By the Numbers: Batting Leaders in bWAR

by: Andy Zsiga @zsiga_andy

Let’s take a quick look at the leaders in bWAR. 

A few caveats before we get started are that all the information from this article is adapted from Baseball Reference, you can take a more in-depth look at the numbers here While there are a number of ways to evaluate players, for the purposes of this article, we are going to use bWAR. (sabermetric references: bWAR, babip)

Here is a look at the top leaders in war.

We have those mashing the ball, some defensive leaders, and a few that will probably not continue at the pace they are currently at.

The WAR amount for Mike Trout and Mookie Betts seems unsustainable (approximately 14.7 and 12.3 respectively), but I see no reason that any of the top 5 leaders should take a significant hit in WAR throughout the rest of the year (some of that due to defensive value).

It is interesting that Jose Ramirez has maintained a .291 batting average while logging a .266 babip. Last year he had a .312 babip, so while his batting average and babip should come closer together, his babip should increase meaning he will probably continue to have a stronger year than his breakout year last year.

Although Aaron Judge will probably remain among the leaders for the rest of the year, he is so streaky that he will probably go on and off the leaderboard all year.

While the last three on the board have all had their moments the last few years, Odubel Herrera, Brandon Belt, and Travis Shaw are all surprising additions to me. Dubie has had a good last few years, but he likely will be unable to sustain a babip of .379. We can expect a good year from Dubie, but he probably will not get close to the 7.5 WAR he is on pace for. Belt is also experiencing some babip love. His babip is .383 so we can expect at least a little regression in his hitting, but barring injury this should still be a career year.  As for Shaw, he has shown more power than he has in the past, and he is not a babip wonder; his dWAR has ticked up this year, it is possible he will continue to flirt with the end of the war leaderboard.

Let’s also take a look purely at the leaders in  oWAR 

It is interesting to see the big changes eliminating defense from WAR does.

This is probably a little bit closer to the most valuable players in your Fantasy Baseball league. Manny Machado and J.D. Martinez’s defense are huge negatives for them thus far this year. That really surprises me for Machado. It seems the jumping back to shortstop is not working out thus far this year.

The following charts are just some statistics I had fun with, and there are a few caveats to them. 

I created a way to find the amount of money each team is spending per a WAR on their players. The issue is due to the bad weather this year teams have played various different amounts of games, so I just normalized every player’s salary as if it had been 55 games into the season. Then I found how much money was spent per a WAR.

I took out all of the players who have earned no WAR, or negative WAR, for ease of calculating at this time. Some players with really bad years, cough *Chris Davis* cough, do not show up here. I also took players who are going to work less than the full year this year and gave them the minimum salary for the year.

Take a look at the best deals according to WAR this year.

Our list makes sense here. While it includes a guy or two who may not continue to play this well, this is a great list of young stars in the league.

Now let’s take a look at the other end of this list. Remember it is missing several players having terrible years, but it still gives a good look at some of the albatross contracts of the league.

We do see a mix of injury here, but we also see a mix of older players who just don’t make the cut anymore.

More power to the guys on this list getting paid for not playing well. Obviously, Jason Heyward will not get paid $95 million this year, but it is looking like he could not even earn one WAR for the year. The same could be said of the others on this list and it is definitely cringeworthy if your team is a smaller market team.

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