WAR...What is it good for?
First, let’s define WAR for those who may be unaware. WAR, or Wins Above Replacement, is a non-standardized sabermetric statistic used to measure how many more wins a given player would afford his team as opposed to a replacement at a given position.
In essence, it is a statistic that makes it possible to compare pitchers to hitters/positional players on a level playing field.
WAR values are scaled equally for hitters and pitchers, and the actual figure can be calculated in many ways. For the purpose of this article, I will be referring to Fangraphs' particular rendering.
For a basis of comparison, the player with the highest WAR rating right now is David Wright of the New York Mets, with a 5.0 WAR. Wright has played in 83 games and has 108 hits, 11 home runs, 57 runs scored, 59 RBI and nine stolen bases.
His batting line is impressive: 353/.443/.565/1.008 with a .390 BABIP.
This article is based on WAR ratings as of July 14, 2012 prior to any games played. Here are the 25 worst players in baseball. Keep in mind, these are starters, not players who come off the bench or seventh-inning pitchers.
Through his first 71 games of the season (66 for the Astros, five for the Marlins), Carlos Lee has 78 hits, five home runs, 25 runs scored, 29 RBI and one stolen base.
His batting line at least shows promise: .284/.337/.404/.741 with a .292 BABIP.
It would be unfair to fully chastise Lee for his poor play this season. As evidenced above, his bat has some pop to it. The problem is that he is not producing runs for his ballclub. With a Miami Marlins team that is much better-rounded than the Houston Astros, Lee should be able to climb out of the WAR cellar.
Through his first 77 games of the season, Robert Andino manned second base for the Baltimore Orioles while Brian Roberts was on the mend. He had 62 hits, four home runs, 27 runs scored, 19 RBI and added four stolen bases.
His batting line leaves something to be desired: .232/.293/.318/.611 with a .305 BABIP.
While Andino was tasked with the starting second base job with Brian Roberts on the disabled list, he has been a solid fielder, but lacking at the plate.
Through his first 66 games of the 2012 season, Justin Morneau has 63 hits, 11 home runs, 28 runs scored, 38 RBI and just one stolen base.
His batting line has been below his career average, looking like this: .246/.311/.441/.752 with a .271 BABIP.
Clearly, Morneau is having a down season. His batting is completely down, and he has certainly not returned to his former MVP form after suffering injured season after injured season.
Through his first 61 games of the season, Cameron Maybin has managed 61 hits, four home runs, 41 runs scored, 24 RBI and 16 stolen bases.
His batting line is ugly: .210/.286/.306/.592 with a .259 BABIP.
The best part of Maybin is his speed, as evidenced by his 16 stolen bases, which ties him for 10th among National League speedsters.
Through his first 84 games this season, Yonder Alonso has 77 hits, three home runs, 25 runs scored, 23 RBI and two stolen bases.
His batting line isn't as bad as his teammate Maybin's, but it is still not all that pretty either: .261/.346/.359/.705 with a .314 BABIP.
The Padres probably wish they held on to Anthony Rizzo at this point.
Through his first 82 games this season, Rickie Weeks has just 60 hits, eight home runs, 36 runs scored, 30 RBI and six stolen bases.
His batting line is way down from years past: .200/.318/.347/.665.
To say that Weeks is having an off year is an understatement. Weeks' bat has seemingly vanished, leaving a large hole in the Brewers' offense.
Through his first 17 starts this season, Barry Zito owns a 7-6 record in 98.2 innings pitched. He owns a 4.01 ERA, 1.429 WHIP with a 5.02 K/9, 4.38 BB/9 and a 5.05 FIP.
Zito's record is deceiving. He has managed to obtain his wins through support from his team. That said, a win is a win is a win. Good for the team, but the individual has been on steady decline since signing with the Giants.
Through his first 16 starts, Kevin Correia has a 5-6 record in 91.1 innings pitched. He owns a 4.34 ERA, 1.274 WHIP, a 3.45 K/9, 2.66 BB/9 and a 5.24 FIP.
On a surging Pirates team, Correia is the weak link on the pitching staff. He has allowed the most runs of any starter on the Bucs pitching staff.
Through his first 84 games this season, Lucas Duda has 72 hits, 12 home runs, 36 runs scored, 44 RBI and zero stolen bases.
His batting line leaves something to be desired: .247/.342/.401/.743 with a .308 BABIP.
While Duda has some strong power numbers, his fielding is abysmal, with a -14.2 rating—which is what places him on this list.
Through his first 74 games this season, Jesus Montero managed 72 hits, 12 home runs, 36 runs scored, 44 RBI and zero stolen bases.
His batting line is in need of improvement: .242/.280/.372/.652 with a .289 BABIP.
Mariner fans do have reason to be optimistic about Montero. He is a power-hitting catcher who is still young and developing.
Through his first 77 games this season, Casey Kotchman has 63 hits, eight home runs, 32 runs scored, 34 RBI and three stolen bases.
For a first baseman, his bat has been lacking: .241/.299/.372/.671 with a .248 BABIP.
On the field, Kotchman offers a -1.6 FLD.
Overall, for the surprising Cleveland Indians, he is the only player in need of stepping up his game or being upgraded.
Through his first 17 starts of the season, Ervin Santana owns a 4-9 record with a 5.75 ERA and a 1.374 WHIP through 103.1 innings pitched. He has a 6.36 K/9, 3.36 BB/9 and a 5.53 FIP.
In what was shaping up to be the most imposing rotation in baseball, Santana was slated to be the fifth starter, and Angel fans were highly optimistic. If he can correct his poor start to the season, the Angels rotation could easily live up to the billing.
Through his first 79 games of the season, Delmon Young has 83 hits, 10 home runs, 28 runs scored, 37 RBI and zero stolen bases.
His bat has been fairly solid: .273/.300/.418/.718 with a .308 BABIP. However, his FLD is -3.8.
Young could boost his stock by being more sound in the field and upping his batting numbers, specifically by getting on base more frequently. The Tigers surely have the ability to get him across the plate more frequently.
Through his first 16 starts of the season, Jeremy Hellickson owns a 4-6 record with a 3.48 ERA and 1.376 WHIP through 93 innings pitched. He owns a 5.9 K/9, 3.77 BB/9 and a 5.45 FIP.
Though the Rays are notorious for having fantastic pitching, Hellickson has been disappointing to this point for Tampa Bay. After winning the 2011 AL Rookie of the Year, his sophomore performance has been lacking.
Through his first 16 starts, Mike Minor is 5-6 with a 5.97 ERA and a 1.424 WHIP through 92 innings pitched. He owns a 7.63 K/9, 3.91 BB/9 and a 5.42 FIP.
Looking at his FIP alone should be evidence enough of why Minor is on this list.
Through his first 17 starts this season, Hector Noesi owns a 2-11 record with a 5.77 ERA and a 1.324 WHIP through 96.2 innings. He owns a 5.59 K/9, 3.17 BB/9 and a 5.63 FIP.
Noesi owns the second worst FIP in the majors this season. Not exactly the way that the Seattle Mariners wanted him to start his career for the M's.
Through his first 14 starts, Jeremy Guthrie is 3-9 with a 6.14 ERA and a 1.659 WHIP in 88 innings pitched. He owns a 4.5 K/9, 3.07 BB/9 and a league-worst 6.10 FIP.
Guthrie has the worst ERA and FIP in the majors this season.
Through his first 82 games this season, Eric Hosmer has 71 hits, nine home runs, 36 runs scored, 39 RBI and eight stolen bases.
His batting line has been less than what Royals fans have hoped for: .227/.296/.364/.660 with a .240 BABIP.
His -5.8 FLD doesn't exactly add to the cause.
Hosmer has certainly been about half the player that Royals fans expected this season.
Through his first 72 games, Jose Tabata has 58 hits, three home runs, 32 runs scored, 11 RBI and eight stolen bases.
At bat, Tabata has been sub-par: .230/.295/.341/.636.
The Pirates could certainly use an upgrade in left if they want to make a push for the playoffs this season. That, or hope for significant upgrade in production from Tabata.
Through his first 82 games this season, Ike Davis has just 55 hits, 12 home runs, 30 runs scored, 49 RBI and zero stolen bases.
His bat has been disappointing: .203/.277/.387/.664 with a .235 BABIP. His fielding has also left something to be desired, with a FLD rating of -3.8.
Though the Mets are winning, they are doing so with a heavy reliance on talent like R.A. Dickey and David Wright, not with the sub-par play of Davis.
Through his first 83 games of the season, Jeff Francoeur has 84 hits, eight home runs, 33 runs scored, 26 RBI and one stolen base.
At the plate, he has been below average: .255/.292/.391/.683 with a .292 BABIP.
What's more disappointing than his bat has been Francoeur's poor fielding. He owns a -6.7 FLD rating.
Through his first 84 games of the season, Michael Young has 93 hits, three home runs, 39 runs scored, 35 RBI and two stolen bases.
At the plate, Young has been acceptable: .273/.305/.355/.660 with a .300 BABIP.
Young is at somewhat of a disadvantage. He is the most versatile DH in the game today, having played 35 games from that position. However, his bouncing around the infield has given him a -1.1 FLD rating.
Through his first 78 games this season, Dee Gordon has 69 hits, one home run, 36 runs scored, 35 RBI and leads all of baseball with 30 stolen bases.
At the plate, Gordon is pretty bad: .229/.280/.282/.562 with a .283 BABIP.
Gordon's saving grace is his lightning speed. It certainly isn't his defense, as he owns an awful -9.4 FLD.
Through his first 80 games this season, Justin Smoak has 62 hits, 11 home runs, 28 runs scored, 34 RBI and one stolen base.
At the plate, his bat is almost non-existent: .203/.265/.331/.596 with a .227 BABIP.
What keeps Smoak in the majors, as far as I can tell, is his fielding. He doesn't hit for power, nor does he get on base. Although, he is just 25 years old, so he does have some time to develop further.
Through his first 80 games, Brennan Boesch has 75 hits, eight home runs, 36 runs scored, 33 RBI and three stolen bases.
His bat is less than average: .246/.280/.367/.647 with a .280 BABIP.
His glove...well, it's downright terrible. He owns a -11.2 FLD.
All of these elements combined earn Boesch the less-than-honorable title of "Worst Player In Baseball."