Table of Contents

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Reds do nothing at trade deadline.

So the trade deadline has come and gone, and we have no news of any sort coming out of the Reds front office.  There were rumors that the Reds were in the mix for Alex Rios (who was not traded), and were dangling Mat Latos (I wonder if folks have injury concerns?) and Ryan Ludwick (who would take him?) on the market.  In the end, though, it looks like there won't be a big blockbuster deal of any sort for the Reds until the offseason.  Yes, there can be smaller deals on players who squeak through waivers.  But we won't see big impact deals.

Normally, I am not the sort who will argue to do something for the sake of doing something.  But in this case, I think the Reds really needed to make a decision: are they going for it, or are they done?  For reference, here are BPro's playoff projections, which have usually been among the more optimistic for the Reds this season:

15% isn't completely out of it.  But this is a team that had 50/50 shot as recently as the all-star break.  They've really collapsed, and frankly I think a 0.500 team is more indicative of what the Reds are than where they were at the all-star break.  Maybe I'm just feeling pessimistic.

In any case, here are the Reds options:

They're Going For It

If the Reds are going for it, I think it's almost impossible to look at their current active roster and think that what they have will be enough.  They are currently starting Skip Schumaker, Bryan Pena, and Chris Heisey in three of their starting spots.  I can live with Heisey in left field because of what he does with the glove, but Schumaker and Pena are not acceptable solutions for a playoff team.  It's no surprise, then, that the Reds' offense has been miserable for the past several weeks.

To have any kind of reasonable shot at the playoffs, they needed to add a significant bat.  There really just was no alternative.  I don't know what was available, and maybe there wasn't much out there.  But if you want to go for it, but can't find a good bat, then I think you have to conclude that the Reds aren't going to make it.  In which case, they should go for option two:

Concede the Season

The Reds do not have any major free agents leaving this fall.  But they have a large group of players who would leave the following season: Mat Latos, Mike Leake, Johnny Cueto, and Alfredo Simon.  Furthermore, they have at least one player who has played vastly above the level at which one could reasonably expect him to ever again in Alfredo Simon.  They also have a substantial increase in payroll coming in 2015, thanks to many of their young infielders coming up for arbitration eligibility, and several of their other players getting incrementally more expensive on their contracted deals.  With the market willing to pay for pitching, I think this was a missed chance to sell a part (especially Simon!), pick up some prospects that can help the team in 2015 and 2016, and, perhaps most importantly, re-tool the team to make it more financially viable and flexible next year.

But, they didn't do that.  So we're left with a season that is close to lost.  And really, I'm not sure how much better we can hope that the Reds will be in 2015.  So while I guess I'm glad they didn't do anything disastrous today, I think this was a missed chance to improve the Reds moving forward.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The New Aroldis Chapman

The Reds' worst-kept secret is how amazing Aroldis Chapman has been this year, and the story of what he is doing differently to become so dominant.  Chapman is arguably in the midst of the best season of his career:
(sorry about the size of that one--click to make it bigger).

I know he had the 1.51 ERA is 2012.  But his strikeouts are at to 2 k/inning (18 k/9) on the season, his walks are stable, and he's allowed just one home run on the year.  He's been ridiculous***.

***This calls for a graph dump!

So how has he done it?  Well, part of it is that his velocity is up about two mph this year after averaging "just" 98 or so the prior three years.  Here's Brooks' Baseball's graph of that:
Aroldis has had months in which he has averaged over 100 mph.  But he's never had three consecutive months like this before in terms of sheer power.

The other thing that appears on this graph, of course, is that Aroldis is throwing his change-up again for the first time since 2010.  Here's a look at all of his games on the year in my favorite plot for identifying pitches:
It's pretty straightforward.  Chapman throws crazy-hard, with a fastball that breaks back away from a right-handed hitter while traveling at roughly the speed of sound.  And on top of that, he has a change-up that breaks almost 10 inches away from a righty, and then a slider that breaks in toward the right-handed batter's back foot.  The change-up and slider break opposite directions and travel roughly the same velocity.

Chapman is throwing both of his secondary offerings much more often this year:
After living almost exclusively with this fastball at times from 2011-2013, he's dropped his usage of that pitch into the high 60% range.  Instead, he's now throwing a quarter of his pitches as sliders, and is working in change-ups at a consistent, low rate.

The change-up has been very effective for him:
When he first started throwing it in May after coming back from the DL, batters had no idea what to do with it, and were swinging and missing 50% of the time he threw it.  They've since learned to lay off it (because they can't hit it: the pitch has a 95% whiff rate when they do swing on the season!!), and so we're seeing that whiff rate decline.  But, concurrently, we're seeing a spike in his fastball whiff rate.  So far in July, his fastball has induced the highest percentage of strikeouts of any month in his career.  It's correlational, but it sure looks like the use of his change-up has strengthened the impact of his fastball.  'Cause the fastball wasn't already an amazing pitch....

One last thing: on a recent Redleg Nation Radio, Bill Lack asked whether Aroldis gets beat more often when pitching down in the zone than when pitching up in the zone.  Here is are opposing batters' slugging percentages against Chapman in different parts of the zone.

First, left-handed batters:
(also known as "good luck, fella").  Lefties have gotten good wood on the ball when throws in the strike zone down and away, but otherwise are basically hopeless against him.

Now, right-handed batters:

Bill's perceptions hold true here.  When Chapman is throwing in the bottom half of the zone against righties, he's actually been hit pretty well during his career.  When he elevates the ball, however, it's been pretty much lights out.  And this isn't the pattern you always see either.  Here's a link to Cueto's graph; he gets it up in the top part of the zone as well.

Chapman seems to have noticed.  This year, he's throwing up in the zone more than in prior years, especially with his fastball:

All of Chapman's success this year is made all the more amazing by the fact that he suffered a serious head injury in spring training.  He's been one of the bright spots on the team thus far.  I don't know if he'll still be on the team by the end of the year, as he would seem to be a nice trade chip if Jocketty decides the Reds need to sell off some parts.  I think someone would overpay for him.  But it's fun to enjoy him while he's still a member of the Reds.

All graphs courtesy of the amazing Brooks Baseball.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

That Roadtrip: Setback, or Correction?

The Reds were on quite a tear as they finished their schedule leading into the All-Star break, and pushed their playoff odds to 50% for the first time since the season began.  They were seven games over 0.500, 1.5 games behind the NL Central-leading Brewers, and unquestionably right in the thick of the NL Central race.

We're six games into the second half.  And a lot seems to have changed.  Six games in July shouldn't have that big of an effect on the season.  That said, it's hard to feel anything but beat down after what happened.  The Reds were swept twice, and are now in their worst losing streak of the season.  They are now just one game over 0.500, a full 5.5 games behind the Brewers, and three games behind the Pirates and Cardinals.  Their playoff odds have similarly dropped by a whopping 30% this week:

Yes, that 7-day delta on the Reds is EASILY the worst among any team in baseball.  The next worst are the Mariners and Cardinals at -10.4% each.

I'm trying to decide if I believe the magnitude of those changes.  30% seems high, and I've felt all season that these playoff odds seem to be a bit overly sensitive to the ups and downs of the baseball season.  But the Reds have fallen at the same time that the Brewers and Pirates have surged.  Getting swept by the team you're chasing hurts, especially when it cements a 6-game losing streak.

What makes this particularly painful is that it largely undoes much of the good that happened in July and early July.  BPro hasn't changed their rest-of-season projection for the Reds: they still see them as a 0.500 ballclub.  FanGraphs is a bit lower, but still has the Reds right around 0.500 the rest of the way.  From that perspective, one could argue that this losing streak is more a correction toward true talent levels than a temporary setback for a genuine playoff team.

The Reds aren't out of the race...but are far more of a longshot than they were just a week ago.  sigh.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Update on Latos Velo

Just a quick update.  I wrote last week about Mat Latos's drop in velocity so far this season.  While his most recent start was not particularly inspiring, I was pleased to see that his fastball velocity was up!

He also showed better swinging strike rates (9.5% vs. 7.5% for the season...still below his career average), and better strikeout rates (5k's in 5 IP).  Lots of fly balls, and obviously too many home runs...but if you wear the Rose-colored classes, it's a step in the right direction!

Reds playoff odds over 50% at All-Star Break

With the Reds' series win over the Pirates this weekend, their playoff odds have risen to over 50% for the first time this season!  At least, they have according to Baseball Prospectus:

The Reds are currently on pace for 87 wins.  BPro sees a slight regression over the rest of the season, and projects them at 85 wins.  The Brewers are projected for virtually the same record.  That means they are splitting most of the non-Cardinals NL Central division winner berth with the Reds, along with whatever chances 85 wins gives you at a wild card (quite good, it appears, about 25%).

FanGraphs isn't quite as optimistic.  This seems to be driven by more pessimism about the Reds' rest of season winning percentage (0.491 vs. 0.506) as well as more optimism about the Pittsburgh Pirates (0.517).  FanGraphs puts the Reds' over/under at 84 wins by the end of the season, which means the Reds will usually miss a playoff spot (37% chance).

With so many teams in the Central within a few wins of each other, and with whoever loses between the Braves/Nationals and the Dodgers/Giants also in contention for a wild card, these percentages are all pretty volatile right now.  But we've seen the Reds playoff chances fall below 10% this season, so to be in the 37-51% range is pretty exciting.  It's been a very up-and-down season thus far, but it's nice to go into the All-Star break with a certain degree of optimism about this year.  

Really, after the way this team began in April, just being in contention for a playoff berth into September would be a pretty decent success.  It's pretty exciting that the Reds have already been able to undo so much of the damage they did to their record.  Let's hope they still have a bit more in the tank for the second half!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Should we worry about Mat Latos?

Outside of his ERA, Mat Latos's numbers
are concerning.
Photo Credit: SD Dirk
In my series preview today at Red Reporter, I noted that Mat Latos's season numbers are a little bit concerning:
I wonder if we should worry a little bit about Mat Latos?  His fastball velocity is down 2 mph compared to prior years, he's not striking guys out, and he's allowing a lot of fly balls.  About the only thing he is doing well is avoiding the walk.  It could be that he's still not up to full strength after dealing with so many injury troubles earlier in the year.  It's a small sample, so I dunno, but I have my eyebrow raised.

Here's his line at FanGraphs.  Sorry for the size, but I wanted to show the whole table.  Click on it to make it bigger.

Everything comes with small sample size warnings.  His ERA looks good.  But everything else is well off pace.  He's showing a 2.4-mph drop in his fastball velocity thus far.  His strikeout rate is way down, his ground ball rate is down, and his swinging strike rate is way down from his career norms (7% vs. 10%!).  The only positive thus far is his walk rate, which has been very good.

I'm less concerned about the strikeout and walk rates.  Sometimes, I think I've seen pitchers show increases or decreases in both rates over small sample sizes.  That might be about their approach to pitching: maybe guys are trying to "fill up the zone" over a stretch of 5-10 starts, and as a result are getting more contact and avoiding walks.  If the Luck Dragons have been going Latos's way, he might be content to pitch to contact not go for the strikeout.  When the winds change, the might try to miss bats a bit more.

The velocity drop worries me, though.  Here it is graphically:

That's a big drop in fastball velocity.  And it's been consistent in each of his five starts this year.  This is not a matter of small sample sizes (at least not in terms of measurement--I'm not saying it's predictive).

Latos did not have a normal offseason due to his elbow surgery, and missed most of spring training due to the torn meniscus in his knee.  He didn't even have a "normal" rehabilitation due to forearm tightness and the calf issue that flared up in his second-to-last rehab start.  For all of these reasons, it makes sense that he is not at his best this season.  And that means I'm not particularly worried about him long-term.  But in the near-term, I'm a bit concerned about how long it will take for him to get back up to speed--or whether that is possible during the regular season.

The Reds need a strong Mat Latos in the rotation, and I'm not sure that they really have that right now.

Ben Lindbergh leaves Baseball Prospectus

Ben Lindbergh announced today that he is stepping down as Editor-in-Chief at Baseball Prospectus, passing the reigns to his fellow Effectively Wild podcast host, Sam Miller.

Since I failed so miserably at doing so on twitter, I wanted to take a moment to just recognize what Ben did for Baseball Prospectus during his tenure there as editor.  Baseball Prospectus was hugely important to sabermetrics as it got off the ground in the late-90's and early-2000's, but my perception is that by the mid-to-late oughts it had begun to fall behind.  Some of the old guard authors seemed overly antagonistic, archaic, and even elitist (to me, anyway)as they continued to cling to metrics they'd created and relied upon a decade before.  Outside of a few, important authors there, like Dan Fox (now with the Pirates), they seemed slow to acknowledge the work of talented new authors at the Hardball Times and FanGraphs.

That seemed to change over the last five years or so.  I could have sworn that I wrote about it at the time, but I can't find it.  In any case, they've now made a habit of grabbing some of the top minds and writers in the blogosphere, including many who have already moved on to work for teams.  The list is getting really long, but includes names (in no particular order) like Mike Fast, Colin Wyers, Russell Carleton, Harry Pavlidis, Dan Brooks, Jason Parks, and Max Marchi.  Once a place of stasis, BPro is now a leading source for pitchf/x data (thanks to their affiliation with Brooks Baseball), salary information (affiliation with Cot's Contracts), roster information (affiliation with mlbdepthcharts), and catcher framing information.  Not all of that happened under Lindbergh's tenure, but I think a lot of it did.  He has been quick to embrace The New, and to make sure that Baseball Prospectus is positioned as a leading source of innovation and insight in baseball.

On top of all that, I think the thing that might be most important about Ben is his humility.  He's a smart guy, and has accomplished a lot despite being quite a bit younger than I am (and I still consider myself young...ish, anyway).  He has a critical mind, and has done neat work in catcher framing.  But whereas past generations might have come off as haughty, Ben always came off as a guy without much of an ego.  He was respectful to those he disagreed with (at least in public!), and always seemed more helpful and inquisitive than abrasive.  
I've listened to Ben and his replacement, Sam Miller, for well over a year on their superb podcast, Effectively Wild.  I'm relieved that the two of them will continue to podcast there, as they are a mandatory, daily listen.  Sam is a great guy, and shares many of Ben's qualities.  I hope that Baseball Prospectus continues on this path of innovation, research, and humility.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

A Sabermetric Voice in the Reds' Front Office

This week in SABR 101x featured an interview with Lewie Pollis, a young sabermetrician with good ideas.  I enjoyed watching this interview with him, especially given that he is now an intern in the Reds Baseball Operations department.

Mentioned in the interview is this piece at BPro that echoes the importance of being reluctant to throw aside sabermetric principles for apparent outliers.  It follows nicely from the work by MGL and Dave Cameron last month talking about the importance of in-season projections.

He also mentions his senior thesis, which attempts to place a value on front office personnel.  I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but it's something I've along been interested in doing (e.g. this poor attempt of mine to evaluate Wayne Krivsky from long way was poorly done, lacked controls or comparisons, etc).  I'm interested to see how he attempted to control the innumerable confounds needed to evaluate front office moves!

Saturday, July 05, 2014

My afternoon at GABP

I was in town visiting my parents this week, and my dad surprised me with tickets to today's game.  And not just any tickets: we had tickets within the Champion's Club.  It was an amazing experience.  Free food everywhere.  Everywhere!  Fare ranged from hot dogs and pizza to a surprisingly good sesame chicken over rice, pulled pork sandwiches, and a chicken and pasta dish.  Nothing was gourmet, but it was all tasty.  The kids enjoyed the chance to just eat her way through a game.

The seats were terrific, offering a great view from just up the first base line.  Devin Mesoraco made two phenomenal tags at the plate (and clearly was out of the baseline each time prior to the throw!), and we had a great view of those plays.  They weren't very good seats for telling pitch types, except for when Bailey buried a splitter and had hitters way out in front.  

In any case, no grand insights here, just had a great time and wanted to post about it.  Bailey threw pretty well, Jay Bruce broke Mark Reynolds' glove, and for about two seconds I thought Frazier had tied the game in the bottom of the ninth with that drive to center field.  Tough game for the Reds offense once again.  But a great night for a ballgame.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

My 2014 All-Star Teams: American League

Yan Gomes has earned my nod for starting
American League catcher.
Photo Credit: Keith Allison
Continuing what I started with the National League....

American League

Bold-faced players did not make my 2013 All Star Team


Starter: Yan Gomes, CLE (4.4 WAR)
Reserve: Salvador Perez, KCR (4.6 WAR)

Perez might have the advantage in fWAR, but Gomes is a much better pitch framer than Perez.  That more than makes up any disparity.  I think it's surprising to see him tabbed as the best catcher in the American League, but he's hit well and played fantastic defense, even before considering the framing.  He's also supplanted last year's reserve AL Catcher, Carlos Santana, on the Cleveland Indians.  Perez's offensive prowess, however, still gets him on the all star team.

First Base

Miguel Cabrera, DET (5.6 WAR)
Edwin Encarnacion, TOR (4.8 WAR)

Miguel Cabrera isn't having a great year, by his standards.  But he's still got a .390 wOBA.  And he was freaking amazing last year.  Edwin Encarnacion is a long warm-fuzzy player for me, and it's thrilling to see him doing so well.

Second Base

Robinson Cano, SEA (5.8 WAR)
Brian Dozier, MIN (5.0 WAR)

I really wanted to take Dozier over Cano, because I love the underdog.  But Cano has just been too good, with nearly a full win lead over him despite 60 fewer PA's.  Dozier has the power, but Cano is the better hitter.  Still, it's neat to have him on this list.

Third Base

Josh Donaldson, OAK (7.4 WAR)
Adrian Beltre, TEX (5.4 WAR)

I still don't think I've completely grasped how good Josh Donaldson is.  We all expected a pretty big regression this year.  And he has definitely regressed, losing nearly 40 points off his wOBA.  But he's still an above-average hitter and a borderline elite fielder at the hot corner.  Sounds a lot like what Adrian Beltre has been throughout most of his career.


Alexei Ramirez, CHW (3.8 WAR)
Elvis Andrus, TEX (3.7 WAR)

It seems to me that Alexei Ramirez gets very little respect for what he has done.  He's a very aggressive hitter, which probably reduces his nerd love a bit.  But he makes enough contact that he can still get on base at a fair clip, has decent power for a shortstop (even if not what he once had), and posted 3-4 win seasons in three of the prior four seasons, and is on pace for 3 WAR again this year.  He's not great.  But in a crop of AL shortstops that currently has no clear standouts, he might be the best performer over the past year.  Elvis is right there, of course, as is Erick Aybar (not listed).


Starters: Mike Trout, LAA (10.7 WAR), Alex Gordon, KCR (6.3 WAR), Jose Bautista, TOR (5.1 WAR)
Reserves: Adam Jones, BAL (5.4 WAR), Jacoby Ellsbury, NYY (4.4 WAR), Yoenis Cespedes, OAK (4.0 WAR)

Mike Trout is the best player in baseball, same as last year.  But man, Alex Gordon rates well.  Most of that is fielding, but he ranked 2nd in the AL last year as well.  I gave Bautista the nod over Jones for the last starting spot, mostly because I love the OBP machine he has become...and Trout can cover center field.

Designated Hitter

Starter: Edwin Encarnacion, TOR (158 wRC+, +2 BsR)
Reserve: Victor Martinez, DET (158 wRC+, -8 BsR)

Edwin is our reserve first baseman, but I'm giving him the nod here over Victor Martinez as the best available offensive player who hasn't yet earned a starting job.  Edwin's had a pretty improbable career.  I always thought he would be a good hitter, but I never anticipated that he'd produce the kind of power he has.  The move from third base has been a major boon to his value.  He's quite fortunately hit well enough--easily well enough--to justify the position shift, and he's only a few clicks below average over there.

Starting Pitchers

Felix Hernandez, SEA (7.2 WAR)
David Price, TBR (6.6 WAR)
Yu Darvish, TEX (5.7 WAR)
Max Scherzer, DET (5.8 WAR)
Jon Lester, BOS (6.4 WAR)

King Felix is just so good.  I remember a time when we (or I, at least) was worried he might be starting to slip.  Nope!  He's 28 years old, in his 10th season, and has compiled 46 fWAR in his career already.  Hall of fame, right?


Koji Uehara, BOS (3.4 WAR)
Greg Holland, KCR (3.0 WAR)
Sean Doolittle, OAK (2.7 WAR)
David Robertson, NYA (2.1 WAR)
Fernando Rodney, SEA (2.2 WAR)

Koji!  Also of note, I think, is Sean Doolittle, who has been especially ridiculous for the A's this year (13 k/9, 0.5 bb/9...that's lol'able).

Pats on the Head

Dallas Keuchel, HOU, SP (3.3 WAR)

It was between Keuchel and Jose Altuve.  As much as I love Altuve, Keuchel has been a revelation this year: he's become this unreal ground-ball machine (63% GB%) who walks no one (2.3 bb/9), while getting respectable strikeout rates.  While I try to avoid overreacting to small samples, Keuchel's xFIP wasn't that far off from where it is this year.  It's just that this season, he's getting much better results.  I'd love to see him make the team, even if he's a far cry from the track recover of the other starting pitchers.

Team Summary

(not including the pat on the head)

BAL: 1
BOS: 2
CHW: 1
CLE: 1
DET: 3
KCR: 3
LAA: 1
MIN: 1
NYY: 2
OAK: 3
SEA: 3
TBR: 1
TEX: 3
TOR: 2

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

My 2014 All-Star Teams: National League

Todd Frazier gets my nod as the starting
National League third baseman.
Photo Credit: Andrew Mascharka
As I've been publishing annually for many years now, here are my picks for the 2014 All-Star team.  While I get the opposing view, I prefer that All-Star teams be composed of the best players in baseball...not just those who have had the best first three months.  That said, while in the past I've used projections, I've softened a bit and how prefer to use the past calendar year performances.  This, I feel, is a nice compromise between avoiding ultra small samples and recognizing new, exciting young players.  And, of course, I'm holding out the option go with my own whims.  So, without further adieu:

National League

Bold-faced players did not appear on my 2013 teams.

Starter: Jonathan Lucroy, MIL (6.2 WAR)
Reserve: Yadier Molina, STL (3.8 WAR)

For all the fanfare about Molina as a possible MVP candidate one of these years, Jonathan Lucroy has more than a 2-WAR lead on him over the past calendar year.  Two. WAR.  That's insane.  Both are excellent pitch framers as well.

First Base
Starter: Freddie Freeman, ATL (5.6 WAR)
Reserve: Paul Goldschmidt, ARI (6.0 WAR)

Despite Goldschmidt's marginal lead in WAR, I'm giving Freeman the nod here because he's been so terrific both this and last year...while Goldschmidt has struggled a bit this year.  Freeman is a player that I always underestimated, but he's sure looking worth his extension this past offseason.  He has posted nearly equal offensive numbers to Goldschmidt's over the past 365 days, while at the same time playing in a weaker offensive environment in Atlanta.

Second Base
Starter: Matt Carpenter, STL (6.4 WAR)
Reserve: Chase Utley, PHI (4.6 WAR)

I know that Carpenter has moved over to his "native" 3B this season, but I'm giving him the nod at second base for arguably homer-ic reasons that you'll see in a moment.  You could make a great case for Chase Utley, who is still an excellent player and a long-time crush.  But I'm giving it to Carpenter, who has just been so amazing over the past year...and because I want to give third base to someone with more WAR than Chase Utley.

Third Base
Starter: Todd Frazier, CIN (4.8 WAR)
Reserve: Anthony Rendon, WAS (3.5 WAR)

Todd Frazier has had a terrific season this year, but the secret seems to be that he also had a very good season last year.  His batting average was low last year (luck dragons?), but his other numbers--while a step down from 2012--were still pretty solid, and resulted in dead-on league average production (100 wRC+).  For the reserve, I'm passing over Juan Uribe (4.5 WAR in limited play) because I'm a little skeptical of the +20 fielding rating.  Instead going with young stud Anthony Rendon, who has been terrific this season after a solid rookie campaign last year.

Starter: Troy Tulowitzki, COL (6.7 WAR)
Reserve: Hanley Ramirez, LAD (5.7 WAR)

Hanley had an amazing second half last year, and has been pretty good this year.  But nothing compares to what Troy Tulowtizki has done over his past 145 games...during which he's been healthy!  Tulo is the bestest.

Starters: Andrew McCutchen, PIT (8.4 WAR--wow), Carlos Gomez, MIL (6.6 WAR), and Giancarlo Stanton, MIA (5.7 WAR)
Reserves: Hunter Pence, SFG (5.6 WAR), Yasiel Puig, LAD (5.5 WAR), and Jayson Werth, WAS (5.4 WAR)

The player with the second-most WAR in all of baseball is Andrew McCutchen.  I knew he'd been amazing, but I had no idea that he was second only to His Greatness.  I've written about my love of Carlos Gomez, and and I gave Giancarlo Stanton the nod over Hunter Pence because I love Giancarlo a lot more the Pence.  But I'm nevertheless incredibly impressed that Pence is where he is.  Puig seems pretty likely to crack the starting lineup by next season, but deserves to be here.  The last player, Werth, gets the nod over Jayson Heyward because I trust Werth's negative defensive rating less than I trust Heyward's positive rating.  Werth is player who often has popped up in this exercise over the past, but rarely gets much consideration for the actual team.

Starting Pitching
Clayton Kershaw, LAD (6.7 WAR)
Adam Wainwright, STL (5.1 WAR)
Stephen Strasburg, WAS (4.0 WAR)
Zack Greinke, LAD (3.9 WAR)
Jordan Zimmermann, WAS (3.7 WAR)

Kershaw should not be a surprise, nor really should any of the names on this list.  The biggest "snub" that visitors of this blog are likely to notice is Johnny Cueto, who clocks in at 2.9 WAR over the past calendar year.  This is the "cost" to opting to include the second half of last year's data in these rankings, but I think it's the right call.  Otherwise, where is the recognition of second-half performances?  Just my opinion.

Craig Kimbrel, ATL (2.9 WAR)
Aroldis Chapman, CIN (2.1 WAR)
Steve Cishek, MIA (2.5 WAR)
Kenley Jansen, LAD (2.3 WAR)
Tony Watson, PIT (2.0 WAR)

I'm giving Chapman a bump because of playing time and homerism.  But wow, I had no idea that Steve Cishek was doing what he's been doing.  It's a nice (refreshing?) indication of how far removed I am from fantasy baseball that I didn't even realize that he was Miami's closer.  He's been amazing, though, and on par with these other guys.  Tony Watson narrowly got the nod over his fellow Pirate Mark Melancon, but I went with Watson because his numbers are (very slightly) better, and it's nice to have another lefty.

Pats on the Head 

(token team representative that didn't make the real cut)
Daniel Murphy, 2B, NYM (4.4 WAR)
Andrew Cashner, SP, SDP (3.1 WAR)
Anthony Rizzo, 1B, CHC (2.8 WAR)

Were it not for my movement of Carpenter to 2B to get Frazier a job, Murphy would have gotten the reserve 2B job.  The others are good, quality players, who might be even better in the future.  But they're not really in the same conversation as the guys who did make the cut.

Team Summary

ARI: 1
ATL: 2
CHC: 0
CIN: 2
COL: 1
LAD: 5
MIA: 2
MIL: 1
NYM: 0
PHI: 1
PIT: 2
SDP: 0
SFG: 1
STL: 3
WAS: 4
(not including the pat-on-the-head selections)

(next up: the American League)