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2017, Sidebars

Mid-Season Update, Outfield

Bryce Harper, 2017A week ago we updated the battery through the mid-year mark of June 30. On Monday we did it with the infield, and today we finish things off with the outfield. Remember that these are unadjusted WAR totals in the first half. To makes my MAPES conversion for my official statistics at the end of the year, I make some changes based mainly on Defensive Regression Analysis and a bit of a bonus for playoff innings for pitchers.

Ryan Braun

Preseason Rank: 34

2017 WAR: 0.2

Current Rank: 34

HoME Status: For the last two years it seemed like Braun was reviving his PED-aided career. I don’t normally spend much time discussing PED use, but Braun’s denials and his attacks on the innocent were particularly bothersome. I’m pleased that the first half of the season hasn’t really gotten him closer to the HoME. Despite a very strong four-year peak, he’s n

Matt Holliday

Preseason Rank: 37

2017 WAR: 1.2

Current Rank: 35, passing Jim Rice and George J. Burns

HoME Status: Of the guys who beat him in homers and batting average, almost everyone is in the HoME. Only Moises Alou isn’t going. Vladimir Guerrero is in limbo now. Holiday, of course, is much more in the Alou group than the HoMEr group. Still, there are only 16 guys ever who can top his HR, RBI, BA, and OBP. Every single one is in the HoME or going. No, Holliday shouldn’t go. And that type of stat is what’s wrong with using a bunch of one player’s stats as a cut-off. Even so, we should appreciate Holliday’s career and the nice little bounce back he seems to be having at age-37.

Carl Crawford

Preseason Rank: 41

2017 WAR: 0.0

Current Rank: 41

HoME Status: Red Sox fans, Dodger fans, and pretty much anyone born this century thinks Crawford is a dog. But when he was good, he was very good, a guy you absolutely wanted on your team. Too bad for his last two teams, the last time that occurred was 2010. No HoME for him. Why have I even listed him here?

Alex Gordon, 2017Alex Gordon

Preseason Rank: 51

2017 WAR: 0.1

Current Rank: 51

HoME Status: A corner outfielder who can’t hit is about as done as a player can get. If he weren’t still such a good defender, perhaps he should get released. He’s not going to the HoME. Of course, there’s still the matter of $44 million he’s owed.

Carlos Gonzalez

Preseason Rank: 64

2017 WAR: -0.8

Current Rank: 64

HoME Status: I don’t know exactly what to make of Gonzalez. On one hand he has the reputation of a star even though he’s had just one 5-win season. On the other, he’s doing what he’s doing right now. Was it the big RBI total and batting title when he was 24? I don’t know. He’s not coming close to the HoME though. Still, I have to chuckle when I read my own comment below. Gonzalez has been better than Gardner, yet I talk up Gardner as I downplay Gonzalez. I guess that goes to expectations.

Brett Gardner, 2017Brett Gardner

Preseason Rank: 65

2017 WAR: 2.4

Current Rank: 65, charted him to early last year

HoME Status: Yankee fans should appreciate him more. He’s been a solid player for a decade now. It seems like 2017 will be his seventh season of at least 3.3 WAR. He’s no HoMEr, but he’s a pretty important player who isn’t widely regarded as such.

Starling Marte

Preseason Rank: 68

2017 WAR: -0.4

Current Rank: 69, behind Pat Burrell, but likely a number of slots lower

HoME Status: He’s in the middle of a PED suspension, has likely already hit his peak, and has never topped 5.4 WAR. He stands very little chance. Actually, none.

Carlos Beltran

Preseason Rank: 12

2017 WAR: -0.2

Current Rank: 12

HoME Status: If this is the end of the road, and at 40 it may be, it’s been one hell of a career. One of the greatest playoff performers ever is still known for leaving his bat on his shoulder as the Mets lost to the Cards in the 2006 NLCS. He shouldn’t be. Not a single player matches him in playoff HR, SB, and BA. I hear whispers about him and the Hall. Maybe voters will get right what they’ve gotten or will get wrong on Kenny Lofton, Jim Edmonds, and Andruw Jones. Let’s hope they get it right. He’s certainly going to join those three in the HoME.

Mike Trout

Preseason Rank: 20

2017 WAR: 3.4

Current Rank: 18, passing Mike Griffin and HoMEr Willie Davis

HoME Status: Trout can’t get back from injury to resume his HoME-level career soon enough. I continue to think he’ll finish his career in fifth among center fielders, between Mantle and DiMaggio.

Andrew McCutchen, 2017Andrew McCutchen

Preseason Rank: 48

2017 WAR: 0.8

Current Rank: 46, passing Earle Combs and Devon White

HoME Status: Andrew McCutchen is a poor defensive center fielder. No, he’s terrible. Defensive Regression Analysis has him only about ten career runs worse than noted hack Bernie Williams. And Bernie played center for seven years beyond where McCutchen is now. Even if his bat comes back, as perhaps it has over the last month, the Pirates or some other team needs to find a less damaging defensive position if he’s ever going to find his way into the HoME. I was betting on him a couple of years ago. But now I’d be quite surprised if he made it.

Curtis Granderson

Preseason Rank: 50

2017 WAR: 1.2

Current Rank: 47, passing Andy Van Slyke, Earle Combs, and Devon Wite

HoME Status: There were rumblings of negativity when the Mets gave Granderson $60 million for his age 33-36 seasons, perhaps rightly so. But he’s likely to end the contract with over 11 WAR. It was worth it. Nice player, not a HoMEr.

Adam Jones

Preseason Rank: 69

2017 WAR: 1.3

Current Rank: 68, passing Chili Davis

HoME Status: Jones has had a nice run. He’s on the downward arc now, perhaps with another good year or two left in him. He’s certainly not reaching the HoME, but I’d like him to hang around the game in some capacity if he wishes. I quite enjoy the guy.

Jacoby Ellsbury

Preseason Rank: 78

2017 WAR: 1.0

Current Rank: 76, passing Dode Paskert and Benny Kauff

HoME Status: Working around injuries, Ellsbury had quite a one-year peak with the Red Sox. Assuming the Yankees buy him out in 2021, he’s now half way through his contract. And the Yankees aren’t happy with what he’s earned. We’re looking at about 8 WAR for half of $153 million. He’s not getting into the HoME.

Ichiro Suzuki, 2017Ichiro Suzuki

Preseason Rank: 23

2017 WAR: -0.7

Current Rank: 23

HoME Status: Let’s not kid ourselves. The last time Ichiro was a decent full-time player was 2010. Since then he’s added 807 or so hits, much in the same way Craig Biggio got there at the end, as a guy who didn’t really deserve many playing time. Ichiro, however, has avoid much of the criticism. It’s nice to be beloved. And for Ichiro, the 3 or so WAR the lefty has earned since 2010 has likely put him in the HoME. Bobby Abreu, Vlad Guerrero, Sam Rice, Reggie Smith, Sammy Sosa, and Ichiro are really so close together that picking or dumping any of them is really a matter of taste. And Eric likes Ichiro more than I do.

Jose Bautista

Preseason Rank: 48

2017 WAR: -0.1

Current Rank: 48

HoME Status: With the decline in full swing, Bautista is just about done. No matter. He played for four teams at 23, seemed pretty much done by 27, and became a star at 29. Nice, nice career. No HoME for him.

Shin-Soo Choo

Preseason Rank: 66

2017 WAR: 1.0

Current Rank: 64, passing Harold Baines and Juan Gonzalez

HoME Status: He has less than 5.5 WAR half of the way through a contract of seven years and $130 million. He’s 34 now, and it doesn’t seem like it should get better in the next couple of years. The Rangers are certainly disappointed, and he’s not close to HoME-level.

Nelson Cruz, 2017Nelson Cruz

Preseason Rank: 70

2017 WAR: 1.4

Current Rank: 68, passing Ken Griffey and Bobby Murcer

HoME Status: Among position players, he’s 53rd in history in WAR from ages 33-35. To me, he’s kind of Jose Bautista without the bluster. He doesn’t look like he’ll put up his fourth straight 40 homer season, but a guy who hit just 22 homers through age 27 wasn’t expecting that anyway. Even though he’s not going to the HoME, after he retires he’s going to run across his BBREF page one day, and in a quiet moment, he’ll smile.

Jason Heyward

Preseason Rank: 71

2017 WAR: 1.5

Current Rank: 71

HoME Status: On one hand, it looked like he was in the midst of reviving a stalled career in the first three months. On the other, he still doesn’t look like a good hitter. And he’s hurt. He’s been around forever, and he’s still just 27. There’s hope, but for a guy who I thought was nearly a sure thing two years ago, he has a lot of work to do. I’m no longer optimistic.

Giancarlo Stanton, 2017Giancarlo Stanton

Preseason Rank: 73

2017 WAR: 2.0

Current Rank: 72, passing John Titus

HoME Status: I remember when Stanton was going to be the best player in the game. And though he’s not and likely never will be, he really looks likely to hit 500 homers. And if a guy who’s never topped 150 games and has only twice topped 123 ever stays healthy for a sustained period, we might see him challenge 600.

Justin Upton

Preseason Rank: 76

2017 WAR: 2.7

Current Rank: 74, passing Jackie Jensen and Vic Wertz

HoME Status: I don’t know exactly what to think of Upton. He reached the majors at age 19, was a 4-win player at 21, and was a 6-win player at 23. And then he became just another guy, a guy you’d certainly want on your team, though not one you’d build around. At the age of 29, we might be seeing peak Upton again. He’s putting up what should be at least his second best season. Maybe things are looking up, but his HoME case isn’t looking good. Even with a 5-win season this year and 4, 3, 3, 3, 3, and 3 following, he’d not get much inside the top-50 in right field. Nice first decade in the bigs though.

Bryce Harper

Preseason Rank: 77

2017 WAR: 2.8

Current Rank: 77, it was premature ranking him last off-season

HoME Status: I know he’s the favorite player of a bunch of people out there, I know he has seemingly unlimited potential, and I know he’s still just 24 years old. On the other hand, the next 4-win season he has will be just his second since he was a rookie. I like his HoME chances more than virtually anyone who’s still 24, but let’s not confuse who Harper is. Through his age-24 season, Mike Trout had 48.5 WAR. If Harper doubled his career total in the second half, he’d still be behind. Manny Machado is only 102 days older than Harper, and he has more career WAR too. On the other hand, only 28 other position players ever have more WAR through their age-24 seasons than Harper has now. Give him a second half like the first, and he’d be 25th on the all-time list. The only two not in the HoME or going are Vada Pinson and Cesar Cedeno. So, yeah, in spite of my near maniacal need to compare everyone to Mike Trout, Harper is looking very, very good right now.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Full updates will be coming your way after the season.




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