With the Braves doing, frankly, very little this offseason, and the other 3 NL East contenders making wholesale changes to their roster, I decided to take a different approach to projecting each team. Instead of doing overall unit comparisons (offense, defense, pitching, etc.) or going position-by-position, I decided to compare to the top 5 position players, bottom 3 position payers, and best bench bat of each NL East contender. That way defense and games played are taken into consideration, and things like lineup placement and an over-emphasis on their triple slash is minimized. Simply put, how does the core of the team, the bottom of the team, and at least the best bench player stack up?
Top 5 Position Player fWAR (with projections for anomalies):
Braves – Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr., Josh Donaldson, Ozzie Albies, and Johan Camargo: 19.2
Nationals – Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner, Juan Soto, Adam Eaton, Victor Robles: 19.7
Phillies – Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Jean Segura and Andrew McCutchen: 18.1
Mets – Robinson Cano, Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Jed Lowrie: 16.7
-I projected Bryce to be a 4 fWAR player next year, slightly higher than last year’s fWAR.
-Sue me. I gave Josh Donaldson and Ozzie Albies a cumulative projection of 7 fWAR. 4.0 & 3.0, 3.5 & 3.5, however you want to slice it. Ozzie was a 3.8 fWAR last year, and we know what Donaldson can do if healthy.
-I gave Victor Robles a 3 fWAR projection. If he doesn’t hit it, maybe Adam Eaton will actually stay healthy and put in a solid season for once in his Nats tenure. There’s so much that can happen with Washington. Rendon could come down from his 6.3 fWAR season. Soto could take off (though so could Acuna) even higher from his 3.7 fWAR season. Robles could fall flat and Eaton could continue to avoid the field.
-Everyone else’s 2018 fWAR was used.
Bottom 3 Position Player fWAR:
Braves – Catching Unit, Dansby Swanson, Ender Inciarte: 6.8
Nationals – Ryan Zimmerman, Catching Unit, Brian Dozier: 8
Phillies – Odubel Herrera, Scott Kingery, Cesar Hernandez: 5.1
Mets – Yoenis Cespedes, Amed Rosario, Wilson Ramos: 5.9
-I gave the Braves catching unit 2 fWAR, which is only .3 higher than their actual 2018 totals. Because Camargo is one of the top 5 hitters on the team, I chose to omit Nick Markakis and his 2.6 fWAR. I didn’t want to seem like I was cherry-picking with rose-colored glasses. Plus, he’s the highest risk from the entire division to not repeat their 2018 total, unless you think McCutcheon will age swiftly and poorly, which is a fair assumption.
-I gave Zimmerman 3 WAR because if he doesn’t hit or stay on the field, lefty Matt Adams will contribute. Dozier put up 11.2 fWAR in 2016-2017, but put up a 0.8 fWAR last year. He’s 32. I gave him 2 fWAR. I gave the catching unit (Matt Wieters and Kurt Suzuki) 3 fWAR.
-I gave Yoenis Cespedes a bump and projected him to 2 fWAR. He hasn’t been healthy the last two seasons, so he’s had 2.5 fWAR the last two years.
Best Bench Bat:
Braves: Complicated, but for this purpose, it’s Nick Markakis since Camargo undoubtedly will get more PAs than Kakes, especially if Camargo works his way into the outfield.
Nationals: Complicated, but either Matt Adams if Zimmerman plays well or Michael Taylor (career .688 OPS)
Phillies: Maikel Franco
Mets: Todd Frazier
So the Nationals finish ahead if you take the fWAR of their “top” 8 hitters. But Camargo/Markakis makes things complicated for this study. If you took the “top” 9 hitters, they’re really about neck-and-neck. The Phillies made big splashes with their additions, but the back half fo their lineup and best bat off the bench lags behind. The Mets have a deeper lineup than the Phillies, and if you factor Frazier into the equation, they match up fairly closely to Philly.
And you also have to decide which manager will use their position players the best. Calloway, Martinez, and Kapler have yet to manage a winner. Snit has done so, but does he have the in-game skills that the more analytical managers are rumored to possess?
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