The season is long and it goes by pretty fast. That's how it is with something you love, as we do baseball, and all of a sudden everyone's children are back in school, football is being played and a month from now, we'll be absorbed in four division-round playoff series. It seems like just yesterday that I departed a spring training game in Scottsdale, Arizona, and drove around aimlessly listening to podcasts until I found myself in the high desert and on a dirt road I did not anticipate with no cell service. Eventually, I rediscovered pavement even as my mind searched for lessons from the old "Survivorman" series.
Luckily, I survived without having to eat lizards and was able to produce today's Stock Watch, which happens to be a pretty good reflection of what remains in this season's playoff race. Five teams are dead-cinch locks for October already -- the Dodgers and Braves in the National League, joined by the Astros, Yankees and Twins in the American League. The Nationals and Cardinals are both at 90%-plus, and the Cubs and Rays both earn a spot in two out of three simulations. Chicago remains vulnerable to any NL team capable of sustaining a hot streak -- Arizona is the flavor of this week. The Cubs also are perfectly capable of catching the Cardinals for the top spot in the NL Central, especially since they have seven head-to-head games remaining.
Still, the only surefire drama that lies ahead involves the Rays, Athletics and Indians jockeying for the two AL wild-card slots. All of this is reflected in the results of my latest run of simulations, which are based on my power rankings formula. You can read the numbers below.
As we move through each team, we decided this month to look at some of the best and worst performances this season through the prism of results and remuneration. The bland term for it is surplus value (SV): How much is a player's production this season worth in monetary terms? How much is he getting paid? The difference between the answers of those two questions is what we call surplus value. You can have a negative surplus value, and that's not good.
We're measuring production in this exercise using FanGraphs' version of WAR (fWAR), which has been prorated to estimate rest-of-the-season totals. To come up with a monetization of one fWAR, we're using an estimate of $8 million per fWAR, which appears to be the going rate of one win, according to the Dollars metric at FanGraphs, and conforms with other stabs at this kind of measurement this season that I have read. Different analysts might come up with different $/fWAR values, but for our purposes, all that matters is that every player is compared to the same standard. Finally, the salary data used to make the SV calculation was taken from Baseball Prospectus.
One note: I decided to only include players who have played this season and only look at players who are currently in an organization. Thus, the "worst" Mets value is not Yoenis Cespedes, who is being paid $29 million during a season in which he will not play. And Justin Verlander won't be the "best" Tigers value, even though, ironically, Detroit is paying $8 million of his salary this season so that he can win the Cy Young award for the Astros.
Teams are listed in order of their current win forecast and grouped according to their current contention tier. One unit of SV equals $1 million, as it is expressed here. All statistics are through Tuesday's games.