David Schoenfield of ESPN wrote a solid piece on the relationship between star players and qualifying for the playoffs.
The main statistic Schoenfield uses in crafting his argument is wins above replacement (WAR). Here are some WAR basics, straight from the article:
“Baseball-Reference suggests a rough guideline that a 5-win player is an All-Star and an 8-win player is MVP-level. An average starter is about a 2-win player.”
Two teams that made the postseason in 2012 without much star power: the Baltimore Orioles and the Oakland Athletics. For the O’s, Adam Jones possessed the highest WAR at 3.4. Josh Reddick had the highest for the A’s at 4.5. Neither team was built with true superstars. Both teams were feel-good stories throughout the season, and any Bucco fan wishes the Pirates could have been in Baltimore’s or Oakland’s position.
That being said, how did the Bucs compare to those two ball clubs in terms of WAR? Here’s a look:
|Andrew McCutchen (7.0)||Adam Jones (3.4)||Josh Reddick (4.5)|
|Pedro Alvarez (2.6)||Matt Wieters (3.2)||Jarrod Parker (3.8)|
|Neil Walker (2.5)||J.J. Hardy (3.0)||Yoenis Cespedes (3.4)|
|A.J. Burnett (1.9)||Miguel Gonzalez (2.9)||Coco Crisp (2.7)|
|Michael McKenry (1.7)||Jason Hammel (2.8)||Bartolo Colon (2.6)|
While Andrew McCutchen was way ahead of the pack, the Bucs had a huge drop-off after their star center fielder. The Orioles and A’s both had a consistent three-WAR players that led them to October. Here is Schoenfield’s conclusion:
This should give Pirates fans some hope. Although a playoff berth or .500 season are far from guaranteed, the Orioles and A’s are proof that anything can happen. Even though it’s difficult for the Bucs to acquire great talent and match up with huge payrolls, they can still compete with a few solid players in the mix. If McCutchen can produce another MVP-caliber season and a couple of players breakthrough with convincing campaigns, the Pirates can easily hang with the best in the league.
Photo: Keith Allison/Creative Commons