Everyone loves to track the potential award winners throughout the MLB season. MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year get more than their fair share of attention. Overlooked over the years, especially by the BBWAA, is WAR, the stat that actually provides a valuation of each and every player. In order to give WAR a little bit more due (and drive the old schoolers crazy), we’ll be checking in on the WAR leaderboard at the beginning of every month to see who will win the race to be the best hitter and pitcher according to WAR come the season’s end.
Troy Tulowitzki (4.0 WAR)
Gone from our leaderboard is first month phenom Charlie Blackmon, but his teammate Troy Tulowitzki hasn’t slowed down the slightest bit. Even with the Coors Field effect factored in, Tulo is the best player in baseball right now. It only goes to show what Tulo can do when he is fully healthy, which is why it is going to be such a shame when he inevitably does land on the disabled list.
Josh Donaldson (3.6 WAR)
Donaldson had his breakout season in 2013 and there were a lot of people who thought that he would be good this year, but wouldn’t be able to approach what he did in 2013. They were right, but for the wrong reasons. Donaldson is only proving to be even better than last year and is a big reason why the A’s continue to be the class of the AL West.
Giancarlo Stanton (3.5 WAR)
It is official, Stanton has made the leap. Before, he had been a really good player on a bad team, but he was fun to watch thanks to his tape measure home runs. Now, he has become a bona fide elite player and is even more fun to watch than ever. It helps that the Marlins don’t suck now, too.
Mike Trout (3.5 WAR)
Mike Trout slumped so badly in the last month that he fell all the way to fourth in baseball in WAR. If only we could all be that lucky when we struggle at our profession. While some are shocked to see that Trout can’t pull off the Superman act every single game of his career, he is still worthy member of the Justice League even when he doesn’t have everything working.
Yasiel Puig (3.2 WAR)
Sometimes the whole narrative around Puig and his antics glosses over the fact that he is incredibly good. It would be one thing if he is was hitting .220 whilst doing all of his crazy bat flips, but he’s not. He’s a legitimate MVP candidate, so he probably should be able to flip as many bats as he wants.
Corey Kluber (2.8 WAR)
Even Corey Kluber is surprised to learn that Corey Kluber leads all pitchers in WAR through the first two months of the season. That’s not to disparage Kluber, but let’s be honest, nobody saw this coming. People might’ve thought Cleveland would produce an elite young pitcher this year, but it wasn’t supposed to be Kluber. No, that was supposed to be Danny Salazar and he’s in the minors now while Kluber has taken his spot atop the pedestal. Baseball, man. I don’t even know sometimes.
Felix Hernandez (2.8 WAR)
Felix Hernandez is so good its boring. Just every single year without fail he is one of the best pitchers in baseball. It doesn’t matter how bad the Mariners are, and they are usually pretty bad, he just keeps on chugging along and being great. It is so utterly predictable.
Yu Darvish (2.7 WAR)
Had Darvish not missed two starts due to neck problems, he’d probably lead all pitchers in WAR by now. Don’t weep for him though as he’s just about the only Rangers pitcher who has managed to avoid spending significant time on the disabled list. In fact, we should all be making sacrifices to the baseball gods to make sure that whatever curse is ravaging the Texas roster continues to spare Darvish so we can continue enjoying his dominance.
Jon Lester (2.5 WAR)
Another month of great work from Lester, another month of the Red Sox front office kicking themselves for not getting him locked into a long-term contract and another month of Lester’s agent window-shopping for toilets made out of solid gold.
Masahiro Tanaka (2.4 WAR)
The Yankees paid all of the money there was in order to land Tanaka in a desperate play to revitalize their rotation and thus far it looks like they probably could’ve ponied up even more and still had Tanaka be worth every penny. Through two months, Tanaka is laying waste to the competition to the point that it has made the baseball world wonder why more people aren’t throwing split-fingers.