You know that the MLB All-Star game is tomorrow. I assume you know that. If you didn’t know that, then you know it now. If you already knew that, then you probably know who is on the MLB All-Star teams. If you didn’t know that, then you can find out here. These players represent the top performers in all of baseball at the halfway (misnomer) point of the year. Those selections are applauded, debated, and discussed well beyond the point that you or I care. Since I didn’t care about that anymore, I wanted to look at which players have been the most average so far this season. This sounds boring, but it is quite revealing in itself as well.
To determine the 2012 All-Average teams, I looked at one statistic for each position: OPS. Yes, that is rather limiting and isn’t as comprehensive as it could be, but in general OPS is the best way to analyze an offensive player. You may be surprised at the familiarity of the names you see below. It turns out that there a lot of good players who are very average. In fact, most of these players, at one time or another this year, have been very good. They have also been pretty bad. So in the end they balanced out to have an OPS very near to the league average for their position.
2012 American League All-Average Team:
2012 National League All-Average Team:
If you were given this list of names, you wouldn’t think that you’re in terrible shape. Morneau, Kendrick, Ibanez, Cruz, McCann, Ramirez, Furcal, and Cuddyer have all been All-Stars before. However, in 2012, they have been nothing but average.
Another interesting observation is that the National League average OPS is higher in every position except center field. Typically, it is the American League that is regarded as the better league for offense, and yet this year the roles have been reversed. The position with the highest OPS in the AL is DH, which makes sense, followed by center field. In the NL, it is right field, followed by first base. The position with the worst OPS in both leagues is the shortstop.
These average players have combined for 9.5 bWAR at this point in the season. That’s not great, only an average of 0.6 bWAR per player, but it’s better than nothing. The downside is that several of these players have large price tags hanging around their necks. The Mariners and Giants probably feel pretty good about getting average production from Seager and Belt, because they’re young players making the league minimum. On the other hand, the Twins, Marlins, and Rockies are getting massive underproduction from Morneau, Ramirez, and Cuddyer considering their hefty salaries. In total, the average salary for these players is $5.5 million. In 2011, the average MLB salary was $3.1 million.
In the end, what we can learn from this is that being average isn’t the worst thing in the world. Just because you’re not an All-Star, it doesn’t mean you are worthless. In fact, average MLB players still earn rather significant paychecks and are readily employable. Furthermore, it helps frame the picture of the honor of being an All-Star, because baseball is hard, and even some really good baseball players end up carrying no higher honor than being labeled average.
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