The NL East From ’08 to ’09

Instead of going team by team this off season, I will review the divisions as a group. And whereas last year, I used a version of BaseRuns, with some modifications for strength of schedule and the like thrown in, to determine the ranking of teams’ true talent levels, this year I will use WAR as provided here on FanGraphs.

Part Four: The NL East

Last year, eventual World Series champion Philadelphia clocked in as the 8th best regular season team according to BaseRuns, which was tops in the NL East. The Mets were right on the tails though finishing 10th overall. The Marlins put up a good show with their $3.99 payroll with a 16th overall finish. The Braves were just behind them, at 18th. Meanwhile the worst of the worst, the Nationals came in at 30th.

2009’s worst team again hailed from the NL East, but you might be surprised at the name. Obviously the Nationals are the first guess, as they managed to finish with a worse record in 2009 (59-103) than in 2008 (59-102). And that guess would be close, for the Nationals came in 29th in this year’s WAR rankings with 19.7 WAR.

But not to be out done, and surprising given their 70-92 record, the Mets managed just 19.4 total WAR and were dead last in baseball. Johan Santana was the only above average starting pitcher and the bullpen, while better than its’ 2008 counterpart, was by no means re-built with Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz. The hitting and fielding was wracked by injuries and ineffectiveness and in the end the Mets ended up with the fourth worst group of pitchers and fourth worst group of position players.

For the Nationals, the hitting was not the problem, they were actually around average there. And the fielding, while not stellar, was not atrocious either. It was the pitching that crippled this team, second worst in baseball at just 3.7 wins in total. The Nationals registered just four pitchers with at least 20 innings pitched and an above average tRA and the four combined to be a total of 9.2 runs above average. Just an incredibly deep group of suck.

Here’s a summary of the ranks for the NL East teams, with 2008 first.
PHI: 8, 8
NYM: 10, 30
FLO: 16, 17
ATL: 18, 7
WAS: 30, 29

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.