A few weeks ago, I took a look at some final 2013 statistics from around the American League. Today, I'm doing the same with the National League.
I'll have a lot more to say about Ichiro Suzuki next week on his report card, but I'll say this now: it could have been worse; the Yankees could have signed B.J. Upton. At the prime age of 28, Upton played 126 games and had 445 plate appearances, and hit .184/.268/.289, good for an OPS+ of 53 and -1.8 bWAR. Yikes. He was pretty much equally awful against righties and lefties, home and away, first half and second half. The Braves also employed Dan Uggla, who was hitting .202/.316/.429 after July 30. Over the rest of the season, he had 10 hits in 101 ABs, with a single extra base hit. That was good for a .099/.287/.129 line in 129 plate appearances.
Despite those two playing every day, the Braves still won 96 games. How? They led the league in home runs (181), and were second in team slugging percentage (.402). They also led the league in ERA (3.18).
Former Yankee Tyler Clippard had another nice season for the Nationals. In 72 games and 71 innings, he went 6-3 with a 2.41 ERA (158 ERA+) and 9.3 K/9. Despite a record of just 8-9, Stephen Strasburg set career highs in starts (30) and innings (183) while posting a 3.00 ERA (126 ERA+).
While Yankee fans were bent out of shape at an 85-77 season, the Mets went 74-88 to wrap up a fifth consecutive losing season, and their eighth in the last 12 years. Their seven-game NLCS loss to the Cardinals in 2006 is their only playoff appearance in the last 13 years. So again, it could be worse.
The Phillies (73-89) have a lot of work to do. They finished 13th in runs scored and 14th in runs allowed, with a pythagorean record of 66-96. Their primary infielders were 34-year-old Carlos Ruiz at catcher, 33-year-old Ryan Howard at first base, 34-year-old Chase Utley at second base, 34-year old Jimmy Rollins at shortstop, and 36-year-old Michael Young at third base.
Roy Halladay seems to be exhibit A for "falling off a cliff." From 2006 to 2011, his average season was an 18-8 record and 2.86 ERA (149 ERA+) in 32 starts and 236 innings. In 2012, he went 11-8 with a 4.49 ERA (90 ERA+) in 25 starts and 156.1 innings. This year, it was 4-5 with a 6.82 ERA (56 ERA+) in 13 starts and 62 innings.
The Marlins must have been a horror show to watch. Giancarlo Stanton led the team with 24 home runs, Justin Ruggiano was second with 18, and Derek Dietrich was third with nine. Stanton led the team in both runs scored (62) and RBI (62), and was the only Marlin with more than 18 doubles. As a team, they finished last in the league in average (.234), OBP (.293), SLG (.335), runs, hits, doubles and home runs. They had eight pitchers make 10 or more starts, and only one cracked 150 innings. At least Marlins fans got to watch Jose Fernandez (he led the team in starts, with 28, and innings, with 173).
The Cardinals' offense was quite nicely balanced. They had four .300 hitters, plus one each at .296 and .284, and finished second in team average. Five players had an OBP better than .350, and nine better than .335, and they led the league at .332. Six players slugged .457 or better, and they finished third in team slugging (.401). Nine players had 20 or more doubles, and five had 30 or more, and they led the league with 322. They also led the league in runs scored with 783, despite finishing thirteenth in home runs with 125. Home runs ain't everything.
Cincinnati's top four starters each made at least 31 starts, threw 192-210 innings, and had an ERA+ better than league average. Their four and five starters combined for 29 more starts, 165 more innings, and an ERA+ of 133. Of those six starters, only 36-year old Bronson Arroyo was older than 27. If you like building around young pitching, you probably like the Reds' chances for the next few years.
From 2007 to 2011, Carlos Gomez hit 25 home runs in almost 1700 PAs. Then he hit 19 in 2012, and 27 in 2013. Combine that with his great defense, and he was worth 8.4 bWAR.
Former Yankee Dioner Navarro had a nice season as the Cubs' backup catcher. He hit .300/.365/.492 in 266 PAs. I hope Starlin Castro can bounce back next year. He hit just .245/.284/.347 this season, after hitting .297/.336/.425 in his first three seasons.
What does Josh Beckett have left? He made just eight starts for the Dodgers this year, going 0-5 with a 5.19 ERA (69 ERA+) on the heels of last year's 7-14, 4.65 ERA (90 ERA+) disaster. Although he was really good in 2011 (13-7, 2.89 ERA in 30 starts), he was pretty bad in 2010 (6-6, 5.78 ERA in 21 starts). Three pretty bad years out of four does not bode well for his future, especially considering he turns 34 in May.
What the Dodgers really need in 2014 is a healthy and productive Matt Kemp. Since finishing second in the MVP voting following his 8.1 bWAR season in 2011, he's played in 179 games the last two years combined.
San Diego had their second consecutive 76-86 season, their third consecutive losing season, and their fifth losing season in the last six years. Since the Yankees destroyed them in the 1998 World Series, they've had just five winning seasons and reached 90 wins only once. I did make it to Petco Park this year and it's a great place to watch a game. We walked up 10 minutes before game time and got nice upper deck seats behind home plate for $10. A woman sitting next to us had a Padres yearbook and was writing on each player's picture as he came to bat, which I thought was kind of odd. No real point to that, I guess. But thanks for reading this far!
How much of a pitcher's park is AT&T Park in San Francisco? Giants left fielder Gregor Blanco played 141 games, and his .690 OPS was good for a 102 OPS+. NL West hitters have some pretty unfriendly venues in San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles. Phil Hughes should definitely sign with a non-Colorado team in that division. I'm sure the Giants are relieved to be able to close the book on the Barry Zito era. In seven seasons there, Zito was 63-80 with a 4.62 ERA (86 ERA+). He had a winning record once, a better-than-league-average ERA once, and never reached the 200 inning plateau.
I think my favorite random stat of the year is courtesy of the Rockies. Michael Cuddyer won the batting title with a .331 average, in his age-34 season. He'd never hit better than .284 before and was a career .271 hitter coming into the season. Just goes to show that you just can't predict baseball, Susan.