Ranking teams by peak value
What if the players on every MLB roster were in their prime?
Inspired by Kevin Pelton's recent piece ranking NBA teams based on their players' peak values, I set out to answer this very question for baseball.
To do this we need to imagine what would happen if Derek Jeter were 25 years old again, if Josh Hamilton played like an MVP and if Grady Sizemore were a young superstar. We are forming dream teams, not by gathering the best of the players across teams, but rather by collecting the best historical seasons within current rosters.
I started by finding each player's best season according to FanGraphs' version of wins above replacement, substituting in 2014 Steamer projections for players who are expected to play better than ever before. I then took the best 18 player-seasons from each current team, insisting that each team field five starting pitchers, three relievers and nine hitters that form a workable lineup. (For most clubs, the last seven roster spots are relatively interchangeable from a WAR standpoint, and what we're really trying to measure here is top-end talent.)
I calculated the total WAR for each team and, just for fun, pitted these super teams against one another in 10,000 simulated seasons. There were no injuries and no off years but, each season, 29 teams had long trips home through space and time.
What follows are the top 10 peak teams by WAR, along with how often they made the playoffs and won the World Series in the simulations.
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