Joey Votto: MVP? He's certainly the best hitter on the best NL playoff offense.
Continuing our look at how teams rank based on the inputs into the power rankings, we continue tonight with National League offenses.
Once again, here's a quick key for what you'll see presented below:
wOBA = The Book's statistic, but park adjusted, and using data from both offense and baserunning.
EqBRR = Dan Fox's composite baserunning statistics from Baseball Prospectus, minus stolen bases since they are included in wRC.
eRS = Estimated Runs Scored: park-adjusted base runs (offense) + EqBRR
RS = Actual runs allowed, after park adjustment.
16. Pittsburgh Pirates: .304 wOBA, -5 EqBRR, 569 park adjusted runs scored, 591 estimated runs scored
So the Pirates are better than the Mariners. And they've got some exciting-looking young hitters in Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, and Neil Walker. But the supporting cast just hasn't been there this year. I still think this is a team on its way up, but if they're going to get out of the cellar next year they will need to upgrade this offense.
15. Houston Astros: .305 wOBA, +6 EqBRR, 605 RS, 594 eRS
As bad as the Pirates have been, the Astros have been just about as bad. They got off to such a disastrous start, and aside from another nice year from Hunter Pence, no one still on the roster has had a genuinely plus offensive season save for the .396 BABIPing Chris Johnson. They've had a great month of September, but I don't see much here for the Astros right now. And hey, Carlos Lee still has a sub-.300 OBP and a .306 wOBA!
T13. Washington Nationals: .315 wOBA, -9 EqBRR, 641 RS, 641 eRS
This one surprised me. You'd think that any team with a pair of productive hitters like Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman, plus the surprisingly good combination of Josh Willingham and Mike Morse would have to be pretty decent with the stick. But this is a case where the other players negate the outstanding production at the heart of the order. This team had seven players who received significant playing time this year and posted under a .320 wOBA, with 5 of ranking under a .305 wOBA.
T13. Chicago Cubs: .315 wOBA, -5 EqBRR, 643 RS, 645 eRS
The Cubs were surprisingly bad this year, and a big part of that is what happened with the offense. Geovany Soto was brilliant when he played this year, and in my mind is probably just behind Mauer and McCann on the catcher rankings (though Posey and Santana have made great cases for themselves as well). And they had a number of nice performances: Fukudome, Soriano, Byrd, Tyler Colvin (is that power real?), and Starlin Castro were all better than I expected this year. But Castro aside, the infield was pretty weak, and there's just not enough star performances here to make up for that lack of production.
T11. Arizona Diamondbacks: .317 wOBA, -15 EqBRR, 659 RS, 654 eRS
When you look at non-park adjusted data, this team looks better. But Chase Field has both dry air and elevation, and it's a nice place to hit. When you adjust for it, this team's offense is pulled down below average. Looking at individual players, this doesn't look like a bad team. They got a phenomenal bounce-back performance from Kelly Johnson along with quality seasons from their core: Young, Drew, and Upton. And when he was healthy, Miguel Montero produced as expected. But their corners infielders hit below expectations, and they never got the Conor Jackson/Gerardo Parra situation figured out in the outfield. And they were, as a whole, the worst baserunning team in the National League this year.
T11. New York Mets: .317 wOBA, +11 EqBRR, 645 RS, 655 eRS
The Mets are sort of like the Nationals in that it was the other players that sort of doomed this offense. They had no brilliant performances, but did have six regulars with over a .330 wOBA, including nice surprises in Angel Pagan and Ike Davis. Jason Bay, to my surprise, was in that group. But they also had (depending on your accounting) 3-4 players who received at least some regular playing time but posted wOBA's below .300! Avoiding black holes in a lineup can be just as important to an offense as getting a few superstar performances.
10. Los Angeles Dodgers: .318 wOBA, +3 EqBRR, 660 RS, 660 eRS
The defending (for a few more days) NL West champions suffered from some very disappointing performances this year. First and foremost is Matt Kemp and his .316 wOBA. But it's not all his fault. James Loney, Casey Blake, and Russell Martin were all disappointing this season, all posting a wOBA below .320.
9. San Francisco Giants: .320 wOBA, -5 EqBRR, 677 RS, 669 eRS
For a team that was as anemic as they come last season, the Giants offense rebounded nicely this year. This is especially surprising because the guy widely pegged as their best hitter entering the season, Pablo Sandoval, turned out to be a disaster! But Aubrey Huff, Andres Torres, Buster Posey, and even Pat Burrell have been huge this season. Those guys are a major part of the reason that the Giants are back in the hunt.
8. San Diego Padres: .323 wOBA, +2 EqBRR, 714 RS, 683 eRS
Right there with the Giants are the Padres. While they're not a terrific offensive ballclub, think they are far better than most seem to realize because of their park. When adjusting for context, this comes out as an average offensive club. Adrian Gonzalez is the core of this attack, and according to rWAR, at least, has been the second most valuable player in the NL. He is, even now, a massively underrated hitter. The rest of the hitters range from a bit above average to substantially below average. Ludwick hasn't done much since arriving, but should help them as they try to win a playoff spot.
T6. Florida Marlins: .327 wOBA, +13 EqBRR, 703 RS, 702 eRS
Hanley has had an off-year this year. But his off-year would be a career year for most other shortstops, and coupled with an outstanding offensive outburst by Dan Uggla and quality from Gaby Sanchez and young guns Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton, this is a capable offense. They are also the best baserunning offense in the league.
T6. Colorado Rockies: .327 wOBA, +8 EqBRR, 698 RS, 701 eRS
The Rockies are the opposite of the Padres: a team that will perpetually see its offense overrated because it is such an extreme park. That said, this is a good offense led by the best all-around shortstop in baseball, Troy Tulowitzki. Doesn't hurt to have Carlos Gonzalez also hitting so well in center field, either: this has to be the best up the middle duo in baseball.
5. Philadelphia Phillies: .328 wOBA, +3 EqBRR, 710 RS, 701 eRS
Here's a case where I'm not sure that the season totals are necessarily good indicators of team talent: this is a team that has endured a number of significant injuries over the course of the season. And even then, they've been a good hitting team. Jayson Werth is having a tremendous walk year, while Chase Utley and Ryan Howard have been good--though not quite their typical selves, even when healthy. Carlos Ruiz is quietly having a spectacular year as a backstop, posting a .392 OBP with good power and fielding.
4. Atlanta Braves: .329 wOBA, -1 EqBRR, 724 RS, 718 eRS
The Braves offense is interesting to me because it is built upon on-base skills rather than power. They have some power, but their slugging percentage is the lowest of any team in the top 7 of NL offenses. But they are in a 3-way tie for best in the league in OBP. That's reflected in their top hitters: Heyward and McCann have power, but arguably have brought more value in on-base skills. Chipper Jones was all walks this year. Martin Prado is a high average + walks sort of hitter. It continues on down the line. For an organization that has a reputation as being scouting-oriented, they have something of a classic moneyball look. :)
3. St. Louis Cardinals: .331 wOBA, +1 EqBRR, 736 RS, 725 eRS
When you have Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday in your lineup, you're off to a good start. The supporting cast has been quite good as well, though. Colby Rasmus experienced some controversy this season, but he turned in a fine offensive performance this season (.370 wOBA). Ludwick was his consistently good self, and Jon Jay was a nice surprise in his debut season--particularly his first month. If only they could help Brandan Ryan figure out how to hit a bit--glove or not, a .254 wOBA is brutal.
2. Cincinnati Reds: .335 wOBA, +1 EqBRR, 736 RS, 747 eRS
The Reds were one of the worst offenses in baseball last year. What's the difference this year? Well, Joey Votto's .442 wOBA doesn't hurt. But the other factor is an almost complete elimination of bad performances. With the notable exception of Orlando Cabrera--who has been awful--every player who has received significant playing time has posted a league average or better wOBA. Even Paul Janish, the guy who can't get PA's when Cabrera is around, has equaled league average this year. The catchers have perhaps been the biggest surprise, posting a combined line of .295/.376/.426.
1. Milwaukee Brewers: .337 wOBA, +0 EqBRR, 724 RS, 760 eRS
Not a lot has gone right for the Brewers this season in terms of the team's record. But in the end, whatever the problems are with the team, the offense came through. Fielder and Braun might not have been as good as they were last year, but they still put up very good offensive performances. Combine that with the surprise/breakout/rebound seasons by Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, and Casey McGehee, and you have yourself a pretty impressive lineup. Remember when they beat the Pirates 20-0 in April? And then beat them 17-3 four games later? They beat other teams by 10 or more runs six times this year. This team can rake.