Top Ten MLB Players 6/11/2017

We haven’t done MLB leaders in about two weeks now.  Here are the top ten MLB players according to this data model as of all games up to and including 6/10 (snapshot taken 6/11).

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos
+001+ 4.77 Ervin_Santana_MIN PITCH
+002+ 4.33 Dallas_Keuchel_HOU PITCH
+003+ 4.20 Bryce_Harper_WAS RF
+004+ 4.14 Paul_Goldschmidt_ARI 1B
+005+ 4.12 Charlie_Blackmon_COL CF
+006+ 4.07 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH
+007+ 3.91 Ryan_Zimmerman_WAS 1B
+008+ 3.84 Jake_Lamb_ARI 3B
+009+ 3.82 Aaron_Judge_NYA RF
+010+ 3.76 Max_Scherzer_WAS PITCH

Ervin Santana still on top and Minnesota is doing well because of it.  Washington has three guys in the top ten this week again which is why they’re 15 games up right now.  The top WAA two weeks was 4.47 so it only rose 0.3.  This is the point of a season where the leader board churns for awhile which is why it always ends the year around 10 even though if you extrapolate based on games played Santana would be around 14 or 15 by season end.  Much of the above players were the same two weeks ago.

Let’s look at top ten at this date last year.

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos 6/11/2016
+001+ 5.80 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH
+002+ 4.72 Jake_Arrieta_CHN PITCH
+003+ 4.18 Madison_Bumgarner_SFN PITCH
+004+ 4.18 Mookie_Betts_BOS OF
+005+ 4.05 Nolan_Arenado_COL 3B
+006+ 4.03 Johnny_Cueto_SFN PITCH
+007+ 3.95 Steven_Wright_BOS PITCH
+008+ 3.91 Jon_Lester_CHN PITCH
+009+ 3.88 Noah_Syndergaard_NYN PITCH

The Cubs were one of the premier MLB teams and they had two guys in the top ten on this date last season even though they played 0.500 in June to the All Star break.   Comparison of WAA is completely valid from year to year so Jake Arrieta would be considered equivalent to Santana today.  Clayton Kershaw was pitching like a robot last year but he gets hurt sometime after this.

Top Ten WAR

We get WAR info from baseball-reference.com.  There are many variations to how WAR is calculated and very few people even know how that sausage is made.  As flawed as a value measure WAR is, over the years, baseball-reference.com had the most accurate when it comes to rankings.  Sites like Fangraphs tend to inflate WAR numbers so as not to upset fans of certain players which is why they gave a pitcher like Edwin Jackson a WAR=0.5 in 2014 when we, and even baseball-reference WAR had him ranked worst MLB player.  Here’s the top ten according to WAR.

Rank WAR Name_TeamID Pos
+001+ 3.5 Aaron_Judge_NYA RF
+002+ 3.4 Mike_Trout_ANA CF
+003+ 3.3 Paul_Goldschmidt_ARI 1B
+004+ 3.3 Zack_Cozart_CIN SS
+005+ 3.2 Jason_Vargas_KCA PITCH
+006+ 3.2 Dallas_Keuchel_HOU PITCH
+007+ 3.1 Ervin_Santana_MIN PITCH
+008+ 3.0 Joey_Votto_CIN 1B
+009+ 2.9 Max_Scherzer_WAS PITCH
+010+ 2.9 Nolan_Arenado_COL 3B

The ultimate judge of a value system is how it ranks players.  We have the 10 players in the above table somewhere in the top 25 and all of our top ten is in WAR’s top 25 right now.   Great players put up such good numbers in all categories they rise to the top of either of these value systems.  The error in WAR becomes more apparent in the muddy middle of the league and with part time players.  Since WAR depends so much on ratios and some very dubious stadium adjustments and even more dubious defense/fielding theories the rankings of those players can be warped significantly.  We already showed one example with Adam Eaton earlier.  Many of Washington’s top players are in WAR’s dog house this season for some reason.  We’ll get into more of this as the season progresses.  Until then….