Since it appears that there is going to be a 3-way race to the top of the NL Central in 2011, I wanted to do a closer look at comparing the Cardinals against the Brewers and Reds. Today, I’m going to take a look at the starting 8 players from each team, using offensive stats mainly, but also using Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Since I’ll be using WAR, it will give us a good indicator of the players overall value on offense and defense.
With the stats today, I’m using Baseball-Reference.com. I’m going to use FanGraphs.com tomorrow, as both have different WAR totals for each player. Following looking at the starting lineups from both sites, I’m going to compare the starting rotations of each team over the next few days as well, along with defensive stats. The defensive stats will take a look using defensive WAR and UZR in another article comparing these teams, as well as using fielding percentage. I don’t want to focus on only sabermetrics and leave out stats that many would consider outdated. I want to have a good balance. Tomorrows look from FanGraphs will also have Bill James 2011 predictions.
When using WAR, I am using the WAR from 2010, as well as using WAR/650. WAR/650 is dividing each player’s career WAR total by the number of career plate appearances, then taking that total and multiplying it by 650, which is a good average number of plate appearances in a year. I wanted to give a good mix of some basic stats with some more advanced ones.
Maybe taking a look at the WAR from 2010 is a better indicator than using WAR/650. But things to take into account with using WAR/650 are that while Rickie Weeks is clearly the best 2B, he has dealt with injuries in his career. Weeks is just an example, as WAR/650 will be a good balance to all players who have missed time with injury and down seasons, which I think we have to take into account. So I think WAR/650 has its relevance.
So, here’s the table, which I broke down using the 3 teams with their projected starters from each position. For the stats except for WAR and WAR/650, I’m using each players 162 game average for their career.
As we all already knew, second base is clearly the position that the Cards fail to keep up with the Reds and Brewers. If Skip can bounce back with the bat, the Cards will at least be respectable. As you can see, if Freese can stay healthy, the Cards also won’t be so far behind the Brewers and Reds at 3B. Looking at RF, Berkman clearly had a down year in 2010. But if he can come back even a bit, he matches up well against Hart and Bruce. And our other position of concern, shortstop, isn’t that bad. Theriot matches up well if he can bounce back with the bat. I’m not sure if the Reds will stick with Janish at SS, but it appears there’s a good chance they will. In CF, the Cards and Reds are clearly ahead of the Brewers. We all think Colby will get better, and it looks like Stubbs for Cincy will as well.
So, there’s a lot of if’s, hopes, and maybe’s, but I don’t think anything is out of the question.