Open Thread: Who have been the most valuable Yankees?

Tonight's game rained out
McAllister dominates, but Montero leaves game after collision

The Yankees’ season is one-third of the way over, and the team is currently 32-22, tied with the Red Sox for the best record in the American League. I figured now is as good a time as any to see which players have been the most valuable to the team. I know I’ve been shoving the wonderful wins above replacement (WAR) stat down your throats the past few days but, as I just said, it is wonderful. It factors in defense, position, the whole nine, and frankly it’s the best all-encompassing stat we have right now.

As a team, the Yanks’ position players have racked up 12.8 WAR, the second best total in baseball behind the Rays (14.1). The pitchers, however, come in at just 3.3 WAR, 23rd best in the game. The pitching staff has started to come around in the past few weeks, so when we check back in at the two-thirds point of the season, I expect them to rank higher.

Let’s start with the players who have given the Yanks the most value this season.

Top Five Pitchers

  1. CC Sabathia, 2.0 WAR
  2. Andy Pettitte, 0.8
  3. AJ Burnett, 0.7
  4. Joba Chamberlain, 0.6
  5. Mariano Rivera & Brian Bruney tied at 0.4

Top Five Position Players

  1. Derek Jeter, 2.1
  2. Mark Teixeira, 2.0
  3. Johnny Damon, 1.7
  4. Jorge Posada, 1.5
  5. Robinson Cano, 1.5

For comparison’s sake, the most valuable pitchers in baseball this year are Zack Greinke (4.4) & Roy Halladay (3.4), and the most valuable position players are Evan Longoria (3.2) & Raul Ibanez (3.1). It shouldn’t come as a shock that CC has been the Yanks’ most valuable pitcher. Despite their less than sterling ERAs, Pettitte & Burnett provide a ton of value based just on all the innings they soak up. Phil Hughes, Al Aceves and David Robertson were next up at 0.2 WAR each.

Derek Jeter’s recent hot streak pushed him past Tex as the team’s most valuable position player (and player overall), but his improved defense (+3.0 UZR/150) has also boosted his stock. Brett Gardner & Nick Swisher (tied at 1.3) are next up on the list, while Alex Rodriguez comes in at just 0.7 after missing a month of the season.

Here’s the guys who are bringing up the rear:

Bottom Five Pitchers

  1. Edwar Ramirez, -0.5
  2. Jon Albaladejo, -0.4
  3. Phil Coke, -0.3
  4. Damaso Marte, -0.3
  5. Jose Veras, -0.3

Bottom Five Position Players

  1. Angel Berroa, -0.5
  2. Cody Ransom, -0.3
  3. Xavier Nady, -0.1
  4. Kevin Cash, 0.0
  5. Frankie Cervelli, 0.0

The least valuable pitchers in the game this year have been Mike Lincoln of the Reds (-0.8) & the recently released Duaner Sanchez (-0.7). The least valuable hitters are Garrett Atkins & David Ortiz (tied at -1.2), while Brian Giles comes in at -1.1. The good news is that just two of the pitchers who make up the Yanks’ bottom five are still on the active roster, and one of those two has been relegated to mop-up duty. Chien-Ming Wang has managed to get back to replacement level, or just about at -0.1 WAR.

The bottom five position players are all spare parts, except for Nady who got hurt so early in the season that his sample isn’t very meaningful. Ramiro Pena also checked in at 0.0 WAR, so he and the two backstops have been exactly replacement level, which is what you’d expect out of your backup backup utility infielder and number three and four catchers.

If you want to see the full team list, the pitchers are here and the position players are here. The numbers will start to make more sense and be a bit more representative of true performance as the season marches on, so I wouldn’t put too much stock into this just yet. Anyway, use this as your open thread for the night. Talk about whatever you like, just be nice.

Tonight's game rained out
McAllister dominates, but Montero leaves game after collision
  • Doug

    The main reason Jeter is ahead of Teixiera is that Tex somehow has a negative UZR

  • Longo

    Its still funny to see Swisher’s name almost half way up the list of pitchers- lets get him some more innings

  • Dave

    any list without wang 1 is flawed and discredited

    • Zack

      i agreed with you at first, but then i looked up WARP definition from baseball prospectus.

      “It should be noted that a team which is at replacement level in all three of batting, pitching, and fielding will be an extraordinarily bad team, on the order of 20-25 wins in a 162-game season.”*

      So yeah if we had 5 chien ming wangs pitching to a 14era we would only win 20-25 games


  • Eirias

    I still like the term WARP better than WAR. It sounds cooler.

    • Rebecca-Optimist Prime

      WAR: What is it good for?

      • The Artist

        Absolutely nothing, heyyy yeahhhh.

      • whozat

        Good god, y’all.

      • Some call me…tim

        Absolutely nothing.

  • Rebecca-Optimist Prime

    You know what I love about this list?

    No one’s got a huge number either way.

    It means the Yanks are winning as a team.

    • Chris

      It also means that it’s early in the season.

      • andrew


    • The Artist

      I love the fact that the season is 1/3 over, and we have 32 wins.

      A little quick math and that projects to 96 wins. Considering how bad we were in April, I’d put my money on us doing even better than 96.

  • JobaJr

    It goes to Mark Teixeira and Melky Cabrera easily. Two most clutch players on the team.

    • Rebecca-Optimist Prime

      I did a whole post on Melky’s clutch-ness this afternoon. Check it out.

    • whozat

      Except that, once you realize that helping put up or prevent runs at times beyond “when I, personally, decide it’s a ‘big spot’,” they aren’t necessarily the most valuable. Tex had an absurd May all around — but Jeter’s consistency since about mid-April and, apparently, superior defense at a more challenging position, give him the nod.

  • Drew

    The fact that Al isn’t on the top five positional player list yet shows that we haven’t even hit our stride. Plus, Teix is up there after an atrocious April. Love it.

    • AndrewYF

      WAR is a cumulative stat, though.

      • AndrewYF

        Although how does Brett Gardner accumulate more value than Melky Cabrera in less playing time?

        • Mike Axisa

          Gardner’s crushing him on defense(+7.0 to +2.2), and because Melky’s played the corner outfield at times, he gets docked some because a replacement level corner OF has a higher standard than a RL CF.

          • Arod, all the time

            The oddest thing about that truth is that I’ve seen Gardner defend, and, QUITE FRANKLY!, he sucks. UZR is overrated.

        • Chris


  • Tony

    Reports of Derek Jeter’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. What a disgusting winter it was.

    • Matt M.

      or putting him in the #1 hole where he cant ground out into 1000 double plays has helped him considerably

      credit where credit is due, however. Jeter has been crazy-good at the plate and the field this year

      • Chris

        That may have reduced the GIDPs (and helped the team), but they still would have been outs for Jeter. Basically this year has been right in line with his career – except an increase in HRs.

  • JobaWockeeZ

    Well I need to trade Zack Greinke ASAP. I’m going to try to get CC out of it.

  • Jake H

    I’m glad that Jeter is proving the critics wrong right now. I just hope he has another 2/3rd of a season in him with this production.

  • Rebecca-Optimist Prime

    Greinke’s given up 6 runs tonight and it’s the fourth inning.

    • kSturnz

      nervous breakdown yet?

      Agonz rbi ph single for teh nats

      • kSturnz

        mets walking the bases loaded to get to zimmerman!?!?

  • old thurman fan

    Tex lately, Damon early, Jeetz early and often.
    CC is John Shaft.

  • kSturnz

    CC Sabathia is a good historical name; sounds oldschool, like teh stamina of his arm

  • Texeiramvp (JobaCyYoung)/Letsgoyankees-It depends on the blog

    Glad Jeter has improved his defense.

  • old thurman fan

    Bad Penny giving me thrills.

  • Rebecca-Optimist Prime

    I can’t decide which team is playing worse baseball, the Mets or the Nats.

    • Evan

      Neither team seems to want to win this game.

  • old thurman fan

    5-zip Tejas. More to come.

  • Arod, all the time

    Call me crazy but isn’t:

    Bottom Five Pitchers
    Edwar Ramirez, -0.5
    Jon Albaladejo, -0.4
    Phil Coke, -0.3
    Damaso Marte, -0.3
    Jose Veras, -0.3

    your bullpen?

    Nice buying binge, NY. Maybe next year, or the one after. Or maybe the one after that.


    • kSturnz

      our team can carry it, though.

    • RIYank

      Did it occur to you to check the roster?
      Well, what’s the point? The illiteracy rate in Boston is alarming.

      • Arod, all the time

        No, I did not. Sorry, but the expressway from Scranton to River St confuses me.

        Who’s on first?

        • RIYank

          Seriously, you don’t know how to read a roster?
          Because only two of the guys you listed are on the roster. You know, the five guys you thought were the Yankee bullpen.
          Reading a roster doesn’t require any expressway knowledge, fortunately for you.

          • Arod, all the time

            Who cares. The aforementioned were your bullpen out of ST.

            • RIYank

              Uh, right.
              Okay, you’re a troll, I get it. My mistake.

              • JobaWockeeZ

                I’m guessing to present means nothing. The past is where its at.

              • cult of basebaal

                I would have gone with:

                Ramirez + Albaladejo + Coke = -1.2 WAR

                David Ortiz = -1.2 WAR

                It takes 3 Yankees to suck as much as David Ortiz has.

  • kSturnz

    Rice needs Angelini, for sho

  • RIYank

    Melky is fourth among Yankee batters in Win Probability Added. Damon is way out in front. And among pitchers, Mo is the big leader. All those are pretty intuitive, wouldn’t you say? But here’s a surprise: Cano is the big loser in the WPA category, with -.67.

  • Rebecca-Optimist Prime

    So who’s going to tomorrow’s (or Sunday’s) game?

    • The Artist

      I am, and I have an extra seat. My brother can’t make it and I have to watch CC vs Price. You have a ticket for tomorrow’s game?

      • Rebecca-Optimist Prime

        Yeah, my brother offered last minute. Luxury box 15.

        If you’re interested in saying hi (which I know you are) shoot me an email and I’ll tell you how to reach me =D

        • The Artist

          Becca, there’s a strong possibility that I’m a complete idiot, but I looked all over your blog and clicked your name and still can’t find the e-mail. If you don’t read this tonight to tell me where the e-mail is, I’ll be in Section 210, row 22 seats 3/4. Hope to see you manana!

    • JobaWockeeZ

      I’m going to Sunday’s game!

      • Rebecca-Optimist Prime

        Where you sitting?

        • JobaWockeeZ

          Left field bleachers.

    • jake s

      I’m going to tomorrow’s. Hooray for a surprise CC start.

      • Rebecca-Optimist Prime

        Uh oh

        Jesus Montero was removed from tonight’s game following a sixth inning home plate collision with Portland’s Bubba Bell.

  • old thurman fan

    Eddie G doing a Mo sim. Loving it.

  • Slugger27

    how can tex possibly have a negative fielding rating

    • whozat

      Presumably, there are balls hit through the first base zone that he’s not getting to that other first basemen do. Watching the other day, the announcers mentioned that he does have a tendency to break to first on a lot of balls hit to his right that he could probably get to.

  • old thurman fan

    The Sawx Lose! Half a game up lads.

  • Reggie C.

    BA’s mock draft 3.0 came out late afternoon. Apparently, 4.0 comes out on MONDAY. That’s right. 3.0 has a shelf life of a mere 72 hours. whatever … its an open thread…

    After slotting LHP Matthew Purke at #19 to the Cards, BA has him back again with the Yanks. We’re supposedly in play for pretty much any high-end talent that falls (Matzek, Green, Turner, NOT Tate though). Probably picking up from NoMaas’ report earlier today, BA notes that David Renfroe’s name has jumped to the forefront to where he’s as likely a pick as Heathcott.

    • Dorian

      I would love to get Renfroe

      • Reggie C.

        Yeah. I feel the same. Honestly, Renfroe and Heathcott are both 1st round talents that likely won’t be around the next time the Yanks get to pick. Heathcott definitely won’t be around, as there are a number of teams watching him play right now in the playoffs. He’ll likely get picked up in the suppl round. Renfroe might be around , though personally i’d wager that at under 50% .

  • Texeiramvp (JobaCyYoung)/Letsgoyankees-It depends on the blog

    Too bad the Mutts won.

  • al

    who *has* been the……

    • UWS

      No, read it again. It’s correct.

  • Some call me…tim



  • Alex

    Let me say first your blog is excellent but I think your past few posts on WAR are a bit incorrect. Firstly WAR does not incorporate catcher’s defense (the catcher’s defense component in WAR is based on UZR and UZR has not come up with a suitable way to measure catchers). The post the other day significantly overvalues Piazza because Piazza cost many runs/wins for his team because he was a terrible catcher. WAR is not an all-encompassing stat for catchers nor, by extension, for all players.

    Also the positional component of WAR, IMO, makes player comparisons across positions even more difficult. For instance, take two similar batters but one plays CF terribly and the other plays RF proficiently: the CF will have a higher WAR because of the positional contribution even though on a team with a good CF that CF might be put in RF. WAR rewards players for circumstances completely out of their control (where the manager decides to play them in this instance). This isn’t an issue when comparing two CFs but comparing OFs becomes tricky.

    Similarly A-Rod would have a much higher WAR as a SS. Arguably, his fielding would have been better had he not been forced to make the switch and his WAR even higher.

    As such WAR is most beneficial when measuring players of the same position and not across positions as you did in this article (IMO).

    Also the defense component might be skewed a little too much this early in the season by a small sample size. This season Matt Kemp is worth 2.6 WAR with .75 wins coming from his fielding. Yet Kemp’s fielding wins above replacement for the previous three years were: -.01 (164 games last year), -.37 (94 games), and -.6 (50 games) [these are counting stats, btw]. Maybe Kemp is just getting better each year from experience but to jump that much looks fluky.

    WAR is a great all-encompassing stat since it takes into account offense and defense and makes it easy to understand in terms of wins. But as a comparison amongst players I think it’s best when comparing CF X against CF Y and other such comparisons.

  • Tony

    Similarly A-Rod would have a much higher WAR as a SS. Arguably, his fielding would have been better had he not been forced to make the switch and his WAR even higher.

    It amazes me that people continue to believe this.

    • Alex

      NB “Similarly”: That referred to the previous paragraph’s discussion of the positional portion of WAR. Jeter gets .22 wins added just for taking the field this year while A-Rod (if he had played as much as Jeter) would have about .06 wins added to his WAR. Is it right to “punish” A-Rod for Jeter’s presence and a decision made by Torre? If you judge a player solely by WAR, that’s exactly what you’re doing.

      “It amazes me that people continue to believe this.”
      NB “Arguably”: Yet there’s nothing to suggest he would go from being an amazing SS (1st in UZR in 2002 for SS, 2nd in 2003) to a below-average SS.

  • Rob S.

    If you truly believe that Cash and paticularly Cervelli are the two least valuable position players then you know absolutely nothing about baseball. These two young catchers carried this team and it’s high maintenance pitching staff through an amazing run that included a 9 game winning streak. They were incredibly valuable through Posada’s absense and Cervelli continues to be important considering Molina’s setback. Catcher is one of if not the most important position on the field and dismising Cash and Cervelli as spare parts and less valuable than Angel Berroa demonstrates very little understanding of the game of baseball. Jeter and Teixiera both had lousy aprils but no one has been more valuable than Teixiera in may.

    • Joseph Pawlikowski

      Who are you replying to? Since you didn’t reply to a specific comment I’m assuming you’re responding to the post, which posits that Angel Berroa and Cody Ransom have been the least valuable Yankees. Mike notes not only that Cervelli and Cash played at replacement level, but THAT REPLACEMENT LEVEL IS VALUABLE considering the circumstances.

      You always come in with this holier-than-thou attitude, Rob, and it wears thin. If you’re going to continue participating here, I ask that you quit acting like a know-it-all.

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