erik lundegaard

Is 3.5 Years of Mike Trout > 12 Years of Yadier Molina?

It began as a cheeky stats hunt. 

I noticed that Mike Trout's WAR (Wins Above Replacement) during his first three full seasons, plus half of this one, was astronomical: 33.3. Knowing WAR numbers were cumulative, and that they go can backwards (you can get negative WAR numbers), I wondered which veteran players Trout has already passed on the WAR charts. That was the cheeky question.  

Here's the cheeky answer. Currently, Trout, all of 23 and 11/12, is tied for 32nd among active players. In other words, his 3.5 years in Major League baseball are, by this measure, already worth more than Adam Jones' 10 years (26.6 WAR), J.J. Hardy's 11 (27.3) and Jayson Werth's 13 (30.0).

It began to annoy me a bit when I noticed that Yadier Molina, one of the best defensive catchers in baseball, and a man who turned himself into a fine hitter as well—with a .305 batting average and a .803 OPS since the start of the 2011 season—is also on this lesser Trout list. His WAR is 30.3, 40th among active players, and that seems wrong. And I wondered: Does WAR undervalue Yadi or all catchers, whose careers, after all, tend to be shorter, and thus less cumulative, than the careers of other positions? 

I think it's the latter. The highest-ranked catcher on the career WAR chart is Johnny Bench at No. 48 with a 75.0 WAR. He's one-tenth of a percentage point better than Lou Whitaker at No. 49.

Here are the top 8 catchers ranked by WAR. Yogi Berra fans, get ready to be angry:

Rank Player WAR Years
48 Johnny Bench 75.0 17
68 Gary Carter 69.9 19
74 Ivan Rodriguez 68.4 21
77 Carlton Fisk 68.3 24
121 Yogi Berra 59.5 19
122 Mike Piazza 59.4 16
139 Bill Dickey 55.8 17
169 Mickey Cochrane 52.1 13

I checked to see if WAR's catcher rating was already a controversy. It was. As far back as 2010

I will say this: Given the choice between 3.5 years of Mike Trout and 12 of Yadier, I think I'd take Yadi for 12, Alex. 

Mike Trout Yadier Molina

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Posted at 06:57 AM on Fri. Jul 03, 2015 in category Baseball  

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