel. Everywhere among us pillars are crumbling, tides are changing and the meek are inheriting the trophies. Albert Pujols is batting .215 with 3 dingers after 166 AB’s. Austin Jackson’s got a .414 OBP. And Hendersen Alvarez currently holds a stunning 2.62 ERA.
And a WAR of 0.0.
Alvarez represents the WAR average currently being relied upon by the sabermetric community for starting pitchers. Factoring in positional adjustments, and then converted to numbers so that they’re based on replacement level value, WAR is a good indicator of who’s outperforming their positional norm.
Alvarez’s career best splits are bolstered by a waltzing 2.45 K/9 and a slap-happy 2.13 BB/9. He’s allowing 1.31 HR’s per 9 innings.
If those numbers look strange to you, well, you haven’t been paying attention this season. It’s a strange WAR going on.
Strange numbers are the average.
Article 1 – League Standings
Colorado’s 10 games back in the NL West, while Pittsburgh is 3 back in the Central. But the shot heard round the marble is the Baltimore Orioles playing .650 ball through these first 40 games.
Currently the O’s lead the majors with 61 homers and are the only team in the league with 7 players who’ve hit at least 5. Adam Jones is looking like the 3rd coming of Ricky Hendersen’s illegitimate love clone. JJ Hardy’s dropped his K rate to 13.9%. Chris Davis is riding a .364 BABIP to a respectable average and Wieters is tying it all together like a bullion cube ties together a good soup. Some smoke, a lotta mirrors and your 8 games up on the Red Sox.
What impresses me most though is that they’ve patched the hull with their numbers 3 to 5 starters carrying a 4.95 ERA. Holy flatulence Batman, does that number leave a stench! And yet, they prevail.
The bedrock of their defensive success then has got to be the lockdown bullpen, led by the Major League saves leader Jim Johnson and his 0.42 ERA. In ESPN’s 2012 draft guide, the price on Jim Johnson in AL only leagues was a piece of burnt toast. His emergence came from off in left field.
I grabbed him in a couple leagues so late it was technically early the next day.
Which brings me to…
Article 2 – The Closers
Jim Johnson leads the league in saves, followed closely by his ERA match (0.42) Fernando Rodney. There was something in the air that night, Fernando. Yeah Kimbrel, Perez and Paps round out the fin, but then Santiago Castilla has the 6th most saves in the league. Didn’t he just get the job 2 weeks ago?
Henry Rodriguez, Frank Francisco (with an 8.04 ERA and a WAR of -0.1), Brett Meyers (-0.1 WAR as well) and Fettuccini Alfredo round out the top 12.
That’s 2 of the top 12 closers having a War Above Replacement average of a negative number!
I am very proud to say that I did not draft a closer before round 14 this year. That’s the glass half full. On the other side of the glass (cause I have one of those trick glasses), I got Marmol in 2 leagues in round 14, and there went my WHIP. Then I chased White Sox and Red Sox closers so hard that my ERA and sanity followed my WHIP out the window to the nearest bar and are now listening to Barbra Streisand songs and drinking boilermakers.
You don’t bring me flowers, Heath Bell.
Luckily though, the answer for my sinking cumulative stats has been standing right before my very eyes…
Article 3 – Starting Pitchers
As of this brief moment in time, FOURTY ONE starters have an ERA under 3.00. Last year at this time there were 23. The year before that, there were 19.
Quality starts are easier to find this year than dirt.
Brandon Beachy’s currently leading the league in ERA, and has an unsustainable 1.7% HR/FB rate. Four of the top 5 pitchers in ERA (Beachy, Lilly, Cueto and Zambrano) have a K/9 of less than 6.60. Derek Lowe, 6th place in the league with an ERA of 2.05, is striking out 2.22 guys per 9, and walking 2.91! His record is 6-1 and his WAR is 0.7.
A K/9 of 2.2 dude! 6th in the league in ERA.
The average WAR for the top 10 starters (in ERA) is 1.1.
I’m not making this up.
What I wish I was making up though is our…
Article 4 – Offensive Players
Here are your top 20 hitters, by WAR, of the 2012 season to date. Obviously this is a value table that we’re going to disregard for our Roto purposes, as it takes defensive value into account. Still, it provides an interesting view of the season to date.
|Paul Konerko||White Sox||161||51||8||21||23||0||.367||.453||.604||2.2|
You’ll find 5 first or second round picks in there (I’m giving McCutchen the benefit of the doubt). You got a couple pre season wonderlicks (Berry touted Bourne pretty hard this year, while Jones and Andrus were on plenty of radars), but seriously.
Carlos Ruiz is batting .371 with 7 homers. No one saw that one coming. Brian LaHair is making an MVP run. Puhleeez, two months ago Brian LaHair’s ADP was laying down by the DOW.
Heck, I didn’t even know who A.J. Ellis WAS until 2 weeks ago, and his WAR’s 2.1!
Which brings us full circle.
WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is an attempt by the sabermetric community to summarize a players total value to their team in one tidy little stat. And seasonal norms are a bit whacky this year; versatility is becoming an important managerial trait. Holding on to your studs who should regress to the statistical norm, while at the same time indentifying young arms that have the skill set to go the mile are your pivotal plays at this time..
It’s a strange season to date people, and we just bought the bouquet.