One of my long-time battles is explaining that MLB average players are actually good and important to winning ballgames. A few months ago, I ran across a piece on Driveline Mechanics that highlighted the most average players through means of WAR (simply put, Runs Above Replacement – Replacement Runs) and loved it. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen an update by the author, appropriately named Devil_Fingers, in a while. So, in his spirit I decided to highlight the players who exemplify league average performances this year.
Keep in mind; this is simply this year and not a complete representation of their true talent levels.
The most average players in baseball – which is to say those with the closest proximity to zero either way – are a pair of outfielders who hit about as well as anyone in the bigs, but field about as well as … well anyone in your local beer league. I’m talking about Brad Hawpe and Jason Bay. After them you have names like Luis Castillo, Mark DeRosa, Cristian Guzman, and Jimmy Rollins. Former top prospects like Billy Butler, B.J. Upton, and Andy LaRoche are within stone throws away from being average one way or the other.
Much like how Hawpe and Bay were penalized for their inability to field, Randy Winn has runs deducted for his poor bat. J.J. Hardy too. Clint Barmes has his offense and defense basically cancel out, and Jose Lopez is slightly poor at both things, but his positional adjustments cancel the struggles out.
You should be able to take away that average players are everywhere, unique to themselves and useful to their teams. I can go on for a while, comparing average players to snowflakes or butterflies, but that seems boring and misguided.