So here we are, 1/3 of the way through the 2014 season.
Let’s look at some numbers (well, actually one number) and come up with an NL Central All-Star Team. The number we are going to use is WAR or Wins Above Replacement. An all encompassing stat that involves a lot of math that some really smart people came up with. WAR takes into account defense and base-running as well as hitting. Plenty of room for debate but I’m going to rely on the numbers using the fantastic website Fangraphs as my source.
The envelope please……..
Catcher. A bit of surprise here as Jonathan Lucroy edges out Yadier Molina 2.1- 1.8. Both are having excellent seasons and I would not be surprised to see them both at the real All-Star game.
1B. Anthony Rizzo is the divisional leader with 1.5 Wins above replacement level. Overall he is tied with Freddie Freeman and just behind Paul Goldschmidt’s 1.6. His .397 on base percentage is top ten in the NL and he is second to Andrew McCuthen in drawing walks. A big June could propel Anthony to the mid-summer classic.
2B. Neil Walker is putting up the best offensive numbers of his career and the best in the
division but advanced metrics kill him defensively. His defensive WAR is -7.6 which leaves us with a tie between Brandon Phillips and Mr. Versatile,Emilio Bonifacio who have each recorded 1 win above replacement.
SS. Defense is the deciding factor here as well. Starlin Castro has outperformed all the other shortstops in the division with the bat but the defensive numbers like Jhonny Peralta of the Cardinals. Somewhat surprising given that Peralta does not have a great reputation defensively. The margin of victory for Peralta is slight 1.5 versus 1.3 for Castro.
3B. Todd Frazier is having a nice bounce back year for the underachieving Reds offense. He
has put together a triple slash line of .270/.342/.480. His .822 OPS is second to Nolan Arrenado ! among all NL 3rd sackers and his 9 HRs trail only Pedro Alvarez. His 2.0 WAR paces the division and places him on our all Central team.
OF. The outfield features two Brewers and a Pirate. Carlos Gomez leads the way (2.6) followed by Andrew Mcutchen (2.3) and Ryan Braun (1.5). WAR is an accumulative stat so Braun’s missed playing time has cost him a bit. I could easily see all three making their way to Target Field .
Starting Pitchers. Our rotation stacks up thusly:
Wainwright (2.2) ,Cueto (2.0) Jeff (wins are overrated) Samardzija (1.8)! Wacha (1.7) and Jason (don’t forget about me) Hammel (1.7)
Relief Pitchers. WAR doesn’t really value saves or what role you pitch in. Just an analysis of how well you stop the other guys from doing their thing. The leaders in highest WAR in a relief role (NL Central only) and the Oscar goes to….
Pat Neshek- Cards 0.8
Will Smith- Brewers 0.8, Tony Watson- Pirates 0.7, Zach Duke- Brewers 0.7, Trevor Rosenthal- Cards 0.6, Hector Rondon Cubs 0.6
It is unlikely that any of these fine relievers will make the All-Star squad, but non-closers have kicked in that door a little bit in recent seasons.
Enjoy the after party,