Angels outfielder Mike Trout

Adam Hunger/USA Today Sports

Emma: All-Analytics All-Star Team

We take a look at baseball's best players through the prism of metrics.

Chris Emma
July 16, 2018 - 10:48 am
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(670 The Score) Baseball historian Bill James, the innovative mind behind the game's analytics surge, originally defined sabermetrics as "the search for objective knowledge about baseball."

Once considered rogue by the old-school guard of baseball, metrics are now such commonplace that those not accepting their place are considered dinosaurs, so often exiled from front offices these days. Metrics are there simply to enhance one's knowledge of baseball as James intended decades ago.

The beauty of metrics is the way it offers an added appreciation to the greatness we on the diamond, and the superstar of the analytics age is none other than Angels center fielder Mike Trout, whose place with baseball's immortals isn't only evident to fans in the stands but also those clicking through FanGraphs.

The 26-year-old Trout is having another sensational year with a 6.6 WAR through 97 games as we arrive at the All-Star break this week. He could post just the 12th double-digit WAR season in the modern era (since 1970) and the first since -- you guessed it -- Trout did so in 2013. Barry Bonds, Joe Morgan, Cal Ripken Jr., Alex Rodriquez and Rickey Henderson is his company in that regard.

Once again, Trout leads the all-analytics All-Star team at the belated break in what has been a career year offensively thus far. Trout has a .439 wOBA and 187 wRC+, which would both be his best marks in a single season. 

FanGraphs' ZiPS and Steamer projections each have Trout adding 3.6 WAR in the final 66 games, which would mark a career-high 10.2 WAR and the best season by any player since Bonds in 2004.

The appreciation of Trout's greatness shouldn't diminish what Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts is doing in another stellar season. He has a 6.3 WAR through 78 games, which is 19 fewer than Trout. Betts has a .471 wOBA and 202 wRC+ -- both ahead of Trout and the rest of baseball -- and is a key part of the Red Sox's 68-30 record.

This all-analytics All-Star team includes no snubs from the actual All-Star Game in Washington D.C. on Tuesday evening, with only two players -- Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto and Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor -- not in a starting lineup. 

Five years ago, this column started as a crusade of mine against the All-Star Game and poor work by the voters (the fans) in selecting these teams. Perhaps it's a reflection of more knowledgeable fans these days -- or just a mere coincidence.

Either way, James should be proud of how baseball's summer showcase has evolved with worthy All-Stars on display. 

Note: All metrics are courtesy of FanGraphs.com.

C -- J.T. Realmuto, Marlins (3.5 WAR) -- first-time all-analytics team selection

The position of catcher is once again the weakest of the lineup in terms of WAR, but that's not a slight to a deserving Realmuto, who leads all catchers in wOBA (.385) and wRC+ (145) while adding value behind the plate by ranking eighth among all backstops in defensive win shares.

1B -- Freddie Freeman, Braves (3.7 WAR) -- first-time all-analytics team selection

The surprising first half of the Braves has plenty to do with young stars in Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr., but the work of Freeman deserves its recognition too. Fans voted Freeman in for his first career All-Star start, and this marks his first all-analytics team selection as well thanks to a WAR that tops all his peers at first base. 

2B -- Jose Altuve, Astros (4.0 WAR) -- four-time all-analytics team selection

With all due respect to Albies, Javier Baez, Scooter Gennett and company, Altuve remains far and away the best second baseman in baseball. His 143 wRC+ leads all second basemen once again and showcases his offensive value for the defending World Series champion Astros.

SS -- Francisco Lindor, Indians (5.3 WAR) -- first-time all-analytics team selection

My generation of baseball fans grew up on the likes of Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra and Rodriguez leading a group of great shortstops. Baseball has that again with Lindor, Manny Machado, Andrelton Simmons, Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts and Brandon Crawford, with Lindor a full 1.5 WAR -- or, a whole 2018 Bryce Harper -- ahead of everyone else in cumulative value.

3B -- Jose Ramirez, Indians (6.5 WAR) -- first-time all-analytics team selection

The 25-year-old Ramirez is second in WAR, behind only Trout. His .427 wOBA is third in the game, and he quietly has become a great defender, ranking third among third basemen in UZR/150 (12.5) ahead of a perennial Gold Glover like Nolan Arenado.

OF -- Mike Trout, Angels (6.6 WAR) -- fourth-time all-analytics team selection

Trout's 61.6 career WAR is the second-highest of any player 26 years or younger, behind only Ty Cobb -- and ahead of Mickey Mantle, to whom he's often compared. If not for an injury-plagued 2017, Trout would be a five-team all-analytics team selection.

OF -- Mookie Betts, Red Sox (6.3 WAR) -- second-time all-analytics team selection

How good has Betts been so far this season? His wOBA (.471) and wRC+ (202) would both mark the very best of this decade should he continue on such a pace the rest of the year. It's no surprise why Boston is enjoying such a stellar 2018.

OF -- Aaron Judge, Yankees (4.5 WAR) -- second-time all-analytics team selection

The breakout star of 2017, Judge has shown this season that he the real deal. He's fifth in WAR and having a monster year at the plate (.398 wOBA). What's often lost with Judge is that he's a terrific defensive player, too, with 12 defensive runs saved ranking fifth among all outfielders.

P -- Trevor Bauer, Indians (5.1 WAR) -- first-time all-analytics team selection

Perhaps it may come as a surprise that it's not Chris Sale, Jacob deGrom or Justin Verlander leading all pitchers in WAR but instead Bauer, the 27-year-old finally fulfilling his potential in Clevland. Bauer has been at the top of his game all season with a 2.23 FIP to complement his 2.24 ERA.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.