The War Report – A Look at the 2012 Season from the Quarter Pole

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 Henderson 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 converting to numbers so that they’re based on replacement level value, WAR is a good indicator of who’s outperforming their positional norm.

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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, in a very strange year of baseball.


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 Rickey Henderson’s illegitimate love clone. J.J. Hardy’s dropped his K rate to 13.9|PERCENT|. Chris Davis is riding a .364 BABIP to a respectable average, and Wieters is tying it all together like a bouillon cube ties together a good soup. Some smoke, a lotta mirrors, and you’re 8 games up on the Red Sox.

Who’da thunk?

What impresses me most, though, is that they’ve patched the hull with their number 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 so far off in left field that he passed Shoeless Joe taking a leak.

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 list, 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 Myers (-0.1 WAR as well) and Fettuccini Alfredo round out the top 12.

That’s 2 of the top 12 closers having a negative Wins Above Replacement total!

I am very proud to say that I did not draft a closer before round 14 this year. That’s the glass half full answer. 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, FORTY 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|PERCENT| 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.

 

Name

PA

H

HR

R

RBI

SB

AVG

OBP

SLG

WAR

Josh Hamilton

162

56

18

33

45

3

.392

.444

.804

3.4

David Wright

155

52

4

28

22

4

.409

.510

.622

3.0

Austin Jackson

159

45

5

29

17

6

.331

.414

.544

2.6

Adam Jones

176

49

13

31

27

6

.299

.347

.598

2.5

Martin Prado

170

48

3

27

21

4

.324

.396

.500

2.3

Michael Bourn

189

57

1

28

11

12

.329

.386

.416

2.3

Ryan Braun

160

44

11

26

23

8

.317

.394

.626

2.2

Matt Kemp

139

42

12

29

28

2

.359

.446

.726

2.2

Paul Konerko

161

51

8

21

23

0

.367

.453

.604

2.2

Joey Votto

167

40

6

23

25

2

.308

.455

.577

2.1

Rafael Furcal

171

54

2

28

18

7

.360

.420

.487

2.1

Carlos Beltran

150

38

13

28

32

5

.299

.407

.638

2.1

Carlos Ruiz

130

43

7

20

29

2

.371

.415

.621

2.1

A.J. Ellis

124

32

3

13

19

0

.327

.459

.490

2.1

Robinson Cano

169

48

4

23

16

1

.310

.361

.484

2.1

Elvis Andrus

180

49

1

24

19

8

.318

.394

.409

1.9

Bryan LaHair

139

38

10

18

21

1

.322

.417

.653

1.8

Chase Headley

168

34

5

24

20

3

.248

.381

.423

1.8

Mike Moustakas

138

37

5

16

16

1

.291

.348

.496

1.7

Andrew McCutchen

149

45

5

22

16

7

.341

.403

.523

1.7

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 wunderkinds (Berry touted Bourn pretty hard this year, while Jones and Andrus were on plenty of analysts’ radar), but seriously.

Carlos Ruiz is batting .371 with 7 homers. Whoever saw that coming probably thinks he can see the image of Jesus in a pretzel. Bryan LaHair is making an MVP run. Puhleeez, two months ago Bryan 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 player’s total value to their team in one tidy little stat. And seasonal norms are a bit wacky 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 identifying young arms that have the skill set to go the extra mile are your pivotal plays at this time..

It’s a strange season to date people, and we just bought the bouquet.

Happy gambling.