Thursday, July 2, 2015

How Surprising Are Each AL Team's Top Performers?

Last summer, I examined each team's Fangraphs WAR leader and gauged how surprised fans should have been with that player's club-leading performance. Was it surprising that Kyle Seager was outplaying teammate Robinson Cano deep into the summer? Definitely. But was it shocking that Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen paced their respective teams in WAR? Negative, Ghost Rider.

In order to rank the amount of surprise generated by each team's WAR leader, I created the Sam Champion Predictability Measure. For those who don't know, Sam Champion is a TV weather anchor who may or may not have been romantically involved with Mike Piazza. We can determine how predictable each player's season would have been on a scale of 1-10 Champions, with 1 meaning "ridiculously unpredictable" and 10 meaning "duh." Last season, Seager's team-leading WAR earned just 3 Champions because even most good forecasters wouldn't have predicted it. Meanwhile, McCutchen's performance garnered 9.5 Champions because it was more predictable than the Pirates raising the Jolly Roger after a win.

Now that we've just about reached the halfway point of the 2015 season, it's time to run that exercise back. Last year, I considered only position players; this time around, I'll also look at pitching WAR leaders. We'll take a swing around the American League today then examine the National League in a few days.

All stats are current through July 2.