Calcaterra wrote this morning about how Matt Kemp’s run at the Triple Crown has somehow flown under the radar and should make him the NL MVP favorite assuming voters don’t penalize him for having bad (non-Clayton Kershaw) teammates.
I’m in complete agreement, but wanted to note that Kemp also fares extremely well in less traditional numbers like Wins Above Replacement (WAR), which attempts to quantify his overall contributions to the Dodgers offensively and defensively.
First of all, Kemp leads baseball in WAR (the Baseball-Reference.com version) this season:
MATT KEMP 9.6
Jose Bautista 8.5
Justin Verlander 8.5
Clayton Kershaw 7.4
Cliff Lee 7.3
Ryan Braun 7.2
Jacoby Ellsbury 7.1
Roy Halladay 7.0
Beyond that, Kemp has a chance to become the first player to reach 10.0 Wins Above Replacement in a season since Barry Bonds had 12.4 WAR in 2004. In fact, Albert Pujols (2008, 2009) and Alex Rodriguez (2007) are the only players to top 9.0 WAR since then.
Incidentally, from 2001-2004 Bonds had the following WAR totals: 12.5, 12.2, 10.3, 12.4.
Not all players coming in to spring training are in The Best Shapes of Their Lives. Some have put on a few pounds, such as Miguel Sano, notes Twins GM Thad Levine:
Sano has been given medical clearance to engage in all baseball workouts with his teammates, his surgically reinforced left shin now completely healed, though the Twins intend to lighten his schedule to prevent any new injuries.
They’d like to lighten something else, too: His “generous carriage,” as General Manager Thad Levine delicately put it last week. Sano’s conditioning understandably lags, after a winter largely spent incapacitated by the surgery.
Sano’s conditioning has often been a topic of conversation among the members of the Minnesota press corps, though not always in good faith. For example, last year when Sano injured his shin by fouling a ball off of it, one member of the The Fourth Estate found a way to make a column out of blaming the freak injury on Sano’s conditioning. At least in this instance his colleague is correctly noting that the poor conditioning is a result of the injury and not the cause.
Still, it’s just another issue facing Sano this spring. He’s out of shape, coming off of an injury, and — not that he’s due any sympathy for it — he’s facing a likely suspension arising out of the allegations of sexual assault leveled against him late last year.
So this spring we’ll be seeing more of Sano, it seems. At least until that time we’ll be seeing less of him.