Advanced statistics continue to be controversial topic for Major League Baseball fans, analysts, and management alike. Is it possible to define a player’s contribution with numbers alone? That would seem to be a stretch.
Among the many advanced stats, wins against replacement (WAR) is one of the most cited and discussed of the bunch. By calculating a player’s value considering what the team would get from a replacement player (say, from AAA), WAR aims to reflect the overall contribution of a ballplayer from offensive and defensive standpoints. For this reason, WAR leaders like Atlanta’s Jason Heyward may surprise some people by how high they rank (it’s his defense). On the contrary, all-time WAR leaders Babe Ruth (1), Cy Young (2), and Barry Bonds (4) quell doubts about the statistic’s validity.
For offensive WAR, only hitting and baserunning factor into the equation, which makes for a list with fewer surprises. Home runs, steals, doubles in the gap, and anything else that leads to runs scored all count the way they should. Here are the top ten MLB players on offense in 2014 according to WAR.
Stats are current as of August 15, 2014.
10. Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers
As he is Milwaukee’s primary catcher and all-around most consistent player, it won’t surprise many to find Jonathan Lucroy among the top-rated players in the game. Stats alone suggest his offensive contribution (4.26 WAR) is the stronger side of his game. Lucroy may not hit 30 dingers, but he is not making outs like other players do. Lucroy’s batting average (.303), one-base percentage (.369), and slugging percentage (.483) are all exceptional. Even more impressive, he has racked up 38 doubles while striking out just 54 times versus 46 walks in 2014. His ability to put the ball in play is incredibly valuable.