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The WAR Report: Names Like Carpenter and Donaldson Mixed in With Superstars

Matt Carpenter

While not every MLB fan or pundit swears by the wins above replacement metric, it’s hard to argue that WAR doesn’t present an intriguing and comprehensive way to evaluate a player. If nothing else, by looking at a player’s WAR for the season, you get a quick sense of how they’re performing overall. In other words, you don’t have to comb through various stats, offensive and defensive, before concluding a player is ‘killing it’ in 2013.

Although you may not be a member of the “Moneyball Fan Club”, you may know that according to WAR loyalists, Mike Trout is the man. In 2012, the Angels’ outfielder put up a godlike WAR of 10 (according to Fangraphs). Yes, Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown, but since his fielding isn’t exactly Brendan Ryan like, his WAR for the year was 6.9.

While Trout is once again putting up jaw dropping numbers, and has already scored a WAR of 8.8 for the year, there are several non-superstars who are having amazing campaigns. In other words, not only are players like Chris Davis, Manny Machado and Andrew McCutchen dominating the game.

Case in point is the Athletics’ Josh Donaldson, who Fangraphs has sitting at a WAR of 5.3, which is 13th in the league (amongst positional players). That’s right, the third baseman has had a better overall season thus far than baseball demigods like Joe Mauer, Robinson Cano and Buster Posey amongst others. How many ‘Average Joes’ have even heard of Donaldson at this juncture?

The 27 year-old Donaldson has hit 19 homeruns, is batting .294 and has 77 RBIs to date. The infielder has an impressive OBP of .370, an OPS of .851, and has a fielding score of 5.9. Gold Glove third baseman for the Rangers, Adrian Beltre, has a fielding score of 1.9 this season.

In St. Louis, second baseman Matt Carpenter is having such an amazing season, he’s nearly in the top ten. That’s right, the Cardinals’ most valuable player this year hasn’t been Yadier Molina or Matt Holliday, it’s been Carpenter. The infielder’s WAR is currently 5.4 to position him 11th in MLB.

Carpenter is hitting .314, has an OBP of .383 and an OPS of .860. In addition, the 27 year-old has hit 10 homers and has batted in 66 runs. Oh, Carpenter will make around $500 grand this year. Holliday will earn about $17 million.

Although Toronto has had a rough, rough season, considering the expectations that surrounded the team when the season began, Colby Rasmus is having a great year. The centerfielder has put up a WAR of 4.0 thus far, which ranks 28th in the majors. His superstar teammate, Jose Bautista, is at 27th with a WAR of 4.1 (Edwin Encarnacion, who is also having a good season, has a WAR of 3.8).

Rasmus is hitting .273, has an OBP of .335 and an OPS of .812. The 27 year-old has slammed 18 dingers and batted in 60 runs. His campaign has also been impressive due to his strong fielding skills, which have earned him a 9.4 score thus far. It’s been quite the rebound year for Rasmus, whose WAR in 2012 was just 1.1. Mr. Rasmus, who will make over $4.5 million this year, has one more year of arbitration before hitting free agency.