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.

8 Responses to “The NL East From ’08 to ’09”

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  1. … and the Nationals proved that replacement level is not something to strive for…

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  2. Pompous but earnest grammar guy says:

    Great summary. Thanks.

    But man, you mean “its” not “its’ “.

    “Outdone” not “out done”

    “were wracked” not “was wracked”.

    After “problem” you need a period and a new sentence, not a comma.

    If you need someone to help you copyedit your pieces on this site, I volunteer.

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  3. pounded clown says:

    Perhaps the stats. didn’t bear it out, but the Nats fielding was absolutely dreadful. That and their baserunning cost them 3 or 4 games against the Phillies. Literally Keystone Kops at times or some cruel baseball Rube Goldberg machine.

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  4. neuter_your_dogma says:

    Ooooh, WAR, huh
    Good God y’all
    What is it good for
    Absolutely nothing
    Say it again

    Just kidding.

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  5. Eric R says:

    As a Mets fan, lets atleast bump the Mets up past the Nationals– tack on the non-SB/CS components of BPs EQBRR; Mets -0.9 runs, Nats -1.6 runs… Well, I guess not :(

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  6. Bill says:

    Nats defense was pretty terrible but they had some great fielders like Zimmerman and Nyjer Morgan to average it out. Their outfield defense pre-Morgan was laughably awful though.

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  7. Bronn says:

    No comment on the fact that the Braves had a higher WAR than Philadelphia, yet came in third in the division?

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  8. Knox says:

    I appreciate all the work you guys on this sight do and certainly appreciate the effort put forth in explaining it to the masses. I have a quibble with the text in this article in that I do not believe WAR is equivalent to true talent any more so than Wins/Losses is equivalent to true talent.

    To me the trem true talen implies that the metric is 100% objective with absolutely no biases. I think WAR is a probably a good approximation of the true talent level, but to call it the true talent also implies that it is a finished metric and that there will never be any improvements or additional data that will ever need to be taken into account.

    I would think this is article should point towards an alternative to Wins/Losses as a metric to gauge a teams talent level.

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