Wednesday, August 5, 2015

How Surprising Are Each NL Team's Top Performers?

Last month, I examined the amount of surprise registered by the WAR leaders on each AL team. At the start of the season, how likely was it that each of those players would be his team's most valuable? Today, after a Mike Hargrove-length delay, let's finally swing around the Senior Circuit. Again, we'll examine each team's top hitter and pitcher as judged by WAR.

As always, feel free to scroll through and find your team or to read the whole post. All stats are current through August 5. For a refresher on the "Champion" scoring system, refer to the beginning of the AL post linked above.
NL East

New York Mets
Curtis Granderson (3.2 fWAR)
I made fun of the Mets marketing department's decision to pimp Granderson's weak arm earlier in the season, but the Grandy Man has actually saved New York a couple runs in the field. It's been his bat, though, that's stood out in a mostly punchless lineup. Granderson would have been a defensible pre-season pick to lead Mets hitters in WAR.
Predictability Measure: 7 Champions

Jacob deGrom (3.2 fWAR)
Holy hurlers, the Mets staff is stacked. Most people would have pegged Matt Harvey as the leader of the staff, but following the Dark Knight's Tommy John surgery, deGrom would have been just as safe a bet. After winning the Rookie of the Year award last year, the tall righty has turned into one of the most reliable starters in the league, all while maintaining a hairdo that Grampa Simpson would loathe.
Predictability Measure: 7 Champions

Washington Nationals
Bryce Harper (6.4 fWAR)
In retrospect, as Harper posts offensive numbers that are literally twice as good as the average hitter's, this seems like it should have been a no-brainer. But with Harper's injury history, Anthony Rendon might have been a more likely candidate to lead the team in WAR. If Harper leads the team again next year, though? It'll be a no-brainer.
Predictability Measure: 6 Champions

Max Scherzer (5.0 fWAR)
Even in a super-rotation many expected to be historically great, Scherzer would have been the safest bet to pace the staff. The beginning of the righty's $210 million contract has looked worthwhile for the Nats, as Scherzer has been the ace of a group that's been merely very good.
Predictability Measure: 8 Champions

Atlanta Braves 
Freddie Freeman (2.1 fWAR)
When the Braves traded Jason Heyward in the off-season, this became Freeman's "award" to lose. Although Andrelton Simmons saves oodles of runs with his glove, Freeman's .848 OPS provides enough value that he'll probably man this spot for the next few years.
Predictability Measure: 9 Champions

Shelby Miller (2.5 fWAR)
As the asset acquired for Heyward, Miller has met the Braves' expectations. Ignore the 5-8 record; Miller has outpitched Julio Teheran, who would have been my pick to lead Atlanta's staff in WAR.
Predictability Measure: 6 Champions

Miami Marlins
Giancarlo Stanton (3.8 fWAR)
There wasn't really another option here. Although Dee Gordon has put together a nice high-BABIP-fueled season, Stanton still leads him by more than a win even after missing the past six weeks.
Predictability Measure: 9 Champions

Jose Fernandez (1.5 fWAR)
In just six starts, the sorcerous Fernandez has provided more value than any other Marlins pitcher. That says a lot about the quality of Fernandez's performance, as well as the feebleness of Miami's staff. The only reason that you wouldn't have picked Fernandez to lead the team in WAR was his -- say it with me now -- injury history. He didn't pitch until July this season, but let's all hope his platinum right arm remains intact for at least the next decade.
Predictability Measure: 6 Champions

Philadelphia Phillies 
Freddy Galvis, Ben Revere (1.7 fWAR)
Look at those two names. That's just depressing. Phillies fans must feel like their dog just died then their cat ate their poisonous fish.
Predictability Measure: 3 Champions

Cole Hamels (2.7 fWAR)
Even though Hamels was traded to Texas last week, he'll probably finish the season as the Phillies WAR leader. Dead dogs, cats, and poisonous fish.
Predictability Measure: 9 Champions

NL Central

St. Louis Cardinals 
Jason Heyward (3.5 fWAR)
After coming over from Atlanta, Heyward figured to challenge Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, and others for team MVP. However, St. Louis is deeper than a collection of Confucius quotes. Since the Cards have so many potent bats (even without injured Matt Holliday), it's a stretch to say that any hitter was a favorite to lead the team in WAR. It must be nice to have a half-dozen co-favorites for such a distinction.
Predictability Measure: 6 Champions

Lance Lynn (2.8 fWAR)
Adam Wainwright would've been the favorite for this spot, but with the ace's April injury, Lynn seemed like the most likely Cards hurler to lead the staff in WAR. Lynn and rookie Carlos Martinez have continued the team's long line of dominant righty starters.
Predictability Measure: 5 Champions

Pittsburgh Pirates
Andrew McCutchen (3.6 fWAR)
Remember when people were worried about McCutchen's slow start? Well, after hitting just .194/.302/.333 in April, he's heated up both at the plate and in his Shooter McGavin-inspired trash-talk game.
Predictability Measure: 9.5 Champions

Gerritt Cole (3.4 fWAR)
Anyone who bought into Cole's considerable prospect hype even a little expected to eventually see him here.
Predictability Measure: 8 Champions

Chicago Cubs
Jake Arrieta (3.9 fWAR)
After Arrieta's fielding-independent masterpiece of a season in 2014, nobody should be surprised to find him in this spot. (Joe Posnanski even ranked Arrieta as the 17th-best starter in the game last week.) Still, most people probably expected free-agent darling Jon Lester to pitch like the staff's clear-cut ace.
Predictability Measure: 4 Champions

Anthony Rizzo (4.2 fWAR)
Rizzo has been the team's best regular for a few years now, and except for the most bullish Kris Bryant fans, most people would have predicted that he'd lead the Cubs in WAR.
Predictability Measure: 9 Champions

Cincinnati Reds
Joey Votto (3.5 fWAR)
The on-base cyborg is back where he belongs. After his injury-plagued 2014, I was afraid that we'd never see Votto at this level again. Fortunately, he's back to reaching base at a Boggsian clip.
Predictability Measure: 7 Champions

Johnny Cueto (2.9 fWAR)
Barring an Aroldis Chapman move to the rotation, Cueto was the obvious pick to lead the staff in WAR. Now, it's a race to see whether Chapman can fireball his way to the team WAR lead or if Cueto will stay there despite pitching one-third of the season for the Royals.
Predictability Measure: 9.5 Champions

Milwaukee Brewers
Ryan Braun (1.9 fWAR)
The fact that neither Braun nor any of his teammates has cracked the two-win barrier yet lines up with the fact that the Brewers have the second-worst team wRC+ in the league. Carlos Gomez would have been my pre-season pick as the Brewers' most valuable position player, but hey, Gomie is gone anyways.
Predictability Measure: 6 Champions

Mike Fiers (1.9 fWAR)
The ZiPS projection system didn't forecast any Brewers pitcher to accrue more than 1.6 WAR. Fiers, though, was among the favorites to top the list. Like Gomez, Fiers has recently moved to Houston.
Predictability Measure: 7 Champions

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers
Justin Turner (3.6 fWAR)
In the same lineup as Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, and wunderkind Joc Pederson, Turner has surprisingly created more runs than any other Dodger.
Predictability Measure: 2 Champions

Clayton Kershaw (5.1 fWAR)
How in the name of Hershiser has Kershaw produced a full win more than a teammate who just recorded the fourth-longest scoreless streak in the expansion era? Kershaw would have been the easy pre-season pick here, but if you told me Greinke would have been this brilliant, I might have at least thought twice about it.
Predictability Measure: 9 Champions

San Francisco Giants 
Buster Posey (5.0 fWAR)
There was little doubt that one of the game's best all-around players would pace his team in this category.
Predictability Measure: 9 Champions

Madison Bumgarner (2.4 fWAR)
The World Series hero was a clear front-runner to lead San Fran in pitching WAR. Surprisingly, with 2.1 WAR, Chris Heston remains within a snot rocket of Bumgarner's team lead.
Predictability Measure: 9.5 Champions

San Diego Padres 
Justin Upton (2.0 fWAR)
Even after A.J. Preller acquired a bunch of big names along with Upton over the off-season, the athletic outfielder looked like the best bet to put up big numbers. Despite underachieving a little this season, Upton has underachieved less than teammates like Matt Kemp, Derek Norris, and Wil Myers.
Predictability Measure: 7 Champions

Tyson Ross (2.9 fWAR)
The Padres penciled James Shields in as the ace, but he's disappointed just as much as his offensive counterparts. Ross, meanwhile, has followed last year's solid performance with a worm-burning display reminiscent of peak Greg Maddux.
Predictability Measure: 4 Champions

Arizona Diamondbacks
Paul Goldschmidt (5.1 fWAR)
Goldschmidt has entered the Trout/McCutchen class in that you expect to find him here year after year. Notre Dame alum A.J. Pollock is giving Goldy a run for his money, but the powerful first baseman is among the most productive players in the game.
Predictability Measure: 9.5 Champions

Robbie Ray (1.6 fWAR)
Ray is the only D-Backs hurler to crack the one-win mark, a big reason the team's starters are among the league's worst in fielding-independent pitching. Patrick Corbin or Opening Day starter Josh Collmenter were more likely candidates to lead the team in WAR, but this staff never boasted a bona fide ace.
Predictability Measure: 5 Champions

Colorado Rockies 
Charlie Blackmon (3.3 fWAR)
Recently-traded Troy Tulowitzki and third-base warlock Nolan Arenado were really the only possibilities for this spot. However, Blackmon has ridden a solid all-around season to the team lead in nerd value.
Predictability Measure: 1.5 Champions

Jordan Lyles (0.9 fWAR)
Hahahaha. Pitching in Coors Field sucks.
Predictability Measure: 3 Champions

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