Root for This Team (NL)

Table of Contents
Picking up where I said I would today about a very loose “study” that I introduced yesterday.

Here’s a clickable Table of Contents, so that you can skip over any crap you want to skip, or skip to other crap as you see fit. I put the Team Scores first for convenience.

All charts herein are sortable by category.

1. National League Team Scores
2. NL Hitter Scores
3. NL Pitcher Scores
4. Conclusions and a Suggestion

National League Team Scores
In the chart below, “PSA” is the team’s most recent postseason appearance, “DT” is most recent division title, “WSA” is most recent World Series appearance, “PSV” is postseason series victories in the last ten years (2002-2011), “W%” is regular season winning percentage in the last ten seasons (2002-2011), “Market” is the market size that the team has (per these rankings), H-Score is they score assigned their sweetest hitter, and P-Score is the same for the sweetest pitcher. Finally, “Score” is a combination of all of the above, using the rotisserie scoring method.

Team PSA DT WSA PSV W% Market H-Score P-Score Score
Pittsburgh Pirates 1992 1992 1979 0 0.418 22 34 36.5 54.5
Washington Nationals 1981 N/A N/A 0 0.448 9 32 46 51.5
Cincinnati Reds 2010 2010 1990 0 0.475 25 35.5 44 46
Los Angeles Dodgers 2009 2009 1988 2 0.526 7 38 31 36.5
Atlanta Braves 2010 2005 1999 0 0.549 11 33.5 17.5 32.5
San Francisco Giants 2010 2010 2010 5 0.523 14 30.5 30.5 25.5
Arizona Diamondbacks 2011 2011 2001 1 0.486 17 28 25.5 24.5
St. Louis Cardinals 2011 2009 2011 10 0.556 19 22.5 15 17

The Pittsburgh Pirates, on the strength of the worst ten-year winning percentage of the teams in question, edge out the Washington Nationals.

It’s worth noting, I think, that in “beta version” of this same study, the Nationals were ahead of the Pirates. That version included most recent World Series Win and most recent postseason series win, which heavily weighted things toward the Nats, who, as a franchise, have never won a playoff series. I opted to replace those two with postseason victories in the past ten years, which maybe I shouldn’t have done. Sorry.

National League Hitter Scores
Two categories might require explanation here. One is “tSpd”, which is an aggregate of Bill James’s Speed Score, and BaseRuns.

The other is “Misc.”, which, as I noted in my intro, allowed me to give credit to certain players for “intangibles.” Bryce Harper is the only player in this batch that I saw worthy of note above his peers, seeing that he’s only 19 years old. (Note: The “Misc.” score was added to the rotisserie totals, as opposed to being counted in the roto ranking.)

National League Hitters

Player Team Age POS PA P/PA ISO Clutch LD% tSpd Misc. Score
Matt Kemp LAD 27 CF 262 3.985 0.29 0.67 22.5% 5.1 0 38
Joey Votto CIN 28 1B 370 4.203 0.262 1.51 30.2% 1.4 0 35.5
Andrew McCutchen PIT 25 CF 459 3.810 0.248 -0.24 23.2% 8.9 0 34
Jason Heyward ATL 22 RF 452 4.102 0.211 -0.01 22.2% 10.7 0 33.5
Bryce Harper WAS 19 RF/CF 399 3.855 0.159 0.64 20.6% 5.7 2 32
Buster Posey SFG 25 C 424 4.177 0.216 -0.53 22.6% -1.9 0 30.5
Paul Goldschmidt ARZ 24 1B 401 3.975 0.232 -0.66 24.4% 5.1 0 28
Carlos Beltran STL 35 RF 449 3.606 0.263 0.10 20.8% 2.4 0 22.5

You might be surprised by the fact that I chose Paul Goldschmidt over Justin Upton at the Diamondback’s hitter, especially since they’re the same age, and that Upton has superstar power and plays a position farther up the defensive spectrum. But there’s been some negative energy around Upton this year (unduly so, in my opinion), and he’s having an off year by his standards. Goldie, on the other hand, has the benefit of feeling younger than Upton, as this is his first full season in the Majors, and is simply electric against LHP.

The rest of the choices should be pretty self-explanatory, I think.

National League Pitcher Scores
Regarding the categories here: “FPv” is the average velocity for the pitcher’s fastest pitch. In all cases except for Adam Wainwright, the pitcher’s fastest pitch ended up being the four-seam fastball; in Wainwright’s case, it was his sinker that was fastest.

National League Pitchers

Name Team Age POS TBF P/PA FPv SwStr% K% Clutch Misc. Score
Stephen Strasburg WAS 23 SP 539 4.02 95.8 11.4% 30.8% 0.63 2 46
Aroldis Chapman CIN 24 RP 216 4.46 98.1 19.3% 49.1% -0.59 2 44
Joel Hanrahan PIT 30 RP 183 3.95 95.8 14.4% 29.5% 0.82 0 36.5
Clayton Kershaw LAD 24 SP 650 3.86 93.0 10.4% 24.2% -0.38 0 31
Tim Lincecum SFG 28 SP 607 3.98 90.4 12.1% 23.4% -0.23 1 30.5
Wade Miley ARZ 25 SP 559 3.74 91.2 8.8% 17.7% 0.30 1 25.5
Ben Sheets ATL 33 SP 156 3.69 90.6 7.5% 18.0% 0.35 0 17.5
Adam Wainwright STL 30 SP 605 3.72 90.2 8.5% 22.6% -1.15 0 15

I don’t think that anyone is surprised to find Stephen Strasburg at the top of this chart. What might be surprising is to find two relievers hot on his tail. I had a hard time choosing between Chapman and Mat Latos as the Reds’ representative. Latos was a big off-season acquisition for the Reds, obviously, but the thrill of Chapman’s stuff, the fact that he’s a defected Cuban, and his historic season was too much to pass up.

I really didn’t know who to choose for the Pirates, but it helped their score that I picked Hanrahan, for sure.

Ben Sheets, for me, actually was an easy pick. He’s a great story: guy with great stuff/control and couple of great seasons has career derailed by injuries, doesn’t pitch for nearly two years, then signs on midseason with a playoff contender and quickly rattles off a couple of quality starts. Choosing Craig Kimbrel might have helped the Braves here, but I couldn’t pass up Sheets.

Ditto for Timmy. Matt Cain had the perfect game (and is simply one of the best pitchers in the game), and Maddy Bumgarner is a San Francisco darling, but Timmy has media clout, name recognition, and has been volatile this season — so much so that he could be the source of great drama down the stretch and, mayhap, in the playoffs. Certainly eyes will be on him more than any other Giants pitcher.

Conclusions and a Suggestion
Basically, if your favorite team is not in postseason contention and you’re looking for a National League team to root for you’re going to want to adopt the Pirates or the Nationals. Both are young teams with excited franchise players, both have been awful in recent years. The Nationals[/Expos] have never won a playoff series. The Pirates are an original MLB franchise that hasn’t been to the World Series since 1979, have one of the worst markets in baseball, and (although I didn’t consider this in the “study”) have awesome uniforms.

Also basically, unless you are from St. Louis or have other familial ties to that area, I cannot recommend rooting for the Cardinals, and in fact recommend against it.

Tomorrow, I’ll have the American League half of this “study.”

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“Also basically, unless you are from St. Louis or have other familial ties to that area, I cannot recommend rooting for the Cardinals, and in fact recommend against it”

Well said.