Daily Notes: Every Team Minus Its Best Player

Table of Contents
Here’s the table of contents for today’s edition of the Daily Notes.

1. Every Team Minus Its Best Player
2. Today’s MLB.TV Free Game
3. Today’s Complete Schedule

Every Team Minus Its Best Player
Introduction
It is not uncommon, as the season comes to an end, for members of this, our sporting media, to debate the semantic niceties of the word valuable, in particular as it relates to each league’s Most Valuable Player award. The author has no intention of entering this very heated fray. As a thought experiment, however, what he’s done is this — namely, to publish below two tables, one for each league, of every team in the majors minus its best player, with the idea that each best player has been replaced by freely available talent.

The results? Various and sundry, as results often are. One finds that, without Miguel Cabrera, Detroit would presently be tied with Cleveland (or perhaps behind by a game) in the AL Central. One finds also that, sans Mike Trout, the Angels would most likely enter next year’s draft with the third-overall pick. One finds also-also that, were a replacement-level player to have substituted for Andrelton Simmons, that Atlanta would still currently hold a 10-game lead in the NL East.

Table: Every American League Team Minus Its Best Player
Here’s a (sortable) table including: every AL team’s present record, its best player (by WAR), the respective WARs of those best players, and every team’s record (noted as MW and ML, for “minus” wins and losses) were said best player not to exist.

Team W L WIN% Player WAR MW ML MW%
Red Sox 84 57 .596 Jacoby Ellsbury 5.4 79 62 .557
Tigers 81 59 .579 Miguel Cabrera 7.5 74 67 .525
Rangers 80 59 .576 Adrian Beltre 5.2 75 64 .538
Athletics 80 59 .576 Josh Donaldson 5.7 74 65 .535
Rays 76 61 .555 Evan Longoria 5.9 70 67 .512
Yankees 75 64 .540 Robinson Cano 5.1 70 69 .503
Indians 74 65 .532 Jason Kipnis 4.3 70 69 .501
Orioles 73 65 .529 Chris Davis 6.4 67 71 .483
Royals 72 67 .518 James Shields 3.5 69 71 .493
Angels 64 73 .467 Mike Trout 9.3 55 82 .399
Blue Jays 64 76 .457 Edwin Encarnacion 4.4 60 80 .426
Mariners 63 76 .453 Felix Hernandez 5.8 57 82 .412
Twins 61 77 .442 Joe Mauer 5.1 56 82 .405
White Sox 56 82 .406 Chris Sale 4.7 51 87 .372
Astros 46 93 .331 Jason Castro 4.2 42 97 .301

Table: Every National League Team Minus Its Best Player
Here’s a (sortable) table including: every NL team’s present record, its best player (by WAR), the respective WARs of those best players, and every team’s record (noted as MW and ML, for “minus” wins and losses) were said best player not to exist.

Team W L W% Player WAR MW ML MW%
Braves 85 54 .612 Andrelton Simmons 4.1 81 58 .582
Dodgers 83 55 .601 Clayton Kershaw 5.9 77 61 .559
Pirates 81 57 .587 Andrew McCutchen 6.8 74 64 .538
Cardinals 79 59 .572 Matt Carpenter 5.5 74 65 .533
Reds 78 61 .561 Joey Votto 5.6 72 67 .521
Nationals 71 68 .511 Ian Desmond 5.3 66 73 .473
D-backs 70 68 .507 Paul Goldschmidt 5.3 65 73 .469
Rockies 65 75 .464 Troy Tulowitzki 5.2 60 80 .427
Mets 63 75 .457 Matt Harvey 6.1 57 81 .412
Phillies 63 77 .450 Cole Hamels 3.8 59 81 .423
Giants 62 77 .446 Buster Posey 4.6 57 82 .413
Padres 62 77 .446 Everth Cabrera 3.1 59 80 .424
Brewers 59 79 .428 Carlos Gomez 6.2 53 85 .383
Cubs 59 80 .424 Jeff Samardzija 2.7 56 83 .405
Marlins 52 86 .377 Jose Fernandez 3.9 48 90 .349

Today’s MLB.TV Free Game
Seattle at Kansas City | 12:10 ET
Joe Saunders (162.2 IP, 110 xFIP-, 0.3 WAR) faces Jeremy Guthrie (178.2 IP, 113 xFIP-, 0.9 WAR). “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t talk about the Mariners”: the author is reminded that this isn’t an actual lesson repeated by parents to their children:

Readers’ Preferred Broadcast: Seattle Radio or Television.

Today’s Complete Schedule
Here’s the complete schedule for all of today’s games, with our very proprietary watchability (NERD) scores for each one. Pitching probables and game times aggregated from MLB.com and RotoWire.

Note: the following table is entirely sortable.


Away   SP Tm. Gm. Tm. SP   Home Time
Joe Saunders SEA 2 0 1 0 2 KC J. Guthrie 12:10
Jake Peavy BOS 5 1 3 3 8 NYA Ivan Nova 14:10
Jose Quintana CHA 5 0 1 1 3 BAL M. Gonzalez 14:20
Lance Lynn STL 6 6 4 1 8 CIN Tony Cingrani 19:10
Brad Peacock HOU 0 0 5 10 9 OAK Sonny Gray 22:05
David Price TB 7 6 4 0 4 LAA J. Williams 22:05
Trevor Cahill AZ 5 0 1 0 1 SF R. Vogelsong 22:15

To learn how Pitcher and Team NERD Scores are calculated, click here.
To learn how Game NERD Scores are calculated, click here.
* = Fewer than 20 IP, NERD at discretion of very handsome author.




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48 Responses to “Daily Notes: Every Team Minus Its Best Player”

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  1. Guy says:

    wow, cool table!

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  2. tz says:

    How ironic is it that the best player on the best team in baseball has a .295 on-base percentage?

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    • Mike says:

      The odd thing about the 2013 Braves is that they don’t have a single position player that I would even put in the top 15 as an MVP candidate, nor do they have a Single Pitcher that would crack my top 10 Cy Young Candidate list. But, they are solid to good at every position, have an effective, though not dominant rotation, and arguable the best bull pen in the Majors. The formula isn’t going to produce much in the way of individual award winners, but they are lapping the NL East.

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      • tz says:

        Amazing isn’t it? Not sure I’ve seen a team with so many plus contributors but no “star” caliber seasons.

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        • Caught you! says:

          This is scary considering the star potential of Heyward and Simmons. IF Andy can put together a 100 wRc+, he will be a 7 win player. And IF Heyward can put it all together for a season without being injured, he can (and has) been a 6-7 win player.

          Ceiling is high on this team, and even though they have the best record in the business, they can be better.

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        • AR says:

          Not to mention, if BJ Upton can wake up out of his fugue state.

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        • IZZY2112 says:

          Andrelton Simmons isn’t a 100 wRC+ away from being a 7 win player. He’s been -9.2 runs, so if he was average offensively, He’d be about a 5 win player now.

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        • Bip says:
          FanGraphs Supporting Member

          That’s -9.2 runs below replacement though, right? An average hitter is better than replacement, so if he had a 100 wRC+, he’d go from 9.2 offensive runs below replacement to some amount above replacement.

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      • CJ says:

        I think you could argue that Simmons could break into the back end of the top 15 MVP candidates (14th best WAR in the NL). But even moreso I would have Kimbrel in the top 5 Cy Young candidates.

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        • matt w says:

          Behind Mark Melancon? Because Melancon has a better ERA and a better FIP in more innings than Kimbrel. Also a better WPA and shutdown/meltdown ratio for whatever those are worth.

          Not that I’m advocating for Melancon, but if you laugh at the idea of him getting Cy Young votes, which you should, then you shouldn’t be considering Kimbrel.

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        • CJ says:

          Matt, point taken.

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    • kdm628496 says:

      it’s only ironic if you think the braves are the best team in baseball.

      i personally don’t.

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      • Bronnt says:

        Even if you have another preference, maybe the Red Sox or Dodgers, they’re still obviously a really good team, with a chance to have the best record in baseball. Being such a good team without a real horse in for the major awards-Cy, MVP, ROY, even Manager of the Year-is really interesting. They’ve just got a lot of above average talent at a lot of positions.

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        • CJ says:

          It’s really a shame that Fredi Gonzalez isn’t getting more notice for Manager of the Year. The Braves have played a grand total of 28 games with their projected opening day lineup. McCann was out over a month, Heyward has missed almost half of the season, Freeman spent time on the DL, Hudson out for the year, two main cogs of the bullpen out for the year, etc., etc. All of those injuries AND a horrible year from their 75M man, BJ Upton. How is Fredi not a serious candidate?

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  3. Scott Clarkson says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    Is Brad Peacock’s 0 NERD score a record? I imagine these are rounded….what’s the record for lowest raw NERD score? I question the metric if it did not feature Daisuke Matsuzaka :)

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  4. Monty says:

    I wonder if NERD doesn’t need an adjustment for a team as un-watchable as the Astros.

    I would much rather watch STL v CIN than An Actual Circus v HOU.

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    • Ringling Brothers says:

      Clown comment bro.

      +23 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Well-Beered Englishman says:

      Get out, watching An Actual Circus play baseball would rock.

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    • Free Bryan LaHair says:

      yeah but that “0” assumes you may see a Chris Carter homerun actually come into contact with the moon, an outfielder climb a flagpost to rob a homerun, or the first ever pop-up-bunt homerun to left field. there’s a lot to hidden in the shadows of the zero…

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  5. jfree says:

    So MLB as a whole would fall to a 1927-2238 W-L record absent the stars. No wonder they get such big contracts

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    • Bip says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      They’re the whole reason baseball is a zero-sum game!

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    • Dan says:

      Right. The mathematicians at home know that across the MLB, wins and losses must be the same. Afterall, two teams can’t lose the same game. So these adjusted win/loss records based on WAR are silly.

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      • supershredder says:

        Yeah…why not just post the WAR leaderboards? Seems like a pointless table to me.

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      • Muck Bartinez says:

        I think it’s based on if that team and only that team lost their best player, not if every team lost their best player simultaneously.

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  6. Scott says:

    Seems to me that the other side of this analysis plays a part too. Namely, if the Tigers are 8 games worse, their opponents must be 8 games better. The way those extra wins are distributed also matters (i.e. the Tigers would probably still beat up on weak teams, and the loss of Miguel would be the greatest on the margins, against other outstanding teams). I think the Indians get at least one of those surplus wins, and maybe two owing to how often they play. Which is to say I think the Tigers minus Cabrera are probably not winning the division.

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  7. Hurtlocker says:

    Let’s hope this doesn’t start the “Trout is the greatest player in the history of baseball” discussion again.

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  8. Scott says:

    So if all 30 teams lost their best player we’d have the same 10 playoff teams that we do today. Am I seeing that correctly?

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  9. Ryan says:

    It’s, uh, concerning for the Mets that they *actually don’t have* their best player for the next 19 months. And they haven’t had their second-best player for a month. That’s so, so Mets.

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    • IZZY2112 says:

      Wright’s probably the better player anyway. I think he had a more WAR when he got hurt and more when calculated as a rate.

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    • Za says:

      Yes, yes it does suck. Quite a bit. Hopefully we can plug in a 2-3 WAR pitcher and not lose too much in the swing but Harvey’s Harvey and not having him is awful.

      That said, the 2014 season isn’t lost. We’ve still got young arms with upside (over their 2013 Major League contributions) in Niese, Gee, Wheeler, Mejía, Montero, DeGrom, and Syndergaard.

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    • B N says:

      To be fair, the Mets won’t have ANY players on the field for about 12 of those months cumulatively (unless they miraculously make the playoffs next year). Given how their season has gone so far, that might be a good thing.

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  10. Froglegs Jackson says:

    Will The Game: Football be available again this season?

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  11. 1.2 Altuves says:

    Mike Trout is on a lousy team.

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  12. Garrett says:

    Ian Desmond is the Nat’s best hitter? You mean Jayson Werth right?

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    • Well-Beered Englishman says:

      WAR, my friend. WAR includes defense.

      Desmond – 5.2 WAR
      Harper – 3.6 WAR
      Werth – 3.3 WAR

      If you go by wRC+, Werth does indeed lead Nationals regulars (156).

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    • Ben says:

      Werth was hurt for a while, Desmond has missed 2-3 games. If Werth had played as much as Desmond, then you have a point.

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  13. Fangraphs writing and content would drop most precipitously if Fangraphs replaced our Dear Author and David Laurila, respectively, with freely available talent. (I’m not demeaning anyone, but it seems that the Fangraphs’ roster abounds with writers covering similar beats in similar styles such that losing Dear Author or David Laurila would be a greater loss.)

    Fangraphs’ holiday card most improves aesthetically if Fangraphs replaced Dayn “Repulsive” Perry with freely available talent (e.g., Peter Dinklage); Dayn is homely like a platypus, grotesque as an aurorch, unsightly as Elioud, and delicate like a mastodon.

    Fangraphs commentary would decline most precipitously if the Well Beered Englishman retired to a cricket blog and if the Dave Cameron agitators (anon1?) mellowed (Dave is at his best when hot and bothered (which comment refers to his writing only)).

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  14. FeslenR says:

    how about a team missing its TWO best players: Harvey and Wright?

    let’s see how far most teams get….

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  15. Bo Knows says:

    It would much worse than that for the yankees, for half the season the offense was Cano, Gardner and a bunch of other guys, Honestly i think that if Cano was gone for an extended time like most of the original lineup this year, they’d have been sniffing a top 10 pick easy in next years draft

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  16. J Bobko says:

    I’d like to see a study comparing postseason success with top-heaviness of WAR players. In other words, are teams with a single player with very high WAR more likely to succeed in the postseason than teams like this year’s braves, who have many players with above-average WAR?

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