The 2012 Cleveland Indians are Losing the WAR

Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

A look at how the Indians are stacking up as a team in WAR at this late stage of the season. It isn't pretty.

Yesterday afternoon I saw a tweet from @michaelcbarr, pointing to a screen from Fangraphs that displayed every MLB team, ranked by the combined fWAR of all their position players. The link has already changed, but as of yesterday, it showed that for the previous 30 days, the Indians postion players had a combined fWAR of 0.0. If you understand WAR, you know what that means, the short of it is that for the last month, the Indians (non-pitchers) had been exactly "replacement level," meaning they were playing at the caliber of players any team should be able to pick up from their farm system, the free agency pool, or perhaps even random strangers on the street.

For a month, the Indians hitting, fielding, and base running have been no better than should be expected if they'd signed the best available free agents, guys who hadn't been able to get signed all year. Not everyone is in love with WAR (the fWAR name I used refers to the Fangraphs version, Baseball-Reference has a slightly different calculation, which I call bWAR. I think it's important to note which version you're using when talking about either one), but I think anyone who's been watching the Indians for the last month would say that "replacement level" sounds about right.

If you break fWAR into its components, over the last month the Indians rank:

* 22nd in batting (Carlos Santana has been very good, keeping the team from the bottom five. Milwaukee has been by far the best hitting team over that time)

* 22nd in base running (Colorado has been the best)

* 30th in fielding (and no one else is close is to them. Meanwhile, Atlanta has been the best fielding team)

Add up all those wonderful scores and rankings and the Indians position players come in a stellar 29th overall. If anything, I'm surprised they beat anyone.

The pitching isn't much prettier. The relievers are actually 10th overall, but the starters are 29th and since the starters are responsible for more innings, they drag the Tribe's overall pitching fWAR down to 25th for the last month.

That the Indians have been bad (and for more than a month now) is no surprise to anyone reading this. But there it is, in stark, ugly numbers. On the other hand, things could be worse. As I said, the Indians rank 29th, not 30th. What team has hit, run, and fielded even worse than the Indians over the past awful month? Nope, not Houston. No, not Minnesota either. Boston. That's right. So, Tribe faithful, tuck yourself in tonight content in knowing that at least you aren't a Red Sox fan.

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