A Wins Above Replacement (WAR) number of 8.2 or more is an excellent season number — that’s an MVP-level season performance. But it’s not exactly rare. From 1962 on, the Baseball-Reference Play Index shows 91 seasons by position players that rose to the 8.2 or more WAR level. On average, that’s about two a year, and with two leagues picking MVPs — well, you can see why I described the 8.2 or over level as MVP-type performance.
OK, now how many of those 91 position player seasons of 8.2 WAR over the 1962-2012 period do you suppose have been produced by a position player for a New York City team? Would you believe there have been only three such player-seasons? In 1985, Rickey Henderson in his first year with the Yankees, at age 26, put together an awesome 9.8 WAR year (that was no fluke, as Rickey had another 9.8 WAR year, and grabbed the MVP award, with the A’s in 1990). And A-Rod has produced two seasons over 9 WAR for the Yankees: 2005 and 2007. But that’s it. Other than those three player-seasons, no Yankee position player from 1962 on has produced more WAR in a season than 7.8, achieved by Robinson Cano in 2010, Derek Jeter in 1999 and Bobby Murcer in 1972.
And then there are the Mets, whose top WAR position-player seasons ever are David Wright’s 8.1 in 2007, Carlos Beltran’s 8.0 in 2006 and Bernard Gilkey’s flukey 7.8 in 1996. No other Met position player has topped 7.3 WAR in a season. It is thus not surprising that no Met position-player has ever led the NL in WAR (baseball-reference version) in any season, which happens to be a timely fact because as of now, with a month left in the season, David Wright is actually leading the NL in b-ref WAR, having nudged ahead of the slumping Andrew McCutchen (.588 OPS in McCutchen’s last 21 games).