2017 Fantasy Baseball: NL East Lineup Rankings
Fantasy baseball is an individual sport and most fantasy players choose to focus on individual numbers. That being said, there is a certain amount of synergy that comes from being on a good team. Being on a bad one can depress numbers more than we can probably calculate. That doesn’t even mention the positive impact that good fielders have on pitchers.
We are measuring the lineups of each team based on three Baseball Prospectus statistics. The first is their version of wins above replacement (WARP). We are taking the three year average for each player. Then, we are looking total average (TAV). It is a statistic that calculates everything a hitter does and accounts for differences in home ballparks. It is calculated to look like batting average where .260 is average. Finally, we have fielding runs above average. Obviously, that will be more important when it comes time to look at pitchers.
WARP: 18.3 (10th)
TAV: .279 (9th)
FRAA: 4.1 (7th)
The Braves haven’t made any changes to their everyday lineup, but they have added some depth to their bench. They added utility infielder Sean Rodriguez on a long-term deal early in the offseason and added Kurt Suzuki to share the catcher duties over the weekend. Both players will end up being semi-regulars which will make the above numbers play up a little.
Rodriguez is good enough to hold down either third or second if either of their incumbents are not up to the task. If both Jace Peterson and Adonis Garcia are duds then they could be in some trouble. They were in on the Brian Dozier discussions for awhile and they have been flirting with Jose Quintana as well.
The Braves were rebuilding to get ready to open their new ballpark. The acquisition of Matt Kemp last season gave the Braves another key bat in the middle of the lineup. Still, Dansby Swanson has the chance to be special and he will need to be in order for them to compete.
WARP: 21.1 (8th)
TAV: .282 (8th)
FRAA: -13.2 (12th)
There were no changes for the Marlins. At least there haven’t been yet. One of the funny things about data is that you have to have a solid frame of reference. The Marlins WARP and TAV numbers would make them contenders in the American League. Of course, this doesn’t mean the National League is superior either. Either way, the Marlins are neither contenders nor bottom feeders.
First base would seem to be the best place for the Marlins to improve and there are plenty of first basemen on the open market. The latest rumors had them looking at Chris Carter as a right handed platoon partner for Justin Bour. Brandon Moss would also be a good fit considering he can play in the outfield in addition to playing at first base.
There is nothing worse than being a middle of the pack team. The Marlins have improved themselves around the edges, but they haven’t done anything yet that really moves the needle.
New York Mets
WARP: 21.6 (6th)
TAV: .286 (3rd)
FRAA: 1.0 (9th)
They’ve been to the playoffs two years in a row now and they have one of the best young pitching staffs in all of baseball. So, they didn’t feel the need to make serious changes. Jose Reyes and Jay Bruce were added midseason last year and they give this lineup more depth than what you see above. Of course, teams with depth usually deal from that depth.
Travis d’Arnaud has very solid numbers across the board, but he is always getting hurt. So, it would make a lot of sense for the Mets to make a run at Matt Wieters. With Kurt Suzuki signing with the Braves, the Mets become one of two or three teams where he could potentially land. Adding him would make them the deepest team in the division.
The Nationals probably have the best everyday lineup in the division and they have a very top heavy rotation, but the Mets have more exciting talent. They also have problems staying healthy.
WARP: 13.4 (13th)
TAV: .269 (13th)
FRAA: -15.2 (13th)
The Phillies added two veteran outfielders in Michael Saunders and Howie Kendrick. Neither move the needle a ton, but they are both competent hitters in a lineup that has quite a few competent hitters. What they are missing are star level performers. They may have enough competence to be competitive. If some of their younger hitters take the next step they could be dangerous.
The Michael Saunders addition really closed out the offseason for them. They have a decent player at every spot on the diamond. The question from here will be whether any of them take the next step in development. That could come from Maikel Franco, Tommy Joseph, or Jorge Alfaro behind the dish. Often the biggest surprises come from younger players. If they get what they got from Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis last season then it could be interesting.
The Phillies are still in rebuild mode, but they are finally able to turn the page on a new era after seeing guys like Ryan Howard and Chase Utley move on. Howie Kendrick is a bit of a stopgap measure for a rebuilding team, but they are looking to be competitive for the first time in three years.
WARP: 24.9 (3rd)
TAV: .286 (3rd)
FRAA: -3.3 (11th)
At first blush, the package they sent to the White Sox in exchange for Adam Eaton would seem excessive. Yet, if we are to believe Baseball Prospectus, he was almost as valuable as Bryce Harper over the last three seasons. His 10.4 FRAA three year average gives them one of the better outfield defenses in the National League. So, while their overall rating above looks bad, Washington could be a very good place for flyable pitchers.
The Nationals lined their ducks up in a row early on in the offseason. The key will be the health of everyone moving forward. Ryan Zimmerman has been a particularly brittle player for them. so adding a bench bat that can play first base might be the only remaining priority.
You would think they would rank higher in the offensive categories. With their rotation and lineup they should be the favorite in the NL East, but they do have a hole in their bullpen they need to address.