Friday, July 20, 2018

2017-2018 MLB Wraparound Season

I am a sports junkie (probably even more so than a movie junkie).  I love watching sports, playing sports, and pretty much anything to do with sports.  My favorite might be stats.  I am a numbers guy, and I find all the stats fascinating.  This is one of the many reasons baseball season is possibly my favorite season as it is more stats-driven than any other sport.  The MLB All Star Break is one of my favorite parts of the summer.  It not only allows for baseball to take the sole sports spotlight for one of the only times in the year, but it also gives me the chance to do my yearly baseball stats deep dive.

Who have been the best baseball players over the last 12 months?  I call this the wraparound season.  I tabulate the stats from after the All Star Break last year and combine them with the stats from the first half of this season.  This helps see who might be key contributors in the upcoming playoff push.  It also might show who has been overworked and might fall off production down the stretch run.  I gathered stats for all hitters in the top 50 in hits, doubles, home runs, RBI's, and runs from last year's second half and this year's first half.  I did the same with pitchers, with the top 50 in wins, innings pitched, strikeouts, and the top 30 in saves.  Before we look at the 2017-2018 Wraparound Season, let's look back at who stood out in the 2016-2017 Wraparound Season.

Underrated Hitters
1.  Jose Ramirez - CLE
2.  Ender Inciarte - ATL
3.  Jedd Gyorko - STL
4.  Charlie Blackmon - COL
5.  Jose Abreu - CWS

Underrated Pitchers
1.  Ivan Nova - PIT
2.  Dan Straily - CIN / MIA
3.  Sean Manaea - OAK
4.  Ervin Santana - MIN
5.  Robbie Ray - ARZ

AL Wraparound MVP
1.  Jose Ramirez - CLE
2.  Jose Altuve - HOU
3.  Mike Trout - LAA
4.  Aaron Judge - NYY
5.  Nelson Cruz - SEA

NL Wraparound MVP
1.  Joey Votto - CIN
2.  Freddie Freeman - ATL
3.  Charlie Blackmon - COL
4.  Nolan Arenado - COL
5.  Daniel Murphy - WAS

AL Wraparound Cy Young
1.  Corey Kluber - CLE
2.  Chris Sale - BOS
3.  Justin Verlander - DET / HOU
4.  Chris Archer - TB
5.  Ervin Santana - MIN

NL Wraparound Cy Young
1.  Max Scherzer - WAS
2.  Clayton Kershaw - LAD
3.  Carlos Martinez - STL
4.  Kyle Hendricks - CHC
5.  Ivan Nova - PIT

Top Relievers
1.  Kenley Jansen - LAD
2.  Andrew Miller - NYY / CLE
3.  Craig Kimbrel - BOS
4.  Aroldis Chapman - NYY
5.  Wade Davis - KC / CHC

Of the 25 players to make the top lists last year, 13 made the lists this year.  Of the 10 players listed as underrated last year, two of them made a top list this year.

Batting Average

Jose Altuve – HOU .336
Mookie Betts – BOS .309
Adrian Beltre – TEX .306
Yuli Gurriel – HOU .306
Manny Machado – BAL .304

Avisail Garcia – CWS .328
J.D. Martinez – DET / ARZ / BOS .319
Matt Duffy – TB .317
Lorenzo Cain – KC / MIL .310

Nolan Arenado – COL .315
Charlie Blackmon – COL .314
Jose Martinez – STL .308
Scooter Gennett – CIN .307
Joey Votto – CIN .305

J.D. Martinez – DET / ARZ / BOS .319
Lorenzo Cain – KC / MIL .310

First, the list under each top 5 are players that would be on the list if they qualified.  Two things can disqualify you for these lists.  First, you need to have over 400 at bats to be considered.  Hitters like Avisail Garcia and Matt Duffy don't have enough AB's.  Second, you have to have played the last 12 months in one league.  So J.D. Martinez and Lorenzo Cain will not qualify for any list.  Jose Altuve topped the AL list last year as well, which is just more proof he is the best pure hitter int he game today (especially looking at how much better he is than everyone else).  Beltre continues to be a top hitter in the twilight of his career.  Machado, although now a Dodger, finished his time as an Oriole in pretty strong style.

In the NL, there are a lot of Rockies and, surprisingly, Reds on this list.  Arenado and Blackmon are showing they should be considered some of the top hitters in the league.  Jose Martinez is a surprise, showing the Cardinals have a good young core to build around.  Votto topped this list last year, but it is good to see a guy like Gennett hitting as well as he is.  Overall, all of these averages are down from last year.

Home Runs

Aaron Judge – NYY 47
Francisco Lindor – CLE 44
Nelson Cruz – SEA 44
Mike Trout – LAA 42
Edwin Encarnacion – CLE 42
Joey Gallo – TEX 42

J.D. Martinez – DET / ARZ / BOS 60
Giancarlo Stanton – MIA / NYY 56

Nolan Arenado – COL 43
Paul Goldschmidt – ARZ 37
Charlie Blackmon – COL 36
Kyle Schwarber – CHC 35
Trevor Story – COL 33
Eugenio Suarez – CIN 33

J.D. Martinez – DET / ARZ / BOS 60
Giancarlo Stanton – MIA / NYY 56

The most noticeable thing with these lists is the two best home run hitters of the last 12 months don't qualify because they spent time in both leagues.  J.D. Martinez followed up his crazy finish last year with the Diamondbacks with a great first half this year in Boston.  Giancarlo Stanton had an okay start in the Bronx, but he hit 33 second half home runs with the Marlins last year.  That alone puts him on the NL list.  Judge has shown no sophomore slump.  Lindor is not a name you consider a top home run guy, but he has shown some awesome power the last 12 months.  Names like Cruz, Encarnacion, and Gallo you expect to see.  Trout has been a beast as always.

Three of the six on this list are Rockies, showing they have possibly the best offense in the league.  Goldschmidt is still a premier hitter in the NL.  Schwarber has shown what he can do when he is healthy and in the lineup every day.  Suarez makes it three Reds that have made lists.  How are they so bad?  Oh yeah, they can't pitch (even though their manager was a pitching coach ... no wonder he got fired).


Edwin Encarnacion – CLE 124
Khris Davis – OAK 114
Manny Machado – BAL 113
Eddie Rosario – MIN 112
Nicholas Castellanos – DET 111

J.D. Martinez – DET / ARZ / BOS 152
Giancarlo Stanton – MIA / NYY 129

Nolan Arenado – COL 128
Trevor Story – COL 115
Javy Baez – CHC 114
Anthony Rizzo – CHC 114
Scooter Gennett – CIN 113

J.D. Martinez – DET / ARZ / BOS 152
Giancarlo Stanton – MIA / NYY 129

Once again, Martinez and Stanton would be the class of both leagues (and by a decent margin).  There are some names you are not used to seeing on this list.  Encarnacion and Machado you expect to see, but Khris Davis has quietly been one of the most productive power hitters of the last few years in Oakland.  Rosario helped lead the Twins to their playoff berth last year.  I am surprised more people aren't talking about trading for Castellanos at the Trade Deadline.  Recently moving from third base to right field, he can play either position and is a very productive bat.

If you are keeping track, this makes a Wraparound Triple Crown for Nolan Arenado.  Also, once again, a teammate takes second.  Two Cubs are tied for third.  It might be a surprise one of them is Baez.  Also, once again there is a Red popping up.


Mike Trout – LAA 1.022
Jose Ramirez – CLE .980
Mookie Betts – BOS .955
Aaron Judge – NYY .938
Francisco Lindor – CLE .924

J.D. Martinez – DET / ARZ / BOS 1.073
Giancarlo Stanton – MIA / NYY .958

Nolan Arenado – COL 1.004
Charlie Blackmon – COL .936
Eugenio Suarez – CIN .921
Paul Goldschmidt – ARZ .915
Joey Votto – CIN .913

J.D. Martinez – DET / ARZ / BOS 1.073
Max Muncy – LAD 1.012
Giancarlo Stanton – MIA / NYY .958
Jesus Aguilar – MIL .918

As OPS is one of the stats that shows the true value of a hitter, it is not surprising when you see the list of names on the AL list (including Martinez and Stanton once again).  Trout, Ramirez (last year's Wraparound AL MVP), Betts, Judge, and Lindor are considered three of the top hitters playing right now, and this shows why.

Considering Arenado has a Triple Crown over this stretch, it is no surprise he tops the AL list in OPS.  Once again, a teammate is second.  Still, no one gives Charlie Blackmon enough credit for just how good he is.  Suarez and Votto show up again to remind us just how good Cincinnati could be.  Goldschmidt is expected to be on a list like this, and it is good to see he doesn't disappoint.  Muncy and Aguilar have had amazing first halves of 2018, but they don't have enough at bats to qualify for the full season stats.


Corey Kluber – CLE 23
Luis Severino – NYY 23
Carlos Carrasco – CLE 19
Charlie Morton – HOU 19
Justin Verlander – DET / HOU 19

Jon Lester – CHC 20
Aaron Nola – PHI 18
Max Scherzer – WAS 18
Zach Godley – ARZ 16
Jon Gray – COL 16
Zack Greinke – ARZ 16

Most stat guys in baseball call the win a useless stat in today's game.  I wouldn't quite go that far.  If your team wins when you take the mound, there is value there.  Looking at the names on these lists, they are exactly who you would expect to see as the top pitchers in the league (especially the AL list).  Kluber and Severino hit a total that hasn't been hit in an actual season since 2011.  Carrasco shows the strength of the Indians' starting rotation just like Morton and Verlander show the same about the Astros.  This is an impressive list, especially considering Kluber, Carrasco, and Dylan Bundy topped last year's list with 18.

Lester is the only NL pitcher to hit the 20 win mark.  Scherzer and Greinke show they are still elite.  Nola, Gray, and Godley show they are young aces in the making.

ERA (150 IP minimum)

Justin Verlander – DET / HOU 2.15
Luis Severino – NYY 2.30
Corey Kluber – CLE 2.32
Trevor Bauer – CLE 2.54
Chris Sale – BOS 2.59

Jacob deGrom – NYM 2.40
Max Scherzer – WAS 2.70
Aaron Nola – PHI 2.78
Jake Arrieta – CHC / PHI 2.86
Kyle Hendricks – CHC 3.20

Gerrit Cole – PIT / HOU 3.18

Two things strike me about these lists.  First, this shows pretty clearly that the AL has the best pitchers.  Only one of the NL pitchers would even crack the AL top 5.  Considering the AL also had the top stats when it came to hitting, and that AL lineups are harder to navigate with a DH instead of a pitcher, this is really impressive.  The second thing I noticed is how hard it was to find pitchers that pitched 150 innings.  With the emergence of super bullpens, this is getting harder and harder for starters to do.  Verlander has been insane, with Severino and Kluber showing their win totals aren't a fluke.  Bauer shows again that Cleveland's rotation is ridiculous.  Sale shows that he earned his All Star Game start.

Jacob deGrom has been a great pitcher on a bad team, being this year's best Met pitcher.  Scherzer, Arrieta and Hendricks show they are still among the league's best.  Once again, there is Aaron Nola popping up.  He has been awesome.

Overall ERA

Lou Trivino – OAK 1.22
Craig Kimbrel – BOS 1.75
Aroldis Chapman – NYY 2.07
David Robertson – CWS / NYY 2.12
Justin Verlander – DET / HOU 2.15

Blake Treinan – WAS / OAK 1.47
Sean Doolittle – OAK / WAS 1.84

Brandon Morrow – LAD / CHC 1.79
Trevor Rosenthal – STL 1.88
Kenley Jansen – LAD 2.10
Stephen Strasburg – WAS 2.32
Jacob deGrom – NYM 2.40

Blake Treinan – WAS / OAK 1.47
Sean Doolittle – OAK / WAS 1.84

Tops on this list for the AL is a recent call-up for the A's that has gotten off to a great start.  Next you have top closers Kimbrel and Chapman.  Robertson was the closer for the White Sox and is now part of the crazy bullpen for the Yankees.  It is always impressive when a starter makes this list, and Verlander has done it.

Morrow made an easy transition from Dodgers setup man to Cubs closer.  Rosenthal hasn't actually pitched this year after having Tommy John surgery.  He will be an interesting free agent next offseason.  Jansen is expected to be near the top of this list every year.  Strasburg had an insane finish to last year, but injuries have kept him below the innings limit.  Again, deGrom deserves better.  Ineligible for either list are Doolittle and Treinan, who were actually traded for each other last year.


Chris Sale – BOS 318
Justin Verlander – DET / HOU 293
Corey Kluber – CLE 274
Trevor Bauer – CLE 268
Luis Severino – NYY 250

Gerrit Cole – PIT / HOU 279

Max Scherzer – WAS 277
Jacob deGrom – NYM 258
Aaron Nola – PHI 234
Patrick Corbin – ARZ 232
Jon Gray – COL 213

Gerrit Cole – PIT / HOU 279

Sale and Scherzer topped these lists last year, and topped them again this year.  Sale was able to reach that magical 300 strikeout total with Verlander coming very close.  Just like every NL hitting list needs at least two Rockies, each AL pitching list needs two Indians.  Severino rounds out the list, showing he is an emerging young ace for the Yanks.  Gerrit Cole has become the latest pitcher to show a career resurrection since joining the Astros.

After Mad Max, we see some familiar names.  Nola and deGrom keep popping up over and over.  Corbin shows the Diamondbacks have a strong rotation as well.  Gray, once he finds some consistency, will be a household name with the rest of these pitchers.

Innings Pitched

Corey Kluber – CLE 244
Justin Verlander – DET / HOU 238 2/3
Trevor Bauer – CLE 220
Chris Sale – BOS 215 2/3
Luis Severino – NYY 215

Gerrit Cole – PIT / HOU 223 2/3

Aaron Nola – PHI 216 2/3
Jacob deGrom – NYM 213 2/3
Clayton Richard – SD 211 1/3
Patrick Corbin – ARZ 210 2/3
Zack Greinke – ARZ 207 2/3

Gerrit Cole – PIT / HOU 223 2/3

This is always an interesting list to me.  It shows which pitchers might be overworked and due for a slump or an injury in the second half of this season.  Of the five on this list last year, only two have returned to the list (Verlander, Sale).  Kluber is a machine (Klu-bot), but 244 innings is a lot, especially considering this doesn't include the last two playoff runs.  Verlander is always on this list, and seems to one immune to breaking down under a heavy workload.  Bauer is such a strange and unusual modern pitcher.  I don't see him breaking down either.  Sale is such a skinny guy with a strange delivery.  He could be Randy Johnson and never break down, or he could be due for some problems.  I am worried about Severino.  He is such a young player, and 215 innings is a lot (again, not counting playoffs last year).

Of the 6 players on last year's list, none have returned to the list.  Nola is a surprise at the top, showing again that he has been the Phillies' workhorse.  It might be deGrom's turn to have arm issues, as every one of the Mets aces has had those issues.  Richard has quietly been a steady pitcher for the Padres the last few seasons.  Then we have the top two Diamondbacks pitchers.  It makes sense for these totals to be so much less than the AL totals since they have to worry about hitting and pinch hitters.


Edwin Diaz – SEA 57
Craig Kimbrel – BOS 42
Aroldis Chapman – NYY 40
Alex Colome – TB / SEA 34
Cody Allen – CLE 34

Sean Doolittle – OAK / WAS 43
Fernando Rodney – MIA / ARZ / MIN 38
Blake Treinan – WAS / OAK 37

Kenley Jansen – LAD 47
Brad Hand – SD 43
Wade Davis – CHC / COL 43
Felipe Vazquez – PIT 38
Corey Knebel – MIL 36

Sean Doolittle – OAK / WAS 43
Fernando Rodney – MIA / ARZ / MIN 38
Blake Treinan – WAS / OAK 37

By far, the leader in saves the last 12 months has been Diaz, who almost set the record for most saves before the All Star Break.  This has been greatly helped by all the close games the Mariners have played.  Kimbrel and Chapman are thought to be the old standards you expect to see on this list every year.  Colome was a top closer before he was traded to Seattle to be Diaz's setup man.  Allen has been the back end of a great bullpen for quite some time.  Not eligible are the trade brother in Doolittle and Treinan as well as the Fernando Rodney Experience.

If you were to pick one closer you want on the mound in the 9th of a must-win game, I think Jansen might be the most popular pick.  The second best NL closer over the last 12 months, Brad Hand, is now the second best lefty specialist in the Indians' bullpen.  It feels like everyone always forgets how good Wade Davis is.  One of the few bright spots for the Pirates has been their closer Vazquez.  Knebel is the great closer at the end of a great bullpen in Milwaukee.

Underrated Hitters

Scooter Gennett – CIN
Eugenio Suarez – CIN
Whit Merrifield – KC
Nicholas Castellanos – DET
Javy Baez – CHC

One of my favorite parts of this exercise is finding the guys whose stats far outweigh their current reputation.  After hitting a huge game-tying home run in the All Star Game, more people will now know Scooter Gennett's name.  Eugenio Suarez has been possibly a top 5 third basemen over the last 12 months.  Whit Merrifield should be a top trade option for many teams over the next few weeks.  I already talked about Castellanos and how he has flown under the radar.  Some might be surprised to see Javy Baez on this list, but I think he has been more known for his antics and his defense.  It is easy to miss how good he has become at the plate.

Underrated Pitchers

Aaron Nola – PHI
Trevor Bauer – CLE
James Paxton – SEA
Carlos Carrasco – CLE
Blake Snell – TB

On almost every list, Aaron Nola was there.  He is one of the best pitchers in the league, and if the Phillies make the playoffs, he will be known for what he is.  Trevor Bauer has been a key member of the Indians rotation, but it is easy to be overshadowed by Kluber.  This might just be because I am a Mariners fan, but I feel like all things Mariners are underrated.  James Paxton is an ace whose stats show he should be in the conversation with the top pitchers in the league.  If Bauer is overshadowed by Kluber, Carlos Carrasco is overshadowed by both.  Blake Snell has been one of the most dominant pitchers in the league, but he was even underrated by his fellow players, taking an injury to get him on the All Star Team this year.

The Ineligibles

J.D. Martinez – DET / ARZ / BOS
Giancarlo Stanton – MIA / NYY
Gerrit Cole – PIT / HOU

Before I get into the MVP's and Cy Young winners for the Wraparound Season, I have to mention a couple ineligibles.  J.D. Martinez has been the best hitter over the last 12 months, and it isn't even close.  Regardless of league, he tops almost every statistical category.  Giancarlo Stanton ended his time in Miami with one of the greatest second halves in MLB history.  It could be said his time in the Bronx so far has been disappointing, but when you are comparing it to 2017 (and his teammate Aaron Judge), it is really hard to exceed expectations.  Gerrit Cole seems to finally be turning into the ace everyone hoped he would be when he was a #1 pick in the draft.  It is like the Astros of the 2010's are like the Braves of the 1990's.  They make pitchers great.

AL Wraparound MVP

Mike Trout – LAA
Jose Ramirez – CLE
Mookie Betts – BOS
Francisco Lindor – CLE
Aaron Judge – NYY

For awhile, I thought Mike Trout's legacy was a result of the WAR era.  WAR was built for players like Trout.  However, he is a top hitter in the league, a top defender in the league.  He is the best player out there.  I am starting to agree with those that say he could go down as a top 5 player of all time.  Jose Ramirez topped my underrated player list last year, and now everyone is realizing how good he is.  Mookie Betts gets all the notoriety, but has definitely earned it with an outstanding first half.  Francisco Lindor might end up being the best of all the great young shortstops in the league right now.  Then there is Aaron Judge.  I keep waiting for something to show that he is too good to be true, but nothing has come up yet.

NL Wraparound MVP

Nolan Arenado – COL
Charlie Blackmon – COL
Paul Goldschmidt – ARZ
Freddie Freeman – ATL
Joey Votto – CIN

I think a Triple Crown is reason enough to get the MVP.  Nolan Arenado still needs to be given the credit he deserves for how good he has been.  The same could be said for Charlie Blackmon.  These two teammates (Trevor Story could be part of the conversation too) make the Rockies a team no one wants to face in the playoffs.  Paul Goldschmidt might be the most overlooked superstar of the last decade.  Freddie Freeman has been the leader of possibly the biggest surprise team of this season.  No list of the NL's best hitters is complete without Joey Votto.

AL Wraparound Cy Young

Justin Verlander – DET / HOU
Corey Kluber – CLE
Chris Sale – BOS
Luis Severino – NYY
Trevor Bauer – CLE

This list was the easiest to make as these five pitchers topped almost every single statistical category I tabulated.  Justin Verlander has found his form again and is cementing his case as a no-doubt Hall of Famer.  Corey Kluber anchors one of the best pitching staffs in the league.  Chris Sale is a freak that is one of only three pitchers to start three straight All Star Games on the mound.  Luis Severino might be the best young pitcher to come along in some time.  Trevor Bauer, again, deserves more credit than he gets.  By the way, the top three on this list is the same as last year.  Different order, but the same.

NL Wraparound Cy Young

Max Scherzer – WAS
Jacob deGrom – NYM
Aaron Nola – PHI
Patrick Corbin – ARZ
Zack Greinke – ARZ

One of the most significant parts of this list is who is missing.  Clayton Kershaw, thought to be one of the best pitchers of his generation, has been so injured and banged up over the last 12 months that he didn't even make my list of the top 156 pitchers statistically of the last 12 months.  Max Scherzer was number one last year, and is number one again.  Like Verlander, he seems to only get better.  There is a reason so many teams want Jacob deGrom this Trade Deadline.  He is really really good.  (On a side note, also missing the top 156 was deGrom teammate Noah Syndergaard.)  Aaron Nola will soon have the reputation that matches his skill.  Patrick Corbin and Zack Greinke show why the Diamondbacks made the playoffs last year and are in position to do it again this year.  They have put together a great starting rotation.

Top Relievers

Edwin Diaz – SEA
Kenley Jansen – LAD
Craig Kimbrel – BOS
Sean Doolittle – OAK / WAS
Brad Hand – SD

Although he joined the long list of closers to blow a save at the All Star Game, it is hard to deny the dominance of Edwin Diaz over the last 12 months.  Kenley Jansen and Craig Kimbrel might be the most trusted arms in each league because they have shown they can do it year after year.  Sean Doolittle has been filthy for several years now.  Being in DC might actually get him some recognition for it.  The Indians picking up Brad Hand has the potential to have just as much impact on the playoffs (maybe more) as the Dodgers picking up Machado.

To see all the stats gathered for the Wraparound Season, click the link below: