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?