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Updated: 2018-02-16T12:00:02-05:00


The Cubs current rotation looks a lot like it did in 2016


The 2018 Cubs have a revamped, albeit not necessarily better, rotation than their World Series championship team. Every World Series champion has their fair share of luck. The 2017 Astros found themselves at the brink against the Yankees, but won the toss-up ALCS Game Seven last October. The 2016 Cubs were no different, looking as close to defeat as one can get, before a rainstorm gave the team time to regroup and snatch victory in their own winner-take-all Game Seven. Going into 2016, on paper, the Cubs had a solid, although not stellar rotation. With no true ‘number one’ akin to a Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, or Max Scherzer, the Cubs were a step behind their National League competitors from at least one perspective. Having four of their five starting pitchers on the ‘wrong side of thirty’, including a 37-year-old John Lackey, didn’t help much either. Ultimately, we know how the story ends, but looking at the journey of their starting rotation, we see the foundation of a strong team that brought consistency and durability that complemented an impressive lineup. In total, the Cubs used only six starters for multiple games in 2016: the five players listed below go the lion’s share of starts, with Mike Montgomery being the only other multiple start pitcher; even Montgomery only started five games. In total, only 10 games were not started by the Cubs five-man rotation, which is a testament to consistency and player health. Most, if not all, would agree that John Lester and Jake Arrieta were passed the primes of their career entering that season (if only slightly), yet both were effective, posting 4.4 and 3.8 wins above replacement, respectively. Lester led the team in RA9 and pitched over 200 strong innings. Arrieta was as reliable and the two pitchers combined into a nice tandem throughout the year. The biggest surprise for the Cubs was Kyle Hendricks, who exceeded expectations in only his second full year in the big leagues. John Lackey managed to post a 3.1 fWAR despite relying mostly on one pitch, rounding out a productive five-man rotation. Looking towards 2018, we can identify some similarities in these two groups who lack a true number one starter, but have decent depth and potential. Inserting Yu Darvish into the rotation is a huge upgrade for a team that previously had both Tyler Chatwood and Mike Montgomery penciled in at the back-end of the rotation. Montgomery is a fine backup, but Darvish’s presence allows much more flexibility and gives the team considerably more upside. Darvish replacing him in the rotation is a huge improvement. Looking at the Steamer projects for 2018, this group is projected for about 90 fewer innings than the 2016 squad accumulated, despite the 2016 rotation having an average age 18 months older this year’s rotation. Overall value is fairly close, considering the 2016 group put up a combined 20.76 wins, compared to a projected 19.44. All in all, it’s pretty close. Jose Quintana has turned into a special player, and entering his age-29 season, Steamer expects him to improve from last year’s performance, but is conservatively not projecting the 4.7-5.1 yearly upside he demonstrated from 2014 to 2016. Looking at Quintana’s 2017, we see a player whose strand-rate reduced nearly eight percentage points, and who suffered from a considerable increase in his home run / fly ball rate (career average 9.4 percent, 2017 13.2 percent). 2016 was a roller-coaster ride for the Cubs, but the rotation was reliable and prevented long losing streaks (they only had one such streak, when they lost five consecutive games in mid-July). The consistency in both durability and performance from the rotation kept the team moving forward and winning. Entering this season, Lester is of course, two years older and Darvish is not-too-far removed from Tommy John surgery, raising the risk profile for the entire rotation, however, if the top four pitchers for the Cubs can stay healthy, this team has another shot at the World Series, even without a true ‘ace’. Steve[...]

What the Cubs can do for Yu Darvish


The current Chicago regime has a track record of getting the best out of starting pitchers. What can be done to optimize their newest acquisition? Jose Quintana was not his usual self in 2017. Midway through the season, he was having his worst stretch since becoming a starter in 2012. He had a career high 4.49 ERA, career high 9 percent walk rate, and a career high 12. 8 percent home run to fly ball ratio. The White Sox wanted to trade him to fast-track their rebuild, and this was not helping. Then, he took a short trip to the North Side, became a Cub, and became great one more. His ERA the rest of the way was 3.74, and his 3.24 FIP was even more encouraging. His walk rate fell to 6.1 percent. His HR/FB rate popped up a percentage point, but his fly ball rate fell 7.5 points to 32.5 percent, so he was at least giving up fewer homers. Maybe it was all luck, a little regression, but going to the Cubs seem to have fixed whatever was ailing Quintana. But this isn’t about Quintana, not really. The Cubs just spent $126 million on Yu Darvish. He is a very good pitcher, though how much better than Quintana is an interesting conversation, albeit one for another day. The Cubs signed him to help them win. He wants to win too, that’s why he joined the Cubs. They helped Quintana turn a bad season around. He’s not the first pitcher this regime has peeled some great innings off, either. What can the Cubs do for Darvish? Before we examine that, of course we have to see what they did for Quintana. For most of his career the lefty had been a predominantly two-pitch pitcher, relying on a strong fastball with good command and a wicked curve. Over the last three years he’s thrown the fourth highest percentage of curves among starters at 28 percent. Prior to this year he had only one season with sub-40 percent four-seam usage, 2015 when he used it 39 percent of the time. Quintana decidedly leaned upon his strengths. Perhaps it’s something White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper preaches - Chris Sale long lived off his slider/fastball combo, and Carlos Rodon does that now. Or maybe it’s just something Quintana has worked on because it’s smart to make the other guy have to beat your best stuff. When he joined the Cubs he was struggling while following this approach. From his first start there on though, he changed his approach considerably: Backing off his curve is a little surprising considering how important it’s been to his success so far. More surprising is that Quintana went from throwing a sinker as something to compliment his other offerings, to featuring it as his most prominent pitch. Between that and adding more changeups to his mix, this must have had something to do with that massive drop in fly balls (a seven point drop to 30.7 percent) and also posting a 47.2 percent ground ball rate. That figure prorated to a whole season would make that his highest grounder rate ever. This isn’t the only case of the Cubs taking a pitcher and just changing what they throw. Jason Hammel found a pair of resurgences after coming to Chicago in 2014 and dominating, getting traded to the A’s and struggling, then coming back again after the season and having two of his best years. Long a fastball-first guy, the Cubs had him feature his slider more and more: Even in that 2014 season where his slider use took that first big jump, most of that was during his time in Chicago, then fell off when a different team in the Athletics and a different coaching staff was whispering in his ear: His time with the Cubs saw Hammel lean more and more away from his fastball, and it resulted in a couple of great years once he returned to Chicago the next season. He earned 3.9 fWAR in 337 innings and struck out 22.5 percent of batters (18.5 percent career K rate) and walking only 6.6 percent (7.5 percent career). Not quite a return to glory days, but certainly a nice late career resurgence. Then there’s Jake Arrieta. He is a sterling example of the Cubs fixing a lost pitcher. Arrieta w[...]

Trade Retrospective: Brewers trade Zack Greinke to the Angels


It looks like the Angels paid a high price, but they prospects they traded away were high-risk players. For the third straight offseason, BtBS is looking back on some of the biggest trades from years past. Check out all the entries here. A few days before the 2012 trade deadline, the Brewers traded Zack Greinke to the Angels in exchange for a big package of prospects consisting of Jean Segura, Johnny Hellweg, and Ariel Peña. Also of note, the Brewers saved $5.15 million that was still owed to Greinke, per a report on In this trade retrospective series, trades will be evaluated based on what was known at the time. That is the only fair, logical way to evaluate trades and strip luck out of the equation: process over results. Having said that, we will still take a look at how the trade worked out for both parties. The Deal The Brewers had a great 2011 season. They won 96 games and comfortably won the NL Central by six games. They beat the Diamondbacks in an all-or-nothing gave five to advance to the NLCS, where they then lost to the eventual World Series champion Cardinals in six games. Despite the loss of Prince Fielder in free agency, there was a lot to like about the Brewers headed into 2012. Their 2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun successfully appealed his steroid suspension and the team was returning a lot of the same players that helped them win 96 games the year prior. Zack Greinke was due for a lot of positive regression, as his underlying numbers indicated he was not getting the results he likely deserved. On the surface, it appeared that he had a disappointing first year in Milwaukee with a 4.30 RA9 and 1.5 bWAR. The truth is that Greinke pitched very well, he just had terrible luck when it came to home runs. Outside of his 2006 season when he barely played, Greinke’s 13.6 percent HR/FB ratio was the highest of his career. His excellent command did not take a year off, rather the problem was that Miller Park was a hitter-friendly home field, especially prone to home runs. Furthermore, Greinke led the league in strikeout rate that year. Those were factors in Greinke’s 3.24 DRA being so much lower than his run average. Sure enough, Greinke’s results were much better in 2012. At the time of the trade, he had a 3.59 RA9 and his home run rate had come way down. Unfortunately, the Brewers were 44-53 and 13.5 games behind the first place Reds. Their season was effectively over and with Greinke on the final year of his contract, he was clearly not going to be a part of the Brewers’ future. Brewers management knew it was time to trade him. Meanwhile, the Angels were enjoying the third-best record in the AL at 54-45. Unfortunately, they were still five games behind the first place Rangers, and the A’s were nipping at their heels. The AL playoff race was very competitive that year, so the Angels needed a real impact player to add precious extra wins to propel themselves in the playoffs and position their team as a postseason threat. Trading three of your top ten prospects for two-plus months of Zack Greinke might seem excessive, but it was not that simple. in looking at Segura, Hellweg, and Peña’s potential, there was a lot of risk involved. Keeping Segura healthy was deemed a challange, Hellweg had terrible command, and Peña had seen his stock fall as a result of a loss of command with a strong likelihood he would end up being relegated to the bullpen. Basically, these were low floor, high ceiling prospects, though despite that, it seemed a great return for a departing free agent. From then-GM Jerry Dipoto’s point of view, you can see the rationale for paying a high price for renting Greinke. Those extra wins could make all the difference in a pennant race and in a short series. Because there was plenty of risk involved in the departing prospects, it made the deal more palatable. With Mike Trout was in the midst of the greatest rookie season ever, it would have been a shame to waste an opportunity that was clearly in front of them. The Res[...]

The Cubs sign Yu Darvish to a six-year, $126 million deal


The Cubs get some needed rotation help at a price so good that it might do little to placate the MLBPA’s concerns. The long, cold MLB offseason has finally produced a free agent signing of over $100 million. It is the first time this has happened since the Mets signed Yoenis Céspedes to a $110 million deal in November of 2016. The Cubs have signed Yu Darvish to a six-year $126 million deal. The deal includes an opt-out, the details of which have not been disclosed at the time of this writing but have been surmised by Jerry Crasnick. It also reportedly includes incentives that could raise the amount of the deal to $150 million. However, what has been reported about these incentives is ridiculous. Darvish needs to win multiple Cy Young awards for that to happen. In a league that has Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, and Noah Syndergaard, among others, he has a minuscule hot of accomplishing this goal. In 2018 alone, he would have to outperform even his 90th percentile PECOTA projections in order to be anywhere close to the NL’s best pitchers. At one point in his career, Darvish could have been described as a true ace. He has not been quite the same player since Tommy John surgery caused him to miss all of 2015 and the first two months of 2016. In the three seasons prior to the surgery, Darvish had a career 3.48 RA9, but he has had a 3.95 RA9 in the season and a half since then. On the bright side, the surgery has not affected his velocity, and his control has actually improved a little. Darvish had a stronger 2017 season than the results might indicate. His 4.00 RA9 and 27.3 K%, while quite good, were the worst since his rookie season. However, his Deserved Run Average was outstanding. His 3.08 DRA is nearly a run lower than his RA9, and it ranked 11th in baseball among pitchers with at least 130 IP. The biggest driver of that low DRA is that Darvish did a great job of punching out hitters without giving out many free passes. Of course, we all know how Darvish’s season ended. Even though he was effective over the nine starts he had with the Dodgers, he performed poorly in the postseason. He had a 6.97 RA9 over four playoff starts. Normally such a small sample size is meaningless unless there was an underlying cause. Well, there were claims that Darvish was tipping his pitches. If there is any truth to that, we should be confident that the Cubs’ coaches can fix it. I doubt that Darvish’s poor postseason run had anything to do with his underwhelming deal from a player’s perspective. The Cubs are too smart for that, but it is underwhelming nevertheless. To be fair, it is definitely at least two years too long for a pitcher going into his age-31 season. That being said, in an industry that made $10 billion in 2017 without any signs of slowing down, the best pitcher available in free agency is easily worth $30 million more than he will be paid. Honestly, I would not have balked at the deal if it were worth $175 million. The Cubs have the need, they have plenty of money, and they are one of the best teams in baseball. Speaking of which, despite all the great moves that the Brewers have made this offseason, the Cubs could probably have stood pat and still be positioned to end up winning the division comfortably. Even elite teams should always be looking to get better, and the Cubs still have the Dodgers and Nationals to contend with at the top of the NL. With the departure of Jake Arrieta, the Cubs’ rotation was looking pretty thin behind José Quintana, an aged Jon Lester, and Kyle Hendricks. They addressed this early in the offseason by signing Tyler Chatwood to a three-year, $36 million deal. His 4.53 RA9 the past two seasons is actually pretty good when you remember that he pitched in Coors Field. On the other hand, he walked too many batters and had a below-average strikeout rate. That is still better than whatever replacement level pitcher the Cubs would have had to turn to otherwise. Darvish is comfortably worth 3-[...]

Maybe 2018 is finally ‘Wil Myers’ year’


Since the James Shields trade, lofty expectations have surrounded Wil Myers. Maybe in 2018 it’s realized? As Spring Training approaches, once again we prepare to celebrate one of the great modern traditions of baseball. For half a decade now, baseball fans across the globe have watched and waited with bated breath for Wil Myers to finally start realizing his potential. After 547 games in the majors the luster that once surrounded the young-ish slugger has faded. And yet, he’s still only 26, the Padres still believe in him. They have to, right? So maybe this is it. Maybe this is the year Myers finally flourishes, but what would it take to achieve that next step? Myers hasn’t been a bad player for the Padres, and his debut in 2013 with the Rays certainly set a high bar. Through 88 games he posted a 129 wRC+, bopped 13 home runs and earned 2.3 fWAR for Tampa. It set a high bar that he hasn’t really even come close to since. Since joining the Padres in 2015 Myers’ logged a 113 wRC+ an above average offensive output overall, but essentially the exact average output for a first baseman over that timespan. Unfortunately, a failed outfield experiment has permanently ensconced him at first base, which raises the bar on his expected offensive output. The Padres want to contend in a couple years, and doing that likely means offense, from offense-first positions. Myers is signed through 2022 plus a team option and is going to make him $22.5 million starting in 2020. It’d be nice to get production that closely matches that payday, but the recent years’ numbers make that look unlikely. However, there’s good news. While his output has been disappointing in San Diego thus far, it has been surprisingly consistent, meaning any sort of substantive change should have a strong impact. His wRC+ by year has been 115, 116 and 109. And for half a season in 2016 he was superlative in his efforts to represent the Padres as they hosted the All-Star Game, posting a 134 wRC+ with 19 home runs. It looked like Myers’ had finally emerged. Whether through adjustments by pitchers, wear and tear or the sinister curses of fate and large sample size that forced him to never be anything more than a slightly above average bat, his wRC+ fell to 92 in the second half and his home run total was cut to a meager nine longballs. He walked a bit more (10.8 percent after the break, 9.5 before) and also struck out more (27.6 percent in the second half, only 20.6 before) which does hint at adjustments by pitchers, forcing Myers to chase pitches. It’s hard to call that second half anything but a disappointment, resulting in a typical full season. In digging into his 2017 campaign though, there’s hints that Myers has changed. The results weren’t that different. He hit 30 home runs, two more than the previous year. But everyone hit more home runs. His wRC+ fell to 109. He struck out more - 27.7 percent K rate a career high (by 0.1 percent, but still) and he set a career high in walk rate at 10.8 percent (again, 0.1 percent higher than previous). It’s hard to find anything in that to excite you. Of note is that Myers raised his average exit velocity from 88.5 mph to 89.1 mph. Understandably, not that titillating. That could be noise. But there’s something intriguing about how his batted ball profile changed: It wasn’t written about like, say, Yonder Alonso or or other Fly Ball Revolution acolytes, but there’s something in Myers’ adjustment. He attacked balls with the goal of hitting them in the air. This comes out not only in the elevated hitting velocity on fly balls, but also in the drop in ground ball speed. When he hit them into the ground they dribbled away. The intent is plain. In conjunction with that, Myers started hitting fly balls at a career high 42.9 percent clip, well above any previous mark. As similar as Myers’ season looked in the slash line, the path there was rather divergent. The real questio[...]

What’s the path out of free agent purgatory?


Is the current situation swaying public opinion on the subject of MLB wages? It certainly doesn’t need repeating by this point, but even after Lorenzo Cain’s five-year, $80 million deal with the Brewers, many of this year’s top free agents are on the outside looking in when it comes to the impending 2018 MLB season. Of the CBSSports Top 50 2017-18 free agents, barely over half have signed (27), and seven of the top nine are still out on the market despite pitchers and catchers reporting in just a few short weeks. There are many possible reasons for this slow offseason. (And just as many dumb, “guess the hot stove isn’t that HOT” jokes to go with it.) For a while, the popular opinion was that the potential deals for Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton were the dominos that had to fall in order for the hot stove to heat up. Of course, Ohtani signed on December 8, and Stanton was traded a day later, and that did approximately zilch in terms of getting teams going on the free agent market. The next popular theory became that the superteams in baseball were scaring off any potential mid-level teams from “making their move” with a big free agent signing. Of course, this, in part, ignores the fact that those superteams have to be scared of one another, and a signing like Yu Darvish could be the difference this upcoming October. The natural counter-argument is that the new luxury tax is also scaring the superteams into a nuclear freeze of sorts, but that’s a lot of scaring, and given the overall money in baseball right now (revenus have been trending in the right direction for a while), this theory may not hold as much water as it would appear on the surface. Among the other pet theories regarding the slow offseason, there’s the possibility that this offseason is merely a fluke; that teams are saving up for the massive and sexy 2018-19 crop of MLB free agents (Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, Manny Machado, et al.); or the possibility that teams are beginning to think the same way, leading to certain players (Eric Hosmer, J.D. Martinez) being less desirable around the league as a whole. It is an offshoot of this final theory that appears the most intriguing. In a recent piece for FanGraphs, Craig Edwards made the case for players over 30 still having value. It was the first few paragraphs that set off certain alarms for any fan with a love for the history of the sport, though: One of the oft-mentioned reasons for the slow free-agent market this winter is that teams are thinking on the same wavelength when it comes to evaluating players. One of the tenets of this theory is that free agents are bad bets because of the aging process. As players age, especially after 30, they get worse on the field, and teams don’t want to get stuck with those decline years. There is a whole lot of reason in that explanation for the offseason’s lack of activity. There’s also a little bit of faulty logic regarding the aging process, particularly when it comes to this year’s free-agent class and the two biggest names out there, Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez. The first flaw in this argument is based on a misunderstanding of how clubs are compensating players. All teams — and especially the “smart” ones — know and understand that the final year or years of a free-agent contract are unlikely to be valuable in terms of strict wins-per-dollar calculus. It’s generally accepted that those “out” years are going to be mostly dead weight. Players are typically signed to deals for which the total guarantee is equally distributed over the course of a deal. The team isn’t paying an equal amount every year expecting metronomic production over the life of a contract. They expect to receive a surplus of value in the early years and a deficit in latter years. The hope is that the early years compensate for the latter ones. This theory that teams have finally been burned enough[...]

Trade Retrospective: Marlins trade Hanley Ramírez to the Dodgers


The Marlins got the salary dump they wanted, and the Dodgers got a huge upgrade at shortstop. For the third straight offseason, BtBS is looking back on some of the biggest trades from years past. Check out all the entries here. In a fire sale that included a trade of Omar Infante and Aníbal Sánchez, the Marlins traded Hanley Ramírez and Randy Choate to the Dodgers a few days afterwards. The Dodgers sent back Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough. In addition, the Dodgers took on the rest of the approximately $37.3 million left on Hanley’s contract. In this trade retrospective series, trades will be evaluated based on what was known at the time. That is the only fair, logical way to evaluate trades and strip luck out of the equation: process over results. Having said that, we will still take a look at how the trade worked out for both parties. The Deal As mentioned before, the Marlins went all in for the 2012 season in order to draw fans to their new stadium that was supplemented by the taxpayers for a billionaire. Hanley Ramírez, of course, had been on the team for over six years at that point, but the team sat in last place and the season was clearly lost. Hanley had become another player in the long list in the history of the Marlins who was unhappy with the team. He had to move off of shortstop to accommodate incoming free agent José Reyes and even though Reyes was declining at shortstop, Hanley had been a poor defensive shortstop for years, so moving him to third base was the right move. The Marlins were selling low on Hanley. From 2007-2009, he was one of the best hitters in baseball. Over that span, he hit slashed .325/.398/.549, and posted a 145 wRC+ which was tied for seventh in the majors among qualified hitters. He was even a passable shortstop in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, Hanley struggled with minor injuries, but still played 142 games and hit a robust .300/.378/.475. In 2011, he really began to struggle, hitting only .243/.333/.379, which was not even an average level of offense. Additionally, he missed the last two months of the season by aggravating a shoulder injury in an attempted diving catch. Haney’s good production on the basepaths had also vanished, taking away most of the skills that made him a well above average player. Hanley’s 2012 season was not much better at the time of the trade. He was hitting .246/.322/.428 after moving down in the defensive spectrum. Despite the move to third, he was still not a good fielder. All in all, at this point in his career, he looked like a below average player. Such a player with approximately 2.5 years and $37.3 million left on his contract does not have a lot of trade value, even with the hope that classic Hanley might reappear some day. The Dodgers had a gaping hole at shortstop. That was true even before Dee Gordon (who, coincidentally, would become a Marlin himself later on in his career) hit the DL after tearing the UCL in his thumb while stealing third base. He was one of the worst hitters in baseball, hitting .229/.280/.282 when he hit the DL in early July. In the first half of the season, his 58 wRC+ was tied with Cliff Pennington for the worst among qualified hitters in the game. He was not even a good defensive shortstop, either. Leading the league in stolen bases did very little to to make up for all Gordon’s deficiencies. When the incumbent is a sub-replacement level player, nearly anyone could provide an upgrade. Hanley was rather expensive at the time for a league-average bat, but the new Dodgers ownership had a lot of the one thing that then-owner Jeffrey Loria valued far, far more than his baseball team or its fans: money. The Dodgers did not have an especially strong farm system at the time, so offering to take on the remainder of Hanley’s deal seemed especially sensible. Losing only Nate Eovaldi instead of their best prospect, Zach Lee, made this a great trade for [...]

The greatest shortened seasons of all time: 1910-1919


The second installment of the series. Here at Beyond The Box Score, I am beginning a new series. Over the next few weeks, I will look at the best injury-shortened seasons by decade from 1900 to the present. Using WAR, I will analyze all the best injury-shortened ideas and consider what they could have been. Check out the previous posts: 1900-1909 Today I am continuing the insane project that I have started: ranking history’s greatest short seasons by decade. With one piece down, I realized that this is going to take a lot of work. Who cares? It’s fun! In case you did not read my first piece of the series (which is linked above), here are the stipulations to qualify for this list: Fair or not, I’m considering only seasons in which the player missed at least 40 percent of his team’s games. MLB began playing a 140-game schedule in 1900 before upping to 154 in 1904 (with an odd 140-game season in 1919) and again to today’s 162-game season in 1962. For 140-game era players, this allows them to play up to 84 games; 154-game era players can play up to 92 games; 162-game era players can play up to 97 games. Yes, 40 percent is a completely arbitrary number, but I wanted to allow players to have the time to accumulate enough fWAR to really have made an impact, all the while having them miss a significant amount of time. That’s how I settled on 40 percent, rather than 50 percent or even 60 percent. Eligibility aside, games played differences within the rankings will be alleviated by using WAR/600, or how much WAR the player would have been worth in a 600-plate appearance season. As a result, I am forced to establish a minimum number of plate appearances to become eligible, too. This I am setting at 100, which would require players to have played in approximately 33 games (at a minimum) to work. Of course, players will be omitted if it was determined that their missed games were due to a circumstance other than injury (i.e. military service, demotion to the minor leagues, etc.). For historical players, I will use the information that I have available to me, but just note that it’s likely some of these players missed time to something other than injury, especially the older ones. All tie-breakers will be settled by which player played more games. Without further ado, here are the Top 10 shortened seasons from 1910 to 1919: 10. 1915 Charlie Deal, 2.4 fWAR in 65 games, 5.8 fWAR/600 After Charlie Deal helped to lead the 1914 Boston Braves to a World Series title, he felt he deserved a pay raise. Fortunately for him, though, the Braves’ owners were unwilling to part with the money he believed he had earned; this led him to jumping to the upstart Federal League, where his salary nearly doubled in his first season with the St. Louis Terriers. In 1915, Deal was hospitalized for several weeks with typhoid fever, but when he was healthy, he produced, slashing .323/.357/.426 in the most productive season of his career. 9. 1918 Zeb Terry, 1.2 fWAR in 28 games, 6.1 fWAR/600 Besides having a great name, Zeb Terry is considered to be one of the greatest baseball players in Stanford University’s history. Terry was not injured during his 1918 season, rather, he was earning his cup of coffee in the Majors that ultimately led to four decent seasons in the National League. For most of the 1918 season, he played for the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League, who then allowed him to play a little bit for the Boston Braves at the end of the season. There, he slashed .305/.360/.362; Terry would go on to play for the Pirates and Cubs before retiring at age 31. 8. 1918 Bob Fisher, 2.8 fWAR in 63 games, 6.3 fWAR/600 Unfortunately, there isn’t a biography on Fisher like there is on many of these other players. In 1918, he was nearing the end of his career (as he played just three games in 1919), but slashed .317/.356/.411 tha[...]