Chicago Cubs: Pitching could be this team’s biggest strength in 2018

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

A blind look at the top NL Central starters

While the prototypical position player is typically easily defined, identifying top pitchers is far less so. Pitching is heavily dependent on external forces that even the best pitchers can’t really control. For that reason, rather than getting all fancy with numbers and formulas, the best approach in assessing pitchers is the simple one: rely on the measure of a players overall contributions to his team’s success.

The charts below lists the top twelve starters in the NL Central, ranked by WAR. Along with WAR, you find a few other statistical elements that can be used to help further differentiate the players. Note that no one thing about pitching can be used to truly predict success.

All too often, this reality creates a model where a pitcher’s name carries more clout than the data. In an effort to combat that “name prejudice”, the rankings below do not include player names or team affiliations. After we digest the numbers a bit, we can get to the names that these numbers represent.

Figure 5: Starting Pitcher Comparison