Like everyone else, I’m prone to measure a player against the “average” major leaguer. Or at least my perception of it. But average changes all the time, so I thought it would be good to put together a post illustrating what average is in the current major league environment.


The average major league player (excluding pitchers) hit .259/.329/.433 and generated 2.06 WAR/650 PAs (a true full-season).

Those are your basics. They include starters and bench players, and it’s easy to see why 2 WAR is considered average.

But let’s look at qualified players. There were 144 players with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. Meaning the average team has 5 (ish) players who are qualified. Among those 144, the median player was Josh Harrison with 2.6 WAR. So it’s reasonable to say that an “average” starter is worth about 2.5 WAR. The “average” team will have three players with at least 2.5 WAR. There were 12 players who were qualified and below replacement level. The top 12 players had 5.7 WAR or more.



The average starting pitcher had an ERA of 4.49 this year. The average reliever had 4.15 ERA.

58 pitchers qualified for the ERA title (roughly 2 per team). You have to go down to 90 IP to get to 5 pitchers per team. Among those 149 pitchers, 1.4 is the median WAR. The top 30 pitchers have at least 3.2 WAR.



So there you go. That’s what average looks like. For a playoff caliber team, you need to be better than average. That means 5 or 6 players worth 2.5 WAR or more. 3 or 4 pitchers doing better than 1.5  WAR and one of them around 4 or 5 WAR.

That’s what the Reds need. You look at who they have. you figure it out. How do they get there? What do they need to do?

18 Responses

  1. sultanofswaff

    Excellent context. Looking below, we can see the core meets your prerequisites. It’s entirely reasonable to think the Reds can compete for the playoffs, but we can’t be giving away wins because the bench/callups are atrocious. I think I heard teams used on average 12 different starting pitchers this year—the Reds need to have quality arms on standby.

    2.5 WAR position players:
    Senzel (does anyone doubt he’ll hit?)
    Winker(.5 in 121 ABs)
    Gennett (2.4 in ~450 ABs)
    Schebler(2.1 in ~450 ABs).
    Marte or Cozart?

    5+ WAR: Votto

    1.5 WAR pitchers:
    (2 of )Disco (3 in ~125 IP in 2016)
    Bailey(1.3 in 145 IP in 2014)
    Finnegan(2.3 in 172 IP in 2016)
    Iglesias (2.2)
    (2 of )Stephenson/Mahle/Romano/trade acquisition.

    4+ pitcher: Castillo

  2. scottya

    Need to fill the holes at SS and CF and get the Starting pitching healthy or add a new one or two.

    My 2018 possibilities:
    5.5+ War – Votto
    4+ War – Suarez
    2.5 War – Schebler (RF), Barnhart/Meso(C), Herrera/Senzel (2b), Cozart (SS) (if we sign him).
    1.5 – 2.5 War – Winker (LF)
    0 – 1 War – Hamilton (CF) – need an upgrade.

    Desclafani – 3 war (if healthy)
    Castillo – 3-4 war
    Finnegan – 2 war (if healthy)
    Bailey – 2 war
    Romano – 2 war
    Mahle – 1 – 2 war
    Stephenson – 0 – 3 war
    Lorenzen – 2 war (if starting).

    1. Sign cozart of trade for a SS
    2. Trade for a center fielder (Trade Candidates: Duvall, Hunter Greene(after the WS), Hamilton, Iglesias, Gennett).
    3. If the deal is there and reasonable enough trade for a 3-4 war starting pitcher.

    We have a chance of being around .500 and in the wild card hunt if we make the right moves.

  3. Sliotar


    More sorting of starting pitching, get the rotation set, fully blood Winker and Senzel in lineup, fill holes in Winter of 2018. Hope to contend in 2019. If not, 2020.

    Bringing in free agents this off-season, when there are young SPs and Ervin/Peraza/Winker/Senzel, etc. who need MLB playing time, just in the faint hopes of a wild-card chase, seems insane to me.

    What was the tanking and accumulation of all the young talent for, if not for this upcoming season, to play them and finalize who the core will be on “The Next Good Reds Team?”

  4. sultanofswaff

    Agreed, CF needs an upgrade. Would you package Duvall and Hamilton together to acquire a CF and install Senzel in LF?

  5. G-Man

    Did everyone see where Joey Votto finished in WAR on the ESPN stat leaders? He led the entire MLB with a WAR of 9.6…wow!!! This total easily topped his career high WAR of 7.6 in 2015. What an amazing player that we get to watch everyday on our favorite team! Does anyone know what source ESPN uses for WAR (Baseball Reference or Fangraphs)…and how does this 9.6 WAR compare to the other source? Either way, I think that we can all agree that Joey Votto is simply amazing!

  6. Ron Payne

    Everyone has made good points. I agree with the following;
    1 Reds need upgrade at SS and CF.
    2 Winker (LF) and Senzel (2B) should be starters in 2018.
    3 Don’t waste money on free agents. Make trades to fill holes.

    Agree with who should be used as trade bait.
    Would like to see everyone’s list of possible trade targets.
    (I’m working on a list of my own)


  7. David

    Of course you realize, this means war!! – stuff Bugs Bunny said.

    WAR is a nice metric if you can get some honesty in how the value is awarded. And yes, it is perfectly logical that you build a winning team by accumulating enough players/pitchers with a significant amount of WAR assigned to their performance.

    Looking at OPS for players, and relative to the position they play, is also an interesting way to appreciate your teams’ relative strengths (and weaknesses).

    The Reds have a real weakness in centerfield. Cozart had a nice OPS for SS, but the money is on him leaving, and he is not young enough to give him a big contract for his years in decline. Great guy, but it would probably not make sense to keep him. If Peraza plays SS next year, the Reds will have a big OPS or WAR hole at SS. Such is the talk of moving Suarez back to SS, and letting Senzel play third.

    I don’t honestly see how the Reds fix centerfield, because no one is giving up high WAR/OPS centerfielders these days. Unless some GM somewhere is mentally ill.

  8. Streamer88

    Recall that some of our best acquisitions have come when one doesn’t traditionally acquire or trade, presumably creating opportunities for a steal. I’m thinking mostly about the Scott Rolen and Castillo trades as somewhat unconventional in their timing and execution.

    My point is 7/31 and the winter are times when trade values tend to be more standardized. It’s like NFL draft day – everyone is reading from the same draft pick value reference sheet.

    If there’s an unconventional way for us to grab a huge piece for 2018 and beyond, whether that’s paying for a high impact arm now even if it’s wasted in 2018, or trading an untouchable (Senzel) for someone else’s untouchable, I’m intrigued by all less than standard approaches.

  9. cfd3000

    I’m growing more skeptical of WAR in general, as I am of most counting stats. For players in the lineup every day, sure, it’s a good measure. But for players who are not due to injury (Schebler), platooning (Gennett, Barnhart), or promotion (Winker) it can significantly under value player quality. The Reds are fine and perhaps even really good at 6 of 8 positions in 2018. Votto, Suarez, Barnhart, Gennett (or better yet, Senzel), Schebler and Winker. They have a problem at short and center. I’m pretty sure the profile of playoff caliber teams also calls for NOT having even one, let alone two, black holes in the lineup.

    If Duvall provided 1.8 fWAR in 600+ plate appearances then it’s time to trade as high as possible on him (and Gennett, who is at peak value and expendable). But it’s eliminating Hamilton and Peraza and finding production at short and center that will make the much bigger difference.

    As for the pitching, that is – still – a sorting issue. The arms are there. This year the contributors must be identified from among the contenders. I do believe that if center and short get resolved, Winker and Senzel play, and reliable starters return and/or emerge, the Reds absolutely are playoff caliber next year. If not, then not so much.

    • Jason Linden

      Actually, except for the Twins, every playoff team had one or more regulars who were well below league average offensively. It’s not unusual for even very good teams to have players at key defensive positions who aren’t much with the bat.

      • cfd3000

        Jason – thanks for the reality check here. I stand (technically) corrected. And I’m not really that surprised. The idea that there would be 10 playoff teams, or even half that, without a hole in the lineup somewhere is practically and statistically really unlikely. But I stand by the point in regard to the Reds. If they start Hamilton, Peraza, and any pitcher every day next year they will not be a playoff contender. Hamilton and Peraza were not just below average, they were literally the worst two qualified hitters in the entire NL last year. To have a third of the lineup floundering every night won’t fly.

        I can endorse keeping Hamilton and Peraza if no useful trade develops, but I can’t endorse playing either as a regular. BHam will add real value as a defensive replacement, spot starter, and pinch running specialist. And Peraza as a utility infielder and emergency outfielder is also fine. But I don’t trust Price to use either of them that way. As a result, I hope they both get packaged for upgrades and out of the Reds lineup for 2018.

    • james garrett

      I agree 100%.Its a no brainer for everybody except the people running the show

  10. james garrett

    Obvious to us we need to improve at short and in center field but not to the front office.I expect them to stick with Peraza and Billy.As stated before if you throw in Tucker and the pitcher you get 4 out of 9 that have no power and 3 that are way way below league average in getting on base.That wont work at all.

  11. james garrett

    100% agree with 2017.Do you think we are ok on offense next year or do we need to make some changes?