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FanGraphs Top Five Rangers

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Every series, I do a quick snapshot of the top five players on each team at FanGraphs.com, but I don't do the same list for the Rangers.

I figure that might be something folks who don't go to FanGraphs or other similar sites every day might be interested in, so I'm going to start doing the same list every Monday as it pertains to the Rangers.

  1. Josh Hamilton, LF: 515 PA, .357/.409/.630, 5/5.8 DRS/UZR, .445 wOBA, 7.0 WAR
  2. Nelson Cruz, RF: 318 PA, .320/.381/.587, 12/8.2 DRS/UZR, .412 wOBA, 3.8 WAR
  3. Colby Lewis, SP: 155 IP, 8.94 K/9, 2.90 BB/9, 3.37 ERA, 3.41 tERA, 3.43 FIP, 3.86 xFIP, 3.7 WAR
  4. C.J. Wilson, SP: 158 IP, 7.29 K/9, 4.04 BB/9, 3.02 ERA, 3.71 tERA, 3.65 FIP, 4.29 xFIP, 3.3 WAR
  5. Michael Young, 3B: 548 PA, .289/.341/.473, -11/-5.7 DRS/UZR, .351 wOBA, 2.6 WAR

If you didn't know already, Josh Hamilton leads all of baseball. By a lot.

The four win level is usually roughly considered All-Star caliber (a player with that many usually would belong on an All-Star roster assembled at the end of the season), and it's very impressive Nelson Cruz has already gotten to that point in only 77 games. If he could only have stayed healthy enough to get the same number of PAs as Hamilton, he'd have 6.2 wins, which would rank third in baseball behind only Hamilton and Roy Halladay (who gets to face NL lineups). And if you remember how rusty he looked after his second DL stint, it makes you wonder if the only person who could have challenged Hamitlon as the best player in baseball this season would have been a healthy Nelson Cruz. But, while it's a what-if season from Nelly in the regular season, certainly it's encouraging for just how good this team can be if it's healthy in October.

On a related note, Ian Kinsler would be at around 3.3 with 515 PAs on his pace this season, and Cliff Lee has a 6.0 FanGraphs WAR this season in total, 2.0 with the Rangers.

Colby Lewis really needs to start getting some love. He is an absolutely fantastic pitcher who would be the best on most teams and is having a very, very good season. And while it looked like C.J. Wilson might be tailing off at one point in the season, he's surged to get pretty close and he, too, has pitched like a borderline No. 1 in 2010. Think about that for the post-season rotation: the Rangers' third best pitcher has thrown like a quality No. 2 at worst.

At one point, it looked like Michael Young might be having the best season of his career. While his slump has probably ended that chance, he's still having another good year.

Explanations

If you're not use to seeing any of the stats there, this list ranks each player by their total Wins Above Replacement as a Ranger this season. This is, essentially, a value estimate that attempts to look at how many wins better, in average situations, a player makes his team over his playing time than a replacement-level scrub would have. To picture a replacement-level guy, think of someone like Joaquin Arias, but a little better.

There are many versions of WAR floating around the internet. This uses the FanGraphs version, mostly because it's easy to sort and the most oft-cited version. Overall, they're very similar, though may be wildly different on some individual players. The differences tend to be, for hitters, what form of fielding estimation they use (FanGraphs uses UZR, Baseball-Reference uses TotalZone) and, for pitchers, how much credit they give pitchers for controlling balls in play (FanGraphs only holds home runs against pitchers).

The slash stats are simply AVG/OBP/SLG. DRS is Defensive Runs Saved and UZR is Ultimate Zone Rating, these are two fielding metrics using different methodology available at FanGraphs, put in terms of runs saved above average. WOBA is weighted On Base Average, which is essentially a more properly-weighted evolution of OPS on a batting average scale.

For the pitchers, the run from ERA to xFIP is basically changing the amount of credit given to pitchers for balls in play. TERA estimates the likely ERA with batted ball rates (i.e. line drives, fly balls) regressed towards how often they'll usually go for hits. FIP only looks at walks, strikeouts and homeruns, while xFIP removes home runs and looks at the average rate that fly balls tun in to homeruns.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.