Top MLB Players as of 8/9/2017

We haven’t done top MLB players since our all star picks a month ago.  A month is enough time for the leader board to change.  Here is the current top ten MLB players, both batters and pitchers ranked together, as of all games up to and including yesterday.

Rank WAA Name_TeamID Pos  WAR Rank
+001+ 7.67 Max_Scherzer_WAS PITCH
+002+ 7.54 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH  +020+
+003+ 6.83 Bryce_Harper_WAS RF
+004+ 6.43 Paul_Goldschmidt_ARI 1B
+005+ 6.24 Chris_Sale_BOS PITCH
+006+ 6.01 Nolan_Arenado_COL 3B
+007+ 5.71 Gio_Gonzalez_WAS PITCH
+008+ 5.65 Charlie_Blackmon_COL CF  +035+
+009+ 5.65 Aaron_Judge_NYA RF
+010+ 5.63 Corey_Kluber_CLE PITCH

Kershaw is hurt so he’ll linger in this list for the rest of the year or until he comes back.  Last year +7.54 would make him #4.  Kershaw usually ends up #1 or #2.   He’s simply the best pitcher in  baseball right now.  Let’s look at his career.

Year WAA Name_TeamID Pos Rank
2008 0.1 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH XXXXX
2009 5.8 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH +027+
2010 5.6 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH +029+
2011 9.3 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH +002+
2012 7.8 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH +005+
2013 11.3 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH +001+
2014 9.0 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH +001+
2015 10.0 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH +003+
2016 8.6 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH +003+
2017 7.5 Clayton_Kershaw_LAN PITCH +002+
Total 75.0

A +75 gets you into the HOF according to our historical samples.  Kershaw may have a few years left in him.  WAR has Kershaw ranked #20 this season.  That’s probably because he gave up 4 solo home runs in a single game awhile ago.  WAR keeps track of home runs.  We  keep track of runs.  A solo home run counts  the same as a double driving in a run yet WAR values those two events  differently.

Let’s look at the top ten according to WAR.

Rank WAR Name_TeamID Pos  WAA Rank
+001+ 6.3 Jose_Altuve_HOU 2B  +041+
+002+ 6.2 Andrelton_Simmons_ANA SS  XXXXX
+003+ 5.8 Max_Scherzer_WAS PITCH
+004+ 5.5 Paul_Goldschmidt_ARI 1B
+005+ 5.3 Chris_Sale_BOS PITCH
+006+ 5.3 Aaron_Judge_NYA RF
+007+ 5.1 Mookie_Betts_BOS RF  +075+
+008+ 5.0 Gio_Gonzalez_WAS PITCH
+009+ 5.0 Corey_Kluber_CLE PITCH
+010+ 5.0 Nolan_Arenado_COL 3B

The names colored in tan in both tables are for players this data model and WAR pretty much agree.  Either ours are in their top 25 or theirs are in our top 25.  Nine of ten in our table agreed with WAR and Blackmon, the only outlier, was still #35 in WAR rankings so not that far off.

We covered Jose Altuve and Mookie Betts last June when we did this and the differences between the two systems are less now.  Since WAR folds defense into their calculation (which is a very subjective measure), that’s how those two outliers happened.

That leaves  Andrelton Simmons currently ranked #2 by WAR.   Being ranked #2 out of all MLB players is a huge deal because there are 750 players on MLB rosters right now.    Let’s look at Simmons’ full line according to this data model.

Rank WAA BA OBP PA RBI R Name_TeamID Pos
XXXXX -0.23 0.306 0.361 460 49 59 Andrelton_Simmons_ANA SS
+104+ 2.21 0.264 0.388 490 71 66 Anthony_Rizzo_CHN 1B

Simmons is unranked according to this model and slightly below average.  I placed Anthony Rizzo who is currently ranked #104 in this table for comparison.  Simmons has a higher BA but lower OBP.  What does that tell us?  Nothing.  The numbers in tan tell us their run production and Rizzo beats Simmons by a lot in each column.  Rizzo isn’t even considered in the top 100 yet.

Let’s look at Aaron Judge who WAR has being ranked 4 slots below Simmons.

Rank WAA BA OBP PA RBI R Name_TeamID Pos
+009+ 5.65 0.297 0.424 467 78 85 Aaron_Judge_NYA RF

Judge is obviously superior to Simmons in hitting just scanning BA/OBP/RBI/R columns.  Our WAA calculations combines all of that into a weighting factor that can be ranked.  We know Simmons is an average run producer this season because we can precisely calculate it just like we use this same method to calculate and rank  every player since 1900.

I had to google Simmons to find out what could possibly distort WAR that much because as we have shown, we’re pretty much in agreement at the top end of the league.  Fangraphs had an answer.

From:  Andrelton Simmons Is Cool Again

Simmons is still maybe the best defensive shortstop in baseball. I can’t prove that, but an argument exists.

The article gets into a lot of nonsense stats after that but the above is the gist of why Simmons is now ranked so high.   That article also shows they use stats  like Magic the Gathering cards to be used to support an “argument.”  I play a strikeout ratio card, you play a BABIP card, we keep playing until one player wins.    Simmons is getting the Darwin Barney treatment to the extreme.  There is a divide by zero somewhere in the bowels of the WAR calculation that causes this.  The Anaheim Angels aren’t 56-58 because they have the second best player in baseball.

That is all for now.   AAA analysis tomorrow and Cubs start a new series with Arizona again.  Until then….