21 May 2012
Most teams have now played between 40-42 games, so we’re now pretty much at the quarter point in the season. If Wins Above Replacement was to select the American League All-Star squad at this point in time, what would that team look like*?
*For the purposes of this post, I’m going to average the WAR values as reported on FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference.
Before I get to the picks, here’s my selection process: I wanted to mimic last year’s roster composition of 21 hitters and 13 pitchers. For hitters, I selected the top two players in WAR at each position to have a starter and a reserve (I selected a second reserve at the catcher position). I then filled out the hitter portion of the roster (the last two spots) by selecting the two highest WAR players that ranked third at their position. For pitchers, I copied last year’s mix of eight starters and five relievers, and selected accordingly (players with both starting and relief appearances were classified as starters).
I’ll start with the hitters:
C – Matt Wieters, Baltimore – 1.45 WAR
1B – Paul Konerko, Chicago – 2.00 WAR
2B – Robinson Cano, New York – 1.80 WAR
3B – Brett Lawrie, Toronto – 2.00 WAR
SS – Elvis Andrus, Texas – 1.95 WAR
OF – Josh Hamilton, Texas – 3.50 WAR
OF – Austin Jackson, Detroit – 2.65 WAR
OF – Adam Jones, Baltimore – 2.15 WAR
DH – David Ortiz, Boston – 1.30 WAR
There aren’t really many surprises here, with the exception of probably Brett Lawrie of the Blue Jays. He’s only been an average hitter this season (maybe even a tick below), but he rates incredibly well on defense. Austin Jackson also gets a lot of value from his plus-defense, but he’s currently third among AL outfielders in wOBA, so he’s provided enough offense to be a legitimate member of this list.
C – Carlos Santana, Cleveland – 1.35 WAR
C – Joe Mauer, Minnesota – 1.15 WAR
1B – Adrian Gonzalez, Boston – 0.90 WAR
2B – Kelly Johnson, Toronto – 1.70 WAR
2B – Dustin Pedroia, Boston – 1.65 WAR
3B – Mike Moustakas, Kansas City – 1.90 WAR
SS – Mike Aviles, Boston – 1.80 WAR
SS – Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland – 1.70 WAR
OF – Josh Reddick, Oakland – 1.60 WAR
OF – Matt Joyce, Tampa Bay – 1.60 WAR
OF – Mike Trout, Los Angeles – 1.40 WAR
DH – Adam Dunn, Chicago – 1.20 WAR
I find a lot of the names on this list to be surprising, but that’s not to say these guys don’t deserve recognition. The third base fan vote will likely be won by Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Cabrera, or Adrian Beltre (and the others could very well find roster spots as well), but Mike Moustakas as out-hit them all to date.
The big surprise is how “bad” the first base group has been in the American League so far this year. Adrian Gonzalez won the reserve spot here, but he has the lowest WAR of the bunch. Prince Fielder comes in third, all the way down at 0.65 WAR, and Albert Pujols is nowhere to be found.
SP – Justin Verlander, Detroit – 2.75 WAR
SP – Jake Peavy, Chicago – 2.45 WAR
SP – Jered Weaver, Los Angeles – 1.60 WAR
SP – Jason Hammel, Baltimore – 1.35 WAR
SP – Felix Hernandez, Seattle – 1.35 WAR
SP – Yu Darvish, Texas – 1.35 WAR
SP – Derek Lowe, Cleveland – 1.30 WAR
SP – Brandon Morrow, Toronto – 1.30 WAR
RP – Alexi Ogando, Texas – 1.05 WAR
RP – Ryan Cook, Oakland – 0.90 WAR
RP – Pedro Strop, Baltimore – 0.90 WAR
RP – Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay – 0.80 WAR
RP – Jim Johnson, Baltimore – 0.80 WAR
Justin Verlander looks to be in line to be named the American League starting pitcher. He may have to beat Josh Hamilton back with a stick if he hopes to win back-to-back MVP awards, but he’s probably in his own class right now when it comes to starting pitchers.
As far as relievers go, WAR obviously doesn’t care much for the save statistic. Only two of the five relief pitchers selected are their team’s regular closer.
I didn’t necessarily intend for this to happen, but each of the 14 teams ended up with a player represented on this list. The surprising winner was Baltimore with five players, and the losers were Seattle, Kansas City, Minnesota, and New York with only one player each.
An All-Star Game with only one Yankee? Wouldn’t we all love to see that!