Idea: Rank the best individual seasons of the 2012 MLB regular season (Spring Training, Minor Leagues, and Postseason are not included), while considering offensive and defensive facets of the game.
Consider: Using the individual metrics to measure individual performance; full avoidance of projecting results for shortened seasons, and past years performance to justify or dictate standings.
This is not: “Most Valuable” anything. Rather, this is “best,” like Baseball America does, so there is no confusion as to what I am ranking. It is also not a “this is a ranking of who I want in 2013, or wanted in any other year.”
This is: My opinion, and will be disagreed with by many.
20. R.A. Dickey (233.2 IP, 8.86 K/9, 3.39 tERA, 4.6 fWAR, 5.6 rWAR) – Had I considered age in this ranking, maybe Dickey would have been higher, but I’ll let someone else do that ranking. I think it’s still cool that we could have some more years to experience his dominance over hitters though.
19. David Price (211.0 IP, 8.74 K/9, 3.23 tERA, 5.1 fWAR, 6.4 rWAR) – Really had trouble ranking 19-21 with the three pitchers, but in the end, I just liked Price’s numbers the best
18. Aaron Hill (26 HR, 14 SB, .375 wOBA, 6.2 fWAR, 4.6 rWAR) – What a change of scenery can do for you, Aaron Hill looks like he’s found his comfort zone in Phoenix after being traded from Toronto.
17. Cliff Lee (211.0 IP, 1.19 BB/9, 3.21 tERA, 4.9 fWAR, 4.2 rWAR) – Poor Clifton didn’t get a lot of love because of the W-L record he sported, but it’s not his fault his team didn’t score runs for him, even if he was on for most of the season.
16. Michael Bourn (26 2B, 42 SB, .326 wOBA, 6.4 fWAR, 6.0 rWAR) – The speedy center fielder does his job tearing up the basepaths and covering his part out in CF. Jim Bowman suggested the Giants could be a fit, I think not. ($)
15. Felix Hernandez (232.0 IP, 8.65 K/9, 3.21 tERA, 6.1 fWAR, 4.6 rWAR) – The King may be the only true royalty in Seattle now, but he should have an army of arms coming to help out soon.
14. Aramis Ramirez (27 HR, 50 2B, .384 wOBA, 6.5 fWAR, 5.4 rWAR) – May be the most underappreciated season of the guys listed in this top percentage, but the BBWAA recognized it, and he finished 9th in NL MVP voting.
13. Yadier Molina (22 HR, 12 SB, .375 wOBA, 6.5 fWAR, 6.7 rWAR) – I know what you’re thinking: A Molina that steals bases, not just prevents SB? Yea, he does that, too.
12. Adrian Beltre (36 HR, 33 2B, .388 wOBA, 6.5 fWAR, 6.7 rWAR) – I felt Heyward edged the 3B of Texas in the way he manned his position, and in the way he contributed on the bases, but still a great year for the guy that loves the headrubs.
11. Jason Heyward (27 HR, 21 SB, .351 wOBA, 6.6 fWAR, 5.5 rWAR) – Should Heyward be able to step up his game to another level in his age 23 season, he could get real scary.
10. Clayton Kershaw (227.2 IP, 9.05 K/9, 2.95 tERA, 5.5 fWAR, 6.2 rWAR) – I also struggled between JV vs. CK, but in the end, felt other peripherals not listed evened things out, giving the edge to Justin over Clayton with IP being the tiebreaker.
9. Justin Verlander (238.1 IP, 9.03 K/9, 3.43 tERA, 6.8 fWAR, 7.5 rWAR) – I really struggled where to start to include the pitchers, but here seemed like a good spot. Verlander is still good.
8. Chase Headley (31 HR, 17 SB, .378 wOBA, 7.5 fWAR, 6.0 rWAR) – If this were a “best second half of 2012” post, Headley might be #1.
7. David Wright (21 HR, 15 SB, .376 wOBA, 7.8 fWAR, 6.7 rWAR) – If this were a “best first half of 2012” post, Wright might be #1.
6. Miguel Cabrera (44 HR, 40 2B, .417 wOBA, 7.1 fWAR, 6.9 rWAR) – The dude’s just oozing power, and while the change of positions is a great story, the playing of the position itself must be considered in this ranking.
5. Andrew McCutchen (31 HR, 20 SB, .403 wOBA, 7.4 fWAR, 7.0 rWAR) – Worthy of being on the cover of a video game, I’m just glad Pittsburgh has had someone to cheer about.
3. Ryan Braun (41 HR, 30 SB, .413 wOBA, 7.9 fWAR, 6.8 rWAR) – Probably got a lot of flack for the PED-related stuff at the end of the season in 2011, but a 40-30 season will never stop being impressive.
2. Buster Posey (24 HR, .406 wOBA, 8.0 fWAR, 7.2 rWAR) – It’s no secret that the catcher position is an incredibly important one, and when your backstop is producing at the levels Posey is, well that warrants some respect. Bias possible.
1. Mike Trout (30 HR, 49 SB, .409 wOBA, 10.0 fWAR, 10.7 rWAR) – If 21 year olds are just getting started, in the Majors, it’s difficult to fathom where he goes from here.
Short Answer: 1970 and then again officially by a larger percentage of human beings in 2010.
Long Answer: Major League Baseball still credits people that throw from a dirt mound 60’6″ over a plate shaped like a house with things like “wins” and “losses.” While it may be true that pitchers today certainly do “lose” games much more often than they “win” games, the awards are still given. Why? Because we need someone to point the blame at and put on a pedestal — it’s human nature!
Thank goodness for Baseball Reference. Really, because I started trying to add up and calculate CG% and stuff from FanGraphs until I stumbled on it on BR by accident. Saved me a lot of work. I probably would’ve given up after a while, anyway. Figured I could write a book about it.
A “Win,” while we know it to be had as long as the SP goes 5 and has the lead as he leaves. After watching the Giants pitching staff this year, we already know how a SP doesn’t necessarily get the win — leaves down 1-0 despite 10 K’s and 7 IP. Or he throws 6 IP of hard fought ball with the score at 2-2 and won’t get credit for jack squat.
For me, the “Win,” if it’s going to be awarded to pitchers, Complete Games (CG) really need to be considered. Whether it’s 9 innings or 15 innings, the pitcher did his due diligence and with some skill and luck stayed on the bump the whole game. The blame for what he did (negatively) can be put on him in great loads. Hard to say a pitcher’s performance on the mound should warrant him the “W,” but the CG is an impressive feat while this is an imperfect way to help solve an argument, I feel it helps and from there someone else will probably take charge with their better knowledge and resources. Only 3.56% of the games this year, 2011, were CGs. Investigating the CG more in years past (as well as the sometimes not so useful SV%… but it did give a sign of the times):
1871-1890: CG% Never fell below 89% Not 8.9. 89%.
1891-1903: CG% was between 81%-87%. Number of games that had a save in it was never above 2%.
1904-1907: CG% by year: 88, 80, 76, 74. This may be the signal for the beginning of the end in terms of pitchers going the full game. The number of pitchers appearing in ML Games also increasing. SV% goes from 2-4% in latter years.
1908-1914: CG% dips from the 60s to the 50s and as the SV% starts to climb from 4 to 7%, it appears “the reliever” is becoming an idea that’s here to stay.
1915-1945: CG% goes from 55%-42% at its lowest while SV% begins to hover around 9-10%. This time period, specifically beginning in the Great Depression, could be when that “W” starts waving the red flag in its camp. Unfortunately, not many probably noticed. This is not to say pitchers did not go 7-8 innings a lot. I bet they did. But I like to think I have high standards. Maybe dumb standards, but whatevs.
1946-1959: CG% posts its last back-to-back 30% and the SV% is hovering at 15-16% around this time.
1960-1969: Steady consistent decline of CG% and incline of SV%. 1965 is the first year that less than 25% of games have had a CG in them.
1970: CG% 22, SV% 23. In my opinion, this tells me how important relievers have become and in this year 363 pitchers had action in the Show. In 1960, 238 pitched. This spike in pitchers used was the 2nd consecutive year that 360+ pitchers were used. I wasn’t alive in 1970. I don’t know if the talking point was brought up of the mark of the “W.” This is the year I think the “Win” lost its luster.
1971-1979: Shouldn’t I be done? I made you read all this, you should be done, gosh darnit! However, the spike in CG% back to the high 20s (and then comes back down to the low 20s) and the SV% being pushed down but ultimately coming back up. Number of pitchers also lower make me wonder what the heck was going on? Rule changes? Labor unrest? Looks like I need to brush up on my baseball history.
1980 was the first year that would begin an ongoing streak of SV% outdoing CG%.
1985 saw for the first time more than 400 pitchers being used
1988 began an era of 25% or more games ending with a save (’94, ’00, ’08 excluded with a weak, measly 24%).
1993 was the 2nd year CG% was in the single digits (1991, 9%) at 8% and the first year over 500 pitchers had been used.
2000, over 600 pitchers. 2001, 591. 2002 and beyond, over 600 again. CG% is at and dips below 5%. At this time, people are thinking to themselves “I can’t believe Barry Bonds just hit that ball 500 feet,” more than “I don’t know about this whole ‘pitcher wins’ thing.”
In 2010 Felix Hernandez wins the AL Cy Young with a laughable (in the 19th century) 13-12, 2.27 ERA, 249.2 IP, 232 K’s, 1.057 WHIP. This was the second coming of the realization but probably the first major one to the general public, both baseball and sports fans, of maybe pitcher wins aren’t as important as we give them credit for.
This is not to say the “W” never meant anything, just that it’s not what it used to be. It will be interesting to see when there will be statistical reform to the “win” — but I can’t even say I expect to see something happen within my own lifetime.