How the moves made during the 2019 MLB season by the five NL West general managers have influenced their teams’ success, for better or worse.
The NL West may be baseball’s bargain basement division. For the first half of the 2019 MLB season, the most consequential aspect of its collective performance has been a talent drain.
That drain clearly shows up in evaluations of the first-half performances of the division’s five general managers – four, technically since the Los Angeles Dodgers are being run by – multiple choice here – (a) a committee, (b), nobody, (c), Andrew Friedman’s aura.
As measured by Wins Above Average, a zero-based variant of Wins Above Replacement – the sum talent movement for NL West teams since the end of the 2018 season is -6.5 games.
This is the first of a series of six articles through the All-Star break looking at the impacts of general manager moves. Teams will be analyzed on a division-by-division basis. WAA is the preferred method of assessment because it possesses all the statistical advantages of WAR while being pegged to the average performance of a current major league player rather than to a replacement player. That means an average score is, quite conveniently, 0.0 games.
Because teams are judged only on the basis of moves made since the end of the previous season, the assessment won’t necessarily mirror the standings. Some teams – the Dodgers are a classic example of this – are populated principally by players who have been contractually obligated to the team since before the end of 2018, meaning their performances do not figure into this rating.
All we are interested in here is the impact of personnel decisions made since the end of the 2018 season. Still, those decisions could take several forms: acquiring a player by trade or sale, trading or selling a player, signing a free agent, extending a player already on your team to a new contract carrying into his normal free agent years, or allowing a player to leave via free agency.
Use of players who retain rookie status also counts.
From best to worst, here’s how the GMs of the five NL West teams have done to date.